Last week’s PGA TOUR DFS story was once again a tale of fading the chalk in the high price ranges. Daniel Berger came in as the second-highest owned player in the field, but missed the cut on the number, crushing nearly 24% of lineups off the bat. Justin Thomas was the highest-owned player of the slate and would also fall short of value with a difficult Sunday under tough personal circumstances after finding out about the passing of his Grandfather the night before.
The big key of the DFS week was once again a single-digit owned winner in Brooks Koepka. He came in at 8% owned and the winning lineup would pair him with a higher-owned Xander Schauffele. Sungjae Im, J.T. Poston and Benny An were the other three lineup fillers, even with just the former two finishing in the top 20. Another key to this lineup was hitting on the “punt” play of Matthew NeSmith, who finished seventh with 112.5 DK Points. In total, it was another week in under 60% lineup ownership, which is an interesting trend to start the year.
This week, the TOUR heads back out to the California coast this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, with an emphasis on the “Pro” portion as the pandemic causes changes to another event. There will be no amateurs, six hour rounds, or golf from Larry the Cable Guy this week at Pebble Beach. It also means Monterrey Peninsula won’t be in the rotation, leaving the pros to play Spyglass Hill on Thursday or Friday, with Pebble Beach being the main host course for players that make the 36-hole cut.
The lead up to the event has left the field in a much weaker position than it was when players committed at the Friday evening deadline last week. Most notably, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, the heavy favorite at +350, has withdrawn after winning the Saudi International last week. Several others coming from Phoenix have also backed out as Matt Kuchar, Luke List, Wyndham Clark and others won’t play.
DraftKings and FanDuel put out salaries before DJ and Kuchar’s withdrawals, which will open up salary in builds. The field also quickly drops off in perceived talent as now just five of the top 50 players in the world are set to tee it up.
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a tournament that has often found longshot winners. I think there is merit for those that use optimizers, like the great one here at FantasyLabs, to set some groups and custom rules. I’ll be requiring at least two or even three players up top (above $8,500) in my lineups, and creating some tee time wave stacks.
Right now, the winds look calm on Thursday before really picking up Friday and throughout the weekend, and wind can wreak havoc on this tournament. My preferred wave is going to be players who start at Pebble on Thursday, as it is typically the easier scoring course when weather is not in play, and Spyglass Friday as it’s typically not quite as impacted by the wind.
As we get into the plays for the week, use my Tournament Preview Article, and Matt Vincenzi’s Stats that Matter article to get familiar with the courses and the stats we will be looking at to pick out players. These are second shot golf courses to tiny greens, but they lack distance, so as usual, players will need precision with irons and to roll some putts in on poa greens.
Now for the plays!
Paul Casey ($10,400 DK/$11,400 FD)
I am going to again try to find the lowest-owned play at the top slate. I don’t feel like I am giving up much by going to Paul Casey at around 12% owned in initial projections over Patrick Cantlay, who could bump into nearly 30% ownership with DJ out. And you get a $900 discount on DraftKings and $500 on FanDuel.
Casey won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago, then finished 12th at the Saudi International. His game is clearly in great shape and now he comes to a tournament where he has two top 10 finishes in his last three trips, including a runner-up finish in 2019. The biggest concern is one we simply can’t measure as he has gone through too many timezones for me to try to count to get to Pebble Beach since his trip to Dubai at the end of January.
I’m willing to take my chances for the leverage, as his ball striking and iron game is a perfect fit for this event, as his results have shown.
Daniel Berger ($10,100 DK/$11,600 FD)
The last two winners on TOUR have missed the cut the previous week, then won the next. Daniel Berger certainly has the skillset to be the next one in that trend and we can hope that enough people got burned by him last week to keep his ownership down.
Berger ranks fourth in my overall model, and outside of missing the cut on the number last week, has shown great form since the fall swing. Berger finished fifth here last year and tends to excel on these shorter tracks that require a little more accuracy off the tee and solid approach play.
Si Woo Kim ($9,400 DK/$10,700 FD)
This is one of those weeks where you do a double take when you see some of the salaries next to the names. That’s certainly the case for Si Woo Kim, who we are used to getting in the next tier, but his play and course fit certainly merits the price this week.
Kim has started the year strong, highlighted by a win at The American Express. Despite this success, it looks like he will be the lowest owned of the top range. It’s not a surprise, but it is something I hope to take advantage of as he has shown an ability to play well at Pebble Beach, with a fourth place finish in 2019. I’ll look to gain some leverage with Si Woo in this range, which will allow me to also play some of my more popular plays down the board.
Kevin Streelman ($8,900 DK/$10,400 FD)
One of my favorite plays of the week in all markets is Kevin Streelman. I know he will be popular this week, but rightfully so with both his results here and where his game has been.
Streelman hasn’t finished worse than 17th at this tournament in the last five years, and finished second in 2020. He simply sees the courses well at Pebble Beach, and has continually found himself in contention down the stretch. I also love that he has his game heading in the right direction. He finished 22nd at the Waste Management where he showed great approach play, gaining more than a stroke on the field with his irons on average per round.
Everything is aligning for another big weeks for Streelman at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Cameron Tringale ($8,500 DK/$9,900 FD)
Quietly, one of the steadiest players to start the new year has been Cameron Tringale. He’s made the cut in all three events he’s played in 2021, and is coming off of back to back top twenty finishes. He will look to roll that success into a tournament he has made the cut in for three straight years, but has little more to show for that.
I am bullish in Tringale this week as his game and form have him in position to contend, and I am hopeful the inflated price tag will turn some others away. There just aren’t any holes in his play recently and that will bring some solid value to a week with a lot of unknown, and few upper tier players.
Chris Kirk ($7,900 DK/$9,400 FD)
I was beating myself up last week for going to Chris Kirk instead of taking some shots on Jordan Spieth at really low ownership. I had a late week gut feeling on Spieth, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. Instead, Kirk missed the cut and was the sole one to do so for me in a few lineups that would’ve looked pretty good with Jordan.
Anyway, enough about last week, this is this week and I am going back to Kirk. I try not to let one missed cut really throw me off of players that should fit a course and that is the case with Kirk. He is 10th in my overall model, showing great value, and it looks to be at single digit ownership. I’ll jump back on board and hope I don’t end up with similar regrets.
Chez Reavie ($7,500 DK/$8,900 FD)
This is a classic play based on course history alone as the recent form of Reavie has shown nothing to get excited about. If he had shown anything at all over the first few weeks of the year, he’d be near the other end of the mid-tier on both sites.
Instead, he’s at the bottom of this range, garnering very little attention for a player with three straight made cuts at this event, including a runner up and a third place finish on this course at the 2019 U.S. Open. I am going to take the low ownership and hope that the positive vibes of being back to a place he’s had so much success, sparks Reavie’s game.
Scott Piercy ($7,100 DK/$8,600 FD)
We aren’t going to get any optimal combinations of form and course history when we dive down deep this week, so we just have to run with one category that someone stands out. For Scott Piercy, it’s definitely what he has done at this event in the past. He comes into the AT&T Pebble Beach with four straight made cuts at this event, including three consecutive top twenty finishes.
I am going to lean on that history this week, and ignore his two missed cuts to start 2021. If he can find enough to duplicate his past few years at Pebble Beach, any result in the top twenty range would pay off these price tags nicely.
Rob Oppenheim ($6,500 DK/$7,300 FD)
Now we are digging down deep, but Rob Oppenheim is a player I really like to have a chance to produce a good result this week. He has some decent history at the event making the cut in four straight trips, including an 8th place finish back in 2017. It’s great to see someone at this price point with solid cut making ability, but also some upside.
A part of the reason I am going to Oppenheim here is that the strength of his game is with his irons. He ranks 10th in the field on approach over his last six events, and that alone is enough for me at this price.
Chris Baker ($6,200 DK/$7,000 FD)
If you really want to be able to stack up some of the names at the top of the board, you’ll have to find some players to get relatively comfortable with at the bottom. Chris Baker is that player for me as he ranks 8th in the field on approach over his last twenty-four rounds. I look for that type of stat to be something a player can lean on in the value plays, and with the irons being the key to the week for me, I am happy to buy into that with Baker.