Russell Henley played his way into the Masters field with an impressive final round 65 on Sunday. But, that’s all the time I want to spend on the Shell Houston Open because it’s Masters Week. Masters Week is one of my favorite times of year for many reasons. This year, the Masters gives us our first crack at a Millionaire Maker in PGA DFS.
This week will feature a much stronger field on DraftKings than the Puerto Rico Open featured. After a week that featured no Top 50 players in the OWGR, we have 15 in the field this week that are looking to fine tune their game heading into the Masters.
Marc Leishman came from behind on Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was a fitting way to end the first version of this event since Arnie passed away last September. The Top 64 available golfers in the world are playing in Houston for the WGC Dell Match Play. DraftKings isn’t offering a slate for that tournament but there’s a slate for the parallel tour event, the Puerto Rico Open.
Coco Beach is a Par 72 track that plays over 7,500 yards. In the past, the tournament winners have performed well in each facet of the game. The key stats I’ll be looking at this week include: Par 3 scoring, scrambling, GIR%, and Total Driving.
It’s rare that a $6,800 player wins, but Adam Hadwin was the exception last week. The Canadian earned his first PGA Tour victory and sees a huge bump in salary this week, but more on him later. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is played at the Bay Hill Club in Florida. The course is a Par 72 that plays just over 7,400 yards. If the tournament’s history is any indication, ball striking will lead to better finishing position than distance off the tee.
The WGC – Mexico Championship provided unique challenges across the board for the field this past weekend. From the lack of course data to the elevation to stomach problems, there were issues aplenty throughout Club de Golf Chapultepec. Dustin Johnson overcame all the obstacles on his way to his second victory in as many starts.
This week will, hopefully, feature none of this issues. Course data and elevation won’t be a factor at all. If history is any indication, the DFS community should be targeting accuracy guys. The Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort does play 7,340 yards but distance specialists haven’t performed well here. I’m searching for high GIR%, good strokes gained on approach shots and some scrambling ability this week. Distance off the tee will most likely be a tie-breaker for me, but all-around golfers should be able to make moves up the leaderboard in this weaker than average field.
The WGC events are some of the few tournaments outside of the Majors and the FedEx Cup Playoffs where viewers can watch most, if not all, of the best golfers in the world at once. This week’s Mexico Championship is no exception. For those of you who are familiar with Jason Day’s recent string of WDs, this week’s double ear infection/flu should be no shock to you. There are 49 out of the Top 50 golfers in the field this week despite his absence. The field this week has compiled 243 PGA Tour victories, as well as 327 combined foreign tour victories.
It’s a tough life for members of the PGA Tour as they trade in three beautiful California golf courses for another beautiful California golf course. Previous winners have proven that you can bomb it, rely on approach shots, putt lights out or any combination of the three on your way to victory. Much like Thursday in Pebble Beach, Riviera Country Club will feature some wet and windy conditions on Friday and Saturday. As of Wednesday, the forecast is showing the potential for 20+ MPH winds on Friday. Driving distance will be even more important than usual at Riviera if the course becomes wet. We’ll also be focusing in on approach shot proximity to figure out who will be able to stick it on these wet greens.
The typical goal for PGA DFS is to have as many of your guys make the cut and hope for the best. There’s not a situation, barring injury, where you really need to worry about that in any other daily sport. The last few weeks have been tough in that regard. Chalky guys like Justin Thomas missed the cut last week, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day missed it the week before. Hopefully you listened last week, played Hideki Matsuyama, and made some money.
Looking ahead to this week, we have a 54-hole cut. The first 3 days will be played on one of the following courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The fourth and final round will be the field’s second shot at Pebble Beach Golf Links. If history is any indication, accuracy on approach shots is going to be more important than bombing it off the tee.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most exciting weekends in golf. It includes the biggest party in golf at the 16th hole. In addition, the tournament itself is one of the most heavily attended on the Tour. The course recently went under a redesign by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, who specifically went out of their way to shift bunkers into play off the tee for the PGA Tour field.