The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The AT&T Byron Nelson will have a relatively weak field as some of the top golfers elect to take this week off. Only six players ranked inside the top 30 of the Official World Golf Rankings and four in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings will be attending.
We’re going to be flying blind this week, as this tournament has changed venues to the Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, Texas. As a result, we have zero data to go off of to select our golfers. Trinity Forest is a par-71, 7,450-yard course. It is a course that was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, who stated the following:
“Good players hate uncertainty. Ben and I strive for uncertainty.”
Per the course’s website, Trinity Forest is a links-style course that features complex greens and tall native grasses. The fairways are quite large, which should mitigate any accuracy concerns. However, Geoff Ogilvy mentioned that you need to work out where the best angles are:
“One side of the fairway may be easy; the other side is going to be difficult. Your mistakes are magnified, but your good stuff is magnified as well.”
With no data to go off of for this course, I’ll be taking a minimalist approach and sticking to the basics in terms of metrics. I’ll be focusing on Adjusted Round Scores, Greens in Regulation, birdie scoring, and average adjusted strokes on par-4s and par-5s.
Also, here’s a course review from a player in the field, Steven Bowditch:
Love Trinity Forrest. Suits ever type of player. Fairways are rolling out good amount considering zyosia.. Greens somewhat receptive.. putting around green is near impossible as they have let greenside grass grow more than usual. Better bring short game and precision iron game.
— bowdo (@bowdo83) May 14, 2018
Jordan Spieth ($11,900) checks into this tournament with massive 15.4% implied odds to win, along with the highest salary by $1,200 — he also happens to be a member of Trinity Golf Club. In this weak field, Spieth is projected for 31-35% ownership. And deservedly so, as his Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) of 68.0 and LT GIR (70%) are among the best marks in the field. Further, his long-term average adjusted stokes on par-4s (-3.2) is 2.7 strokes better than the next best golfer. Aside from his long-term form, Spieth is in solid recent form (67.9 Recent Adj Rd Score and 72.2% Recent GIR) with three straight made cuts, along with two top-three finishes in his past three tournaments. Spieth’s 41st-place finish at The Players Championship is a little deceiving, as he carded a quad bogey on the 18th hole in the final round. Historically, golfers with comparable salaries, Vegas odds, and metrics to Spieth’s have been excellent investments, but they’ve also come with high ownership:
Matt Kuchar‘s ($10,700) salary always gets a price bump when the field is lacking in talent. His salary was $7,800 for The Players; now it has risen $2,900. Overall, Kuchar is always a safe bet for cash games as he’s so consistent on a week-to-week basis. Over his past 42 tournaments, Kuchar has missed just three cuts and has yet to miss one this season. That said, price needs to be considered in DFS. When Kuchar is priced $10,000 or above, he consistently fails to meet salary-based expectations:
Kuchar has historically averaged 72.22 DraftKings per tournament with a +4.59 Plus/Minus, so unless he wins or obtains some placing bonuses, you’ll likely secure around the same raw points as you normally would from Kuchar, but you’re going to pay a premium. That said, he definitely has the game to win here.
Sergio Garcia ($10,100) is interesting because he has tremendous long-term form with his 68.9 LT Adj Rd Score, 71.1% LT GIR, and -4.7 average adjusted strokes on par-5s. However, he’s also sporting an awful 71.3 Recent Adj Rd Score. (To be fair, his disaster at The Masters is likely skewing those results a fair amount as he shot an 81 and a 78 at August National.) Still, he failed to make the cut at the Texas Open and finished 70th at The Players. If you think Sergio can progress back to his long-term form, then I don’t see how he couldn’t contend here, but we haven’t seen vintage Sergio since March.
The Value Plays
One way to use FantasyLabs to find potential value golfers in our Models is to leverage our LT Adj Rd Score metric. If you sort the field by LT Adj Rd Score, you are looking at a list of players who have been the best golfers over the past 75 weeks. Among these golfers, those who have low salaries make great value plays.
Martin Laird ($7,900) is currently sporting the 14th-best odds to win (2.2%), but he’s priced outside of the top 20. Laird has been playing well of late with a 68.4 Recent Adj Rd Score, which ranks third-best in the field. Within that same time frame, Laird has averaged a stellar 17 birdies per tournament and has taken full advantage of par-5s, as evidenced by his -6.3 average adjusted strokes on those holes. Historically, golfers with comparable salaries, odds, and metrics to Laird’s have been decent investments:
I felt a bit lost not being able to write up Keith Mitchell ($7,800) as a low-owned value play at The Players last week as he was a late addition to the field. But perhaps that was for the best, as he was an MDF after putting up a 75 and 78 in the second and third rounds after opening the tournament with a 67. Mitchell has played most of the PGA season under the radar with average ownership of 2% this season. That may not be the case this week in this weak field. Mitchell has been incredibly consistent this PGA season outside of his MDF last week at Sawgrass. Overall, he hasn’t placed that highly in most of his events, but ultimately he’s making cuts and averaging a +14.40 Plus/Minus with 73.9% Consistency this season:
Value options are thin this week, but for some reason, Satoshi Kodaira is catching my eye a bit. He’s ranked 29th in the Official World Golf Rankings and has missed just 7% of cuts over his past 40 tournaments. Kodaira missed the cut at The Players, but he won the RBC Heritage back in April and had a decent showing at The Masters (28th). Overall, he has hit 68% of GIR over the past 75 weeks, he’s accurate off the tee (65.4% LT DA), and his -0.3 average adjusted strokes on par-4s is the sixth-best mark in the field. Further, his recent form isn’t awful, as he’s averaging 14.3 birdies per tournament and gaining strokes on par-4s (-1.3 averages adjusted strokes) and par-5s (-3.3 average adjusted strokes). However, Kodaira gives me some pause as his scrambling scores are among the worst in the field, which could cause trouble if he’s not hitting GIR. His 55.7% LT Field Score also suggests the competition he faces in Japan isn’t very daunting. Further, he owns just a 46.7% Consistency Rating in his 15 PGA events. Kodaira is interesting as he has shown he can win at the PGA level, but he doesn’t come without risks.
Kevin Na ($7,200) could also be considered this week, as he comes incredibly cheap and boasts the 11th-best LT Adj Rd Score (69.6) and 1.8% Vegas odds. He is an excellent putter (28.5 LT putts per round), and he can scramble, as evidenced by his 61.4% LT Scrambling mark. All that said, his recent form (70.3 Recent Adj Rd Score) leaves much to be desired; he’s missed two cuts in his past three tournaments.
The Bump and Run
Marc Leishman ($9,100) owns the second-best LT Adj Rd Score (68.6). He’s one of the better par-4 and par-5 scorers in this field, ranking inside the top five in average adjusted strokes on par-4s (-0.4) and inside the top 15 in average adjusted strokes on par-5s (-4.4). Further, Leishman is a fairly consistent cut-maker, missing the mark in 13% of this tournaments over the past 75 weeks. Golfers with comparable metrics, salaries, and odds (3.4%) to Leishman’s have historically averaged a +3.67 DraftKings Plus/Minus.
Jimmy Walker ($9,500) is in excellent recent form, boasting a 67.6 Recent Adj Rd Score. He’s made six straight cuts, and his overall metrics look great over his past three tournaments:
Charles Howell III ($8,700) is typically a favorite among DFS players, as he’s missed just 11% of cuts over the past 75 weeks. Further, Howell is in excellent recent form with a 68.5 Recent Adj Rd Score, gaining strokes on par-4s (-0.3) and par-5s (-5.3) within that same time frame. Ultimately, Howell is a very safe play given his incredible consistency this PGA season:
Branden Grace‘s ($9,400) long-term -5.1 average adjusted strokes on par-5s is the second-best mark in the field, and he’s another outstanding cut-maker (7% missed cut rate over the past 75 weeks). Overall, Grace’s LT Adj Rd Score (69.3) and Recent Adj Rd Score (68.4) are both top-seven marks in the field. Ultimately, Grace’s consistency over the long haul and throughout his past 10 tournaments (below) makes him an enticing play:
Rory Sabbatini ($8,600) has been a forgotten man this PGA season, averaging just 0.9% ownership. However, he’s quietly been absurdly consistent. Over his past 12 tournaments, Sabbatini hasn’t missed a cut and is sporting a 100% Consistency Rating. In fact, he hasn’t missed a cut since November of 2017. Sabbatini’s long-term numbers have been serviceable, as he’s sporting a 65.7% LT GIR, 63.6% LT DA, and -4.1 average adjusted strokes on par-5s. His recent form has also been quite good, as he’s averaging 17.3 birdies per tournament along with -2.0 average adjusted strokes on par-4s and -6.3 average adjusted strokes on par-5s.
Don’t forget to visit our suite of Tools to research all of the golfers. Good luck this week!
Pictured above: Jordan Spieth
Photo credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports