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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges

Welcome back PGA RotoBallers! The "Big Aussie" Marc Leishman ran away with the CIMB Classic in the final round to take home his fourth career PGA Tour victory. We enter the second leg of the "Asia Swing" this week as we head to Korea for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges!

As it does in most facets of life, money talks in golf. The CJ Cup has a huge $9.5 million purse that will be split between 78 players in this no-cut event, with the winner taking home over $1.7 million. As a result, we have a strong field this week. Justin Thomas won the title last year in the event's debut and is back to defend. He'll be joined in Korea by some elite players like Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Hideki Matsuyama among others. The promise of a nice guaranteed payday and FedEx Cup points brings a solid group of players to The Club at Nine Bridges.

There is no cut this week, which always alters how we tackle lineup construction. We are looking for upside and can take some chances when choosing players. We also have another Wednesday evening start time, so don't forget to have lineups set! Unfortunately, we only have one year of course history to evaluate for this event. We will take last year's results into consideration, but won't completely rely on course history alone this week. We've got a cool golf course and a talented field...let's tee it up!

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: The Club at Nine Bridges - Par 72 - 7,184 Yards

Since opening in 2001, The Club at Nine Bridges has been met with universal acclaim from the golf world. Located on Jeju Island near the base of Mount Halla, Nine Bridges uses the unique natural features of the island to shape holes, including the interesting par-5 18th that has it's green literally sitting on an island. The course is well-protected by Mother Nature, with unpredictable winds that can give players fits. In last year's debut edition, Nine Bridges proved that it could provide a stiff test for the best players in the world. Of the 51 measured courses played last season, Nine Bridges ranked fourth in difficulty. This week, we are targeting players that have solid tee-to-green games, that play well on difficult courses, and can grind out pars with their scrambling ability.


The Horse

Byeong-Hun An (DraftKings - $8,700 & FanDuel - $9,700 )

While I have tons of interest in the marquee names that are in this week's field, I'm going to go a little off-page with this week's "Horse". Byeong-Hun (Ben) An finished tied for 11th in last year's edition of the CJ Cup and returns for this year's tournament fresh off a T13 at last week's CIMB Classic. Nevermind home course, a native of Korea, An will have the home country advantage this week. While I don't know that An's Korean roots will help him with the Nine Bridges layout, I do think he will be better equipped to deal with the wind and weather that might play a factor this week.

An hasn't reached the "next level" on the PGA Tour yet, but the 27-year-old made his presence known during the 2018 season by logging three top-five finishes, including runner-ups at The Memorial and the RBC Canadian Open. He has shown a propensity to play well on courses that are difficult, often faring better in tough environments than he does in birdie-fests. He logged solid finishes at The Honda Classic (T5), The Arnold Palmer Invitational (T14), and the RBC Heritage (T7)...all tournaments that are played on challenging courses where par is a good score.

An is an excellent ball striker that ranked 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and 18th in SG: Approach on the PGA Tour last season. The stat that jumps out at me is An's standing at 21st in Scrambling % for 2018, a skill that we know will be very important at Nine Bridges this week. When we use Fantasy National to dig deeper into An's statistics, we find that over his last 36 rounds he ranks an impressive second in the CJ Cup field in Scrambling Gained and fifth in Bogeys Avoided. An's achilles heel is the putter and he ranks just 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 36 rounds.

I wouldn't call An a great "value" this week, as he's fairly priced at $8,700 on DK and $9,700 FD. I actually like that his salary isn't super cheap, as I believe it will make his ownership levels quite low. Many folks will overlook An to get a more well-known name in their lineup and that's absolutely fine with me. The putting is a concern, and we will need him to find his putting stroke this week to realize his full upside potential, but if he can somehow get really hot with the flatstick, a win isn't out of the question. I like the boxes that An checks off this week and will be using him in single-entry and large-field GPP's.


The Ponies

Tyrrell Hatton (DK - $9,500 & FD - $9,600 )

Sometimes in this article you just have to go with your gut. There is no course history to support going with Tyrrell Hatton this week, but I can't shake the feeling that the Englishman will play well in the CJ Cup. There are several things that line up well for Hatton at Nine Bridges and we'll get to some of those in just a moment, but I'm most impressed with his amazing recent form.

Hatton most recently finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, this after a strong showing for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup. The dude closed out the 2018 season like a rockstar, logging a top-10 in the PGA Championship and playing great golf throughout the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Over his last 16 PGA Tour rounds, Hatton fired 12 sub-70 rounds.

Despite a lack of course history, Hatton's stats align well with what leads to success at Nine Bridges. Using Fantasy National, we find that over his last 24 rounds Hatton ranks second in both Scrambling Gained and Bogeys Avoided. Hatton is extremely solid across the board recently and over his last 12 rounds ranks inside the field's top-10 in Strokes Gained: Total, Tee to Green, Approach, and Around the Green.

While I typically focus most of my personal play on DraftKings, I will be going heavier than usual over at FanDuel just to take advantage of Hatton and someone we will discuss next. Hatton's hugely underpriced relative to the field on FD at just $9,600. I like the Englishman in all DFS formats this week.

Sungjae Im (DK - $8,000 & FD - $8,400)

It might sound crazy...but Sungjae Im was almost this week's "Horse". Why you ask? Because Im not only grew up on Jeju Island, but Nine Bridges IS HIS HOME COURSE! That's right, Sungjae Im grew up playing this course.

A professional golfer playing a tournament on his home course would always draw our interest, but Im also happens to be an ultra-talented 20-year-old that has played out of his mind over the past year. Im was so dominant on the Tour in 2018 that he was the first player in the history of that tour to lead the regular season money list wire-to-wire. He picked up two victories and a staggering 11 top-25's on the and cruised to earning full-time PGA Tour status for the 2019 season.

Im made his 2019 PGA Tour debut two weeks ago at the Safeway Open where he looked completely at ease with golf's best and logged an impressive T4 finish. We can grab the young man at $8,000 on DraftKings and a ridiculous $8,400 on FanDuel. The last time I remember a perfect setup like this was Ole Miss star Braden Thornberry teeing it up on a sponsor's exemption at TPC Southwind, a course that he grew up playing, just week's after winning the NCAA Individual Championship. Thornberry went on to notch a T4 as an amateur in the St. Jude Classic in 2017. This is that type of situation and we only come across these once or twice a year. Get him in your lineups this week!

Jamie Lovemark (DK - $6,800 & FD - $8,500)

For our final highlighted player of the week, we are going to move down the salary scale to Jamie Lovemark at $6,800. Lovemark will be making his second trip to The Club at Nine Bridges this week. He fared well in last year's CJ Cup, scoring an impressive T5.

Lovemark doesn't jump off the page at you, but I like the intangibles he brings to the table. He is an excellent wind player that has proven he can deal with the weather on Jeju Island. Lovemark also plays difficult courses very well. Fantasy National illustrates that Lovemark gains over .5 strokes per round on the field when rounds are at their most difficult. This attribute is reinforced by his scrambling ability and he ranks fourth in the field in Scrambling Gained over his last 36 rounds.

Lovemark is a somewhat boom-or-bust option. There are week's when he just doesn't have it, but as we can see from last year's CJ Cup performance, he has top-five upside. The guy finished 31st in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on the PGA Tour last year, so he has the talent to show up big for us at his discount price. He's strictly a GPP option, but I like taking a shot with Lovemark in large-field tournaments this week.


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