The Barclays Preview
The first leg of the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs kicks off this week from the beast that is the Black Course, from the Bethpage State Park in Farmington, NY. The course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast, who was also the designer of the most recent PGA Championship course, Baltusrol. The Black Course will eat you up if you're not straight off the tee with some pretty thick rough that will punish wayward tee shots. Length will be rewarded this week though, as the par 71 layout is a long one at 7,468 yards. The Black Course has hosted three major tournaments over the past 15 years, the 2002 and 2009 US Opens, as well as the 2012 edition of the Barclays. I definitely weighed results in these tournaments when making picks, but I will be looking more at players who suit the course and/or are in good form. I will definitely be keeping my eye on twitter for any reports of how the course is being setup for this week, as they've notoriously had the greens rolling very fast and the rough very thick. With six par 4's over 450 yards, I will be targeting players who bomb it and score well on longer par 4's.
The field is super elite this week, with all but four of the 125 that qualified in attendance (Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Shane Lowry and Anirban Lahiri all opted out). The top 100 players on the Fed Ex Cup points list after this week will stay alive and play next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
Key Stats for Bethpage Black
Driving distance (DD) is the first key stat I identified for this week, with four players who finished t5 or better at the 2012 Barclays also finished that season inside the top 40 in DD. I really think if you were in a time pinch this week, you could construct very good teams by just looking at driving distance, current form, and the next key stat, birdie or better percentage (BoB%). Every player inside the top 3 in 2012 also finished that season inside the top 50 in birdie or better percentage. Henrik Stenson is the only player in the field this week with a birdie or better percentage of over 26% in the last three months (via Fantasy Gold Metrics). Lucas Glover comes in making a lot of birdies lately, 23.6% over his last three starts, and also has a BoB% at Bethpage Black of 22.1%. Finally, strokes gained tee to green (T2G) is the final key stat I honed in on. To win at Bethpage Black, outside of putting the lights out, you will absolutely have to gain strokes on the field tee to green. Rory McIlroy didn't quite crack the final selections due to his spotty current form mix with high price tag, but he has dominated the Black Course in his two appearances. In those two starts, he has gained an average of 11.546 strokes tee to green on the rest of the field, the best of anyone teeing it up this week (via FGM). Some secondary stats I think will be important this week are par 5 scoring and strokes gained approach.
Top Pin Seekers
Jason Day - DK Salary $12,400
With all the best players in the game teeing it up this week, deciding what you're going to do at the top of the board is a good place to start your lineup building process. I'm not going to shy away from paying up for Day as the pricing this week is Charmin toilet paper soft elsewhere. He's the only player on tour who is ranked in the top 40 in strokes gained tee to green, approach, around the green, and putting. He's in fantastic form right now, and is also ranked in the top 20 in DD & BoB%. His strokes gained average per round of 2.097 on Tillinghast designs since 2013 is the best in the field. (via Future of Fantasy)
Dustin Johnson - DK Salary $11,900
Hasn't played since his missed cut at Baltusrol, but before that had six straight top tens, with five being top 5 finishes and two wins, including the US Open. He ranks in the top 3 in BoB%, T2G & DD. He came 3rd here in 2012, and plays great on difficult tracks. I'm hoping that people will gravitate towards Stenson who is a tad bit cheaper than Day and Johnson.
Jordan Spieth - DK Salary $11,000
Spieth isn't exactly a bomber, but he can get it out there good enough to contend around this track (53rd in DD). Ranks top 20 in T2G & BoB%, and is top 10 in SGP & SG:AG, so if he can tidy up his approach game he will start winning in bunches again. He's been showing steady signs of improvement, and it's all going to come together one of these weeks, and I think his ownership will be around 10% in tournaments.
Brooks Koepka - DK Salary $10,100
I debated over going with Hideki here, but I'll take Brooks who's in great form since coming back from his ankle injury with two straight top 10's. Top 25 in three key stats and is averaging 86 Draftkings points in his last four events, bested only by Stenson.
Adam Scott - DK Salary $9,500
No respect being shown with this pricing, and if I were playing a lot of cash games this week Scott would be a lock for me. He's in good form, and is ranked 1st in T2G, 1st in SG:APP, 11th in BoB% & 14th in DD.
Middle Tee Plays
Branden Grace - DK Salary $8,700
Grace has been absolutely crushing it tee to green lately, and has three top 10's in his last six starts. He plays very well on driver heavy courses, and only Henrik Stenson is gaining more strokes on approach over the last couple months. He ranks top 10 in T2G & SG:APP, and if the putter gets hot like it did in his win earlier this year, a top 10 in the floor the way he's striking the ball.
Charl Schwartzel - DK Salary $8,500
Another South African makes the cut, as Charl is quietly having a fantastic season. He's won multiple times, and has a top 25 at the Black Course in 2012. That's not surprising with his elite tee to green game, which is on point this season. He's ranked in the top 15 in T2G, SG:APP & BoB%. He also seems to really like the greens here, as his SGP average of 8.122 strokes per round is the best all time at the Black course. Couple that with his tee to green prowess, and we could have the perfect storm brewing.
Justin Thomas - DK Salary $8,000
Ignore the missed cut at the Wyndham, a small hiccup coming off of his 3rd place finish at the Travelers. He's ranked in the top 25 in BoB%, DD & SG:APP, so the all around game is firing on all cylinders.
Paul Casey Casey - DK Salary $7,800
Great price, ranked in the top 25 in SG:APP & T2G. He's in great form right now with two straight top 20 finishes. Has played very well on driver heavy courses and Tillinghast designs.
Kevin Na - DK Salary $7,300
His wife is due to have a child in the first couple weeks of September, and he's said he will leave in the middle of a tournament if she goes into labor. I think it's worth the risk this week, and he's priced low for his great form. In his last six starts, he hasn't finished outside the top 30 and has three inside the top ten. He's ranked inside the top 35 in three key stats, and although he's unlikely to win, that doesn't matter for Draftkings where he can easily exceed his price-tag.
GPP Dart Board Dreams
Daniel Berger - DK Salary $6,900
Crushes it tee to green and is in good form. Top 40 in T2G, BoB% & DD, SG:APP and has averaged 79.8 Draftkings points in his last four events. A win here would book him a spot on the US Ryder Cup team, as this is the last week to accumulate points.
Kevin Kisner - DK Salary $6,400
Went 67-63 on the weekend to finish the Wyndham to finish 10th, giving him three straight top 30 finishes. 17th in BOB%, and hit 83% of his greens in regulation in his most recent round which was a very nice sign to see. If he can continue to pepper the greens like that, he will be in the mix Sunday being such a great putter (9th in SGP). Lucas Glover is also a good pick and will be very popular in this price range.
J.B. Holmes - DK Salary $6,400
Burned a lot of people in his last three starts, all missed cuts. I'm all in this week though, with two top 30 finishes in his two starts at the Black Course. Despite his recent struggles, came 3rd at the Open Championship and is ranked in the top 10 in DD & BoB%.
William McGirt - DK Salary $6,100
Like J.B. he has left a lot of DFSers feeling very angry lately, as he missed the cut at the Wyndham where he saw around 20% ownership in tournaments. He came 10th here in 2012 and is ranked 40th in T2G. Has a very good track record on hard courses and par 71 layouts. Substantial price drop this week, and I would feel comfortable playing McGirt in any format.Brendan Steele - DK Salary $5,900
Sets up statistically well, and is priced way below his talent level, as are a lot of golfers this week. Ranked top 45 in DD, T2G & SG:APP. Shot a 64 in his final round at the Travelers, where his last three rounds were all in the 60's.