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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Dell Technologies Championship

Thanks for visiting again golf fans! Bryson DeChambeau surprised many in the golf world by winning The Northern Trust. The rising star can struggle in spurts, but DeChambeau found his form over the weekend at Ridgewood Country Club to claim his second victory of the season and put himself at the top of the FedEx Cup Points standings. In addition to the win, DeChambeau almost certainly locked up one of the four outstanding spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

This will be the second event in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and we have narrowed the field down to 100 players. We will lose another 30 players after this event, so we will see some guys fighting to continue their seasons in the Dell Technologies Championship. One interesting note this week...this field is only 100 players deep, but the standard cut rule of Top-70 and ties is still in effect. This allows us to be a little more aggressive with lineup construction, as a larger percentage of the field will make the cut.

If you are a regular Horse For The Course reader, you know that last week's selections really struggled! The Northern Trust was unquestionably my worst week of the year. In DFS we often have to deal with the "boom or bust" nature of playing large-field tournaments and I was definitely on the "bust" side of things. I always hope to learn from my mistakes and last week's results reminded me to trust the findings of my research process and that putting is extremely hard to predict from week-to-week on the PGA Tour.

I'm ready to bounce back this week as we head to Boston for the Dell Technologies Championship. TPC Boston is the host venue and is a long-time PGA Tour stop. This tournament doesn't get underway until Friday and is the only Tour event that has a scheduled Monday finish to coincide with the Labor Day holiday. We have tons of course history to evaluate this week, a great field full of talented players and we will have golf on Labor Day! Justin Thomas won last year's version at 17-under par. Enough talking, let's get to work!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

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. 

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The Course: TPC Boston - Par 71 - 7,342 Yards

This Arnold Palmer design is one of the great young courses in America. TPC Boston opened in 2002, but has been under a fairly continuous redesign by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon since 2005. Hanse and Faxon have created a distinct New England vibe at TPC Boston. There are multiple bunkers across the course, but TPC Boston is perhaps most famous for the many fairway bunkers that make tee shots a challenging prospect, including a couple of holes that have bunkers in the middle of the fairway! Distance will play a factor, as two of the three Par-5's are very gettable. Ball striking will be important, as it seemingly is every week on the PGA Tour. Players will be putting on bent grass greens at TPC Boston that are notoriously fast. Strokes Gained: Approach has been a key ingredient for success in the past.


The Horse

Rory McIlroy (DraftKings - $10,600 & FanDuel - $11,600 )

To be completely honest, I usually shy away from this week's Horse. It's not that I don't like Rory McIlroy, it's that he's usually so close in price to Dustin Johnson that I find myself going with DJ. For the Dell Technologies Championship we are getting a little price break on Rory at a course he has just so happened to win on twice in his career. McIlroy won at TPC Boston in both 2012 and 2016. He also snagged a T5 in 2014. So, he is comfortable on the layout and has done well repeatedly at "Rory Courses" throughout his career.

McIlroy's biggest weapon is his driver and he is masterful with it. He leads the PGA Tour in Driving Distance this season. Our friends at Fantasy National help us dig deeper into stats every week and we find that Rory is first in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds when compared to the Dell field. The concern with Rory is always his putting. He has shown spurts of improvement on the greens, but still is a troubling 57th in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 24 rounds on fast bent grass greens. I'm willing to look past the putting statistics because we know what we are getting with Rory. If he putts just decent he has a chance to dominate any tournament.

I'm a little more concerned with McIlroy's wedge play. It's an area where he has struggled lately. Reports say that McIlroy is spending tons of time on his wedge game. This is where I like the fact that he decided to skip last week's Northern Trust to rest and prepare for the FedEx Cup stretch run. I think we will see a focused McIlroy in the Dell Technologies Championship. I expect his wedge play to be sharper and his putting to improve.

We are getting a small discount on McIlroy this week. He comes in at $10,600 on DraftKings and priced below not only DJ, but also Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. He comes in as the fourth-highest priced player on FanDuel. I find this a bit curious as Rory finished T2 at the Open Championship just a little over a month ago and logged a T6 at the Bridgestone to kick off the month of August. Not to mention that he's a two-time winner of this event. McIlroy definitely has some parts of his game that aren't firing on all cylinders, but even with those weaknesses he has still been very competitive in marquee tournaments. This is where the larger percentage of players making the cut comes into play. It allows us to spend up and take advantage of McIlroy's discounted price tag, while feeling a little safer about the lower-end of our lineup. I'm willing to gamble on Rory's huge upside in large-field GPP's this week.


The Ponies

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $8,900 & FD - $11,000 )

While this week's first Pony hasn't won twice at TPC Boston, Hideki Matsuyama has played well at the New England track. The young star from Japan has reeled off three consecutive Top-25's in the Dell Technologies Championship, going T23-T15-T25 at TPC Boston since 2015.

This has been somewhat of a lost season for Matsuyama. After appearing primed for a major breakout in 2018, he was forced to miss extended time with a wrist injury early in the year and struggled to regain his consistency. However, we have seen Matsuyama rounding into form over the last month. He has posted back-to-back Top-15 finishes in his last two tournaments. Matsuyama led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach at last week's Northern Trust and according to Fantasy National ranks first among Dell entrants in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last eight rounds.

While Matsuyama's TPC Boston results lack a Top-5 finish, I love what we are getting for his $8,900 DraftKings price tag. He will be hungry to "save" his disappointing 2018 season, he is striking the ball beautifully right now, and he has played well at TPC Boston. I will have him in both cash and GPP lineups.

Patrick Reed (DK - $8,400 & FD - $11,100 )

What better way to celebrate Labor Day than with "Captain America" himself, Patrick Reed? The 2018 Masters champion has been very fond of this week's host course. Reed has ran off three straight Top-10's at TPC Boston, going T6-T5-T4 over his last three starts in the Dell Technologies Championship.

It's always hard to put a finger on Reed from a statistical standpoint. He has struggled a bit with his irons lately, which is a little cringe-worthy as we head to a course where SG: Approach is so important. What we can count on is that Reed is a gamer that finds ways to get it done on the course. He managed a T25 at last week's Northern Trust despite losing strokes to the field on approach and in putting.

We find Reed once again sitting in the low $8k range on DraftKings. There is huge upside for Reed at this price. We're hoping for some improved ball striking and putting from him this week, but the grinder has proven time and again that he can compete without having his best stuff. I'm leaning towards Reed as more of a GPP play this week, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the mix on Labor Day.

Louis Oosthuizen (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,400)

Similar to Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen has struggled with injuries in 2018. The South African has been forced to miss several tournaments with neck and back issues, including a last-minute withdrawal from the PGA Championship that destroyed some DFS lineups. It is a little scary flirting with a guy that's battled back injuries, but when Oosthuizen has been able to tee it up, he's been consistently solid. "Shrek" hasn't finished lower than a T28 in the last six tournaments he's been able to play in.

The big reason I'm willing to take a shot on Oosthuizen this week is his stellar track record at TPC Boston. In four career starts at the New England track, Oosthuizen has played very well with finishes of T30 in 2017, T8 in 2016, T12 in 2015, and a solo second in 2012 that included a third-round 63. The South African is driving the ball beautifully and ranks 29th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee on the PGA Tour in 2018. He will also bring a world-class short game to the Dell Technologies Championship, Fantasy National
lists Oosthuizen eighth in Strokes Gained: Short Game and fifth in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 12 rounds. Like Patrick Reed, we would love to see some sharper ball striking from Louis. If he can improve his approach game, he has a great chance to contend this week.

I love Oosthuizen's sub $8k DraftKings price tag. The injury issues should temper his ownership. We are taking a risk by bringing a WD into play, but here's a player with tournament-winning upside for $7,800. Fear of a no-notice withdrawal takes him out of cash game consideration for me, but Louis is squarely in play for large-field GPP lineups.

Keegan Bradley (DK - $7,200 & FD - $9,100)

Let's squeeze in one more Pony this week. Keegan Bradley is the definition of a boom or bust play. Bradley's weekend at last week's Northern Trust is the perfect illustration of his volatility...he fired a beautiful 62 in the third round, which he proceeded to follow-up with a final-round 78. This is Keegan Bradley in a nutshell, talented but inconsistent, tournament winning upside mixed with cut-missing blowups. This is why we see Bradley's game log littered with both Top-10's and missed cuts. Surprisingly, the one-time PGA Champion has been consistent at TPC Boston. Bradley has made four consecutive cuts in the Dell Technologies Championship with solid finishes of T35-T25-T16-T16.

Bradley's success at TPC Boston can be attributed to his elite ability with his irons. Bradley is at the head of the class on the PGA Tour in ball striking statistical categories. He ranks second in Strokes Gained: Approach and seventh in the all-important Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. He has struck the ball well all season, but Fantasy National verifies that Bradley is coming into the Dell in hot form, as he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Approach and fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds compared to the other entrants this week. Unfortunately, once Keegan reaches the green he has to putt and that's where things usually go sideways. He ranks 81st in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 24 rounds on bent grass. Definitely not ideal.

Obviously, Bradley is only a large-field GPP play. We know what we're getting with explosive, but flawed player at a very reasonable DFS price. Bradley has legitimate Top-5 upside at $7,200 on DraftKings, which is nothing to sneeze at, but we also have to stress about a missed cut in a short field. I'm a player that enters multiple lineups, so I will be mixing in Bradley fairly heavily, but he is a dangerous proposition for those that only fire one bullet every week.


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Premium DFS Golf Tools and Lineup Optimizer

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