Well, last week was fun, right? Rory’s hot streak continues with a win, Rahm’s hot head gets him into trouble again, and Joel Dahmen’s caddy ate a chip so hot on the 17th hole it seemed for a second Joel might be carrying his own bag for the tournament (if you haven’t seen the video, do yourself a favor and look it up today). This week we get the Valspar Championship, where the top of the leaderboard is typically painted with elite ball strikers and guys that can scramble and avoid bogeys (see what I did there??). Let’s get to it.
Sure Play: Sergio Garcia (DK 10,100 / FD 11,300)
Sergio is playing some really good golf right now, which seems to be overshadowed by some recent meltdowns where he did damage to a handful of greens and slashed enough sand out of a bunker he could have wound up on the other side of the earth. Meltdowns aside, He hasn’t missed a cut so far this year and has four top ten finishes between the European and PGA tours. Although he’s not scrambling particularly well, he’s striking the ball as good as anyone and leads the tour in Shots Gained – Approach. His ball striking should offset some need to be a good scrambler on this course. He also has not finished worse than 16th at the Valspar his last four tries, including a fourth-place finish last year. This is as good a time as any to load up on Sergio.
Hit or Miss: Henrik Stenson (DK 9,100 / FD 10,400)
Like last week’s pick with Jason Day in this category, Henrik is the obvious pick this week. Henrik’s game is built around being extremely accurate with his irons and keeping bogeys off his scorecard. He led the tour last year in Bogey Avoidance AND Shots Gained: Approach, which is a recipe for success on this course. However, it seems as though he’s missing something in his game this year with his best finish this calendar year being a 17th at the Arnold Palmer and only making 2/6 cuts. He seems to enjoy this course though and his game fits it well, aside from a missed cut last year, his worse finish is an 11th place. This field is probably the weakest he’s played in so far this year, so if he can show a little bit of the Stenson from the past, he is as good a candidate as any to be in contention on Sunday.
Mid-Tier Favorites: Jason Kokrak (DK 8,600 FD 9,700) Sungjae Im (DK 7,700 FD 9,600)
Kokrak: This is the highest I’ve seen Kokrak’s price in a long time, and it still might not be high enough this week. He has five top-20 finishes in 2019 and has been extremely consistent making the cut in every tournament in 2019. He’s another guy whose game is built around the approach, and he’s just been solid tee-to-green all year. He finished 8th in this tournament last year and 7th in 2015, so he’s had success here before and his game is in a place where he should be able to chase the top of the leaderboard again this year.
Sungjae: The stats don’t tell the complete story on Sungjae, but this guy can flat out score, and birdies are king in DFS. Although he missed the cut last week, he finished third in a strong field at The Arnold Palmer Invitational and was the 36-hole leader at The Honda Classic before a 77 that knocked him out of the race. He’s got a little bit of Keegan Bradley in him, he can get you some low 60 rounds, and then come right back the next day and make you think Charles Barkley could score better. He’s played nine events in 2019 alone and I think all the rounds at the highest level can only help him learn and be even better. I like his chances in a field that’s not as stacked as some others he’s played in. He’s going to get you a stack of birdies, so as long as he avoids a really big number and makes the cut he should be a solid value to lineups, especially at just 7,700 on DraftKings.
Value Plays: Adam Schenk (DK 6,900 / FD 8,700), Roberto Castro (DK 7,100 / FD 8,600) Nick Watney (DK 7,200 / FD 8,700)
Schenk: He’s been steady all year and has three top-30 finishes in his last three events, which includes a 30th place finish that is probably better had he not been penalized two strokes for his caddy standing behind him. Another guy that’s good with his irons, Schenk should be able to strike it well enough to play all four days and can be some salary relief if you’re looking to get the higher priced guys like Dustin Johnson or Jon Rahm for your lineups.
Roberto: What has Roberto been good at this year? You guessed it! Strong iron play and avoiding bogeys. He’s 8th on tour in Shots Gained – Approach, and 20th in Bogey Avoidance. He’s also in the top-50 on tour in some other key stats like Scoring, Shots Gained: Tee-to-Green, Par 4 Scoring, Shots Gained: Total, and… Scrambling! He hasn’t done anything spectacular, but he’s made 8/9 cuts since October and is playing better than his price indicates. If he keeps up with some of these key stats and can roll in some putts, he should fare well in this tournament.
Watney: Mostly a course history play here for those that favor that in their decision making. His stats won’t jump out at you and he’s priced with more popular guys like Danny Lee, Chez Reavie, Joaquin Niemann and Bud Cauley, so he’s likely to go overlooked in the range he’s at. However, throwing away last week, he hasn’t missed a cut since the Safeway in October, and in 11 tries in this tournament, he’s made the cut in every single one. Nothing is a guarantee in this sport but Nick Watney making the cut at the Valspar is probably as close as it gets.
Lastly, now is the time of year to start paying attention to guys that are fighting to get themselves into the Masters field and will be playing with a little more on the line than some other guys. Some of the notable names in this field that haven’t yet punched a ticket to the Masters and should do well here: Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak, Adam Hadwin, Chez Reavie, Ryan Moore, Sungjae Im.