Harbour Town GL
Though the week after The Masters comes with a letdown of excitement, the RBC Heritage should be a lot of fun primarily because this golf course is spectacular. The greens are small here, and among the hardest to hit on tour. Iron play is emphasized here. This week is also known as “Luke Donald Week”, as he plays well here every single year and could be among the chalkiest players. But first, a recap of the Masters picks…
The Masters: Recap
My picks last week were a very mixed bag.
Though I had more of Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood, I was a victim of Sergio’s Tin Cup imitation. Patrick Cantlay was an extremely disappointing MC, given the fact that my model had him as the 5th most likely to make the cut in the entire field. Adding insult to injury, though Kuchar made the cut, he struggled the last three days so my full fade of him (in favor of Cantlay, for one) could have paid off handsomely. My favorite value play, Kevin Chappell, crashed and burned down the stretch of the Friday cut sweat, though I would pick him all over again if I had the chance because he rated that well in the models.
Among the good was a full fade of the chalky Rose in favor of Jon Rahm. Rahm caught fire on the weekend and ended up with the 4th most DK points. Spieth was excellent (just imagine if he showed up all 4 days instead of 2) and I chuckled when seeing he was paired with JT on Sunday (I mentioned last week how fun a Spieth and JT stack would be if they were paired on the final day- but I was anticipating them being a later pairing). Molinari made the cut and outdueled the chalkier DeChambeau, though I tried to get too cute by pivoting to Steele in several lines. I was guessing Steele would be super low owned; he wasn’t. He was 9% and missed the cut while Molinari was 3%. Whoops!
Fortunately, my week was salvaged by Tony Finau’s six straight birdies down the stretch to backdoor a top 10. His ankle injury wasn’t enough to get me off of him, though it did make me hedge with a little extra Cantlay and Schauffelle.
Thoughts and Takeaways
From a non DFS perspective, that Masters was as fun as it gets. The leaderboard was stacked, stars were charging, and like him or hate him, Reed put on a show. It’s a small point to take away and one case doesn’t make an argument, but Reed was a perfect example of why I believe course history is significantly overrated among the DFS community.
In four tries, Reed had missed the cut twice and his best finish was t22. His right to left preference fits Augusta well, however, and like Bubba has done for years now, used it to his advantage to dominate the par 5s. To me, that’s more important: how well does the course fit a player’s game? Often times, course history and fit go hand in hand (Bubba at the Masters, for example), but many times the small sample sizes result in a lot more noise than signal. More on this when discussing Luke Donald.
Emphasizing Made Cuts
Before I get into this weeks picks, I want to share a visualization of why making cuts are the top priority for DFS golf. This is a plot of all DK points earned in The Masters.
The obvious break in the middle separates those who missed the cut from those who played the weekend. In fact, the mean & median DK points for those who missed were 16.2 & 16.5, while the mean & median for those who made it were 69.7 & 65. It’s not just about missing out on 2 more days of similar scoring for every missed cut, but it’s also missing out on that player’s chances to do what Paul Casey did: make the cut on the number, then flirt with the course record on Sunday. So with that little tidbit in mind, let’s get to the picks.
The RBC Heritage Picks
Dustin Johnson is obviously the most expensive player, and probably should be higher. For those familiar with DFS baseball, I was anticipating a Chris Sale/ Clayton Kershaw middle of the summer salary. 12k is a BARGAIN for DJ in this field and is priority number one for me, whether you’re playing cash or GPP. According to my model, his expected earnings are more than double of anyone else, and his odds of making the cut are a beastly 94%.
Paul Casey is easily the second rated player according to the model. He’s been excellent all year off the tee and approaching the green, has the 2nd highest projected earnings, and is 3rd most likely to make the cut. If you want to be bold and fade DJ, Casey is a great spend.
Last week Matt Kuchar was $7,500 and is now $10,800. He was a full fade for me last week and will be a full fade for me again. On the season, he has LOST .109 strokes off the tee and gained just .12 approaching the green, per round. Several weeks ago, his SGP was over a full stroke per round, but it’s now down to around .6. Perhaps he IS human with the putter.
Marc Leishman is priced up to $10,300, his first time over $8.5k since February 1st. He’s been playing great and my models suggest he’s fairly priced for the weaker field, but there are several reasons to fade him. For one thing, if you pair him with DJ, you’re left with under 7k remaining, on average, for your final four picks. Yikes. Plus, there are plenty of comparable options for much less.
Ian Poulter is too expensive. His stats suggest his hot streak was very unsustainable and now he lacks the motivation of playing to get into The Masters. Full fade.
I want to believe in Cameron Smith, but the numbers just aren’t there yet. He’s barely above zero off the tee and while +.346 approaching the green is solid, it’s bested by plenty of guys priced well below him.
I’m going back to the well with Patrick Cantlay, hoping his struggles last week were merely due to the pressure and unfamiliarity of Augusta. He rates out excellently once again in my models, including having the 2nd best odds to make the cut. He’ll be one of my highest owned guys, and his t3 finish last year means I probably won’t be alone.
Luke List has finished no worse than 25th since January. He is a monster off the tee (+.759) and while his +.369 approaching the green is less impressive, it’s still better than Cameron Smith’s. His putting has left a lot to be desired in his last few events, but we saw how quickly he can turn it around (and how great he can be when he does) at the Honda. Choosing between List and Cantlay will be tough. I love them both this week, but the two of them plus DJ leaves under $6,700 for your remaining three.
Tyrrell Hatton and Emiliano Grillo stand out as the best picks in this range, though I prefer Grillo slightly. Hatton has been great off the tee, but has struggled with his irons so far in 2018. Meanwhile, Grillo has been even better than Hatton off the tee and also solid approaching the greens. Grillo came close in Houston and everyone who plays with him gushes about his ball striking talent.
There are too many players in the 7ks for one section to suffice. To kick things off, Kevin Chappell looks very solid under 8k. Despite his Masters letdown, he’s still 3rd on tour in strokes gained off the tee. Additionally, he’s gaining over half a stroke per round approaching the greens. Prior to the Masters, here’s where he finished in every event since Hawaii: 6, 31, 8, 20, 30, 7.
Xander Schauffelle, Byeong-Hun An, James Hahn, and Charley Hoffman all look good here as well, but my favorite play in this range is Francesco Molinari. Molinari barely trails Fleetwood and Chappell for 3rd on tour in SG driving (DJ and Rahm are well in front). His SG approach has been around zero this year, but excluding his first round 77 at Riviera, it’s positive, and he still maintains an average SG approach of .615 since the start of 2017. He is a world class ball striker not priced as such.
Luke Donald was once one of the best iron players on tour. In 2011, he gained over a stroke per round approaching the green, which was 1st on tour. However, this year he’s around -.2. In the past two years, he’s around -.1. Meanwhile, he’s LOSING nearly a stroke per round off the tee in those time frames. Like I mentioned earlier, Harbour Town has been very kind to him, but I’ll be fading entirely.The course fit his strengths years ago, but not anymore. He’s near the bottom in my models, too.
Jason Kokrak rates pretty well in my models, but has struggled in two straight events. He’s viable, but I’d rather dip to the below tier.
There are a ton of options in this range. For $7,300, Charles Howell, Kevin Streelman, Bud Cauley, and Scott Piercy all rate well in my models.
Brandon Harkins and Stewart Cink rate well for slightly less.
Cauley, Howell, Streelman, and Cink are my favorite options in this range, though they are all grouped close together. Find me in FTA’s chat closer to Thursday for my final thoughts on this range, as any weather draws or new information could help separate some from the others.
Lucas Glover is one of my favorite plays of the week. He rates above everyone in the above tier in my models, yet is only $6,800. He’s gaining nearly .6 strokes off the tee per round this year, which is consistent with his performance in previous years. He ranks 8th in my cut odds model and 12th in projected earnings. For reference, both are one spot behind Leishman.
Corey Conners and Kevin Tway are definitely viable for GPPs, but I wouldn’t play either one over Glover. Playing two of these three opens up some fun possibilities, however.
Robert Streb hasn’t made a cut since the Farmer’s at Torrey Pines, but looks like the best (GPP only!!!) play at minimum price. For someone who’s had such consistently poor results, his numbers are surprisingly good. He’s losing a bit off the tee, but is GAINING .58 strokes per round with his irons.
The tiny greens at Harbour Town emphasize iron play and scrambling ability. Players who rate out decently in my models (but not well enough to be mentioned above) AND specialize in these areas are:
Adam Hadwin, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Ollie Schniederjans, and Zach Johnson (my favorite in this category-especially in gpp as leverage off the chalky Hadwin). I mentioned Scott Piercy above, but it’s worth noting that his iron play has been among the best on tour this year.
Best of luck this week and thanks again for reading and sharing!