The final multi-course tournament of the season kicks off this week at famed Pebble Beach. It will be a test of patience for all involved as the involvement of a Pro-Am creates long rounds and make it a bit difficult to follow from a fan’s perspective. The good news is this tournament always seems to produce drama on Sunday when most of the amateurs step out of the way and give the professionals the full spotlight. It has been a variation of top-level winners and triple-digit underdogs that have come through for the victory over the last several years.
Last year, it was the former as Daniel Berger separated himself from the field on Sunday for the win. He will tee it up this week as the second name on the board, behind world No. 4 Patrick Cantlay. The field falls off a bit from there as the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day look to make a resurgence, and a young player like Maverick McNealy tries to capture his first win.
All of the field will play 18 holes across the host course at Pebble Beach, as well as Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula. The cut will be made after 54 holes, but at a smaller level than is standard, with just the top 60 and ties set to play on Sunday. As usual, to take down the main $20 entry Pitch + Putt with $200,000 of the $800,000 prize pool to first, we are likely to need six players through the cut. In addition, we will want birdie makers as all of these courses can be gettable in the projected benign conditions this week.
I will also be narrowing in on players with elite approach play as off the tee is nearly irrelevant with so little driver play and some of the smallest greens on TOUR this week. Specifically, approach play from 100-150 yards will be key this week and a way to help me separate out some of the field. Finally, this is an event where I think tournament history really matters. It takes a special type of player to be able to handle the environment and distractions during this tournament, and I want players that have shown an ability to do that time and again across the years.
As usual, a good place to start your week is with Matt Vincenzi and his DFS Stats Course Preview. Also, Landon Silinsky outlines the top Cash Game Plays of the week. Lastly, you can find all of our favorite bets for the week, which can help identify some of those players that we see with winning upside.
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.
Patrick Cantlay ($11,200)
As I mentioned in my lead-in, this field drops off in a hurry so that I will start every lineup I make with one of the players at the top, and Cantlay certainly makes the most sense. He is going to be popular, but as of right now, it appears he will come in below Berger in large part due to the $700 price gap. Both players are likely in the 25%+ range, so it’s not as if there is a big separation here, but with all things relatively equal, I prefer Cantlay.
He has had an incredible run of golf dating back to the end of last season when he won the FedExCup and was named Player of the Year. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him get his first win of the new year here at Pebble Beach in a tournament he has posted back-to-back finishes inside the top 11. He also rates out well above the rest of the field in the Bailey Model on FantasyLabs, with a player rating nearly seven points better than Berger.
Cantlay is my preferred starting point for lineups this week.
Cameron Tringale ($9,500)
This is the kind of week where paying $9,500 for Cameron Tringale is going to be a thing. While he doesn’t have a win yet on TOUR, there are few players that have been more consistently at the top of their game without one over the last 12 months when his great run of golf really started with a seventh-place finish at this event last year.
Tringale rates out as the best play for me in my own personal model this week in this range, and I think there will be enough other players around him to keep his ownership down relative to the bunch. This should be a tournament that suits him well as his off the tee weakness is mitigated almost entirely, and he’ll be able to lean heavily on the strength of his irons and short game to be in position to contend come Sunday.
When I add in his preference for Poa greens and some big Strokes Gained: Putting weeks around Pebble Beach, Tringale becomes one of my favorite plays of the week in this range, especially if it appears to be contrarian.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,700)
It appears that the mid-tier is going to be a range where we can gain some leverage. There is a lot of popularity in the $9,000s and above, which due to pricing, is going to cause some players to look past this range in their builds. I will start near the top of this range with a player I have gone to a handful of times in Christiaan Bezuidenhout. He has not played in this tournament and, therefore might be overlooked more than normal, though he does have some buzz in the betting market. Despite his inexperience, he is a DFS play for me as his game seems to be tailormade for these courses.
Bez is one of the top players in the field in the 100-150 approach ranges that I mentioned in the lead-up. He is a sharp wedge player and, on top of that, one of the best putters in the world. He is also a proven winner. Even if all of that has been done overseas, he brings that winning experience to the table that others don’t have this week. The South African is a great fit to get around some of the more well-known and tournament history types, still with the upside to payoff this higher price tag.
Tom Hoge ($8,500)
Tom Hoge at $8,500 seemingly tells you everything you need to know about this field. He is a player we are used to rostering in the low $7,000s but this week, he gets a huge bump because of what he has done at this event. His 12th-place finish last year really should have been better as he received an awful break on the 72nd hole when his tee shot stuck in the cypress in the fairway of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. He was in a great position for a top 10 or even top 5 with a birdie there but had to re-tee and ultimately bogeyed to drop to solo 12th.
We know Hoge has a strong iron player that is held back by his putter at times, but he flashed the upside when it is all working with his runner-up finish a couple of weeks ago at the AmEx. I will not knock him for the missed cut last week and will hope to get some lower ownership because of it when he comes into Pebble, which is a course much more suited for his game, similar to PGA West. Hoge is projected at low-end ownership in the single digits, as I think the sticker shock will keep many from clicking his name, which creates a great spot for us if he can peak again this week.
Chris Kirk ($7,700)
There is a ton of similarity in the value range this week as we get a bunch of players with games that match and could suit these courses if they are on top of it. I will mostly just play the ownership game due to that as I don’t think you can truly separate Chris Kirk, Matt Kuchar, Lucas Glover, and Russell Knox from each other very effectively this week. All of them can be good or could struggle quite a bit in any given week, and none stand head and shoulders above the rest.
I was pleased to see the right combination of rating in the Bailey Model and ownership from Fanshare Sports for Chris Kirk this week. He rates above the rest but also comes in with the lowest ownership projection. Kirk has the game to fit this event and posted a solid 16th place finish in it last year. If he stays on the lower end of the ownership spectrum for this group, he’s my play in this range.
Matthew NeSmith ($7,300)
Again? Yes, again. I am determined to get NeSmith right at some point in my career, and I think this is the week. I used to only think of him as a Bermuda player, but he has proven me wrong in that aspect with solid finishes on the West Coast, especially at this tournament.
The former Gamecock is coming in off of a 34th-place finish last week at the Farmers, where his game really improved throughout each round, especially on approach. If he can keep that trend going into a week where he has top 20 finishes each of the last two years, he is a birdie maker that can present immense value to our lineups this week and payoff this pricetag just by making it to Sunday.
Austin Eckroat ($6,800)
My best bet of the week is on a top 20 for Austin Eckroat, as I feel a few books have him underpriced for the week. That can certainly carry over to DFS, where at $6,800, we can get a payoff on this price across 54 holes of good scoring from Eckroat and hopefully a chance on Sunday.
In the short time the former Oklahoma State Cowboy has been on TOUR, he has shown a bit of a preference for the shorter tracks. He will see that this week and rates out in the top 10 of the 100-150 wedge range I have highlighted. He also has some tournament experience on these courses, having played in the 2019 U.S. Open and recently finishing fifth at the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational, where he shot 63 on Pebble in the second round.
I don’t need a lot in this range to get me to buy a player as they are priced here for a reason, but we certainly have more from Eckroat than I get in most weeks at this type of price tag.
James Hahn ($6,700)
Things are getting thin down here, and it is a spot where if you feel conviction on a player, just run with it. For me, I am more just trusting the models than anything with James Hahn.
There is a very limited time of year when I am open to playing James Hahn, and it is always in this West Coast Swing leading into the Genesis. He rates out as my favorite play and the best one in the Bailey Model of the mid-level sleepers. Hahn is priced in the odds market well above his counterparts in this range for DFS, which is always a positive sign for me.
He is also a player that seems to prefer golf here on the West Coast, so I am willing to look past a couple of recent missed cuts in this event and rely on what I know of him as a player to take a shot that he finds the form this week.