In the interest of time, I’m going to do things a little differently this week, but I think this style will fit the no-cut event well.
Horschel’s WD really sank my lines last week, along with Dahmen’s MC and Hadley’s valiant Friday effort coming up short of the cutline. I made all of it back with another solid week of showdowns, which brings me to my next point: If you’ve enjoyed my articles all year, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger on an FTA subscription, you’re missing out on some great showdown breakdowns and conversations each night in FTA+ chat. With football ONE DAY away, it’s a perfect time to join. I’ll be writing two NFL articles per week, one of which will be behind the paywall. FTA is the best bargain out there!
Aronimink is one of my favorite golf courses. I’ve played many rounds there, both competitive and simply for fun. From a playing standpoint, I felt it was an exceptional test of the mid/long iron game. In one of my tournaments here, it was about as soft as it will be this week. Carry distance off the tee will be a factor, as some of the par fours can get really long without any roll.
DataGolf’s Historic Event Data and Fantasy National’s Course Breakdown paint a picture of a course that actually emphasizes putting. I have two theories to explain this: 1. Small sample variance that we should ignore. 2. The course is just difficult enough to keep players from hitting darts (thus in order to make birdies, players have to hole challenging putts), yet not difficult enough to keep players from hitting greens at a rate around tour average. Three-putt avoidance could then also be a key since the greens are larger than average. To be honest, it’s probably a little of both 1 & 2. I’ll give SGP a slight bump in my models and look for players who excel with long irons, avoid three putts, and make a high relative percentage of their putts form 10-20ft to break ties in my earnings model.
Overall Strategy for the Week
Most weeks, I stress getting 6/6 through to the weekend as the top priority. With no cut, that’s obviously a non-issue. I also stress finding ways to diversify, and 9x out of 10, that’s with low owned players I like more than most. This week, the players I like are all projected to carry fair ownership. Since no one stands out as a low owned play who pops in my models, I’ll be looking to diversify in a different way…
No cut means cheap players carry less risk than usual. This will likely lead to an increase in studs & scrubs style lineups, which also means an increase of ownership to the top tier. Consequently, I will be fading the top tier. While the lack of a cut makes the scrubs less risky, it does not affect their general lack of upside. Instead, I want to roster six players who all have an above average chance to contend.
If you do want to roster players at the top, I recommend Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. Both pop in my models, are explosive scorers, and carry the ball a mile off the tee. Dustin Johnson fits this billing as well, but his price is finally reflective of how much better he is than everyone else.
Most weeks, I order my picks by descending price. This week, I’ll order them by the severity in which they pop in my models.
Patrick Cantlay was massively underpriced in the showdowns last week, and that trend continues this week. He is third overall in my models, yet $8.5k? Yes please. Cantlay is gaining over .7 strokes per round off the tee and just under .6 with his irons. Plus, his ball striking was excellent last weekend, sabotaged by poor play on and around the greens, which we know to be highly variant.
Gary Woodland has been on quite a ball striking role. Over his last five events, he’s averaging 3.7 and 3.8 total SGOTT and SGAPP, respectively. He rates very well long term, as well. Fire away.
Emiliano Grillo returned to form in a major way in Boston, and I’m not waiting to see any more before going all in with him. He stood out for us with a -7 at 3% ownership in the round 3 showdown, but his ball striking was exceptional all four days, not just Sunday.
Tiger Woods has been outstanding with his irons all season. He carries the ball far, and is elite from 10-20 ft. His putting struggles all year, when they’ve arisen, have been from in close. Time for Tiger to break through.
The Rest of the Core
Tony Finau is another excellent choice to start a more balanced line with. He’s explosive, he’s great in both ball striking categories, and as the clear frontrunner for the final Ryder Cup spot, he will be confidently trying to make one more lasting impression.
Tommy Fleetwood is similarly priced to Cantlay, and really pops. I’m not viewing this an either/or decision. I’m playing both. Fleetwood had his worst week off the tee in a while, and made up for it around the greens last week, which is cause for minor concern. However, his irons were great and Aronimink should fit him nicely. If he drives the ball like himself this week, he should contend. He is very good from 10-20 ft. Francesco Molinari rates similarly in my models, but is atrocious from this distance.
Bryson DeChambeau is intriguing, not just because he’s coming off back to back wins, but because he rates just as well in my Fantasy National custom model long term as he does short term. Bryson has played par 3s exceptionally well lately, which suggests his mid and long iron game are dialed in. He’s gaining just under and just above .6 strokes per round off the tee and approaching the green, respectively.
One Fatal Flaw Away From Being a Core Play
Paul Casey rates extremely well in my models. However, he experienced a fairly long slump with his ball striking. Over the past couple weeks, the ball striking has come to life. Irons are, and have always been, his greatest strength. He would be a priority for me if his putting numbers from 10-20 ft weren’t very bad, but they are.
Henrik Stenson is very similar to Casey. If i copy pasted the exact same paragraph, it would all fit. Stenson’s ball striking has been better than Casey’s recently, but his 10-20ft putting numbers are even worse. Oddly enough, he’s been quite good avoiding three-putts.
Luke List checks all the boxes, except putting. His iron play isn’t the greatest, as he’s gaining just over a quarter stroke per round, but he gains a massive advantage off the tee with distance that should give him more wedges than almost the entire field.
Keegan Bradley is an elite iron player. He burned a lot of people in the final round two weeks ago, then had a terrible week putting last week, driving his ownership projection way down. He’s a great play, but his putting could very well keep him out of contention even if he has a typically great ball striking week.
Byeong-Hun An is another tremendous ball striker with putting concerns. His ball striking last week made him a favorite showdown play of mine, but he never quite came through.
Viable Due to Low Ownership
- Daniel Berger is coming off a wonderful iron week, with an ownership projection of ~2%.
- Chesson Hadley got hot on Saturday but it wasn’t enough to overcome his disastrous first round. He was extremely low owned and it should be more of the same this week. Irons are his strength. He’s a great MME play.
- Ian Poulter had a major weight lifted off his shoulders as he was selected for the European Ryder Cup team.
I’m defining chalk here as “higher owned than anyone else around their price”, not some arbitrary line like 15% or 20% projected ownership.
CT Pan lost strokes with his irons last week on his way to a fourth place finish. He gained off the tee and on the greens, but gained the most around the green. He’s projected for an ownership level we usually never see for a player under $7k.
Abraham Ancer and Keith Mitchell are the other most popular “scrubs” people will pair with DJ or use when trying to fit in two of the top tier guys. Therefore, if you’re fading the top like me, fading these guys makes sense.
Ancer is a solid play, but Mitchell, while on a hot streak with his irons, has lost strokes on the year with his irons and is a very bad putter.
Hideki Matsuyama has now pieced together three solid finishes in a row. In the first two, his irons were in excellent form. Last week, he gained nothing with ball striking, gained a couple strokes with his short game, and gained a ton with his putter. Combining this fact with all the great options around him and I will definitely fade him completely. That said, if you love him, he’s not a bad play even as chalk.
Here’s one more shameless plea to join our FTA family. Our team is growing and we can’t wait for football! And of course, let’s finish the golf season strong!
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