Taking a trip to the heart of America, the PGA TOUR heads to the Quad Cities for this week's John Deere Classic.
With a major championship on the schedule next week, a lot of the big names sit this one out, but there are still a few noteworthy names at the top that are looking to build some steam before taking a chartered flight over to Carnoustie.
We have 156 golfers in the field with top 70 and ties making it through the cut (as usual). So let's dig in to see who might ping our radar.
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Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high near 89 degrees. Winds at 5-to-10 MPH with gusts staying under 15 MPH.
Friday (R2): Mostly sunny with a 30% chance or rain/storms in the afternoon. High near 91 degrees. Winds under 10 MPH.
It looks like more of the same over the weekend with warm weather and calm winds. Add in some receptive greens and we should be in for a scoring-fest, like we're used to seeing here in the Quad Cities.
The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts.
The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings.
Hudson Swafford (53.3 Projected Pts): He was one of the most steady mid-range fantasy options as recent as 2016 and early 2017 but fantasy golf moves quickly. This year, he arrives without a top 55 since the CareerBuilder Challenge at the end of January (10 starts since). His best finish in three trips to the JDC is a T35 (2015). I think you're getting too cute if you draft Swafford this week. There is no reason to re-invest until he flashes some form.
Sean O'Hair (52.8 Projected Pts): The Texan won here during his rookie season (2005) but he's 3-for-7 at TPC Deere Run since that win, nothing better than T39 over that stretch. It doesn't get any better on the form fron as he arrives with four straight missed cuts. He's signed scorecards of 72 or worse in 10 of his last 12 rounds played. Similar to Swafford, let him find some form before jumping back on the train.
Joaquin Niemann (34.6 Projected Pts): Earned his PGA TOUR status last week so he can breathe a sigh of relief, right? Sort of. Niemann is still not qualified for The Open Championship next week so if he wants to crack that field then he'll at least need a top 5 this week. Niemann has gained strokes tee-to-green in all nine of his ShotLink starts on the PGA TOUR.
Austin Cook (36.5 Projected Pts): If you were to build a course that perfectly fit Cook then it'd look a lot like TPC Deere Run. It's a venue rewards accuracy and doesn't require length. Strong wedge play is key while getting hot with the putter is a big plus. Those are all strengths of Cookie so I wouldn't be shocked to see him flirting around the top of the leaderboard all week.
The fairways here at TPC Deere Run are quite generous but the layout of the course doesn't really give you a big advantage to bomb-and-gouge. Instead, golfers can club down and take 3-woods or irons off a lot of tees here. This is what I'd consider a less-than-driver course.
Looking at performance on less-than-driver courses since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on less-than-driver courses (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Wesley Bryan and Kyle Stanley. Consider giving these two a boost this week. Combined they have accumulated six top 25s in 10 starts at the JDC.
Chez Reavie: If you look across the DFS industry, you might find one name that sticks out like a sore thumb in the value department. Chez is that guy. He's been priced much higher than his current tag this year, in much stronger fields. He's known for his elite accuracy off-the-tee so anytime you can get him to a course where distance is muted, that's a big plus. Here at TPC Deere Run he's 6-for-7 and those aren't just ho-hum finishes, either. He's collected a pair of top 15s here and he's posted rounds of 61 and 62 along the way. Reavie provides a steady hand this week but he also brings go-low potential that is rare for golfers in this price range. Don't overlook him this week.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!