PGA Angle of Attack: Career Builder Challenge

Justin Thomas took down another one, wiping the floor with the field in Hawaii last week. This was yet another guy who can’t hit the ball straight tearing it up on the narrowest fairways on tour. This is definitely worth remembering. A lot of guys we were on got it done (Rose! Grace, Webb, Knox, Swafford, Kisner, etc.) but the Dufner and Palmer disaster Fridays stopped it from being the bonanza type week it looked like it might be for me personally after the Thursday session.

This week brings another idiosyncratic setup, where we have a Pro – Am that is going to be played on three different courses. All golfers are guaranteed a round on each course before a Saturday cut. An extra round should give each golfer a better chance to show their true skill, and cut down on the risk of a couple of bad bounces/rolls ruining their (and potentially your) weekend. This course breakdown will be of the TPC West Stadium Course, where those who hang around will play twice. It’s worth noting that the other two courses play around two strokes easier, but I worry we risk overfitting by trying to incorporate all 54 holes into the model. This rotation is new, and with double the toughest course we may be looking at a winning score in the high teens as opposed to the 20s that usually tops the field. I always weigh a player’s skills and whether they should fit more than their course history, and with the changes I’d recommend being extra wary of course history this week.

The Stadium Course is 7,113 yards and par 72, with a more traditional 4 – 10 – 4 par 3/4/5 layout. There are actually some very long holes here and most of them are drivable. There are also some really nasty obstacles, with deep bunkers and water in play on many holes. Iron shots will be coming from all kinds of distances, which is going to require another debate on which player types will fit best. Slow greens.

Length: Yep, we want it. I count twelve holes the players should be able to drive. Closer to the pin is always better, and the easiest way to set up for success is by starting at the tee.

Fairways: They are not so much notably narrow or wide, but the players better stay on them. I mentioned the water and ugly bunkers. There’s going to be a lot of double bogeys, and I’m hoping to avoid them. I’ll be looking for accurate hitters.

Greens: These are on the slower side, just like last week. A nice landing spot for the iron shots, softer greens will tend to let the ball stay closer to its initial landing spot. As for putting, it should allow them to be aggressive without fear of missing too badly, but the long bombs will likely catch a bump or two on their way. Should suppress one and three putts.

Weather:  We are too far out to take action here, but at the moment the wind is projected to pick up heavily Friday afternoon. Make sure to check the forecast Wednesday night/Thursday morning when finishing up your lineups. It always makes sense to try and stack favorable tee times if weather looks like it could act up.




On to the golfers:

Pricey (9.0k+)

I think this week is a reversal from last where all the top guys seemed underpriced relative to the field. There really just aren’t any top guys this week, so the most expensive players are projecting as subpar values. While I am not much of a Patrick Reed fan (although he has a Spiethian short game so can always go off), and I’m finding most of the pricier guys I like to be just below the top.

Paul Casey – $10,000: Dude just couldn’t putt last week, and that is generally the first thing I am willing to forgive. He smashes it long and true and is a boss at long iron shots. This is an excellent bounce back spot. Get used to me saying that in this article.

Emiliano Grillo – $9,800: Struggled a bit with his short game down the stretch, but I think this is a good spot for him. Definitely the ball striking, long enough, super accurate guy that profiles well for the Stadium Course. It would not be a surprise if he has a Hideki like catapult up near the top tier this year. 100:1 to win the Masters, let’s jump on that that before others catch on and it drops to 60:1 in a month.

Jason Dufner – $9,200: I don’t know what happened there on Friday after he tore it up Thursday. While a total disaster like that is eyebrow raising, he definitely possesses the skills I am targeting, so let’s run it back.

Jon Rahm – $9,700: More of a game theory fade but I think people will be on the shiny new toy. Fantastic off the tee but can be inconsistent with the irons, and no one is as good a putter as he has been so far in his career. This could definitely hurt but I will be going in underweight.

Brendan Steele – $9,300: Another excellent driver who can bang with the long irons. Short game is kinda gross, but he’s got a ton of upside. Probably not for cash, unless you have at least a moderate risk tolerance, but I will have a lot of exposure.


Mid – range (7.5 – 8.9k)

Kevin Na – $8,800: Seems a touch overpriced but it’s easy to get sticker shock in these lousy field events. He is as steady as they come and I like him for cash games.

Ryan Palmer – $8,000: See Dufner, Jason. Came out blazing and then fell apart on Friday. Oh, and I used him in One and Done. Grrrr. Anyway, He has been driving the hell out of the ball and does not have massive weaknesses elsewhere. The one thing to be cognizant of are his slight wildness issues, so he could run into some water or sand, but if he’s on, HE IS ON!

Scott Piercy – $8,300: I find it odd that the field has gotten worse and yet Piercy is cheaper than last week. If people are off him given the mediocre weekend this is a fantastic buying opportunity.

Lucas Glover – $7,700: Secretly kind of a stud. The short game comes and goes, but when he is locked in, watch out. A strong driver regularly hitting 300 yards, he also is very good at 150+ approaches to the green.


Cheapies (7.4k and below)

There are a lot of plays down here, so it’s not going to be tough to jam in Patrick Reed or Phil Mickelson or even both if you want to roll with a stars and scrubs approach. This week, I am finding myself more into lineups with three of the more reasonably tagged expensive guys and loading up the rest with high upside plays from the bottom.

Roberto Castro – $7,000: Steady, very steady. If you buy what he did to close out last year at all then this price just doesn’t make sense. Not particularly long off the tee, but man what an iron game. Oh, and he wasn’t putting well even when he was crushing at all those tournaments in the playoffs. Let’s see them fall for a week.

Danny Lee – $6,700: I honestly think there is some Asian playing style consistency stereotyping going on here because the standard deviation in Lee’s outcomes is absurd. He could easily shoot 73 – 77 and miss but he has actual tournament winning skills if he has a week where it’s working. Don’t go crazy but I definitely want to roll with some of that for his sub 7k price point.

Aaron Wise – $6,500: Is he still a secret? Looking at his resume, he hits the ball a mile, was an NCAA champion and he tallied 5 of 7 top 10s on the Canadian Tour. So, uh, he loves bad competition! Count me in for some GPP action for sure.

Keegan Bradley – $7,400: I just have to. It does not make sense that he can be so bad at putting when he is so good at everything else. I made the stupidest/silliest bet of all time with a friend last year when we had my Keegan vs. his Graham DeLaet for most top 10s on the season. Amazing it didn’t end 0 – 0.

Go and get it everybody.