WGC Cadillac Championship Preview and Strategy
The Florida swing continues this week with another really tough track, and the best field of the year so far. The site is Trump National Doral in Doral, Florida. The prevailing theme this week will be to target the longer hitters, as the redesign in 2013-14 was not kind to the shorter hitters. Measuring in at 7,543 yards, this par 72 layout played the 5th toughest on tour last year, with danger lurking on many holes. As with most Florida courses, there is water everywhere, so big numbers are in play on almost every hole. Luckily, for the bombers, they can take a lot of the danger away by just crushing the ball over the bunkers and away from the water. You can throw out course history for anything before 2013, so current form will definitely be weighted more this week. This is a smaller field than normal, with only 66 players in attendance, meaning there will also be no cut. Defending champion Dustin Johnson will be in the field looking to repeat, as well as 48 of the top 50 in the world golf rankings, and the top 10 in the Fed Ex Cup points race.
There is always a lot of talk about strategy at no cut events, and there is no magic formula, but I do tend to make some small changes. A 'stars and scrubs' approach will work well in GPP's because you will definitely need to have the winner and probably two others in the top 5 to win a big tournament. A balanced approach still works for cash games in my opinion, and this week I would go as low as Kevin Na @ $7100 and as high as Henrik Stenson @ $10,300.
Jordan Spieth and Rory McIroy aren't in the picks below, and both are coming off of missed cuts which may depress their ownership levels in tournaments. Spieth was 1st in Bob% last year and is second again this season, where Rory is also ranked 8th. Despite their recent struggles, they are still the two best players in the field strokes gained wise on par 72 layouts and courses that measure longer than 7400 yards since 2013. (Via Future of Fantasy). Now would be a good time to hop back on board when the masses may look in other directions.
Key Stats for Trump National Doral
No matter where you get your advice or do your research this week, Driving Distance (DD) will be everyone's favorite stat to weigh heavily. It's not surprising that when you look at the leader board the last couple years, it's littered with bombers. Last year, the top three finishers, DJ, Bubba and JB Holmes also finished the season inside the top five in DD. Those three were also all inside the top 20 to finish the season in Par 5 Scoring (P5S) and Strokes gained tee to green (T2G). I'm going to weigh par 5 scoring a bit higher this week, and my final key stat is birdie or better percentage (BoB%), as with the four guaranteed rounds, I want guys that are going to rack up the birdies. The aforementioned three above all finished last year inside the top 10 in BoB%. If you're looking for some tie breaker stats, proximity from 200+ yards and par 4 scoring have also been indicative of success here since the course redesign. The Doral greens are also some of the hardest to hit on tour, so greens in regulation is another stat to consider.
Top Pin Seekers
Good chance DJ will have the highest ownership of the high priced tier, but it's for good reason. Great track record here with a win and 4th the last two years. The switch to the new Taylor Made PSI irons seems to have made him even more lethal with his long irons. 4th in T2G this season GPP Ownership Guess: 20-25%
Another player in fantastic form, ignore the tough Saturday at the Honda. Last five starts, has four top 6 finishes. 8th in T2G GPP Ownership Guess: 10-15%
Stats used above are from last year as he hasn't accumulated enough rounds this season, but has two top 6 finishes in his only starts this season. 4th & 16th in his only two appearances here. Great track record on hard courses and par 72 tracks GPP Ownership Guess: 6-11%
Of the 10k+ players, Rose seems to be consistently overlooked despite his world class skills. Surprisingly hasn't fared well since course redesign, even thought he's long off the tee and makes a ton of birdies. GPP Ownership Guess: 5-10%
Middle Tee Plays
JB Holmes - DK Salary $9,400 - 2nd here last year - in great form with 4 straight top 11 finishes - top 6 in DD & T2G
Hideki Matsuyama - DK Salary $9,300 - burned a lot of people recently, will be a great GPP play with huge upside and probably ownership under 10% - 1st T2G & 2nd BoB%
Brooks Koepka - DK Salary $9,200 - in good form and 17th last year - expect high ownership - top 52 DD, T2G, P5S, BoB% & Eagle average
Justin Thomas - DK Salary $8,800 - 3rd at the Honda last week - top 26 in DD, T2G, P5S, BoB% & Eagle average
Matt Kuchar - DK Salary $8,400 - good form and solid track record at Doral - top 12 in P5S & BoB%
Branden Grace - DK Salary $8,300 - missed cut last week and poor track record here will keep ownership down - top 14 P5S, BoB% & Eagle average
Danny Willett - DK Salary $7,800 - good form and 12th here last year - 5th in scoring average on Euro Tour
Marc Leishman - DK Salary $7,800 - good form & solid performer on long tracks - top 50 in DD, P5S, T2G, BoB% & Eagle average
GPP Dart Board
Paul Casey - DK Salary $7,500 - plays great on Bermuda grass - will be under 5% owned
Shane Lowry - DK Salary $7,400 - everyone's favorite potty mouth, game is in good form and 17th here last year
Jason Dufner - DK Salary $7,200 - 9th here in 2014 - top 30 in P5S, T2G & BoB
Bernd Wiesberger - DK Salary $6,700 - good price for a world class player - top 20 in stroke average and GIR on Euro Tour
Scott Piercy - DK Salary $6,600 - Burned everyone last week, expect ownership under 5% - top 40 in DD & BoB%