It is a quick turnaround from one of the biggest tournaments of the season to the final event of the Florida Swing as the TOUR heads from Florida’s East Coast to the West Coast for the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, FL. Despite being squeezed between The Players and the upcoming Match Play, they have drawn a really solid field to Innisbrook Resort.
Several of the top players in the world are set to tee it up, including Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and Justin Thomas. They are joined at the top from a DraftKings DFS perspective by Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele as the five players in five-figure pricing.
This elite bunch will give us plenty of options to start lineups up top or work our way for a more balanced approach this week in large field GPPs. The ownership shows some pretty defined stances, which we will utilize to try to beat 58,822 other lineups in this week’s Pitch + Putt. This tournament is the main event from a GPP perspective on DK, offering a $1M prize pool with $250,000 of that heading out as the first place prize.
I will have my focus on that contest as we dial in for our top GPP plays this week.
As always, you can find some similar work from Matt Vincenzi with his course fit article here on FantasyLabs. Landon Silinsky has his cash game plays here as well to get a good view of some of the safer plays of the week.
If you missed it, we added two new metrics in our PGA Player Models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.
The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is great for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.
And for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.
Xander Schauffele ($10,300)
There are a number of ways to start lineups this week, and with the way the field breaks out, they can all be viable. In large-field GPPs, I often like to start my lineups with the lowest owned of the top tier as outside of other circumstances, we are often simply splitting hairs between these elite players, and they all have similar upside. Right now, Xander Schauffele is standing out to me as a great play at about half of the projected ownership of Justin Thomas at the very top.
Schauffele provides us a nice spot to start our lineups this week with just 10% projected ownership and a nice discount from the rest of the tier. I have been hard on Xander for his inability to close in recent years, and I still really have that stance, but eventually, he is going to break through once again. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at an event like this, which will likely pose some difficult scoring and values his elite approach play, with these greens being some of the most difficult on TOUR.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,000)
Since I started with some low ownership up top, it allows me to eat the chalk with one of my favorite plays of the week in Matthew Fitzpatrick. He is not going to be overlooked despite the missed cut last week at The Players, as everything about this course is a fit for his game.
Fitzpatrick is known for his putting ability, which is accentuated on bermuda greens like he will see this week. He is also one of the top par-5 scorers in this field, and that has proven to be a must-have skillset at the Valspar over the years. This is one course where the Englishman’s ability to dial in on fairways and greens will put him in great shape, and I think with an opportunity to capture his first win on the PGA TOUR.
Alex Noren ($8,700)
I’ve been the conductor of the Alex Noren train during the Florida Swing, and I am not jumping off now. He got a big boost this week, but it is merited with his great play over the past several weeks. Noren has really shown an affinity for these Florida tracks and an ability to compete in tougher scoring conditions.
He ranks fifth in this field in Strokes Gained: Approach over the past couple of months and ranks ninth in overall ball-striking. Despite these numbers, it appears the price tag has people shying away a bit as he is currently projected for single-digit ownership, and he makes a great alternate pairing off the chalky Fitzpatrick, especially if you wanted to start with a popular player up top like Justin Thomas.
Russell Knox ($8,100)
Few players have been more consistently good with their ball-striking over the first few months of the season than Russell Knox. Each and every week, he comes out with some great play, especially on approach, and while the results aren’t always there due to a balky putter, he will come in with a lot of confidence off of his sixth-place finish at The Players.
Knox gained strokes on the greens for just the second time this year at The Players, with the other coming at the Sony Open, both of which produced top seven results. If he can find a way to keep rolling it well this week at Valspar, he can once again contend. This is a course that is mostly reliant on avoiding trouble tee to green, and Knox ranks third in the field in that metric since the start of the year.
We have also seen plenty of poor putters find success at Innisbrook, so that won’t deter me from Knox this week.
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,500)
This is the tier that I believe will separate much of the field this week. It gets pretty interesting down here, and I think we will see a lot of DFSers spread out in this range. Jhonny Vegas is the first player that jumps out to me as his ability to score, especially on par 5s, puts him ahead of everyone at the top of this range. I am willing to throw out his results from last week at TPC Sawgrass as he was actually in the mix during the early rounds at 4-under until a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 17th knocked him back to even par, and he eventually finished outside of the cut.
He was a player that was rolling with his iron play coming into the week at The Players, gaining over eight shots on approach in his three prior events, and I will look for that to bounce back this week at the Valspar.
Mattias Schwab ($7,300)
There are often weeks where I run through the models here on FantasyLabs, and players jump out as a surprise to me. This week that player was Mattias Schwab, who quietly had a T7 finish a few weeks ago at the Honda Classic. When I dug in further, I found that he posted another seventh-place finish in the alternate field event in Puerto Rico and is clearly carrying some good form into the week.
He checks out as one of the tops in this field in the key par 5 scoring metric, and that, along with his solid recent results, is enough for me to have some shares this week at the Valspar.
I don’t anticipate that many will be clicking his name this week, and that is reflected by his sub-5% projection, which has me excited to get well over the field on Schwab.
Pat Perez ($6,900)
Pat Perez can still flash some good ball-striking alongside his sharp putter when he has things going. He was middling in that aspect in a 33rd-place finish at The Players, but his 5.7 shots gained on the greens more than made up for it. If he can turn the irons around this week, I like him to better that result as this is another course that takes his weakness, the driver, out of his hands and will allow him to play more from the fairways.
That combination could set him up for a great week as this is a course where Perez has gained no worse than 4.8 shots on the greens across his two career appearances, and he already ranks as one of the best par-5 scorers in this field.
Kramer Hickok ($6,500)
I am going back to the well one more time with Hickok, though I’ll admit I started to go to Troy Merritt here. Either player makes sense to me, but it’s Hickok that seems to be carrying the better form tee to green. He gained 4.8 strokes on the field last week at Sawgrass, and 5.7 of those were ball striking. It was simply his short game that let him down last week, and at this price, I can hope for the elite side of the ball striking to outweigh his issues on and around the greens.
Hickok has shown over time to be better than his recent numbers with his short game, and if he can find that touch a bit at Innisbrook, he is a player with immense upside at a very cheap price.