The TOUR heads back to Florida for a normal staple in the Florida Swing, which has now been pushed out from March to April with the new schedule changes. The Valspar Championship is on the west coast of Florida, as opposed to the others mostly on the east side of the state, but it fits a similar vibe with the difficult layout and higher scoring natures.
As I noted in my course preview, the winning score in four of the last five versions of this event has hovered in the single digits under par, which will bring a different type of golfer in play this week.
Matt Vincenzi posted his typical stats that matter article, and I am on board with each of these key stats. I have also been digging in a bit deeper to find players that seem to thrive on tougher courses as opposed to posting their best numbers on the easier tracks. This will definitely be a week with lower DFS scoring than we are used to seeing, making it all that more important to get all players through the cut, but also putting a higher premium on finishing position.
My picks this week will be with a focus on the big $15 “Flop Shot” on DraftKings with a $750,000 prize pool and $200,000 to first. The projected ownership for players will come as targeted for that GPP contest, and I will try to build a core that is suited to taking that down.
Justin Thomas ($11,500 DK/$12,300 FD)
I am going straight to the top to start a bunch of my lineups this week, as I have Thomas as the clear top fit in my model from the top-price range. Everything about his game seems to set up well for the Copperhead Course, as he is one of the best iron players in the world, and the ways he generally gets in trouble is with driver off the tee. This course will allow him to dial it back off the tee at times to position himself for a good angle on approach.
Thomas ranks fifth in strokes gained total in difficult scoring events over the last 12 months, plus he’s in the top 10 of a majority of my key stats this week. That makes him the top play for me at the high end of things.
It appears he will stay below 20 percent owned in the main contest this week, but unless something changes dramatically, I am playing him regardless of the ownership. He has the lowest odds in the field this week, so it’s easy to see why he sets up to have a great week.
Viktor Hovland ($10,500 DK/$11,500 FD)
It looks like the lowest owned player in this five-digit price tier on DraftKings will come in the form of Hovland. He is hovering just above 10% owned currently, and I think as people begin to build, they will prefer to drop to Reed or Casey on DraftKings. He actually comes in below Reed on FanDuel, making him even more attractive on that site.
We know about Hovland’s ball striking prowess and short game issues. Based on the prior statistical models and players with success at the Valspar, he is in a similar mold. We have seen top finishes by players like Casey, Oosthuizen, Kokrak, and Sergio all of which are known for their ball striking and a lack of short game.
The other thing that stuck out for me is that he is the top ranked player in Strokes Gained Total over the past 12 months on difficult scoring courses. His ball striking keeps him in play, eliminates a lot of big numbers and all of that suits what is needed at this course.
Corey Conners ($9,600 DK/$11,300 FD)
The top player in my model, and frankly across most of the statistics, is Conners. Many were shocked to see him priced in the teens to win at most sportsbooks. And while it’s odd to see him above some of the other names, everything really checks out. He is similar to Hovland on the ball striking and short game side, but has shown great improvement with his flat stick over the last several months. I’ll have to eat a lot of chalk here (25%), but I just can’t fade the guy at the top of my list this week. My plan is to pair him with some less owned players below and get unique through the way I build him into my lineups.
Pivot: Anytime you can take the top player in the world as a pivot, it’ll make you feel pretty good. Dustin Johnson ($11,300 DK/$12,200 FD) has been a bit out of form, though he showed signs of coming out of it down the stretch at the RBC Heritage. His stats won’t check out this week because of recent form, but long term he is a fit at any course like this. It has him projected around just 12% owned this week, and if he’s right in his comment that his game is close, you could do much worse than being early in buying back on the world’s No. 1 player.
Cameron Tringale ($8,400 DK/$10,200 FD)
I like a handful of guys in this range, and it will vary by build type as to whom I choose. However, with so many top-end guys, saving a few dollars can be helpful. Tringale checks in as my first pick over the likes of Rose, Kokrak and Hoffman because he saves me just enough to help the build a bit at the bottom. He has been a bit of a staple in this article the last several months and he continues to play great. Tringale is another solid course fit, stays strong in difficult scoring, and will be a solid core play for me at just 11% owned.
Chris Kirk ($8,200 DK/$9,900 FD)
In this range, you will be eating chalk mostly through two players, Jason Kokrak and Chris Kirk. I will likely look to build with just one of those two in a majority of my lineups as they are each projected for greater than 20% ownership. Kirk has been as steady as they come this year, and is still maintaining a manageable pricetag which allows me to play him without needing a Top 5 type finish, but I know he has that upside. He is the only player in my model that checks the box inside the Top 20 of every single stat that is important to me this week. Kirk is the epitome of a core play, and will be one of my highest owned this week.
Lucas Glover ($7,700 DK/$9,600 FD)
This never works out well for me, but Glover is my top play in this range this week. It seems every time I roster Glover he is on the cutline late in the afternoon, only to fall apart down the stretch and ruin my best lineup. I guess I am back for more pain, but he has his game coming around with his ball striking and this is a course where he can get away with his terrible putting. He should stay below 10% ownership, and all of that is enough for me to have a fair amount of shares with the hopes we get the good Glover in Florida for the Valspar.
Denny McCarthy ($7,500 DK/$9,400 FD)
Many of my picks above are guaranteed to come with some heartburn on the greens, so I will balance it out with a guy that will capitalize if/when he gets there. McCarthy is one of the best putters in the game currently, especially on bermudagrass surfaces. His biggest thing is ensuring he has the ball striking in order to get him there to score and for this week, make par. He has gained strokes on a approach in four consecutive events and I will look for that to continue to allow him to build on his Top 10 finish at this tournament in 2019.
Pivot: Another player that has thrived in tough events is Erik Van Rooyen ($7,600 DK/$9,000 FD) and he seems to be finding better form. My biggest concern with EVR is the big numbers he seems to find during rounds, but at just 3% ownership you can take on some of that risk and have great upside if he comes through.
Lanto Griffin ($7,400 DK/$7,500 FD)
As I mentioned at the start, this tournament is a four-round grind and you want to target players that are willing to accept par rather than get themselves in trouble pressing for birdie. Griffin has shown us over the last few years that he is a better target in the tougher scoring events like we will see at Innisbrook Resort this week. He has also found some form in recent events, where he has gained strokes on approach, ball striking and tee to green in all of those measured events. I love the combination of fit and form at around 5% ownership for Griffin.
Doug Ghim ($7,300 DK/$8,900 FD)
I continue going back to Doug Ghim, but he continues to play well even if he isn’t getting the finishes that reflect that play. The price and sub 10% projected ownership allow me to get back here again this week, and frankly if we get the hot start he has become accustomed to, making the weekend will go a long way this week. Ghim is another player with upside for a top finish, but he will need to avoid the big numbers that have hindered him lately.
Patton Kizzire ($7,200 DK/$8,700 FD)
It used to be that PGA DFS was all about going back to the guys that burned people the last time they teed it up. Now, players are a bit more savvy in understanding the variance of golf, but it appears Kizzire is being a bit overlooked. He became a popular play at the RBC Heritage, which I peg as a decent comp course to Innisbrook, and now he’s only being looked at by about one percent. Having any shares will put you over the field, and I like how he checks out in my stats to be a fit this week as a low owned, cheap play with plenty of ceiling.
Ryan Moore ($6,900 DK/$8,500 FD)
I haven’t referenced course history, a lot as there are varying results across the player’s history at the Valspar. As I’ve said in the past though, I like to grasp onto a single stat that gives my sleepers hope, and for Moore it certainly circles around what he has done in this event. He’s a nice, cheap fit and a player that seems to be finding his game a bit at the Heritage after a brutal start to the year.
Chase Seiffert (6,600 DK/$7,700 FD)
Seiffert is actually the first sub $7k player that comes up in my model rankings, and looking through his stats and form it’s easy to see why. He has been dialed in across his game of late, especially on approach. He also has shown an ability to handle tough scoring events over the past year, which makes him a solid flyer with upside if he can make it to the weekend rounds.