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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Charles Schwab Challenge


Well...that was impressive.

Brooks Koepka once again flexed his muscle in a major championship. Koepka bludgeoned both Bethpage Black and a hapless field of competitors into submission on his way to capturing the 2019 PGA Championship. It's his fourth major victory in two years.

If there were any doubters left, Koepka erased them last week and proved that he will be a force to be reckoned with in majors for the foreseeable future.

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!

 

Charles Schwab Challenge Overview

New name, same great course! What has formerly been known as the Fort Worth Invitational and the Dean & Deluca is now the Charles Schwab Challenge, and while the name is a bit cheesy, I'm happy that this tournament now has a seemingly stable sponsor in place. I hate to continue gushing over the PGA Tour's new schedule, but man I am loving it! We go from a monstrous Bethpage Black layout to a subtle masterpiece in Colonial Country Club. Justin Rose held off the aforementioned Brooks Koepka to win in Fort Worth last year. The Englishman is back to defend his title against a rather spicy field that includes Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, and a surging Jordan Spieth.

While power is almost always a big asset - and definitely was last week - players will face a different type of challenge at Colonial Country Club this week. Don't be surprised to see distance taking a bit of a backseat to shot-making ability on this legendary layout. While long knockers can certainly play well here, this tournament's past leaderboards are littered with great ball strikers, and on this layout that features tight fairways and multiple doglegs, that's the way I'll be leaning for DFS purposes this week.

I try to start with a clean slate each week when writing 'HFTC', because each tournament brings its own unique set of circumstances. In this week's edition I didn't spend a ton of time on the many strong options available at the top of the salary scale for the Charles Schwab. Instead, I found myself interested in players that might be considered a bit out of the box. As a result, I feel this week's highlighted players definitely profile more as 'GPP-type plays' that you can pair with some of the more popular options at the top of the salary scale.

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.

 

The Course: Colonial Country Club

Par 70 - 7,209 Yards, Greens: Bentgrass

This 1936 design was recognized as an instant classic. Since Colonial made its debut on the PGA Tour in 1946, it has continued to endure as a mainstay on the schedule. The legendary Ben Hogan looms large as a presence at Colonial, as he won the event back-to-back not once, but twice. In the same vein of Hogan, we have seen the same players repeatedly perform well at the Forth Worth layout. The tight fairways and multiple doglegs that are cut through the course's pecan trees make this layout difficult to overpower, with a premium being placed on a player's ball striking and shot-making abilities. While distance is not something we ever want to totally dismiss, it will without a doubt take a backseat in importance at Ben Hogan's old stomping grounds.

 

The Horse

Kevin Kisner (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,500)

Notable Course History: T52 (2018), Win ('17), T10 ('16), T5 ('15)
Recent Form: M/C (PGA), T41 (RBC Heritage), T21 (Masters)

In a field that's honestly pretty stacked, Kevin Kisner probably isn't the name you expected to see here this week. No, he doesn't fall into the 'elite' category in this field, and no, he's not an especially awesome DFS value...but the 'Kiz' is calling my name this week.

I'm throwing out last week's outing at the PGA Championship, because I honestly believe Kisner took one look at Bethpage's length and said, "Nope, not for me." So, while it's not ideal to be targeting a player that's fresh off a bad performance, I'm willing to give Kisner a pass for having one foot out the door before the tournament even started. While the Black Course was about the worst imaginable fit for his game, this week's Colonial layout fits him like a glove. The premium placed on shotmaking and finding fairways at Colonial is right down Kisner's alley, as his previous results here show.

The South Carolina native heads to Texas ranked seventh in this field in Fantasy National's Fairways Gained metric over his last 24 rounds, as well as standing 21st in the field in Greens in Regulation Gained over the same time frame. Fairways and greens...it ain't sexy, but it'll get the job done this week. Speaking of getting the job done, Kiz has been doing DAMAGE on Par 4's measuring 400-450 yards. He grades out second in the field in efficiency on Par 4's of that length and he will get to face seven of them at Colonial this week.

The best word I can find to describe Kisner is 'solid'. The guy ran off finishes between 28th and 22nd in six straight tournaments before winning the WGC-Dell Match Play. He's never gonna be a player that we're in love with on super-long tracks, but luckily we don't have to worry about that at Colonial. It's early, but Kisner's performance at the PGA will turn some people off and his ownership should come in at around 10%, making him an intriguing GPP pivot from a sure-to-be-popular Paul Casey at $9,300.

 

The Ponies

Jordan Spieth (DK - $10,900 & FD - $11,400)

Notable Course History: T32 ('18), T2 ('17), Win ('16), T2 ('15)
Recent Form: T3 (PGA), T29 (AT&T Byron Nelson), T54 (RBC Heritage), T21 (Masters)

Ummm...is Jordan Spieth good at golf again? Who is this guy that looked so 'Spieth-like' at Bethpage last week? Obviously, things aren't simple when it comes to Spieth, as we've seen him go through a myriad of trials and tribulations with his game over the past year.

The best way to explain Spieth's major-championship resurgence last week is that he has once again turned into a very good putter. He gained a MASSIVE 10.6 strokes putting at the PGA Championship on the heels of a T29 outing at the AT&T Byron Nelson in which he gained 6.2 strokes on the greens. Now, if you do your PGA DFS stat homework you know those types of numbers aren't sustainable long term, but Spieth has averaged 5.1 strokes gained putting over his last five tournaments. Which is...a start.

We're still waiting on the ball striking to come around. Spieth has been consistently horrible with the driver and ranks an abysmal 112th in this 155-man field in SG: OTT over the last 24 rounds. If there's a positive to his play off the tee, it's that he won't be forced to totally rely on his driver this week. He certainly knows his way around Colonial and has been downright dominant on this course over the last four years with a win and two runner-up finishes on his Colonial resume.

Let's tackle the elephant in the room...Spieth's beautifully insane DraftKings price tag of $10,900. It puts him behind only Justin Rose and Jon Rahm on the salary scale, and above trusted workhorses like Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele. To get the thought out of the way, yes...it's way too high. However, I've had some nice success this season by being willing to swallow a high salary when other DFS players are running for the hills (Anybody remember Rory Sabbatini at the Byron Nelson a couple of weeks ago?). Sure, it's a little nuts, but you don't take down big tournaments by building cookie-cutter lineups. If I see that Spieth's ownership is trending heavily downward due to the price, I'll jump on board in large-field GPPs.

 

Joel Dahmen (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18)
Recent Form: T71 (PGA), 2nd (Wells Fargo), T16 (RBC Heritage), T69 (Valero)

Let's take a minute to talk about a slightly lesser-known player that's been on a mini heater as of late. Joel Dahmen has been a name that those in DFS circles have known for a while, but his recent play - including a solo second at the Wells Fargo a few weeks ago - has earned him some recognition in the larger golf-fan community.

I'm always reluctant to jump on the 'flavor of the month', but Dahmen is doing all the right things on the course. He's 10th in this strong field in SG: Approach and eighth in SG: Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. He's gained 5.1 (PGA) and 6.2 (Wells Fargo) strokes on approach in his last two starts. Dahmen's Colonial track record isn't extensive (a T20 in his lone start last year), but the tight layout seems to be a natural fit for his game, as he stands ninth in the field in Proximity to the Hole - which will help tremendously when taking aim at Colonial's small greens - and 11th in Par 4 Efficiency on holes measuring 400-450 yards (there are seven such holes this week).

Dahmen's DK price tag is up a bit from his usual mid-$7k salary, but his journey into the low-$8k's feels earned. I'm comfortable riding the 'Dahmen wave' in GPPs.

 

Matt Jones (DK - $7,400 & FD - $8,800)

Notable Course History: T63 ('17), M/C ('16), T45 ('14)
Recent Form: T5 (AT&T Byron Nelson) T38 (Wells Fargo), T30 (Valero), T18 (Corales)

You guys are probably sick of me beating you over the head with Matt Jones, but if you've been rostering him regularly over the past couple of months you know what I'm talking about. Does DraftKings have something against Australians? What's this guy gotta do to get a price bump? Here's a list of Jones' last six tournament finishes and his DK price for that week: T36 ($7,200) - T13 ($6,700) - T18 ($9,000) - T30 ($7,200) - T38 ($7,200) - T5 ($7,500). This week? $7,400. As long as they continue to throw Jones out there at this price, I'll be rostering him.

The Aussie's course history at Colonial isn't as good as we'd normally like to see in this article. His lack of success can probably be attributed to iron play that can be wobbly at times. Jones isn't setting the world on fire on approach (51st in the field SG: Approach), but he has gained strokes in that area in two of his last three starts. He's solid overall - standing seventh in the field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds - and he's good both on and around the greens (11th in the field SG: Short Game).

We are always targeting specific statistical traits in PGA DFS - and that's a very good thing - but there's also something to be said for guys that are just good golfers. It's easy to miss the forest for the trees sometimes in this industry, but I'm going to (perhaps stubbornly) overlook Jones' lack of success at Colonial in order to get him into my lineups this week.

 

Danny Lee (DK - $7,300 & FD - $8,700)

Notable Course History: T14 ('18), 6th ('17), T22 ('16), T10 ('15), T38 ('14)
Recent Form: T36 (PGA), M/C (Wells Fargo), T41 (RBC Heritage), T7 (Valero)

Danny Lee's name popped up at last week's PGA Championship after he fired an opening-round 64. He faded over the next three rounds and finished in a tie for 36th. Lee's outing at the PGA isn't the reason that he's highlighted here this week, though he did STRIPE his irons and gained 4.8 strokes on approach at Bethpage.

Lee's inclusion in this week's article is due to his sterling history of success at Colonial. In this 155-man field, Lee stands second to only Jordan Spieth in SG: Total in this tournament over the last five years at 31.1. As mentioned above, Lee's irons were on point at Bethpage last week and he also had a nice T7 outing at Valero in which he 5.2 strokes on approach, giving him positives in the Approach metric in three of his last four starts.

Those of you that have been around PGA DFS for long probably know not to put all your eggs in the 'Danny Lee basket'. It's hard to explain his consistent inconsistency, but he's been rock solid at Colonial and has went 5/5 in cuts made since 2014 with his worst finish being a T38 in 2014. He won't be anywhere near my cash-game lineups, but he's an intriguing GPP prospect this week on a track that he's owned in the past.

 

Shawn Stefani (DK - $6,800 & FD - $8,100)

Notable Course History: T66 ('18), T34 ('16), T19 ('15)
Recent Form: T20 (AT&T Byron Nelson), T13 (Wells Fargo), M/C (Valero), T44 (Corales)

We're gonna do a little discount shopping with our last Pony of the week. Shawn Stefani probably isn't a name that you hear very often, but I've got my eyes on the 37-year-old as we head to Colonial. Stefani has been solid in three previous starts on the Texas masterpiece, with his best being a T19 coming back in 2015.

My interest in Stefani stems from his eye-popping iron play in his past two starts. He stands a very respectable 14th in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, but he's been especially scorching in his last two outings: 5.8 SG: Approach at the AT&T Byron Nelson that resulted in a T20 and 6.1 SG: Approach at the Wells Fargo that ended with a T13. He has the tools needed at Colonial this week and ranks 11th in the field in both 'Good Drives Gained' and 'GIR's Gained' over the last 24 rounds.

Stefani provides some nice salary relief at just $6.8k and is the perfect player to plug into 'Stars & Scrubs' builds on a week where there's a lot of quality at the top of the salary scale. Like most of our highlighted players this week, he's a GPP play that I feel great about taking a shot with.

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