When filling out a DraftKings lineup (use promo code SGP), picking among the favorites is a fairly safe proposition. It’s when you have to choose between a pool of golfers down the line is where you make or break your chance to win big.
Here’s the critical decisions you’ll face as you fill out your lineup for the 2019 WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational (values courtesy of DraftKings).
Golfers Valued $8,000-$8,900
- Hideki Matsuyama – $8,900
- Bryson DeChambeau – $8,800
- Adam Scott – $8,700
- Jordan Spieth – $8,600
- Tony Finau – $8,400
- Jason Day – $8,300
- Webb Simpson – $8,200
- Paul Casey – $8,200
- Louis Oosthuizen – $8,100
- Gary Woodland – $8,100
- Patrick Reed – $8,000
- Tyrrell Hatton – $8,000
My theory to treat Bryson DeChambeau like he was a boiling Hot Pocket straight out of the microwave last week did not go well at all. DeChambeau was very flat over the first two rounds of the Open Championship, as he seemed to struggle with his irons and the slow speeds of the green. I’m willing to give him another shot at this week’s WGC, as TPC Southwind has much less of a chance to put him on tilt like Royal Portrush did. DeChambeau has fared well in his career on golf courses that reward straight ball flights into soft greens, and I expect him to revert back to the hot form he showed before the Open Championship.
Everyone knows that Tony Finau is long overdue for a win, but part of the reason why he’s failed to break through for the first time since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open is because he’s so up and down. As soon as he begins to show multiple weeks of good form he incredulously blows up to a poor finish. Finau currently is working on a two week hot streak with his ball striking, where he’s finished 3rd in the field in greens in regulation % at both the 3M Open and the Open Championship. If the putting improves and his ball striking remains strong, maybe he can finally get over the hump.
Though there weren’t any strokes gained statistics kept at the Open Championship, Paul Casey did pretty much exactly what everyone thought he’d do tee-to-green. While his driving was a little loose at Royal Portrush, he still managed to be 13th in the field in greens in regulation to give himself the opportunity for a good finish on the leaderboard. Unfortunately he putted dreadfully, finishing 71st in the field in putts/round. When looking back at prior St. Jude Classic’s, contenders haven’t needed all that strong of a putting week to still manage a good finish, as strokes gained tee-to-green has been a far better predictor of leaderboard finish. Given he remains solid in this category, it’s safe to continue to deploy him in lineups.
I really like where Patrick Reed‘s form is right now. Coming into the Open Championship he had gained over 1.5 strokes per round on the field tee-to-green over his last four tournaments. His ball striking remained solid at Royal Portrush and he managed to match that with a good putting week, which had been an area that plagued him all season long. If both components of his game are working in harmony, he is prime to have a great finish at TPC Southwind.
Golfers Valued $7,500-$7,900
- Rafa Cabrera Bello – $7,900
- Chez Reavie – $7,900
- Andrew Putnam – $7,800
- Sergio Garcia – $7,800
- Matthew Fitzpatrick – $7,700
- Matt Wallace – $7,700
- Danny Willett – $7,600
- Marc Leishman – $7,600
- Billy Horschel – $7,500
- Matthew Wolff – $7,500
Matthew Fitzpatrick continues his streak of steady, consistent play. His ball striking was good at the Open Championship as he drove the ball well and was about average in the field in greens in regulation %. He’s also starting to putt better, finishing 22nd in putts/round last week to continue his steady improvement in that area over the last few months. TPC Southwind is a golf course that will yield scoring opportunities to players as long as they drive the ball well and hit their approach shots close, and that’s how things have been for him over the last few tournaments. Now that he’s rolling the rock well too, he should be in for another solid finish.
Marc Leishman was a huge disappointment at Royal Portrush. He was a trendy sleeper pick because of his low ball flight, which typically is a match for links golf. What had been plaguing Leishman this season was his performance off the tee, but it was actually the putter that failed him last week. Leishman hit 17 of 28 fairways over his first two rounds and 69% of his greens in regulation, but he averaged 34 putts/round – a truly dreadful statistic. It came out of nowhere because before that he had putted tremendously. If that returns, that should pair well with the improved ball striking for a much better result.
Many people may shy away from Matthew Wolff because this will be the strongest event he’s played in as a pro, but a WGC at TPC Southwind might be the perfect place to test his chops. For one, this is a no cut event and he won’t have to worry about beating half the field to make the weekend. And while I expect the course superintendents to try and set up the golf course to play a little more difficult than the typical St. Jude Classic, everything is all out in front of the golfer at TPC Southwind. This week is simply a test of execution, and good shots will be properly rewarded. Wolff shouldn’t have too big of trouble navigating a relatively straightforward track, and I expect him to post a solid finish.
Bottom of the Barrel (Golfers <$7,500)
Kevin Kisner – $7,200: After a bit of a rocky stretch, Kevin Kisner’s ball striking has begun to wake up a bit. Over his last three ShotLink measured tournaments he’s gained just under 0.9 strokes per round tee-to-green on the field, and at the Open Championship he was 29th in Driving Accuracy and 13th in Greens In Regulation. He still is struggling a bit with the putter, but TPC Southwind is much more of a ball striking golf course than it is a putter’s haven. More consistent ball striking from Kisner should yield a decent finish on the leaderboard.
Nate Lashley – $6,500: Lashley has played very solid golf even excluding his victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Over his last four ShotLink measured tournaments he’s gained just under a stroke on the field per round tee-to-green, and he just missed making it to the weekend at the Open by a shot. While he makes his first WGC start, Lashley has experience at TPC Southwind and finished T37 in last year’s St. Jude Classic. He shouldn’t be too overwhelmed by the moment.
Others To Consider: Bubba Watson ($7,100), Justin Harding ($6,600), Corey Conners ($6,300)