What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! It sure felt like the 2018 golf season really kicked off last week with an amazing event, a Monday playoff and the (solid) return of Tiger. And lucky for us, we get another strong field for the Waste Management Open. It’s party time!!! Get your six pack of PBR and head to the 16th hole for a week of drunken excitement!
The Waste Management Open will be played at TPC Scottsdale in, you guessed it, Scottsdale, Arizona. The course is a 7,266 yard Par 71, consisting of three very reachable Par 5s. The event is known for its rowdiness, which makes the entire week a great event to watch and follow. TPC Scottsdale is a second shot course, placing a large emphasis on strokes gained approach. The rough isn’t very penalizing, which will put the big stick in most golfer’s hands all weekend. Bombers don’t typically have an advantage here, but length will help on the aforementioned Par 5s. The winning score here has typically lingered in the mid to high teens, with Hideki winning the last two years at -14 and -17. The bermuda grass greens here will help level the playing field, giving guys like Hideki a better chance to contend. Unlike the last few weeks, putting will not be taken into consideration, rather guys who are stripping it with their irons will be heavily focused on.
Stats for the Week
SG: Par 5
Birdie or Better Gained
SG: Off the Tee
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Hideki Matsuyama – $11,500
This is Hideki’s event. Dominant is the only word that can describe the run Matsuyama has had at the Waste Management Open. In four years he has a T4, T2 and back-to-back wins. He is clearly the favorite to win again, and do not think a three-peat is not a possibility. He finished last week off strong, with a solid 3-under final round, moving him up to this T12 finish. What is odd is that Hideki did most of his damage on the green. Regardless, he cannot be faded this week, even as the most expensive golfer. I would be shocked if he doesn’t finish inside the top five once again.
Jon Rahm – $11,000
Rahm was a contender for the So You Got Burned segment, but there is still too much to love to leave him out of the staples. Rahm had a terrible Sunday round at Torrey Pines, one where he lost 3.2 strokes putting. Taking Rahm off the poa at Torrey and onto the bermuda at Scottsdale can only help. He was at the top of the leaderboard for most of last week, again showing why he had the chance overtaking the #1 ranking in the world. Rahm returns to an event he has played twice, and came T5 at as an amateur. I don’t think returning to the town he went to college in will distract Rahm. He seems hungry and determined to be at the top of the leaderboard each week. I am willing to dismiss one bad round of putting from the insane run of golf Rahm has been playing.
Gary Woodland – $8,600
Woodland comes in ranked 1st in my weighted stats model. His incredible BoB gained and SG: Par 5s over his past 12 rounds puts him at the top. Woodland has followed up his T7 at the Sony with a T12 last week at the Farmers Insurance Open. He now has three straight events gaining strokes on approach shots, and I know I mentioned putting isn’t being considered, but for a notoriously bad putter, Woodland has been lights out with the flat stick as of late. Woodland’s course history is hit or miss, making three of his last five cuts. I’m going to ride the heater Gary is on while others likely move on.
Zach Johnson – $7,700
Zach Johnson has found a lot of consistency in Scottsdale. In his past three trips to the WMO, Johnson has a T10, T14 and T12. Another result like that would be perfect for a $7,700 golfer. ZJ has also been very impressive over his past 12 rounds statistically. He ranks 4th in SG:APP and 8th in BoB Gained. He has also been scoring on Par 5s despite his lack of distance. He is about as safe as they come this week and without Charles Howell in the field, ZJ should fill in perfectly as a cash game lock.
Scott Piercy – $7,500
Scott Piercy has always had the “plays well in the desert” narrative surrounding him in events like the Waste Management Open. It has been a while since you can consider his trip to Scottsdale a success, dating back to his T15 in 2014 and 3rd place finish in 2013. Piercy is coming off one of his best finishes in the last couple of years, a T6 at the CareerBuilder where he gained strokes across the board. He will always be one of the best birdie makers in the field week in and week out. Mix in the fact he ranks 5th in SG:APP and 10th in SG:Par 5s over his past 12 rounds and you have yourself and elite level play.
Emiliano Grillo – $7,200
Grillo had an incredible ball striking week at Torrey Pines on route to a T12 finish. Grillo gained 5.3 shots on approaches, and gained shots in all other categories as well. That is now nine straight made cuts, after he struggled most of 2017. Grillo doesn’t have the length to be considered a bomber, but he does consistently gain strokes off the tee due to his accuracy. He ranks 21st in the field in SG: Par 5 over his last 12 rounds and 8th in SG:Off the Tee. His price tag makes him an amazing cash option and you should feel comfortable knowing you’ll get 72 holes out of Grillo this week.
Waste Management Open Interactive Data
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Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Marc Leishman – $9,700
I think people are getting tired of talking and being excited about rostering Marc Leishman. He only has one tag so far, and is trending towards being the lowest owned golfer in the +$9K range. Roster construction will likely have him being passed on often, with most people wanting to jam in one of the five digit golfers. Leish quietly game T8 at the Farmers, gaining 4.2 strokes on approach shots. After missing back-to-back cuts here in 2013 and 2014, Leishman took some time off from this event before returning last year for a T24. He has the ideal game for this course and if he is being ignored, what a perfect time to load up.
Kevin Chappell – $7,700
Chappell seems very under priced at first glance, but when you realize DK factors course history heavily into their pricing, you understand why. Chappell hasn’t had a ton of success at this event, but he has made the cut three out of his last five attempts. Not great. Why Chappell is a great pivot this week is that he should be lower owned, especially priced the same as Zach Johnson. Chappell also lit it up with his irons at the CareerBuilder, gaining 6.9 shots. If that continues in Arizona, he’ll be in the mix on Sunday.
Keegan Bradley – $7,400
Caveat to this is that it is early in the week and popularity can certainly snowball. However, for now, Keegan Bradley doesn’t have a single tag on FanShareSports and is priced the same as Xander Schauffele who has seven. Keegan came 5th last week at Torrey Pines, crushing in on approach shots, gaining 6.2 strokes. I fully expect that iron play to carry over to Scottsdale, an event Bradley has seen some success at in the past. His last three made cuts here have all resulted in top 25 finishes. His price is cheap and putting has been proven to not matter at this event.
Will McGirt – $6,900
It seems like it has been a while since we saw McGirt make a real splash in an event. He did have a couple top 10s in the fall swing season, but his T65 at the Sony definitely didn’t turn any heads. Perhaps flying under the radar this week will be a perfect situation for him. McGirt has zero tags on FanShareSports, despite gaining strokes on approach shots in three straight events. McGirt also loves this course, making the cut five straight seasons, including three top 25 results.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Phil Mickelson – $8,500
If you followed the coverage at all at Torrey, you saw Phil Mickelson, a lot. And what you saw, or at least what I picked up on, was a guy who was hitting the ball all over the yard but putting the lights out. The stats tell a similar story. Phil lost 3.2 strokes off the tee but gained 3.5 strokes putting, on route to his T45 finish. TPC Scottsdale has treated Phil well in the past, but if he is going to rely so heavily on the flat stick again, I cannot swallow the $8,500 price tag he is demanding.
Bubba Watson – $7,500
Bubba has incredible course history at TPC Sawgrass, but he proved last year he is still capable of missing the cut. I guarantee I miss out on Bubba’s rare top 10 that he may or may not post this season, because I will not be on him until he shows a glimpse of form. Unless of course he is sub $7K at Augusta. He missed the cut at the CareerBuilder a couple of weeks ago, his only start in 2018. $7,500 is way to rich for a guy I’m not sure is good at golf anymore.
Luke List – $7,200
Luke List crept his way to the top of the leaderboard last week, finishing in a respectable T12 position. However, he did most of his damage around the green, gaining 3.7 shots. That is something that does not translate very well to TPC Scottsdale, a course that sees a higher scrambling percentage from the top 10 finishers than the average tour event. List comes and goes more than anyone on tour, and if his iron game isn’t on (he’s lost strokes on approaches in five straight events) than he is a very difficult golfer to trust.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Rickie Fowler – $10,400
Last week was a very unfortunate time to load up on Fowler. He missed the cut on the number as the second highest priced golfer. I was high on him because of the fact he wasn’t travelling across the world to play in the event, something he had done in his previous couple of years. Torrey Pines just isn’t Rickie’s course. However, TPC Scottsdale is. He has a 2nd and a T4 here in his last two trips to Arizona. His $1,000 price drop puts us in an even better spot to capitalize on a primetime bounce back opportunity.
Ollie Schniederjans – $7,600
Everyone and their mother was on Ollie last week. He struggled on Thursday, came out hot fire on the front nine Friday, then proceeded to shoot 40 on the back nine to miss the cut. It sucked owning him as your winnings on Friday fluctuated with his performance. Ollie is now $900 cheaper and in a very similar situation. He still continues to gain strokes with his approach shots and should have no issue scoring on these easy Par 5s.
Xander Schauffele – $7,400
Xander was another guy who missed the cut on the number at Torrey when seemingly everyone had some shares of him. Xander’s sophomore season has not gotten off to the start he or any of us would have hoped for – he is 0/3 in top 20s. His price is the most intriguing quality this week, $600 cheaper than last. He won’t see nearly the same ownership as the Farmers either. He should dominate the Par 5s and his putting woes from last week shouldn’t be an issue on the bermuda.
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Good luck this week everybody!!