In most weeks of golf DFS, due to the amount of data and resources available to the public for free or very cheap, a lot of similar conclusions are drawn about tournaments and players in those tournaments (often leading to “chalk”, or golfers that will be popular because everyone is playing them). It’s easy to look at leaderboards and notice that a handful of people in the top 20 every year are really accurate off the tee or have really good short games. However, this week for the Sanderson Farms, there isn’t as much commonality in expert opinions because there isn’t an immediately clear pattern each year to help push you in a specific direction to help make a decision. The last two years’ winners are a perfect example. Last year, Cam Champ, a bomber that struggles with basically everything else, won it. The year before, Ryan Armour, a guy that drives it as far as any amateur golfer does but hits very straight, won it. In this situation, I try to rely less on stats from the overall top 10 or top 20 guys and instead just take a look at who the consistent players are in the event and figure out what they do well. Nick Taylor, Vaughn Taylor, and Lucas Glover have all done well here (none have finished outside 39th any time they’ve played, including a win from Nick Taylor), so I’m looking to them for information on what type of player plays well here. Based on their gameplay, length isn’t necessarily the name of the game, it’s keeping the ball straight off the tee and then scrambling and putting well, so that’s where I start and will focus my attention. There is also a handful of guys that crush the ball off the tee near the top of the leaderboard every year so I’ll look at driving distance as a bonus point for guys that fit those other three categories. Nick, Vaughn, and Lucas are obviously on my radar this week as all three are in the field, but here’s who else I think fits the mold this week:
Brandt Snedeker (10,700 DK / 11,700 FD)
It seems like everyone’s first thought when they saw Brandt’s name in this field was wondering why he was playing in this event instead of taking a week off or even playing in the better event on the Euro tour a lot of other top-notch players are in. He made it pretty clear in his interview this week that he was here to get a win as well as to build up some early FedEx points, so it’s obvious now that he’s gunning to win this thing. His game fits the course too, which is even scarier. Brandt is one of the best putters on tour and has an extremely good short game, two key stats I mentioned above. He’s not long off the tee but he hits it straight enough and with his elite short game even if he finds some trouble he should be just fine. He’s also coming in with some good form, he finished off his year with two finishes in the top six in his last three events. Brandt is a top tier talent especially in this field and he should find himself near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Sungjae Im (10,500 DK / 11,600 FD)
In what feels like his 300th straight tournament played, Sungjae yet again looks to be set up for another solid finish on the PGA Tour. Not only does he rack up birdies in bunches which is great for DFS, but he’s also a fit for the stats I mentioned earlier as well. Last season he was seventh on Tour in scrambling and 39th in Shots Gained – Putting, which will put him near the top of this field in both categories. He missed the cut in this event last year, but I’m willing to chalk that up to learning his way through the tour and figuring out how he was going to get his legs underneath him to play 30 weeks in a row. His game fits and he’s coming in with good form, he should put on a good show this weekend.
Denny McCarthy (8,900 DK / 9,900 FD)
If you believe that the stats I mentioned earlier correlate to playing well at this course, there shouldn’t be any second guesses on McCarthy making your lineups. Last year he was the best on Tour in terms of Shots Gained – Putting, and he was ninth in Scrambling. He was also 56th in Driving Accuracy, which is plenty good in this field. Better yet, he played this event last year and finished seventh, so it’s pretty obvious his game is a fit. He played well last season in a lot of the lower strength of field events and there isn’t much reason to think he won’t have another good showing this weekend.
Wyndham Clark (8,400 DK / 9,200 FD)
Wyndham is starting to gain some traction in the golf world as one of the long bombers of the Tour, but what’s a little lesser known is that he’s also one of the best putters. Last season he was eighth on tour in Shots Gained – Putting, making him one of the best putters in the field next to McCarthy. I envision Wyndham playing similarly to how Cam Champ got his victory last year, and that was by hitting the ball unbelievably far and then putting the lights out. It will also be helpful that he’s played this event the last two years (finishing 54th and 17th), so he’s got some experience under his belt with decent finishes that he should be able to leverage and improve on.
Roberto Castro (7,400 DK / 9,200 FD)
Once again, Castro is one of my favorite plays in a weak field event and again he’s priced right around where normally is which is much lower than it should be, given that he’s been playing well and he has much better results compared to when he’s playing against the tougher competition. He’s not as great of a statistical fit this week as he was last week though. He’s not a great putter (he does, however, have a good short game) but he’s got good history here and has been playing well so I don’t see much reason why he won’t continue the trend. He’s made the cut here all three times he’s played, including two top-five finishes (one of which was last year). He’s now coming off of six straight made cuts since the U.S. Open. Let’s make it seven Roberto!!
Sam Ryder (7,000 DK / 8,500 FD)
Ryder had a rough last season that included an injury mid-year, but he still put up some decent numbers that should give way to some good finishes ahead. A glimpse of that possibly shown to us last week with a 31st place finish, and now heading into another weak field event where his game should fit. Last season he was 23rd on tour in Shots Gained – Putting and 32nd in Scrambling, which will make him one of the better players in both categories in this field. Although at this price just making the cut is usually good enough, he’s got the game to get into the top 10, which is intriguing potential at this cheap of a price in a field like this.
Shawn Stefani (6,700 DK / 8,400 FD)
Stefani is a cheap play for this week if you are a believer in course history and recent form. In the statistics I focused on this week he isn’t particularly good in any of them, although he has a decent short game, for some reason he has some really good finishes in this event. He’s played it all five times it’s been at this course, and although there are two missed cuts in his history, he’s also got a 25th, 10th, and 7th. The two top ten performances came in the last two years. He had a rough week last week, but overall he’s been playing well, especially at a price that gives you a lot of salary relief. Before last week, he had made six cuts in a row and hadn’t finished worse than 39th in his last five events. That productivity this week should be more than enough at his price.