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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - RBC Heritage


Wow! Can you believe what we just saw? Tiger Woods captured his fifth Masters title and 15th (!) major championship in a performance for the ages. It was Woods' first major championship win since the 2008 U.S. Open and was a storybook moment in what might be the greatest comeback story in the history of not only golf, but any sport.

We're probably all still flying high from what might be the best tournament we've ever seen, but there is DFS work to be done this week! The RBC Heritage is a fun tournament that is traditionally held the week after the Masters. Located in beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the Heritage is a nice way for a lot of the elite pros to wind down after a stressful week at Augusta and it's a chance for those that weren't in the Masters field to get back in action.

While a solid field usually tees it up at Harbour Town, this year's turnout is surprisingly strong and perhaps the best we've ever seen at Hilton Head. Players like Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, and Xander Schauffele will be joining defending champ Satoshi Kodaira at the Heritage. We also have guys like Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, and Bryson DeChambeau scheduled to tee it up. So, while this is normally a week that we can catch our breath after the excitement of the Masters, this year's strong Heritage field demands our DFS attention. This is a tournament where we routinely see players repeatedly perform well and there are lots of juicy 'course horses' in this field!

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!

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: Harbour Town Golf Links

Par 71 - 7,099 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

This Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus beauty is one of the shortest layouts these pros will face all year. Its lack of length is a refreshing change of pace from the stretched-to-the-max layouts that we routinely see on the PGA Tour schedule. While it may lack length, Harbour Town is by no means a pushover. Very tight, tree-lined fairways often take drivers out of the players hands, forcing them to play strategically off the tee. In true Dye fashion, this is a second-shot golf course and players will be taking aim at miniscule greens that routinely grade-out as some of the toughest to hit on the PGA Tour schedule. These factors make me give almost no weight to the bombers this week and I'll instead be focusing on players that are precise off the tee and accurate on approach. While it's an area that often goes overlooked, I'll also be giving weight to around the green ability this week. Harbour Town is slightly similar to Augusta National in that we often see the same players perform well here every year, while first-timers can struggle, so I'm giving an even bigger bump than normal to players with strong course history.

 

The Horse

Matt Kuchar(DK - $10,000 & FD - $11,500)

Notable Course History: T23 (2018), T11 ('17), T9('16), 5th ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T12 (Masters), T7 (Valero), T26 (The Players), 50th (WGC-Mexico), T22 (AT&T)

Some of you might consider this week's Horse a little boring. Matt Kuchar doesn't exactly ignite excitement, but he does consistently get the job done. That's been especially true at Harbour Town. Since 2014, Kuch has a win, a top-five, a top-10, and two top-25 finishes on this Pete Dye classic. He also leads this field in Strokes Gained: Total in this tournament over the last five years at 46.24.

His course history itself is enough to make you want to pull the trigger on Kuchar, but his form of the last six months makes him downright impossible to ignore. He has two wins already this season and is probably playing this best golf of his career. He's pretty spicy from a statistical standpoint...as he ranks third in this RBC Heritage field in Strokes Gained: Approach and SG: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds. His irons have been especially hot, as he gained 8.6 strokes on approach at Valero and 7.5 at The Players (The Masters doesn't release Strokes Gained statistics), which is an area that we are heavily weighting this week.

I find Kuchar so interesting from a DFS game-theory standpoint in this spot. For the Masters, he was obviously underpriced and a player that folks flocked to. This week he's at $10k on DK, which seems to be Kuchar's 'salary Mendoza line'. There are probably some psychological reasons, but people just don't ever want to pay $10k or more for Matt Kuchar. I think we will see that strongly in play this week with elite players above him on the salary scale and an absolutely stacked $9k range below him. Can we really be talking about Kuchar as a contrarian GPP play a week after he was THE CHALK at the Masters? It sounds a little wacky, but I honestly believe that will be the case. While he's normally a cash game staple, I'm actually targeting Kuch in tournaments in this spot.

 

The Ponies

Patrick Cantlay (DK - $9,700 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T7 ('18), T3 ('17)
Recent Form: T9 (Masters), M/C (Players), T6 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis)

Whew...Patrick Cantlay almost stole the Masters. A late eagle put him right there, but he promptly went bogey-bogey on his next two holes. After a breakthrough 2018, we are starting to see Cantlay's name pop-up on some leaderboards in these huge events. In addition to the Masters, he also flirted with the WGC-Mexico Championship lead earlier this year. The young man can flat-out play.

Cantlay heads to a golf course where he has a strong history of success on the heels of his weekend charge at Augusta National. In two RBC Heritage appearances he's logged a T3 and a T7. Harbour Town's tight fairways and tiny greens shape up perfectly for Cantlay's sharp, ball-striking style. He grades out ninth in this field in both SG: Approach and SG: Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds.

His position on the salary scale is really interesting. On a normal year, Cantlay would be almost the highest-priced player on the board, but with the influx of talent in this year's field he's listed as the sixth-highest salaried player on DK and seventh on FD. While it's tempting to reach for one of the big boys this week, those of you that want to go with more of a balanced roster build would be just fine starting your lineups with Cantlay.

 

Byeong-Hun An (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,800)

Notable Course History: T7 ('18)
Recent Form: T7 (Valero), T26 (The Players), T10 (API), T36 (Honda), T45 (WGC-Mexico)

I ain't jumping off this Benny An train yet. I've rostered An with great success over the past month and I see no need to go away from him this week. He ranks FIRST in this field in SG: T2G and SG: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds. An also stands fifth in the field in SG: Ball Striking and 15th in SG: Approach over the same number of measured rounds.

An is being held back by a ridiculously cold putter. Ok, let me clarify that...I don't know that it's fair to call his putting "cold", as there's a legit chance that Benny's just a truly terrible putter. He logged a T7 in his last start at Valero despite LOSING SIX STROKES PUTTING! I honestly don't even know how that's mathematically possible...but it happened. The crazy thing is it's not really anything new. An has lost strokes putting in every one of his 2019 starts, but has still made every cut and logged two top-ten finishes. I suppose the optimist in me thinks that if Benny ever finds just a lukewarm week on the greens, he will be in line for his first PGA Tour victory.

An's history at Harbour Town isn't extensive, but it is impressive. He recorded a T7 in his Heritage debut last year on this course which can be tough on first-timers. Sure, this field is kind've shockingly top-heavy and we definitely want to grab some exposure to those elite players, but I will be slotting An into a big portion of my GPP lineups this week.

 

Russell Knox (DK - $7,700 & FD - $9,500)

Notable Course History: T40 ('18), T11 ('17), T2 ('16), T18 ('15), T9 ('14)
Recent Form: T24 (Valspar) T35 (Players), T51 (Honda), T39 (WGC-Mexico)

Russell Knox has really been low-key good this year. He hasn't missed a cut in 2019, despite losing strokes putting on a regular basis. Knox logged a T24 at the Valspar in his most recent start and gained a massive 5.9 strokes on approach, his third straight start with impressive iron play.

He ranks sixth in the RBC Heritage field in SG: Approach and 11th in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds. Knox brings this form to a Harbour Town course that he has fared very well on. He has a runner-up finish, a T9, and a T11 over his last five RBC Heritage starts. He's 36th in the field in SG: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds, but his aforementioned putting woes are a legitimate point of concern, as he ranks near the bottom of this field in SG: Putting.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised to see Knox with a sub-$8k price tag on DK this week. I suppose it's due to the surprising strength of this field and his lack of top-10 finishes recently, but man it feels like a we're getting a bargain here. I'll fire him up in GPP's and hope we catch a warm putter this week.

 

Graeme McDowell (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,400)

Notable Course History: T55 ('18), T29 ('17), M/C ('16), T26 ('15), Win ('13)
Recent Form: T7 (Valero), Win (Corales), T46 (Valero), T54 (API)

Graeme McDowell is a player that's been trending nicely over the past month or so. He got over the hump with a win at the opposite-field Corales event at the end of March, his first win since the Mayakoba Classic in 2015. McDowell followed up the victory with an impressive T7 at the Valero and appears to be in sharp form as he heads to a Harbour Town track where he has performed well throughout his career.

We can't get definitive stats from his win at Corales, but he's no doubt had a hot putter as of late and he's gained strokes putting in seven straight tournaments dating back to November. While I'm not normally one to jump on a player that's doing most of his damage on the greens, McDowell is an exception to that rule at this Harbour Town course that puts so much pressure on a player's short game.

He won here in 2013 and is highly motivated for another victory. Some of you might be familiar with McDowell's attempts to qualify for this year's Open Championship that is being held a Royal Portrush, his home course. Unfortunately the Corales victory didn't qualify him, so the Northern Ireland native will be doing everything in his power to earn his way into the Open field. I love his price point this week and would feel comfortable using him in all formats.

 

Luke Donald (DK - $7,200 & FD - $9,000)

Notable Course History: M/C ('18), 2nd ('17), T2 ('16), T15 ('15), 2nd ('14)
Recent Form: M/C (Valero), T9 (Valspar), M/C (Sony)

Are you ready for #LukeDonaldChalkWeek? Yeah, I know it's kinda random, but Donald turns into Tiger Woods when he gets to Hilton Head. He unbelievably has seven top-three finishes in the RBC Heritage in the last ten years!

It seems like a million years ago, but Luke Donald was the number-one-ranked player in the world for a good portion of 2011. The great distance boom hurt Donald's career in a big way and a player whose game revolved around precision and accuracy hasn't been able to compete in the era of 'Bomb and Gouge'.

One of the few courses that Donald has managed to stay relevant is Harbour Town. He has recorded an unbelievable FIVE runner-up finishes in this tournament over his career, with the last one coming as recently as 2017. The Englishman has battled injuries over the past year or so and this tournament was actually his last start of the 2017-18 season. He doesn't have much recent form to evaluate, as he's only made three PGA Tour starts in 2019, but he did pop-up for a T9 recently at the Valspar. Donald gained 5.4 strokes T2G at Innisbrook on the strength of sharp iron play and his phenomenal short game, but missed the cut in his next start at Valero on a course that was a poor fit for his style.

Donald might end up garnering more ownership than he should this week, but it's hard to completely ignore his RBC Heritage track record. There are certainly a couple of different ways you can go in this price range, but Donald is a solid 'sixth man' option in cash lineups.

Golf DFS News and Player Outlooks

 

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