It was a wild finish to the Hawaii swing as after Russell Henley turned to the back nine with a five-shot lead; it seemed like the tournament was his. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make any birdies on the back to shut the door, and Hideki Matsuyama finally caught up to him on the 72nd hole. Hideki would then stuff a 277-yard approach to inside of 3 feet the par-5 18th in the first playoff hole to end the week and win the Sony Open.
Due to some shaky course history at the event, Hideki Matsuyama was the lowest owned of the five-figure players in the $15 Flop Shot. He ended up with the largest point total and a great offset to the chalk of Russell Henley.
In looking at last week’s top lineups, all of the top handful kept it within 75% total lineup ownership (simply adding the ownership of all six players in the lineup together). That will be something I will keep an eye on as we go forward, especially for full-field events, as it is important to balance how much of the chalk is hitting each week, as well as the amount of chalk that can be in a lineup to still take down a big GPP.
This week, the TOUR heads back to the mainland, where they will tee it up for The American Express. The tournament will be held across three courses as a Pro-Am, and the cut will not be made until after 54 holes are played. The final round on Sunday will be played on PGA West in La Quinta, CA.
Our team has you covered to prep you for the week ahead, and on my end, I am looking for a very similar player type to last week at Waialae. There are a lot of similarities in terms of skillset needed across these two courses, though this week is not quite as reliant on positioning off the tee. It will still require great wedge play, but the element of desert golf has me looking at similar results at tournaments like the Shriners for comparisons.
Below are the previews and picks from the rest of our team.
- Matt Vincenzi: Course Fit and GPP Plays
- Landon Silinsky: Cash Game Plays
- Justin Bailey: 3 Key Golfers
Now that we’ve got the layout let’s get right into the best large-field GPP plays of the week. This, again, will focus on the $15 Flop Shot as we look to take down the $200,000 top prize.
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.
Top Tier ($9,000-$11,300 DraftKings)
Jon Rahm ($11,300 DraftKings)
I think there is merit to setting up every single lineup that you make this week to include one of Jon Rahm or Patrick Cantlay. If you really like some value at the bottom of the board, you can try to squeeze in both, but they are a pretty clear class above the rest of this field. For this article, I’ll go with Rahm, who is projected in a similar 30% ownership range to Cantlay, but I am hopeful a few more may take the $400 discount. Either way, I’m really trying not to concern myself too much with their ownership and just looking for their upside and win equity in this event.
Rahm has won this tournament before, back in 2018, then came back to defend in 2019, where he finished sixth. He is a completely different and better player now, as indicated in the odds market, where he is only listed at +500 in some places. We could argue that he may even be a tad cheap in DFS for the odds, and I think we can fit him comfortably and expect a top finish, as he’s done in seven of his last eight tournaments with top-nine finishes.
Lock and load Rahm, and Cantlay, for that matter, then worry about getting different elsewhere is really my main strategy this week.
Tony Finau ($10,200 DraftKings)
The player that stands out with the lowest projected ownership of the five-figure prices is Tony Finau. I’m a bit surprised at that as he finished fourth at this event last year, but I think it is more of a sign of just how popular the top two will be. There is some room to pair Finau with them as you still have $7,125 per golfer when you start lineups with Rahm and Tony. I will be doing that some, but also looking to start with Finau is some of my more contrarian builds that exclude those top two.
Finau teed it up at Kapalua a couple of weeks ago, and his play was better than his 19th-place finish in the short field suggests. He simply had trouble putting in the two middle rounds, and there was just no room to make up for that in a tournament where the winners were well over 30 under par.
Still, he showed improvement with his ball-striking across each round and closed with a solid round with his irons. I expect we will see him pick up where he left off this week, and it’s hard not to like the leverage he can provide, with what I believe is a winning upside.
Mid-Tier ($8,000-$8,900 DraftKings)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,700 DraftKings)
It appears that the main builds this week will be with one of the two at the top, then a player in the $9,000 range before dropping down from there. This will once again leave the mid-tier looking a bit under-owned, and the player that sticks out for me is South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout. He finished 17th at the Sony last week, where he was simply unable to avoid the big mistakes, which proved costly in his overall result.
He is a player that I usually expect great putting and short game from and am mostly interested when I see he has it together tee to green. Bez had two rounds gaining more than three shots with his ball-striking last week, and I will look for him to continue that play this week if he can get the putter going, he can certainly contend around these courses, which won’t punish him terribly with his weakness off the tee. The ~7% ownership FanShare is currently projecting makes him a nice pivot while he also rates as one of the top plays in this price tier of the Bailey Model.
Rickie Fowler ($8,500 DraftKings)
I went back and forth here with the two bigger names in the middle of this tier as both Fowler and Justin Rose make sense this week. I think you can go either direction, though I chose to take the better course history and putting game of Fowler.
This will be an important year for Rickie as he looks to make his way back to relevance, frankly, in the upper tier of golf. He has struggled with his game in recent years, though there are signs he may be turning it around after a Fall Swing that saw him peak with a third-place finish at the CJ Cup.
He will come into this week off of back-to-back top-25 finishes at this event, including a top 10 in 2020 when it was the same Pro-Am format. There are signs that his game could be on the upswing, and if that is the case, I want to be early as we know he will quickly gather more ownership than most.
Value Plays ($7,000-$7,900 DraftKings)
Sebastian Munoz ($7,500 DraftKings)
There are a few players that are always in consideration for me due to their propensity to outscore their price, and Sebastian Munoz certainly falls in that category. We haven’t seen him yet this year, but he had a fairly typical up and downfall with missed cuts and a couple of top 5s there at the end. I know he has the upside for a high finish which makes him an attractive DFS play, but even if he doesn’t quite get that finish, he is likely to outscore his placement position.
Munoz is a great birdie maker and is often in a position for bonuses. This week he rates as a top point per dollar play our PGA Models, and I like his ability to score across three guaranteed rounds, especially with two of them being pretty easy tracks.
Denny McCarthy ($7,400 DraftKings)
My first target in this range this week was with Michael Thompson, as I wrote him up as someone to watch when things finished up Sunday night. It turns out that others noticed, too, and I’m not sure how much I want a chalky Michael Thompson in my builds this week, at least alongside the likes of Rahm and Cantlay.
Instead, I will go back to the well with Denny McCarthy, who was up and down on the week at the Sony. He actually showed some good ball-striking at times, which is generally the concern with him, but he actually lost about two strokes or more putting in multiple rounds at Waialae. I know that the putting will bounce back, and if he can keep the ball striking in order, he will be in for a solid week at low ownership for The American Express.
Sleepers ($6,000-$6,900 DraftKings)
Sahith Theegala ($6,700 DraftKings)
This is more of a gut play than anything, so don’t expect me to wow you with data here. I just simply believe in the skill of Theegala, and even as he struggled on the weekend last week in Hawaii, he showed some flashes of it. In what is a pretty ugly range overall under $7,000 this week, I am willing to take a jump on a guy that I think will be a solid player on TOUR as he gains experience.
He will be coming back to his home state of California for The American Express, and maybe that will bring back some of the ball striking he lacked on the islands. It’s a dart throw, but there isn’t much down here to make you feel comfortable.
Nick Taylor ($6,700 DraftKings)
If you’ve followed this article long enough, you know I have a bit of a thing for Nick Taylor. I was on him when he won the AT&T Pebble Beach a few years back, and since then, I have jumped in at times I thought could fit.
The Canadian has some decent history at this event, making the cut in four of his past five trips, and we know he can handle the Pro-Am atmosphere to still dial in for a win. I also like the course fit where Taylor can get away with his struggles off the tee and isn’t hindered by his lack of length, making him a solid skillset to make it to Sunday with a chance to pay off this price.