Welcome back once again for another weekly PGA DFS preview with @DFSduncan. This week we have one of the most unique events on tour taking place in the WGC Match Play Championship. This brings much different lineup construction strategy into play as we know a vast majority of players won’t make it out of the pod play and from there you could have players in your lineup knocking out others in your lineup. We’ll touch on this strategy a bit later. Paul Casey defended his championship at the Valspar holding off Jason Kokrak and Louis Oosthuizen. After Kokrak failed to get up and down for his par at 18 it opened the door for Casey to close out the tournament with an uneventful tap in par of his own. Let’s get into this week’s course preview and lineup construction strategy.
Course Preview and Strategy
This week’s event will take us to Austin Country Club for the WGC Match Play Championship. This Pete Dye track is a par 71 course that plays around 7,100 yards. Like many other Pete Dye courses both bombers and shorter hitters have been able to find success. This is evident from last year’s championship match of Bubba Watson and Kevin Kisner. The fairways and greens are on the larger side and there are many birdies out there, which make it a great course for match play. We will usually use this section to focus on key stats but given that there are no SG stats for match play, we will look at lineup construction strategy first. When making lineups it is important to spread out your ownership in individual lineups throughout the bracket. You want to give yourself the best possible chance to get all 6 of your golfers as far as possible in the tournament without knocking each other out. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure none of your players can face off head to head until the round of 8. This will give you the best chance of maximizing your DK points for the week. This isn’t to say you can’t have 2 guys that’ll face off in the round of 16 in your player pool or even 2 guys from the came pod in your player pool, but you’ll want to avoid having them in the same lineup. While there is no historical SG data from the course, some recent form stats I’ll be looking at are birdie or better gained, DK points, and Opportunities gained. I want to focus on players that are out there making birdies or at least giving themselves good birdie looks as this will put some pressure on their opponents throughout the week.
Dustin Johnson ($11,400)
DJ received a very favorable draw and his form and course history are both elite. His last 3 starts are win, 5th, and 6th. He won this event here in 2017 taking down Jon Rahm in the finals. Grace and Reavie will likely be overpowered by Johnson, and while Matsuyama is a strong ball striker, his putting leaves many asking for more. Couple this with a round of 16 matchup with pod 16 and DJ is the strongest play in the field,
Jon Rahm ($10,600)
Rahm is another with strong course history and recent form. He was 2ndto DJ in 2017 and is coming off a 12thand 6thplace in his last 2 events. Rahm is a birdie machine and match play seems to be a good fit for him as he is capable of throwing a big number on the card from time to time (see Sunday of the Players). But if he can shake off any mistakes it’ll be hard for Kuchar, Holmes, and Si Woo Kim to match his all around game.
Tiger Woods ($9,200)
This draw plays right into Tiger’s favor. Outside of Snedeker, it’s unlikely Cantlay or Wise have experienced anything quite like going against Tiger in match play. The galleries will be huge and could be intimidating for the less experienced Wise and Cantlay. Snedeker is a Ryder Cup vet who won’t back down but it’ll be tough for him to make enough birdies to keep up with Tiger in their match.
Bubba Watson ($8,900)
The final top seed in my write up. Bubba is the defending champ and is coming off a strong T4 last week at a course that many felt wasn’t a great fir for him. Austin Country Club sets up even better for his game and his pod of Spieth, Horschel, and Na doesn’t exactly strike fear into your heart. Spieth has been wildly inconsistent, Na is coming off a WD at the Valspar, and Horschel just isn’t nearly the birdie maker that Bubba is.
Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7,500)
RCB is in quite the interesting pod. Other than Westwood who I believe is a bit overmatched, the other 3 competitors are fairly equal from a match play perspective. Xander and Hatton will be formidable opponents but they both like the match play experience of RCB. His form has been solid coming in and I think his match play experience will help him prevail from his pod and into the round of 16.
Charles Howell III ($7,400)
CHII has made it to the round of 16 both of the past 2 years. He goes up against Paul Casey, Cam Smith, and Abraham Ancer. Casey is coming off a win at the Valspar and while his match play record is stellar, it’s possible he suffers a bit of a hangover here. Smith has struggled his last 2 starts with a 56thand a MC and his form has not been the best. Ancer is another rookie who I think will be a bit overmatched in his first go in Austin. CHIII meanwhile is coming off a 35th, 15th, and 14thhis last 3 starts. I think his form and match play experience gives him the edge here.
Thorbjorn Olesen ($6,500)
Olesen drew one of the weaker pods here in my opinion. Kodaira will likely be a nonfactor. This leaves Molinari and Simpson as his main competitors. Both have struggled at the WGC match play in the past with both having under .500 records. While their current form has been very solid for both, I think the door is open for Olesen to use his distance off the tee to put pressure on the shorter hitters in Webb and Molinari.
Ben An ($6,300)
An has been a favorite of mine as of late. His $6,300 salary stuck out to me immediately as a strong play. His putter has been coming around a bit losing only 1.5 and 1.9 strokes in his last 2 events after losing 5.6 and 4.1 in his prior 2. His pod is made up of Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen, and Kyle Stanley. Certainly not the easiest of draws but with his form being nearly as good as it ever has been I think he could go for the upset of Fleetwood and Oosthuizen here.
This brings us to the end of my Draftkings preview for the Dell WGC Match Play Championship. Please keep the strategy discussed above in mind making your lineups this week. You don’t want to put yourself in a corner where only 2 or 3 of your guys can make it to the round of 8! Be cognizant of who you are including in your builds. As always feel free to reach out to me on twitter @DFSduncan. You can also find me in the Fantasy Sports Degenerates slack chat.