Daniel Berger took down the win with an emphatic eagle on the 72nd hole Sunday at Pebble Beach. He won more than $1.4 million and decided earlier this week he’d rather continue celebrating than golf at Riviera Country Club. (His team noted a back issue, but he’s still in for next week. Maybe the trophy is heavy?)
In DFS, Berger was 21 percent owned and the lead player on the week’s $200,000 winning lineup on DraftKings, which featured five of the six players within the Top 10. The lineup used all $50,000 of its available salary, but featured just three players, including Berger, with more than 10% ownership and the remaining three were all below 5 percent. Overall it was about 65% in total lineup ownership, which is right in the range of what we have been seeing as a theme through the year.
This week, DraftKings will up the ante a bit in their $15 main GPP The Flopshot, which will have more than 94,000 entries with $1.2 million in prizes and $300,000 top prize. My article will focus on attacking this tournament this week.
It’s an exciting week in golf as we get the top four in the world, and eight of the top ten together in a TOUR event for the first time this year. There should be no surprise that they are all coming together to support Tiger Woods in what has turned into his event over the past few years at the Genesis Invitational.
I am equally excited that they will be playing just one course and we are done with the multi-course setups until the fall. Riviera is always a great test for the players and presents some unique challenges. The 10th hole is the first one that comes to mind for me as it is a driveable Par 4, which each player will tee off as their first hole in the first two rounds and immediately have the decision to go for it or lay back for a marginally easier wedge shot. It always creates great drama for the leaders starting their back nine on Sunday.
You can get more on the course in my course preview and some of the stats I will be looking at to create my model. Additionally, Matt Vincenzi has his stats that matter article, and Landon Silinsky’s Cash Game Article provide great insight from the guys that have each hit winners the past two weeks.
Now let’s get into the plays.
Justin Thomas ($10,700 DK/$11,700 FD)
Thomas is certainly in play on either site, but he gets bumped from second to fourth over on FanDuel creating a little better value for him. His slot in second on DraftKings could be advantageous, too, if as the week progresses people decide they have to have the +550 Dustin Johnson.
I’m intrigued by Thomas here as he should be a course fit on any second shot course like Riviera, as he is arguably the best iron player in the game when he’s right. He’s shown his affinity for playing this event with two top 10s, including a runner up in his last three years, and maybe others will get too caught up in last year’s missed cut. I am in on Thomas, I just haven’t decided how much, but that will be better dictated by how ownership plays out into Thursday’s lock.
Jon Rahm ($10,400 DK/$11,800 FD)
I will not talk anyone off just about any play in this price range, and I might have exposure to a few of them, especially since I like the studs and cheap guys with plenty of course history value down low. I think ownership will be fairly spread out in this range, so I’m not getting too caught up there unless things change dramatically. My main pick up top is going to be Rahm and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes through with the win.
Rahm ranks No. 1 overall for me, and his price discount on DraftKings is a nice bonus. He comes in as one of the best putters historically at Riviera Country Club, which is a place known for ranking as one of the top three courses in short putts missed each year. That stat is the cherry on top for me on a player we know is elite in all other aspects of the game.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,600 DK/$11,200 FD)
My pick to win to start the week is Cantlay, which I am not backing away from but as the week as progressed he’s become more of a 1A to Rahm’s 1B. He will not slip through the ownership cracks and is frankly too cheap on DraftKings which will likely lead to a high ownership number. He’s projecting over 20% currently, but it’s merited at this price with his winning upside, form, and course history.
He ranks for me right in the spot that he’s priced, but his form has him trending much higher. When I add to it that he hasn’t finished outside of the Top 17 at this course, he becomes a core play for me regardless of ownership (to an extent).
Bubba Watson ($8,900 DK/$10,200 FD)
If you haven’t noticed, course history is a big one for me this week, as I think it’s more important here than most events. I will likely be going as far as to X out any players that have yet to play at the Genesis (and yes that includes some that played the 2017 US Amateur on the course), as it will be a place for me to plant my flag and narrow my player pool. Now, back to Watson, he’s the course history king at Riviera in my eyes with three victories. His couple of missed cuts around them make him just that more attractive for GPPs.
He’s projected below 10% currently, which will be less than defending champion Adam Scott, and nearly half that of a couple of popular young guys below him in Niemann and Hovland. I’ll happily go here to Watson who not only has the course history, but has also been playing some of his best and most consistent golf over the past several months.
Max Homa ($8,200 DK/$9,900 FD)
This will be five consecutive events for Homa, but he has clearly found a groove with his game. He has everything trending in the right direction, and it seems to be coming together at the right time as he heads to a course he has played well in recent years. Homa finished fifth in the event last year and hasn’t missed the cut in two appearances. I expect him to be in position to contend this weekend, and you can’t ask for much more than that at this price tag and just 10% ownership.
Russell Henley ($7,800 DK/$9,500 FD)
Only one player sticks out in a big way in this price range and that’s Carlos Ortiz at over 17% currently. I took him as my longshot to win the event, but I won’t go crazy for him in DFS. I think there are plenty of similar players in this range, so I will try to take some leverage with a guy like Henley who’s strength is with his irons, and he has some decent results at Riviera. The key here is he’s projected for half of the owenership to Ortiz, and you can find your favorite in this range as there are a few that fit the same mold.
Cameron Tringale ($7,600 DK/$9,300 FD)
This will be a record setting two weeks in a row of me writing up Tringale who has simply caught fire with his game. He played a solid four rounds at Pebble Beach last week and closed with a strong Sunday to climb into a tie for seventh overall. Tringale will look to carry that good play with him to LA where he had an 8th place finish in 2017. I am going to continue to ride the hot hand at Riviera this week and to my surprise only about 10% of players are riding with me, which seems like an added bonus.
Bonus pick: James Hahn ($7,500 DK/$9,100 FD) — He’s a staple for me at Riviera.
Talor Gooch ($7,200 DK/$8,700 FD)
As I mentioned at the top, I really have some plays I like in the value range and I will mostly try to build to jam in 2-3 guys up top with the comfort I have down low. Gooch is my first of those value plays as he comes in playing good golf dating back to the fall where he had two Top 5 finishes. He’ll come in to the Genesis off a missed cut at the Waste Management, but expect him to bounce back at a course he has two Top-20 finishes in two appearances, including a 10th place finish last year. Gooch has shown that the spots to play him are in these west coast swing California events like Torrey and Riviera, and I’ll do just that this week.
K.H. Lee ($7,100 DK/$8,700 FD)
The surprise of the week in Phoenix not named Jordan Spieth was Lee. Unlike Spieth, he didn’t falter on Sunday and made it four solid rounds at TPC Scottsdale on his way to a tie for second. He ultimately decided to pass on Pebble Beach, allowing him a week off leading into the Genesis where he has made the cut in both appearances and posted Top 25s. I tried to write Lee off multiple times during the week in Phoenix, but he really showed some guts and skill to stay in contention throughout the weekend. I’m not fading him again, and will jump in to see how he comes back off of that great result.
Chez Reavie ($7,000 DK/$8,300 FD)
There are a few places I nearly always look to Reavie regardless of form, and it payed off well at Pebble Beach last week. I’ll go back here at another place he has performed well, and now has some confidence coming in. Reavie was the best player in field on approach last week, gaining seven strokes on the field in that category and that is something to cling onto at a second shot course like Riviera. He’s an ideal GPP play for me where he has shown Top 10 upside at the Genesis, which is hard to match in this price range.
I’m not going to go into detail on each of these guys, but there are a few that will be in my player pool in the cheapest price range. Nearly all come in out of form, but have shown year after year to play well at Riviera. The only guys with ownership of note, nearing 10 percent, in this range are Matthew NeSmith and Doug Ghim in their tournament debuts.
- Martin Laird ($6,800 DK/$8,100 FD)
- Harold Varner III ($6,700 DK/$8,200 FD
- Vaughn Taylor ($6,700 DK/$7,900 FD)
- Patrick Rodgers ($6,700 DK/$7,800 FD)
- Sung Kang ($6,500 DK/$7,600 FD
- J.B. Holmes ($6,500 DK/$7,800 FD)