2017 Players Championship – May 11th through May 14th
The self-appointed 5th major is on tap this week with The Players Championship from TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. The winner takes home a massive pay day and the best of the best will be teeing it up so you will have quite a selection of players to choose from.
Players are looking at a Par 72 measuring around 7,200 yards so distance is not going to be an issue this week. However, the water will be as there are plenty of hazards, most notably the island green on 17th that has become known for the big-time blow ups that we will see from a few players every year. This is a course where a few holes can completely wipe out your entire week so expect to see some gigantic numbers being posted.
If you can keep yourself out of the drink the course can be gettable and the four par 5s are where the players are going to look to score. There is also a drivable par 4 with a risk reward angle as water is in play on that hole. Overall, we want players who are solid drivers and can dial it in with the irons, as playing from out of positions or spraying the ball will result in a quick exit at this place. Add in the ability to dominate par 5s and you should be in for a nice showing here.
You cannot get a much stronger field than this, with basically everyone in the top 50 in attendance. Unlike some weeks where you have massive gaps in talent, this is the type of week where your entire team can consist of legit players. Due to all the elites playing you are going to find the mid-range salaried players are guys who have been top priced in the weaker field events in past weeks. Having said that the pricing on DK seems extra soft which is not ideal, but it should make for a lot of flexibility in constructing teams this week.
Last week was an interesting one, with a lot of late weather concerns dictating ownership and roster construction on the slate. Most people, especially in high stakes, decided that the AM/PM wave would be at a significant advantage and stacked that tee time leading to massive ownership of those guys. Obviously, this led to the PM/AM wave guys being under owned and it presented an interesting GPP situation. Basically, the big questions boiled down to is the reduced ownership worth the risk of possibly having the AM/PM guys get a huge advantage, and what were the chances that the weather played even across the two tee times?
Like most I leaned to AM/PM, but did not stack the tee time and was happy to see so many teams all going exclusively AM/PM as I knew I would be at a huge advantage if the weather did not burn me. The weather ended up being pretty even across the tee times, but unfortunately even though I got that part right Bill Haas ended my high stakes 6/6 teams with an ugly showing on Friday and Saturday morning. DJ making the cut on the number and then turning into his usual self on the weekend was also not great as I went light on him and would have loved to see him miss the cut and take out ~40% of fields.
I did not have much going due to Haas, but I pulled a Hotmajik and really got some things going on the weekend slate. It was incredibly soft due to the 2nd round not ending until Saturday morning, causing overlay and people to roster players who had gotten cut. Brian Harman’s putt on 18 was big for me and it took a not so great week into a profitable one, which felt like stealing, as I did not have many potential sweats going into Sunday.
One thing I plan to do soon is take a closer look on how these late breaking weather issues seem to be playing a huge role in shifting ownership and roster construction. Lately ownership on some of these top guys or even top pairs is getting north on 50% in higher stakes / non-huge GPP fields and anytime you have players or 2v2’s reaching those levels it presents and interesting opportunity to look pivot.
Rory McIlroy $11,200 DK/ $10,500 FD/ $18,400 FDraft – With a field like this there are so many talented golfers you really cannot go wrong up top. Rory to me is still the best player in the world when everyone brings their A game. Rory having way better course history and a reasonable discount over DJ will make him probably the most popular player up top as I do not think Spieth will top him in either. In terms of the big four up top it is Rory followed by Day/Spieth and then DJ for me.
Hideki Matsuyama $9,700 DK/ $9,600 FD/ $16,900 FDraft – Love Hideki, but never get him right. He seems to be a trendy pick this week as he has three straight solid finishes at TPC Sawgrass and was 7th last year. Stats all check out, one of the best on par 5’s and makes plenty of birdies to rack up the points. I always think there is some cut risk with Hideki especially when his putter goes cold, but if you are making multiple teams totally fading Hideki seems like a dangerous play.
Adam Scott $8,400 DK/ $9,300 FD/ $16,100 FDraft – More of a price specific play then someone I am actively targeting, but Scott’s price on DK is very tempting. I have him grouped in the Hideki, Rose, Stenson class and I will gladly take the savings. Talent is not an issue and although he was not great last week he still grinded it out and makes sense as an upper to middle tier safe option this week.
Paul Casey $8,300 DK/ $8,800 FD/ $15,600 FDraft – Yepp Paul Casey did his typical thing last week. Started out well, putted miserably and almost missed the cut and then righted the putting and salvaged a T12 with a good weekend. Priced down in this tough field, and as you all know I am a huge Paul Casey guy so I will be sticking with him. Elite ball striker and surprisingly a great scrambler even with his putting woes is a nice combo to have. Does not have great course history here, but was 23rd last year which to me is more important than missed cuts that occurred over five years ago.
Russell Henley $8,200 DK/ $6,800 FD/ $14,300 – Draftkings price is a little rich, but really interested in him on FanDuel and Fantasy Draft. Henley is playing some great golf, and I wish he did not have this mini break as he was in a groove about a month ago with a win and then a very solid Masters showing. Henley is making a ton of birdies and has the combo of being accurate and hitting is far making his total driving stat one of the best on tour.
Russell Knox $7,600 DK/ $7,100 FD/ $13,500 FDraft – After his awful string of tournaments earlier this year I was pretty much alone on the Knox bandwagon, but staying with him was rewarding as I got him sub 10% at RBC Heritage and he played well. I like this spot for Knox, he is suited for a shorter course like this and has two top 20 showings in his last two Players appearances. His scrambling ability this year has been down, but I think he is rounding into the form we saw last year and is a great mid-range option this week. Fantasy Draft price seems really low as well, should be popular over there, but like the play.
Billy Horschel $7,400 DK/ $6,300 FD/ $12,800 FDraft – Oh boy here we go. GPP only for sure, but I am liking Billy Ho this week even though he has been killing me all year. He lives right next to this course so he has the local factor in his favor and has very solid course history. His stats this year are confusing – he is one of the worst putters on tour right now and is struggling on par 5’s, yet his driving and ball striking is still very elite. He has to improve on the greens as nobody is this bad of putter and once that happens we should see him converting more birdies on par 5’s which is what you are going to need to do this week to compete. Really like his FanDuel price, think he makes an ideal Round 1-2 play as last few years at the Players he has gotten off to a fast start.
Daniel Berger $7,300 DK/ $7,300 FD/ $14,100 FDraft – Again this is a perfect example of the strong fields giving us great value as Berger is usually a top priced player when he is in weaker tournaments. Stats check out pretty much across the board, and course history and recent form also line up. I think he has a chance to be one of the most popular plays of the week, but his upside still puts him in play in GPP’s and I can see the argument for cash as well.
Ryan Moore $7,000 DK/$7,500 FD/ $14,100 FDraft – Great price and playing great golf in 2017. Has struggled in recent years on this course, but I do not see any glaring weaknesses in his game that should cause him problems here. Solid enough off the tee and can be an elite putter when he gets going. His scrambling numbers have not been great, but I am not overly concerned as it seems more of an outlier than a problem in his game. I think Moore is one of the safest options priced towards the bottom, but in GPP’s I think there are multiple plays in this same price range that make sense.
Fades & Notes
Rahm and Sergio – Originally had this labeled “Spaniards”, but forgot about RCB this week who I do not mind if you want to go that route. I like Sergio, he made me look smarter than I probably am by winning the Masters after I picked him as my winner on the pod during Masters week, but this is a tough spot. Pretty large layoff since the Masters win and is priced among the elites leaving not much room for error. I think may play well, but not sure he can pay off that lofty price tag.
Rahm is not a total fade for me, but if he continues to be 20% + I will try and grab maybe half of the ownership against the field. Never played this course and not sure if he will be able to utilize his driver that he loves so much. Clearly, he can overpower just about any course, but I do think there is a reasonable chance he find the drink multiple times this week and struggles.
As always keep in mind when I wrote this I do not have the tee times available and the weather is pretty unknown. Check in with me in Slack as we get closer to lock as some of these crowded ranges I will be using Tee times and weather to help prioritize who I like and determine my exposures.
Good luck everyone!
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