Luckily for me, long hitters filled the top of the leaderboard at the PGA Championship, so no quitting DFS and we’re back for the Charles Schwab Challenge. The name of this tournament changes like every other year, and it appears their goal is to make it sound more and more like a super old tournament for super old guys. I thought “Dean and Deluca” sounded old, “Charles Schwab Challenge” sounds like a 70+ event held on Tuesday afternoons at the local executive par 3 course. Speaking of old, we’re getting back to some “old-school” golf this week on a course that’s shorter and more narrow, which should favor ball strikers and guys with good approach statistics. Here are some thoughts on a few guys for this week:
Sure Play: Jon Rahm (DK 11,200 / 12,000 FD)
Yes, I did just say back to old-school golf and then put a young guy that bombs the ball in the sure play category. However, I think Rahm’s length is going to be a huge advantage this week, given how good of a ball striker he is. He’s ranked 17th in ball striking on tour, and if you filter that stat down to people just in this field, he’s actually the 7th best ball striker this week. Accuracy is key this week, but length is always an advantage if you can combine the two as Rahm does. He’s also shown in the past that his style of golf is suited well for this course, having finished fifth place and second place in his two tries at the event. As I usually like to note in this section: elite golfer with a good history and good form is a good recipe for success.
Hit or Miss: Jordan Spieth (DK 10,900 / 11,400 FD)
The last time Spieth finished in the top ten of a golf tournament I think people were still selling their cars and houses for Bitcoin. However, he flashed some of the form we had regularly seen from him a couple of years ago coming into the PGA Championship and finally got himself a nice finish in an event. A third-place finish in a major is definitely not something to just shrug off, especially at a very difficult course. It’s been well documented now that his putting saved him last week by gaining over 10 strokes on the green (which is unsustainable), however, when Jordan was cruising to top 10 and 20 finishes a couple of years ago, he heavily relied on his putter then too. He’s going to be a popular play this week having flashed that form, plus he’s a Texas guy and has had good finishes in the past. However, he still can’t hit the ball straight, especially off the tee, so he could be in a lot of trouble this week if he doesn’t do some damage with the putter again this week.
Mid-Tier Favorites: Paul Casey (DK 9,300 / 10,900 FD) Scott Piercy (DK 8,600 / 9,800 FD) Joel Dahmen (DK 8,200 / 9,600 FD)
Casey: If we’re looking for ball strikers, we don’t have to look very far down the list of the best ball strikers to find Casey’s name. He’s 7th on tour in ball striking and 23rd in Shots Gained – Approach. It’s pretty obvious just watching him play that there are not a lot of other people that can match his accuracy. He’s not long off the tee at all, but that should not make a difference in this event. Although he’s missed the cut in this event in the past, he also has two top 10 finishes since 2009, so he’s played this course well before. It seems as though people are down on him since his faltering at the Masters and Players where he was a popular play, so now may be a good time to get in on him before he builds that popularity back up. He’s an extremely good golfer and it won’t be long before he builds up a handful of solid finishes and is back on everyone’s radar.
Piercy: Another guy whose game is built on ball striking and accuracy. He’s 13th in Ball Striking, 17th in Driving Accuracy, and 8th in Greens in Regulation. Statistically, there are not many people in this field built better for this course. He’s also coming into the event playing some really good golf. He didn’t play that well in the final round of the PGA Championship, but he put together three solid rounds to start the event and had two top-five finishes in the two events prior. He’s also priced on both sites directly below Emiliano Grillo, who has been talked up for this event since before last week even started and should be very popular. If you start to compare the seasons those two are having, you’ll see that Piercy has actually been playing better and including the swing season has six top 10 finishes compared to Grillo’s one single top 10 finish way back in October. It may come down to roster construction at the end of the day, but saving $100-$200 as well as likely saving on ownership is something to seriously consider.
Dahmen: On paper, Dahmen’s stats do not jump out at you as a guy that’s elite in any of the categories that should be important for the week. However, he’s good in just about all of them, especially if you narrow them down to only those in the field. On the tour overall, he’s 33rd in Ball Striking and 20th in Driving Accuracy. Obviously, not standing out, but still pretty good, and he did finish 20th in this event last year so he’s played it well before. If you follow him and his caddy on twitter you know they are two of the more entertaining people on tour and they are easy to root for, not that it makes any difference in his DFS score, but always like to root for the good guys. On top of it all, that bucket hat should be at least a stroke or two advantage for him in the Texas sun, right?
Value Plays: Russell Knox (DK 7,400 / 9,100 FD) Corey Conners (DK 7,200 / 8,900 FD) Vaughn Taylor (DK 6,700 / 8,200 FD)
Knox: The last three times he’s played this tournament he has three finishes in the top 25. He’s having a very average season, but he’s made a lot of cuts and has given himself a shot in a lot of events leading up to one that suits his game well. He’s just average statistically in accuracy off the tee, but what he may lack a little in off the tee accuracy he makes up for when he’s hitting it at the green. He’s 41st in Ball Striking, 21st in Shots Gained – Approach, 38th in Greens in Regulation, and 5th in Proximity to the Hole. He’s not a great putter but if he’s getting it close enough to the hole he should find some success again this week and at least keep up his streak of top 25 finishes.
Conners: He should be an extremely popular pick this week, and it is definitely warranted. Name a stat that should prove to be important this week and Conners is likely near the top of it. Here are a few: 10th in Strokes Gained – Approach, 6th in Ball Striking, 1st in Proximity to the Hole, 5th in Greens in Regulation. On top of the stats, he finished 8th in this tournament last year. PLUS, he has a win already this year just over a month ago. Where was that? Texas, of course. He’s had a rough go of things the last couple weeks, but those were events that were either tough fields or courses that suited the longer hitters. Of course, golf is hard and anything can happen, but it is tough to find a guy better fit for this course than Conners.
Taylor: A classic old-school guy that just finds fairways and hits it close. He’s 25th on tour in Driving Accuracy and 11th in Proximity to the Hole. He’s finished in the top 20 of this event the last two years and he also has two top 20 finishes in his last two events this year. Probably not going to get any fireworks from him, nor is he likely to splash a top 5 finish, but he should be a cut maker you can pair with expensive guys that will be a threat to top 5. A top 20 finish at his price would be more than enough if you pick the right guys above him.