In a 78-man field, tee times will be pretty close together so I don’t anticipate any type of AM/PM stack this week in my golf DFS showdown lineups for Round 1.
The forecast also looks pretty steady and we should have prime scoring conditions for the entirety of the tournament. In no cut events, it is important to target birdie makers in both showdown and full-tournament lineups.
Here are the top 10 golfers in Strokes Gained: Total in Round 1 over the past 24 rounds.
- Harris English ($8,200)
- Rory McIlroy ($10,200)
- Brooks Koepka ($9.700)
- Patrick Cantlay ($9,800)
- Jon Rahm ($11,300)
- Louis Oosthuizen ($8,500)
- Justin ThomasI ($10,800)
- Xander Schauffele ($10,300)
- Brendon Todd ($7,900)
- Tyrrell Hatton ($9,600)
With limited information on Shadow Creek this week, I am using recent Round 1 scoring averages as a bigger consideration. I am looking to target golfers who can get off to a hot start and have been doing so in the past 24 rounds.
Rory McIlory ($10,200): Rory is my pick to win this week.Though we don’t know a ton about the course, all signs are pointing to him being a perfect fit for Shadow Creek. When Rory contends he tends to get off to hot starts and I fully expect that to be the case this week.
Justin Thomas ($10,400): Thomas dominates no cut events. He has won the CJ Cup two of its three years it has been played, albeit at a different course. JT also thrives in fall events, so it seems this time of year is a great time to roster him.
Viktor Hovland ($8,900): Hovland had an excellent showing at Winged Foot for the U.S. Open. He gained strokes in all categories including an impressive 4.3 strokes on approach. His biggest weakness is putting and he seems to have figured that out of late. He has gained strokes putting in five of his past seven events. The only two in which he lost strokes was on Bermudagrass. I expect it to be his turn to contend this week.
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,400): Louis seems to always perform his best in events with stacked fields. In the U.S. Open, he finished in third place thanks to a strong tee to green performance (+8.2 strokes) and a hot putter (+6.2 strokes). His current form combined with his first-round scoring prowess makes Louis a high-floor Round 1 showdown play this week.
Rickie Fowler ($8,000): I know he burned us last week, but it is important to have a short memory when playing DFS. Rickie was getting himself into contention before some blow up holes and it is a worthy gamble that he can clean it up this week. He frequents the Vegas area and is one of the few players who has played Shadow Creek before. With a good track record in the desert, I think it will be a bounce-back week for Rickie and a chance to gain some leverage on the field as he will have low ownership.
Bubba Watson ($7,400): Bubba has been playing some excellent golf of late. In the U.S. Open he gained 10.9 strokes tee to green while struggling with the putter. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks second in this stacked field off the tee. Shadow Creek is a long course that I expect will favor the golfer’s who are strong off the tee and can hit it long and straight. Bubba has a lot of birdie and eagle upside that will provide useful in a Round 1 showdown slate.
Adam Hadwin ($6,900): Hadwin plays his best golf on the West Coast (PGA West, Riviera) and prefers to putt on bentgrass, which we will see this week. He hasn’t played great recently, but a 34th last week at the Shriners tells me he is starting to get it together. I think a “stars and scrubs” approach will be a good strategy this week so it is necessary to take some shots on golfers in the 6k range.
Brendan Steele ($6,800): Brendan Steele has the ball striking skill set that I expect to play well at Shadow Creek. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks fifth in this star-studded field in approach, and 16th tee to green. That is reason enough to take a chance on Steele at this price for Round 1.
Cameron Champ ($6,400): Cameron Champ has the high upside you need to win a multi-entry GPP this week. He ranks first in the field in strokes gained off the tee, which I expect to be the most important factor this week. His putting has been awful, but if he can find a way to just meet the field average there, he will surely be a major value play for his price.