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Any of us that love the sport of golf have a course that is our favorite to play. It can be our favorite course for a variety of different reasons...maybe it’s because we like the way the greens roll or it’s where we shot our lowest round ever. Perhaps the course sets up well for our ball flight or we like the type of sand in the bunkers. Maybe we can’t quite put our finger on why we like it, but we just feel confident when we play there.  The pros on the PGA TOUR are world class golfers. They can play great anywhere, but they are like us in at least one way...they have favorite courses too.

Horse for the Course will take a look at a player or players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event.

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

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: Harbour Town Golf Links - Hilton Head, South Carolina

Harbour Town is playing host to the RBC Heritage this week. For the past 35 years the PGA TOUR has visited Hilton Head Island the week after the Masters. A course like Harbour Town that has a longstanding history on the tour offers DFS players an excellent opportunity to find and identify players that have played well here in multiple trips.

 

The Horse

Luke Donald - DraftKings - $7,700 & FanDuel - $8,800

Luke Donald in Hilton Head is like the Budweiser Clydesdale in snow! We couldn’t ask for a better example to kick off this series. Donald has been as dominant at Harbour Town as any player can be at any course...without actually winning the tournament. That’s right, this week’s horse has never won the RBC Heritage, but he has come very close, very often. Donald has finished runner-up at Harbour Town in three of the past four years. He has seven Top-3 finishes in the last nine years! He is second behind Jim Furyk in career earnings at Harbour Town and that’s only because Furyk has won this tournament twice.

Luke Donald is a little different than some of the golfers we will be covering in the coming weeks of this series, in that we often see players do well at a specific course for a very logical reason: they are originally from the area or went to college in the area. Donald is from England and played his college golf at Northwestern, so he has no regional ties to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Donald is different in another way from some other horses we will look at later this season: he is the former number 1 player in the world. Oftentimes, players that perform well at one specific course, will only perform well at that course. Course horses will usually struggle at the majority of PGA TOUR stops due to having a limited skill set or weakness in an area of their game. They flourish on a specific course because it is the only one or one of very few venues, that perfectly fits their particular skill set.

Luke Donald was the number 1 player in the world for an impressive 40 weeks in 2011. His game is nowhere near what it once was. While there are always multiple reasons for a golfer’s game declining, we can focus on one particular reason in Donald’s case: lack of distance. Donald is a casualty of the great distance era in professional golf. Golf courses on the PGA TOUR have been stretched out to ridiculous lengths to combat the increase in distance of today’s pros. This has crippled Luke Donald’s career and ability to compete on a consistent basis, except for one particular week.

Harbour Town has resisted the course lengthening craze of the last few years. It has remained the same traditional links course it has always been with almost no changes over the years. There are very few holes that players actually need to hit driver. Fairways are tight and tee shots must be strategically placed in order to have the correct angle to access Harbour Town’s small greens on the second shot. This plays perfectly into Luke Donald’s strengths. Donald ranks 167th in Driving Distance on the PGA TOUR, which means he struggles at the majority of courses that are super-long in today’s game, but driving distance has ZERO IMPORTANCE at Harbour Town.

The most difficult part of playing Harbour Town is hitting the tiny greens and being able to make putts on their unusual contours. Lots of players miss lots of greens, which puts tons of emphasis on a player’s short game. In 2017 Donald ranked 3rd in Strokes Gained: Putting and 7th in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens on the PGA TOUR.

After examining Luke Donald’s amazing history in Hilton Head, things start to make some sense. His achilles heel of driving distance doesn’t matter at Harbour Town, while his excellent short game is of the utmost importance. His performances in other PGA TOUR events the last several years leave a lot to be desired, but when we look at the unique skill set required at Harbour Town, the Englishman’s game seems to fit the requirements perfectly. We also have to love Donald’s price of $7,700 on DraftKings. How often do we have the opportunity to roster a player with a realistic chance to win a golf tournament at that type of value? Thanks to his impeccable course history, short game ability, and great fantasy value, Luke Donald is this week’s Horse for the Course.

 

The Ponies

Jim Furyk (DK - $8,000 & FD - $9,100): Two time winner at Harbour Town.

William McGirt (DK - $7,600 & FD - $9,000): Three Top-10’s since 2013.

 

Golf DFS News and Player Outlooks

 

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