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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

RICKIE! It was a wild Sunday at TPC Scottsdale, but Rickie Fowler overcame a disastrous triple-bogey to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was the popular player's fifth PGA Tour win of his career. Fowler had knocked on the door in Phoenix several times over the years, only to experience heartbreak in the fan-favorite event. Weirdly enough, he had to fight through a massive Sunday rainstorm (in the middle of the Arizona desert), while also holding off a charging Branden Grace. Things just never seem to be easy for the man in orange. The sport is better when Rickie is playing well and this win will raise hopes that he can grab his first major championship in 2019.

After a one week reprieve from events with rotating layouts, we are unfortunately back to "musical courses" for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. This event is played in similar fashion to the Desert Classic that was held a couple of weeks ago...players will play one round each on three different courses (Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula) over the first 54 holes. A cut will be made after three rounds, with the remaining golfers playing the final round on the legendary Pebble Beach links.

As you can tell from the name of the event, this is a Pro-Am, which often leads to a more relaxed atmosphere than a normal PGA Tour event, as well as some excruciatingly slow play. Between the rotating courses and the unpredictable weather, this event is often tough to peg. While the field is solid, I'm not crazy about this tournament's format and will probably scale back my DFS play a bit this week. While it's not my favorite type of tournament, we can take advantage of the 54-hole cut format. With players guaranteed three rounds, we can get aggressive with lineup construction this week.

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Unlikely 2018 AT&T champion Ted Potter Jr. is back to defend his title. Potter remarkably held off a star-studded leaderboard last year for the win. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, and Phil Mickelson are some of the recognizable names in this week's field. Tommy Fleetwood leads a rather strong European contingent that is trying to get a sneak-peek of Pebble Beach, the host of this year's U.S. Open. The talented group of Europeans might leave disappointed this week, as this tournament has been dominated by Americans over the years, with only two non-American winners since 1966.

I try to make HFTC more than just a "picks" column (though you can certainly use it that way if you are in a hurry) by digging deep into each highlighted player. Obviously, our weekly jumping off point is a player's course history, but there isn't a firm set of rules when it comes to who is featured in this article. My goal is to help you succeed as a PGA DFS player. Period. I will touch on different GPP and cash-game strategies throughout the column each week and hopefully have some useful info for both beginners and experienced DFS players. Thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller, let's tee it up!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!


The Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Par 72 - 6,816 Yards

As mentioned in the intro, we are dealing with three different courses this week. In addition to Pebble, which players will play once in the first three rounds and again in the final round, Spyglass Hill (6,953 yds/Par-72) and Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course (6,958 yds/Par-71) will also be in the rotation. All three are ruggedly beautiful, with the famous Pebble Beach being the crown jewel. Pebble is slated to host this year's U.S. Open, but the setup will be nowhere near as difficult as we will see later this year. All three courses measure less than 7,000 yards, so distance isn't a necessity this week. Players will need to find fairways and greens, but that can be more difficult than it sounds in often unpredictable conditions. All three of these courses are smack-dab on the Monterrey Peninsula coast and huge changes in weather can, and often does, influence the outcome of this tournament. So...we are forced to deal with a lot of unpredictable variables this week. The course a player draws for each different day and the amount of wind during their rounds on those different courses is something that is unfortunately out of our hands. This event is famously tough on first-timers, so I'm targeting players with plenty of AT&T experience that are sharp on approach shots.


The Horse

Dustin Johnson (DK - $11,400 & FD - $12,400 )

Notable Course History: T2 (2018), 3rd ('17), Win ('10), Win ('09)
Recent Form: Win (Saudi International), T16 (Abu Dhabi HSBC), T4 (Sentry TOC)

The Horse is always the Horse for a reason and that's the case with Dustin Johnson this week. While I'm not going out on a limb by recommending arguably the best player in the game, DJ's results in this event can't be ignored. He has been simply dominant in the AT&T Pro-Am, logging back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010, not to mention top-five finishes at Pebble in four of the last five years.

I've said it before in this column, but I'm going to say it again...Johnson's "A game" is better than everyone else's "A game". Basically, if DJ plays his best golf, no one is going to beat him. Johnson might not be in absolute peak form, but he's playing pretty damn good golf at the moment. He won the Saudi International last week on the heels of a T16 at Abu Dhabi and a T4 in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

As he's been for years, Johnson is a statistical beast. He leads this week's AT&T field in Strokes Gained: Total, Tee to Green, Off the Tee, Ball Striking, and Approach over his last 50 rounds. Johnson logged three victories in 2018 and led the PGA Tour in both SG: T2G and OTT. While his advantage with the driver will be muted a bit this week at a Pebble Beach course that regularly has the shortest average drives on the PGA Tour, Johnson has fared surprisingly well on less-than-driver layouts in recent years. His success lies in his often overlooked approach game, specifically his wedge play. When compared to the AT&T field, DJ ranks first in Proximity to the Hole from 100-125 yards and second from 125-150 yards over his last 50 rounds.

DJ is the most expensive DFS option on both DraftKings and FanDuel this week. He's the only player over the $11k threshold on DK and the only one above $12k on FanDuel, so it feels like the sites have tried to be aggressive with DJ's pricing, but I don't know that it will matter in an event that lends itself to a "Stars & Scrubs" roster construction with its 54-hole cut. I expect Johnson to be popular in all formats. Make no mistake, at this price we are expecting a win and anything less than that would be considered disappointing.


The Ponies

Jordan Spieth (DK - $9,400 & FD - $10,800 )

Notable Course History: T20 ('18), Win ('17), T7 ('15), T4 (2014)
Recent Form: T35 (Farmers), M/C (Sony)

Yeah...I know...I can't really believe I'm listing Jordan Spieth either. Things haven't been pretty for the boy wonder lately. His game went downhill as the 2018 season wore on and he hasn't been able to bounce back in his two 2019 starts. He hasn't just been "bad for Jordan Spieth", he's been "just plain bad". Everyone makes a big deal about the putting issues and while they are definitely concerning, the bigger problem is his overall game. Spieth has lost strokes tee to green in five consecutive tournaments. So, you are probably asking yourselves, "Why are we talking about him?"

If we think Spieth is close to finding his form, then the AT&T Pro-Am makes lots of sense as a bounce-back spot. He's played terrific on the Monterey Peninsula throughout his career, recording a win in 2017 and top-10 finishes in 2014 and 2015. If we want to look for a tiny bright spot in his game, Spieth actually didn't lose strokes putting in his last outing, a T35 at the Farmers Open two weeks ago, and he gained nearly a stroke on the field both off the tee and on approach. While Torrey Pines and the AT&T trio of courses are very different, they do share one common denominator...poa greens. Spieth has performed better on poa than any other putting surface throughout his career and he's gained strokes putting in every one of his AT&T starts since 2015. He averages 0.4 strokes gained putting on poa vs. 0.32 on bermuda.

While I like Spieth's chances to break out of his slump this week, I consider him as a "GPP only" play. His ownership should continue to be depressed, which makes him a great contrarian option on both sites. It's hard to wrap our heads around his potential upside with his ugly recent form, but let's not forget that Spieth is a threat to win any tournament at any time. He's still in the sub-$10k price range on DK, and despite a higher actual price tag he's an even better value on FD, where he's the 10th-highest priced player on the board...not bad for a guy that still has the third-highest odds to win this tournament at most sports books. Sure, it's possible Spieth could crash and burn this week, but I'm more optimistic about his chances to play well than I have been in months.


Chez Reavie (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,500)

Notable Course History: T2 (2018), M/C ('17), T26 ('16), M/C ('15)
Recent Form: T4 (WMPO), T28 (Desert Classic), T3 (Sony)

Our next selection has a bit of a checkered past in the AT&T Pro-Am. Chez Reavie has a couple of missed cuts at Pebble Beach over the last four years, but showcased his potential last year when he logged a runner-up finish. While the missed cuts aren't ideal, consistency is hard to come by in this tournament that has such unpredictable weather. Last year's T2 and a T26 in 2016 show that Reavie is capable of playing well here.

Reavie's course history is nice, but his recent form is what brings him to the forefront this week. Reavie has been on fire in 2019, logging two top-five's and a T28 in three starts since the beginning of the year. If we narrow our focus to performance just over the last 12 rounds, Reavie leads the AT&T field in Strokes Gained: Total, T2G, and Ball Striking; while his sharp iron play puts him at second in SG: Approach. The one concern with Reavie has been his putting, but he showed a marked improvement on the greens last week and gained over four strokes putting on the Waste Management field.

His DFS price tags are high enough to make you a bit uncomfortable, but the $9k range on DK and $10k range on FD are the new normal for Reavie. He's topped 100 DK points in two of his last three tournaments and I expect another great return on investment from him this week. Reavie can be paired with DJ in aggressive builds or is a great foundation for those that want to construct a solid lineup. I'm comfortable slotting him in cash game lineups and like him as a GPP option as well.


Brandt Snedeker (DK - $8,200 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18), 4th ('17), T35 ('16), Win ('15)
Recent Form: T55 (WMPO), T62 (Farmers), T16 (Sony), T22 (Sentry TOC)

Brandt Snedeker is basically the opposite of Chez Reavie in that his recent form has been ice cold. Sneds popped at the end of 2018 when he won the Wyndham Championship, but his best finish since was a runner-up at the Safeway back in October. He's been grinding in 2019 and has made cuts despite losing strokes off the tee in every start since January. Snedeker's weakness with the driver won't be as glaring this week and he's gained strokes off the tee in every one of his AT&T starts since 2015.

Snedeker is tough to put a finger on. He's the type of player that will struggle along for months and then pop for a top-five. His course history definitely puts him on my DFS radar this week, but his recent form makes him difficult to trust in cash games. His battles off the tee shouldn't be a huge detriment this week and we know what type of putter Sneds is. He's a large-field GPP play that, like Jordan Spieth, has a nice chance to break out of a slump at Pebble Beach.


Trey Mullinax (DK - $7,400 & FD - $8,000)

Notable Course History: T47 ('18), T14 ('17)
Recent Form: T15 (WMPO), T25 (Farmers), T34 (Desert Classic), T57 (Sony)

You have to love how much PGA DFS can change from week to week. In last week's Waste Management tournament the mid-$7k range on DraftKings was a treasure trove of viable players. Unfortunately, the cupboard is pretty bare in that price range this week. One player that interests me is Trey Mullinax at $7.4k. The 26-year-old out of Alabama popped a couple of times last season and has kicked 2019 off in solid fashion. Mullinax has improved his finishing position from week to week in every one of his starts this year, culminating with a T15 in Scottsdale last week. His best weapon is the driver, which isn't exactly the course fit we are looking for at this week's trio of courses. Despite the seemingly ill statistical fit, Mullinax has held his own in his two previous trips to Pebble Beach.

I got on Mullinax late last week and he managed to salvage a ton of Lucas Glover lineups for me. Even though he's received a significant price bump this week, he still stands out in the DK "dead zone" that is the mid-$7k range and offers some roster flexibility at $8k on FD. He's flourished over his last 12 rounds, ranking 12th in the field in SG: T2G and 10th in SG: Ball Striking. It's enough to make him a definite GPP play this week and a borderline cash game option.


Chesson Hadley (DK - $7,100 & FD - $9,100 )

Notable Course History: T35 ('18), M/C ('16), T10 ('15), T10 ('14)
Recent Form: T20 (WMPO), M/C (Farmers), M/C (Desert Classic)

This week's "deep dive" is Chesson Hadley. "Bojangles" got off to a rocky start in 2019, but he heads to Pebble Beach fresh off a T20 finish at the Waste Management, his best outing of the year. Hadley was solid tee to green in Scottsdale and gained over three strokes on approach shots last week. He looked comfortable on the greens and had his best putting performance in months. Hadley has found some success in the AT&T over the years. He logged back-to-back T10 finishes in 2014 and 2015.

Hadley's 2019 body of work doesn't inspire much confidence, but he looked sharp last week and gained nearly six strokes total. He is deadly with the wedge and ranks first in the AT&T in proximity to the hole from 100-125 yards over his last 12 rounds, which helps to explain his two top-10's in this tournament. Hadley offers some excellent salary relief on DK and pairs well with DJ in aggressive lineup builds.


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Premium DFS Golf Tools and Lineup Optimizer

Our friends at Fantasy National have created some game-changing DFS Golf tools, and you can read all about them here. They are hands-down the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry.

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