The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
Finally, a full-field event played on one course for all four rounds: The Genesis Open. A star-studded field, including four of the world’s top eight golfers, makes its way to Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California to compete for a share of the $7.2 million purse.
Riviera Country Club — a 7,322-yard, par-71 track that’s sometimes known as “Hogan’s Alley” — will host the tournament as it has done since 1973. The course has also hosted two PGA Championships and a U.S. Open (won by Ben Hogan in 1948).
As always, I backtested all metrics within our PGA Models to find which ones have been valuable here at Riviera. Per the Trends tool, here is how the top 20 percent of golfers in various metrics have done (in Plus/Minus valuation) at this course. Historically, the tournament has yielded averages of 45.68 DraftKings points and a -8.49 Plus/Minus with 42.0 percent Consistency to the field.
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score): -6.17 with 47.2 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation (GIR): -5.05 with 47.1 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Driving Distance (DD): -2.81 with 50.0 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Driving Accuracy (DA): -10.83 with 42.3 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Scrambling (SC): -8.67 with 42.1 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg): -7.15 with 44.6 percent Consistency
- Recent Adj Rd Score: -5.95 with 46.7 percent Consistency
- Recent GIR: -5.46 with 47.3 percent Consistency
- Recent DD: -3.02 with 51.3 percent Consistency
- Recent DA: -18.81 with 28.8 percent Consistency
- Recent SC: -8.88 with 41.0 percent Consistency
- Recent Adj Bird Avg: -5.83 with 43.8 percent Consistency
The numbers on both Long-term and Recent Driving Accuracy are wild— those who assault fairways need not apply. Focusing on players with strong Driving Distance who can also hit Greens In Regulation and have been playing well recently looks to be a possible way to uncover some value this week.
Once again, Dustin Johnson ($11,900) is a massive favorite, currently checking in with 16.7 percent odds to win. In the 10 tournaments since 2014 he’s had a 15+ percent chance to win, DJ has averaged 97.20 DraftKings points per tournament (PPT) with a +17.95 Plus/Minus and 70.0 percent Consistency. He has been owned by an average of 33.3 percent of lineups in those tournaments.
Last year, with a salary $500 lower, Johnson tipped the scales at 42.8 percent average ownership on his way to 123.5 DraftKings points and a +49.09 Plus/Minus. You can check out player exposure and much more with our PGA Contests Dashboard. And be sure to utilize our new Entries Manager tool in Player Models.
Johnson leads the field with both his 67.8 LT Adj Rd Score and 314 yard LT DD, and ranks 11th in LT GIR percentage (70.1). DJ’s 103.63 points per tournament in four trips to Riviera is the best among players with more than one start at this track.
Jordan Spieth ($11,300) is tied with Johnson atop the field in LT Adj Bird Avg (16.4) and tied for second overall with his 68.0 LT Adj Rd Score. Players with comparable salaries and LT metrics have previously produced an average of 76.89 DraftKings points per tournament (PPT) with a +0.76 Plus/Minus and 54.3 percent Consistency Rating. Spieth has three top-25 finishes (including a fourth-place finish) and a missed cut in his past four trips to Riviera.
Rory McIlroy ($11,100) missed the cut at last week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am after looking like his old dominant self in two European Tour starts in January. Rory is tied for seventh with his 68.7 LT Adj Rd Score, ranks fourth in LT DD (312.6 yards), and is fifth overall with a 15.6 LT Adj Bird Avg. Despite a very un-Rory-like season last year, McIlroy’s 70.9 points per tournament over the past 12 months still ranks 10th among players with at least 20 starts during that time period. At this point, it seems likely that Rory will be the lowest-owned among golfers with a salary of $10,000 or higher.
Justin Thomas ($10,700) hasn’t finished higher than 39th at Riviera in three trips since 2015. That said, JT’s 68.3 LT Adj Rd Score ranks fourth in the field. He’s also tied for ninth with a 308.8-yard LT DD, third overall in LT Adj Bird Avg (16.1), and he hasn’t finished outside of the top-25 in three starts in 2018.
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 high Adj Rd Scores and low salaries make great value plays.
Patrick Cantlay ($7,600): Cantlay was $8,900 at last week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am and was $9,500 at the Farmers Insurance Open the week prior to that, so it’s safe to say he presents solid value this week. Perhaps Cantlay’s two missed cuts (back in 2012 and 2013) at Riviera threw a wrench into DraftKings pricing algorithm? Cantlay’s LT Adj Rd Score (68.5) is tied for fifth, while his LT GIR percentage (69.7) is tied for 16th and LT Adj Bird Avg (15.4) ranks seventh.
Francisco Molinari ($7,200): Molinari makes frequent appearances in this section thanks to his 68.7 LT Adj Rd Score — which currently has him tied for seventh in this field. Molinari has alternated missed cuts with two finishes of 40th or worse the past four years at Riviera, so this likely is not one of his favorite tracks. His last missed cut on the European or PGA Tour was in August of last year at The Northern Trust Open, which ironically used to be the name of this event here at Riviera. Molinari has a top-25 LT GIR percentage (69.0) and his 15.0 LT Adj Bird Avg ranks ninth overall.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Tony Finau ($8,200): Finau hits it long (311.5 yard LT DD), puts the ball on the green (68.9 LT GIR percentage), and has been playing reasonably well (69.1 Recent Adj Rd Score). Finau missed the cut at the Phoenix Open his last time out and has missed the cut here at Riviera in each of the past two seasons, so despite his typically high ownership in Daily Fantasy Sports contests, Hump thinks Finau could fly under the radar this week.
Sang-Moon Bae ($7,200): Not many players have navigated their way around Riviera better than Sang-Moon, who has finished eighth, eighth and 12th in his past three trips: Bae’s 67.7 Course Adjusted Round Score ranks third among players with more than one start here.