It was a great week at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles that saw Max Homa and Tony Finau battle it out for the title over two playoff holes. The drama and back and forth between the two over the final stretch was exactly what we love about Sunday afternoons. Homa would take home his second TOUR win, leaving Finau still searching for that allusive second victory of his own.
Unfortunately to start this new week, the golf world still had its eyes in California following a car wreck involving Tiger Woods. Thankfully, it sounds as though he escaped without any life threatening injuries, though it seems he has a long road to recovery ahead. Obviously, any and all golf becomes secondary in that situation, and we just hope for the best for him and his family.
Many players shared their concerns, thoughts and prayers from Florida on Tuesday including an understandably emotional Justin Thomas, who took the stage for an interview just shortly after the news broke. It will be something on the minds of everyone at the event this week as they prepare for the first WGC of the year.
There’s no easy transition from there to golf and PGA DFS, so let’s just dive into the event. As usual my course preview article, Matt Vincenzi’s stats that matter, and Landon Silinsky’s cash game article are great primers for gaining your base each week. This week is even more important as there is a lot of unknown for the first TOUR event at The Concession, but we all anticipate some of Jack Nicklaus’ signature stamps of shot making and approach play to be big keys.
It’s a top-flight field of 73 contenders, including most of the Top 50 players in the world at a no-cut event. We will be looking to target scorers, and leverage plays more than usual this week to gain spots on the field, knowing that everyone will play all four rounds. Let’s get into the picks.
Jon Rahm (11,100 DK/$11,900 FD)
My favorite play at the top of the board this week is Rahm. He gets just a slight discount off of Dustin Johnson as the second highest priced player on both sites, and I think he is really close to breaking through for his first win. If you have followed me in his last couple of appearances, I have been chasing that as all of the ball striking is there, but he has yet to get the putter going.
I think there will be some advantage to having some solid distance this week at The Concession, but it’s the iron play that really has me on Rahm this week. He’s gained thirteen strokes on approach over his last three tournaments, and that is play he can carry to a win on any course. I’ll be starting many of my lineups with Rahm, but early returns have him as the chalk up top which will require me to get different elsewhere.
Tony Finau ($9,800 DK/$11,200 FD)
It was another crushing loss last week as Finau fell short in the playoff to Max Homa, but unlike other times, he played fantastic in the final round. He shot 64 to get himself into that position on Sunday and in a no-cut, scoring event like this, I will go right back to him.
Finau has been nothing short of fantastic this year as he has reeled off three straight Top 5 finishes. He has gained no less than three strokes on approach in those three events, and is just absolutely dialed in across his game.
Tyrrell Hatton ($9,600 DK/$11,000 FD)
My favorite top end bet to win this week is with Hatton, who has had a great start to the new year over in Europe. He kicked it off with a win in Abu Dhabi over Rory McIlroy, and most recently posted another Top 10 finish at the Saudi International.
As has been the case with Hatton in his career, it’s the stellar iron play that is leading the way. He has gained over a stroke per round on approach in his three events in Europe and that form has me liking his ability to perform out of the gates back stateside this week. Add to it that he’s a bermudagrass player, and I will happily look to get above the 12% ownership currently projected.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8,900 DK/$9,900 FD)
When the players from the European Tour make the trip over to play events with the PGA players, they almost always go underowned. I am expecting that to be the case this week with Fleetwood who hasn’t played on this side of the hemisphere since back in the fall. He has played in three European events, and including both events in Dubai and the Saudi International. Fleetwood’s best result to start the new year was a tie for 7th at the HSBC Championship, and his game seems to be in the form we’ve come to expect from him with his ball striking leading the way.
I’ll lean on that ball striking this week and use Fleetwood as a way to get leverage on the field. He is projected for half of the ownership of Morikawa and Sungjae who surround him in pricing on DraftKings. His worldwide wins tell us he has winning equity, even if we haven’t seen it just yet in the states.
Will Zalatoris ($8,000 DK/$8,800 FD)
I am back on the Zalatoris train and he finally gets to go to an event with an equal amount of tournament experience on the course with the rest of the field. His signature iron play was back last week at the Genesis as he gained 3.4 strokes on the strong field at Riviera Country Club. He would climb his way into a Top 15 finish in the event, making it three Top 20 finishes in his first four events of the new year.
This will be his first WGC, but it’s a huge credit to him that he has been able to climb to the position to qualify for this tournament after being on the Korn Ferry Tour at this time last year. He’s got all of the talent compete at this level and we may even look back and see him as underpriced as he continues throughout this year. I will take what I perceive as value at an average price, but my eye will be on his ownership as I’d have trouble playing him in this field if he’s chalk of 15 percent or more.
Jason Day ($7,800 DK/$9,200 FD)
In weeks like this where DFS will be all about scoring and finding the optimal combination without the benefit of a cut, I look more favorably at the volatile players. Day has that volatility as we always have concern going into a week with Day that his back could act up and he be out shortly after starting, but he also has true winning upside at a good price.
We know Day has gone through swing chances over the last few months to try to take more pressure off of his back, and to create more consistency with his game. We got a glimpse of those improvements as he finished 7th at Pebble Beach and now he will look to carry that momentum back to the bermudagrass of The Concession. Day has historically been a much better putter on those surfaces, and at under 10% projected ownership I’ll shoot to hit his winning upside.
Harris English ($7,500 DK/$8,900 FD)
A lot of ownership is pooling around English and understandably so as he has shown to be one of the most consistent ball strikers over the last year. He has struggled a bit since his win in Hawaii, but I would expect 20% or more of the field to go back to him here and you’ll have to find ways to make your lineups unique to play him this week.
It’s impossible to ignore a player getting nearly a $2,000 discount from his last event, and one that has such a preference for the bermudagrass he will play this week. When English is on, he is the prototypical player I am looking for at The Concession, with his ball striking and approach play strengths. I’ll keep an eye on his ownership, but it will be hard to get away from him completely at this price.
Marc Leishman ($7,400 DK/$8,500 FD)
If you are looking for a quick pivot off of Harris English, you don’t have to go far on either site. Leishman falls in this same price tier and he has his game trending in the right direction. He’s gained atleast 1.4 strokes on the field with his irons in each of his first four tournaments of the year, including last week at the Genesis Invitational.
The Australian is another player that shows a strong putting split towards the bermudagrass surfaces he will see this week, and seems to be rounding back into the player we all knew him to be prior to his struggles following the COVID break. He may approach half of the ownership of English this week, and they both have very similar upside, making Leishman an attractive way to get a little different.
Billy Horschel ($7,000 DK/$7,900 FD)
I wrote up Ryan Palmer as my favorite longshot bet all the way up the leaderboard, and I really like that bet, but when I saw his ownership in DFS, I think it may also be a way for me to hedge. Right now, my plan is to go elsewhere from Palmer in this price range, as I think you can get similar if not better scoring upside from both Horschel and Jason Kokrak at a third of the ownership.
I’m going with Horschel here as I like his combination of upside and ball striking ability to suit well at The Concession. He is a much better player on bermuda than any other surface, and I think he will find some comfort to this track. Horschel has three straight Top 15 finishes at Jack’s course at Muirfield, and his skillset should play well this week.
Gary Woodland ($6,800 DK/$7,700 FD)
Everyone was all excited that Woodland had returned to form after he posted a 16th-place finish at The American Express. He would follow that up with a lackluster performance at the Farmers, and then back to back missed cuts. There are a few things that have me looking to jump on as everyone else has jumped off. My main encouragement is from the missed cut at the Genesis where he gained 4.2 strokes ball striking on the field in his two rounds, but fell short of the weekend as he lost 7.9 strokes putting.
It’s the first time since his good finish in the desert that he has had positive ball striking numbers, and perhaps most importantly showed great improvement off the tee. We know the talent is in there for the former U.S. Open winner, so I’ll be more than happy to try to be early on this turnaround at a cheap price and less than 5% projected ownership.
Sebastian Munoz ($6,500 DK/$7,100 FD)
There are a number of ways to go in this price range, and a few of them are shaping up to be chalky. It looks like Abraham Ancer, Lanto Griffin, and Brendon Todd will make up the chalk down low this week. I have already planted my flag with Woodland rather than Ancer for a fourth of the ownership, and I will again on Munoz over Todd.
My play here can be put simply as based on scoring upside as Munoz has the ability to score in bunches and if this course turns out to be a bit of a scoring fest, I prefer to streaky Munoz to the steadier Todd.