Pebble Beach

PGA Cheat Sheet: Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Hideki Matsuyama won his second straight Phoenix Open title, so for DFS players who chose him over the other expensive options it was a good week.
BY: GEOFF ULRICH | DRAFTKINGS PLAYBOOK

The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.

LAST WEEK

Hideki Matsuyama won his second straight Phoenix Open title, so for DFS players who chose him over the other expensive options it was a good week. Matsuyama definitely gave some extra credence to the “horses for courses theory” as he’s now finished inside the top five in all four of his appearances at TPC Scottsdale. Matsuyama looks primed for a monster 2017, and a major title is looking very possible, if not likely, this year. While the trip to the desert was exciting, we move back to the California coast this week for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and are now five tournaments into 2017, and only eight tournaments away from Augusta.


THE FIELD

The field this week consists of 154 players. All of the players will be paired with a Pro-Am partner for the first three rounds and will play in foursomes which will make for some long rounds. Unlike regular weeks, there are three courses that the players will all visit once, which means that the cut will take place on Saturday. Only the top 60 players and ties will be allowed to play the weekend which means that getting all six of your players through to Sunday will be even more difficult than usual. Given the fact this event has a lot of big sponsors attending, many of the big named golfers are here, and you’ll see Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day all tee it up this week. Last year’s runner-up, and four-time Pebble Beach champion, Phil Mickelson is also in the field. This tournament does have a lot of “classy” winners, so don’t be shocked if one of the big guns take the title.


THE COURSES

Pebble Beach (main course), par 72, 6,800-6,900 yards
Spyglass Hill par 72, 6,900-7,000 yards
Monterey Peninsula, par 71, 6,800-6,900 yards

As mentioned above, all golfers will play each of these courses once before the cut — and those who make the cut will play Pebble again on Sunday. All three of these courses often rank as some of the easiest on Tour although Spyglass Hill generally plays a little tougher than the other two. Last year the weather conditions made things a little tricky and Spyglass and Pebble Beach both played fairly tough (15th and 16th hardest on Tour respectively). Monterey Peninsula was ranked nine spots below Pebble at 25th. The wind can be more of a factor at the wide open Pebble Beach, so watching the rotation of courses, the tee times and the weather this week could be key.

As far as layout goes, the host course (Pebble Beach) is a traditional par 72 — with four 5’s and four par 3’s — that plays quite short in spots. Three of the four par 5’s usually play at under 550 yards in length, and only one par 3 is over 200 yards. As a result, some long hitters — like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson (in his prime) — have prospered here and benefit from being able to attack the smaller than average greens with wedges and short irons. Even though there is trouble lurking in areas (most people remember the famous cliffs on 18), the course allows for aggressive play in a lot of spots — if the weather allows it — and low scores can be had most years.

In terms of toughness, Spyglass Hill generally plays a bit longer and is less forgiving off the tee. It should also be noted that on a windy day Spyglass might be the best course to play since it does have trees lining the fairway in many spots giving it some protection. As for Monterey Peninsula, it generally plays as one of the easiest on Tour. With the course now playing as a par 71 and featuring four par 5’s and five par 3’s you should see some low scores here and will likely need your player to have a good day on this course if he’s going to make the cut. With a three course rotation in play a lot may depend on the weather this week and avoiding players who are out on Pebble or Monterey on the windy days might be a decent strategy to employ for DFS.


LAST 5 WINNERS

  • 2016 — Vaughn Taylor -17 (over Phil Mickelson -16)
  • 2015 — Brandt Snedeker -22 (over Nick Watney -19)
  • 2014 — Jimmy Walker -11 (over Dustin Johnson -10)
  • 2013 — Brandt Snedeker -19 (over Chris Kirk -17)
  • 2012 — Phil Mickelson -17 (over Charlie Wi -15)

WINNING TRENDS

Since ’00, the winner at Pebble (incl. U.S. Open) had a T15 or better in one (or both) of his previous 2 starts at the course, all but once — courtesy @Jude_UT4 (twitter)

Recent form is also important this week: five of the last seven winners recorded a top ten or better in their previous two starts on Tour before winning here


STATISTICS

Greens in Regulation
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par 4 Scoring

This course doesn’t have quite as strong a correlation to players who hit a ton of greens in regulation as last week’s did, but it’s still important. Since 2012, the lowest the winner of this event has finished in Greens in Regulation Percentage for the week has been 6th. Players with high ranking in this category coming in, or in recent tournaments, should be given consideration.

The courses this week generally demand that players make a ton of birdies if they are going to survive into Sunday. In 2015, five of the top six players ranked 8th or better in birdies made for the week, while in 2016, seven of the top eight ranked inside the top ten in this stat for the week as well. The past five winners have ranked 10th-3rd-4th-55th-75th for the year in this category. Its definitely a week you can emphasize birdie-makers.

Par 4 Scoring also has a good correlation to success here. Of the past five winners of this event none have been outside the top five in Par Four Scoring for the week of their win.


FINDING VALUES

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.

PLAYER

ODDS

DK PRICE

COMPARABLES

Jim Furyk

50-1

$7,500

Chris Kirk$7,500 and 66-1
Stewart Cink$7,500 and 125-1
Daniel Summerhays$7,600 and 150-1

Shane Lowry

40-1

$7,000

Nick Watney$7,100 and 150-1
Ryan Palmer$7,000 and 100-1
Danny Lee$7,200 and 150-1


HORSES FOR COURSES

  • Jimmy Walker has now made six straight cuts at this event and finished 11th or better in five of those six appearances — including a win in 2014. He’s a dicier option than usual this week though, as he’s coming off missed cuts at two of his favorite venues.
  • Sean O’Hair might the have most consistent history of anyone at this event. Dating back to 2009, O’Hair has never missed the cut at Pebble Beach, a record which includes a 12th place finish at the 2010 U.S. Open. While he’s never finished better than 10th here, I think he offers a lot of safety.
  • Pat Perez has a long history at this event and has now made 10 of his last 11 cuts since 2005. Perez did withdraw from the Waste Management Open last week, so keep an eye on the news regarding his status. If healthy, he looks like a solid option and could go overlooked.
  • Dustin Johnson has a long and mostly successful history at Pebble (bar one U.S. Open meltdown). In eight appearances he has five top 5’s and two wins. A definite horse for the course if there ever was one.

DFS STRATEGY

Cash Games: Deciding between which top players to use might be the key this week as there are some obvious values just below them. Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose are both very affordable at $9,300/$9,200, are in good form and have great history at Pebble. Starting your lineup with both isn’t a bad idea. Patrick Reed and J.B. Holmes both have good history at Pebble and are high quality players at affordable prices at $8,400/$8,300. Shane Lowry ($7,000), Jim Furyk ($7,500) and Sean O’Hair ($7,300) also should be on your radar.

Tournaments: Since most of the obvious value plays are packed between $7,000 and $9,300, starting your lineup with two of the big three names at the top will certainly leave you with a more differentiated lineup structure this week. A Dustin Johnson/Jason Day pairing would leave you with $6,650 average left to fill out four spots. While there is obvious risk involved in using four lower priced golfers, on a week where everyone will play three rounds —regardless of their score — it’s actually less risky than normal. Some other tournament targets this week include Michael Thompson, CT Pan, Tony Finau and Jimmy Walker, who’s now had over two weeks to sort out his game after two missed cuts.

Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week

1. Hideki Matsuyama
2. Kyle Stanley
3. Shane Lowry

Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week

1. Daniel Berger
2. Zach Johnson
3. Sung Kang


MY PICK: J.B. HOLMES ($8,400)

There’s quite a lot of quality players in the field this week. While my pick from the absolute top of the heap would be Jason Day, my favorite play this week on DraftKings is J.B. Holmes. Holmes is making his third start of the year, and while the first two weren’t anything great — 36th and 24th — he did end up leading the field in birdies last week (thanks to @futureoffantasy for that stat). Holmes is also a traditionally strong putter on Poa Annua greens and has a great record at Pebble Beach over the years, including 11th and 10th place finishes from 2015/16. At $8,400, he might go a little overlooked given the talent in the field, but I think he can make a big splash and put up a big fantasy performance as well.

MY SLEEPER: CAMERON SMITH ($6,900)

Smith has been uber-consistent so far this year as he’s now made eight of nine cuts since last fall. There’s more to like here though as the young Aussie currently ranks 31st in Birdie or Better Percentage on Tour and 29th in overall Birdie Average for the year. He also seems to be well-adjusted to the Poa Greens as he was 11th at this event last season and was also 5th in Strokes Gained: Putting on similar greens at Torrey Pines. Smith is really just a talented young player who is coming into his own at the moment and doesn’t get talked about much. His under the radar status makes him a great sleeper this week, and, at under $7k, he represents a great value for fantasy.

 


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. Click here to view the original article at DraftKings Playbook.