Just when you thought we were free from the multi-course events we head back to California for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The tournament has a full field of 156 golfers (plus 156 amateurs) and they use three courses over the first 54 holes.
For DFS purposes that means everyone will be guaranteed three rounds of action but getting your guys to the final day will be even tougher than usual because only the Top 60 and ties play the final day.
It sounds like the perfect recipe for Stars & Scrubs lineups but if weather rips through to add some extra carnage then it may be Scrubs & Scrubs lineups that end up being optimal by week's end.
With weather and course-wave considerations, it quickly becomes a week you can easily overthink things.
Let's dive through some of those weather concerns and see if there is one direction to lean.
Thursday (R1): Partly cloudy with a high of 54 degrees. Winds at 5-to-10 MPH.
Friday (R2): Cloudy and cool with some afternoon rain. High of 54 degrees. Winds around 8-to-15 MPH.
Saturday (R3): Cloudy with an occasional shower. High of 55 degrees. Winds at 7-to-12 MPH.
This forecast doesn't look horrendous but not ideal for these pros who are used to playing in 70-to-80 degree weather most weeks. They are also right on the coast so those wind forecasts could change dramatically in the next 24 hours. Add in some rain and it can really become a chore to finish 54 holes for any golfers that get off to a poor start.
Adding to that, the Monterey Peninsula has been soaked with a lot of pre-tournament rain including some storms last weekend that brought winds up to 75 MPH.
The course will be extremely soft and with some rain in the Friday/Saturday forecast, I would expect to see them play at least the first three rounds with lift, clean, and place in effect. Likely the final round as well.
You'd expect a birdiefest with soft conditions and lift, clean, and place but at the same time cold weather and spotty rain should keep things difficult. If we look at the last two editions played in similar conditions (cold with some rain and LCP) then we see a winning score of 12-under in 2014 by Jimmy Walker and then in 2017 it was somewhat similar and Jordan Spieth won with a 19-under tally. I would guess the winning score this week falls somewhere in between, maybe at 17-under.
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.
Matt Kuchar (74.13 Projected Pts): When you draft Kooch you are paying for consistency. He's basically a top-25 machine anywhere he goes but that hasn't been the case here. He's made 12 starts at this event and is 7-for-12 overall. Only two of those finishes have landed inside the top 30. You could argue that a lot of those starts came before he became a star but even the last two years his results have been MC and T62. It's rare to see an event with this spotty of history for Kuchar so just let other take that chance this week.
Patrick Reed (71.19 Projected Pts): On the pre-draft board he sits at #9 which is not strange to see for someone with his skills. However, Reed is completing a three-week stretch that includes starts in California, Saudi Arabia, and now back to California. You can trick your body for a day or two but jet lag typically catches up in these situations. I would be very surprised if he ends up with a top-10 finish this week.
Talor Gooch (51.99 Projected Pts): Historically this event has catered to golfers racking up birdies in January and nobody did that better than Gooch this time around. The Oklahoma State product has a pair of top 5s in 2019, both coming in California. He missed the cut in his debut here last year but he was T16 after day one with an opening 67. Gooch is arriving off a missed cut in Phoenix but a return to Cali might get him back on track.
Sungjae Im (41.60 Projected Pts): Similar to Tommy Fleetwood in this spot last year, Im remains a value target each and every week on DRAFT. The young Korean has gained strokes tee-to-green in 8 of his 9 career ShotLinks starts and he has no troubles with the putter, either. You could argue fatigue may eventually set in for the youngster but with top 20s in three of his last four starts, I don't think it's time to jump off the train just yet.
Heading back to California, we have a trio of courses that use poa annuaonthe putting surfaces. Some golfers love to battle with this turf while others try to avoid it at all costs.
Looking at sample-adjusted performance on poa annua 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 Poa Annua (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, and Jason Kokrak. Just a coincidence that these guys are all extremely long off the tee? Perhaps. Or maybe the climates where poa annua lives usually bring soft conditions which might give a slight bump to big hitters.
Brandon Harkins: The Cali native has A LOT of experience on the Monterey Peninsula. He's done well at the Monterey Open over the years and parlayed that into a T15 in his Pebble Beach Pro-Am debut last year. His recent results don't leap off the page but he ranks 7th in the field in Birdies or Better over the last month. Harkins is making lots of circles on his scorecards and perhaps a return to a familiar area could help him avoid the big numbers this week.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!