Wells Fargo Championship May 4th – 7th

We’re BACK. Honestly I was pretty stoked to get a week off after a couple of weeks in a row where I was sitting in a ridiculously choice spot on Saturday night only to have things fall off quite a bit on Sunday. Whenever you start getting tilted out of your mind on big time winning weeks it is nice to get a bit of a mental break to put things into perspective. As an added bonus, in the interim I had my best Euro week ever. Big shout to Jazzraz for his killer article last week. Euro is not my forte as the lack of data makes me a little hamstrung in terms of projections, but Ben is the best in the business when it comes to pilfering through names we don’t know well. I particularly cleaned up on the weekend only slate, and I didn’t do anything but follow Ben’s baselines mixed with my weekend strategy article from a couple weeks ago to a T. Check that and use it before the herd catches up to how best to attack.

Ok, let’s look forward.

Pro: This week is the Wells Fargo Championship, a usually prestigious tournament that usually attracts a strong field as a final tune up for the massively pursed, “5th major” Players that will take place next week. The tournament has been running for a number of years so we should have plenty to look at when it comes to

Con: Oh crap. While the tournament typically plays at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, this year that particular course will be home the PGA Championship in August. Which means we get a brand new venue in the Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina, and not quite the strength of field we are used to. This certainly throws a wrench in analysis of what we are looking for this week, as the course looks to play quite a bit differently than Quail Hollow.

Pro: As stated above, this course looks to play quite a bit differently than Quail Hollow. While I don’t expect the public to completely ignore this, I do think there will be a fair amount of people who simply look at past performance at the Wells Fargo, which is not necessarily appropriate. This makes it a great week for tournaments, as frankly none of us know with any certainty how it will play.

I do think we can make some basic assumptions, however. The course is on the longer side (7400 yards) but the distribution of the hole lengths themselves is pretty all over the place. The 5s do not look super reachable in two. The fairways look pretty tight. While early reports are that the rough will be cut short, the abundance of trees and water are making me reticent to ignore accuracy. Greens are super-fast and it does looks like it will be fairly easy to roll right past them on approach shots.

I’m hearing a lot of chatter about how it looks to play like Augusta, which means we are going to get a ton of people riding Masters results. That’s all well and good, but this field is much bigger (156 but dropping by the moment), which means the cut will be tougher to get through.

The other major difference between here and Quail Hollow is that it is right on the coast. This is going to make wind a major factor, which it typically is not at the regular landlocked home of this event. As always, check back Wednesday night/Thursday morning to get the clearest picture of what to expect for the guys you are on.

 

Length/Fairways: Looks like you can drive pretty much every hole, which usually screams bombers to me. Trouble is, the par 5s look tough to reach and only par 4 looks gettable in one from the tee box. Certainly won’t hurt but I think chasing distance will be fairly chalky, and I think there are going to be other ways to attack the course.  We’ll talk about this in the greens section but I will likely try to separate my weight of approach shots by how long a player is off the tee. I also think that the course is going to play pretty tough and that there will be potential for massive numbers. Which means that not only will getting those big numbers hurt finishing points, but it also may be hard to make up for with bunches of birdies. The fairways are narrow, and while the rough doesn’t seem like a huge issue to hit out of, early reports are that having the right angle to the hole will be more important than ever. I’m keeping some focus on precision off the tee.

Greens: These appear to be quicker than average and mega undulating, which means putting will be tough and there is potential that some iron shots that look good could end up rolling off.

-A short approach game is probably going to be helpful, especially if it plays as tough as I think it will.

-While somebody like Wes Bryan could have them figured out by the weekend I really have no way of predicting that.

-Judging from course maps, it appears that most iron shots will come from 100-150 or 150-200 yards, which is somewhat standard. There are some very long ones too, but as I alluded to, they may be so long that no will be capable of getting them to the green. The longer a player is off the tee, the more heavily I will weigh the 100-150 range, and go more for SG from the 150-200 range with shorter hitters.

Weather: The wind looks to be intense and sustained this week. I will attempt to avoid it if I can with a tee time but that doesn’t look possible at the moment. If you want to try and identify good wind players go ahead, but for the most part the guys who are best in the wind are just the best players.

On to the golfers:

It probably sounds like I just made a case for every skill set/club in the bag. I think I did. At an unknown type course it makes sense to simply try and get the most golfer for your dollar that you can.

Pricey:

Of the top priced guys, I think it is very easy to make a case for Dustin Johnson-13.0, Jon Rahm-11.0, Adam Scott-10.0, or Paul Casey-9.9. I like Rahm the least because I’m still not sure I buy his iron game yet, but I will still have a bit. While it’s pretty tough to fit Deej with another top player, he could easily win this by 5 strokes if it plays tough and his back is okay. I’m waaaaay in if it looks like he’s going to be under 25-30% owned. Scott and Casey hit long and straight and are two of the very best approach players in the world. Tough scoring conditions could mitigate their issues with the putter. These two stand out as the strongest values and I will start most of my cash teams with one or both.

Fade: Phil Mickelson-10.2: While I have no doubt that Phil will make a few crazy approach shots from between a tree and a seabird, I think he’ll be doing it to save par rather than to make birdie. If the course plays tough the occasional doubles he’s going to accrue are going to be bad news.

Mid-range:

Louis Oosthuizen-8.1: This field isn’t so good that Louis should be priced down here. Give me him and a grand over Webb, Cauley, Perez and the like any day. Great all-around game, which is what we want here. His DGAF nature the only real worry.  (Editor’s note: Oosthuizen has withdrawn from the tournament.)

Emiliano Grillo-7.5: This is the poor man’s Casey/Scott, and while I was really hoping he would make it up into that tier this year, his price reflects the difference. Emotional player who could have a blow up hole or two, but no one in this area is a match in terms of talent.

Daniel Berger-8.3: While I worry that he could be the chalk of all chalk here with people chasing distance and how much the love his talent, I love his talent too. This is one where my opinion and exposure will change based on what I’m hearing from the industry. I do worry about his poor short game if the wind is going to cause a bunch of missed greens.

J.B. Holmes-8.0: If he’s playing he’ll show up in my column. Was actually a little down on him with his wildness off the tee and my inclination to look at precision, but he has always done well in the wind and it is because of his impeccable short game in addition to his strength.

Fade: Rafael Cabrera-Bello-8.7 shows up for me but I think we have a decent reason to believe he’s hiding an injury after his recent struggles. Club head speed is down significantly.

Cheapies:

Some obvious price tag flyers:

Stewart Cink-6.4 (consistently fine lately, rolling out the 2016 Hudson Swafford season), Jason Kokrak-6.7 (we’re getting back together, short game sucks but long irons are top shelf and price tag allows you to get some DEEEJ going), Brian Harman-6.7 (I’m not sure I know who this guy is but he’s gaining a lot of strokes off the tee and around the green lately), Alex Noren-6.6 (Not sure who will show up but this guy has certainly shown an ability to ball).

ALSO….I hate myself for this….BUT…I think you might be able to sneak by Zach Johnson-7.4 at pretty low ownership due to his game log. I have never been a fan and he has definitely sucked lately but tough course/in the wind/without a lot of scoring? He’s as likely as anyone to figure out some tough greens and get it rolling for a couple days.

Site Specific Values:

Fanduel remains broken, where you can play whoever you want and GPP success will be determined by how well you play shitbird roulette. I’d say I have faith in them to figure it out, but they have consistently shown an unwillingness to sharpen up pricing in other sports, too.

FantasyDraft is introducing a new format this week, where we now pick 7 golfers, with the top 6 counting towards the final score. I think this is probably in response to their tough pricing, giving us a little wiggle room since we will have to play so many cheapies. I will have a better defined strategy for it by Wednesday night so let’s talk about it in Slack, but I’m all for the concept. They originally started out as basically the same game as DK, then the pricing got too tough, and rather than just copy DK again they are trying out something new that makes sense. Good on them!

Go and get it everybody.

Find me on Twitter @andrewmbarron or in the FanVice Premium Slack @hotmajik if you wanna talk strat/make jokes/argue