DFS GOLF PICKS – THE FEDEX ST. JUDE CLASSIC
Course: TPC Southwind (Memphis, TN)
Yardage: Par 70 – 7,239 yards
|Dustin Johnson||Harris English||Ben Crane||Fabien Gomez||Daniel Berger|
Overview: After two separate stoppages of play, the Memorial finished on Sunday. I knew where my teams were going to stand for the most part, but if you were in the thick of things I feel for you. Daily Fantasy players had to wait until after 8 pm eastern time to see how things would shake out. By the second stoppage there were just six players left on the course, and it was pretty much settled that Jason Dufner would win, barring a collapse. Hats off to Dufner. He fired two 65s on Thursday and Friday, followed those with a 77 on Saturday, and bounced back from that to shoot 68 on Sunday. Usually when someone comes out of the gate that hot, it goes one of two ways. They either stay steady and win the tournament by eight shots, or they let the pack back in it and fade over the weekend. Dufner let everyone back in it, only to jump back ahead on Sunday and win the tournament with relative ease. The Duffinator is back.
In the final week before the U.S Open, the Tour will stop at TPC Southwind in Memphis for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. A handful of players will be warming up for Erin Hills next week, while some will have their last chance to move into the Top 60 and qualify. Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson lead the way in terms of star power in a watered-down field. Along with them, others ranked in the Top 30 in the world include Francesco Molinari (16th), Charl Schwartzel (21st), Brooks Koepka (22nd), Kevin Chappell (26th), and Rafa Cabrera Bello (30th). After that you have a long list of mid to low-tier players. Deciphering which of the lower-tiered players will show up this weekend is how you’ll win your Daily Fantasy plays this week.
TPC Southwind is a Par 70 track that measures over 7,200 yards. In recent years there has not been a particular style of player to repeatedly win this tournament, so I will definitely favor players in good recent form this week. For the third tournament in four weeks, players will be on a par 70 with just two par 5s. TPC Southwind challenges all parts of a player’s game. With water hazards on ten different holes, players will have to be precise with their ball striking. Look for players who gain strokes off the tee to keep the ball dry.
The greens at TPC Southwind are very small and difficult to hit, so players who rank highly in approach proximity should fare well this week. Pair up approach proximity with players who rank highly in greens in regulation. You need to be physically on these greens to make birdies, and that is more challenging this week than usual. It’s much easier to hit a small green if you’re 130 yards out as opposed to 175 yards. Right? Toss driving distance in as well. If you aren’t selecting bombers and are looking at shorter hitters, then you want players who have a high birdie percentage in the 450-500 yard range. With eight par 4s measuring between 445-500 yards, players who can score low in this range have a big advantage since almost half the holes play at that length.
Fedex St. Jude Classic DFS Golf Picks
Adam Scott ($11000) – In the super-high price range, I’ll go with Scott for stability. He has the same ceiling as Fowler, Koepka, and Mickelson, with less risk. Scott’s only missed cut this season was at the Shell Houston Open in March. Since then, 36th is his lowest finish. Adam gains strokes off the tee (57th) and on the approach (30th). He can drive for show with a 302.3 average off the tee (17th), and putt for dough as well, gaining a good number of strokes there (34th). His one glaring weakness is his accuracy off the tee. If Scott can keep his drives in play, he should be just fine in this light field.
Kyle Stanley ($8,400) – If golf was simply about who gets to the green first, then Kyle Stanley would be your world number one. That whole rolling the ball into the hole part is what keeps Stanley from winning every tournament. From tee-to-green, Stanley picks up over a shot and a half per round (5th). He’s seventh on Tour in both strokes gained off-the-tee, and approaching the green. He hits over 71 percent of greens in regulation (2nd), which is only bested by world number one, Dustin Johnson. I can go on all day about how good a ball striker he is. Overall, I think he’s a steal at this price, as he appears to be improving as the year progresses.
Stewart Cink ($8,000) – Stewart Cink is having a renaissance of a season this year. He’s been performing well on Tour with three Top 25 finishes (one Top 10) in his last four events. He also just qualified for next week’s U.S Open at Erin Hills. This is no small feat, as the 44-year-old had to beat out many younger pros in a 36-hole qualifier. He has the game to get it done on this course. Stew still hits it further than the average tour player at 293 yards per drive, and he is on the green in regulation nearly 70 percent of the time (12th). He’s not very accurate off the tee, but finds a way to gain a small number of strokes there anyway. His experience and momentum should trump most of the guys out there this week.
Charl Schwartzel ($7,900) – I imagine a lot of people will be on Schwartzel this week, so don’t pick him if you want a more unique lineup. At this price, I can’t pass over a Master’s Champion who’s just plain better than most of the field. Schwartzel gains the bulk of his strokes on the approach (53rd) and on the green (24th). After dealing with some wrist issues a few weeks ago, Schwartzel looked healthy playing three out of four rounds under par at the Memorial last week.
Harold Varner III ($7,400) – Varner appears to be settling in as the season goes along. He missed four of six cuts to start his season, but has made seven of his last nine entering this week. He finished strong this past weekend with a pair of 70s (which included an ace) good for a 19th place finish in a quality field. He gains a good number of strokes tee-to-green, ranking around the Top 50 in both strokes gained off-the-tee and strokes gained on approach. A quality ball striker, Varner just needs a putting intervention done on him (192nd in strokes gained putting). When that happens, he’ll win his first PGA Tour event. Hopefully, Dave Pelz is on his way to Memphis this week.
Peter Uihlein ($7,200) – At just $7,200 you’re getting a player who knows how to make cuts and stay relevant all week long. Here are Uihlein’s finishes since the start of February: 5, 34, 4, 17, 5, 23, 33, 31, 30, 25. That’s right. He hasn’t been lower than 34th since the Abu Dhabi Championship in January. Yes, most of these are on the European Tour, but regardless of where he’s playing he just doesn’t have an off week. Statistically, he looks like he should play well too. He hasn’t played enough over here to be officially ranked on Tour, but he hits around 70 percent of the greens and gains almost a shot per round off-the-tee. He’s a solid putter and a very accurate driver of the ball. Uihlein is another player who just qualified for the U.S Open; more evidence that he can handle the pressure.
Phil Mickelson ($10,200)
Billy Horschel ($9,500)
Seung-Yul Noh ($8,100)
Smylie Kaufman ($7,800
Danny Lee ($7,200)
Hudson Swafford ($7,100)
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