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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The Memorial


Hello and welcome back to Horse For The Course! Justin Rose looked dominant at Colonial and took home last week's Fort Worth Invitational. We head north to Dublin, Ohio this week for The Memorial. This tournament has been a PGA Tour event since 1976 and draws a very strong field of competitors. The Memorial is hosted by Jack Nicklaus and played at Muirfield Village Golf Club on a course that Nicklaus himself designed and built from the ground up. Because of The Memorial's longtime standing as a Tour stop, we have tons of juicy course history to examine this week!

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.

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The Course: Muirfield Village Golf Club - Par 72 - 7,392 Yards

As mentioned above, this is Jack Nicklaus' baby. Conceived, designed, and built from the ground up by the man himself, Muirfield has "The Golden Bear's" fingerprints all over it. It requires strategic thinking on the player's part. Accuracy off the tee is a must, so players aren't really able to overpower the golf course. Trees, bunkers, and water hazards are all in play. Nicklaus constantly tweaks Muirfield to keep up with the modern player. Besides being precise off the tee, players that have the ability to hit greens have fared well at the Dublin, Ohio track. Ball-striking will be at a premium this week...the ability to hit fairways and greens will go a long way toward determining the winner.

 

The Horse

Tiger Woods (DraftKings - $9,400 & FanDuel - $11,300 )

With a tip of the cap to Rory McIlroy and his impressive history at The Memorial, I have to go with the man, the myth, the legend...Tiger Woods this week! His course history at Muirfield Village is absolutely ridiculous. Doing a little research into Tiger's career is very eye-opening, as he's basically dominated every course on the PGA Tour, but Woods has been especially fond of Muirfield Village throughout the years. He has won this tournament an astounding five times, including winning three in a row from 1999-2001. He is 15-for-15 for his career in cuts made at The Memorial and has three Top-10's to go with his five career victories.

Tiger's last victory at The Memorial came back in 2012 and he hasn't played this tournament since 2015, when he finished in 71st place, so there is some uncertainty with him this week. Another concern is his ability to drive the ball accurately. We have seen improvement in this area the more Tiger has played this season. We especially saw glimpses at The Players Championship, where Woods played his best golf since his return over the weekend, on the way to a tie for 11th. I love Tiger's recent iron play, he's ranked 14th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green. His ability to scramble will also be a valuable asset this week and he has been brilliant in this area in 2018, ranking 7th in Strokes Gained: Around The Green.

Woods comes with very reasonable DFS price tags this week; $9,500 on DraftKings and $11,300 on FanDuel. With these affordable prices, Woods will garner some fairly heavy ownership. He does have tournament winning upside, which is something we are always looking for in this price range. With his issues off the tee, Tiger is not a sure thing this week, but his course history is off the charts and his comfort level should be high. I like the ability to go low that he displayed at The Players Championship. If we think that Woods will pick up a win in his latest return to golf, this is most likely to be the place that he finally gets back into the winner's circle.

 

The Ponies

Marc Leishman (DK - $9,000 & FD - $11,400 )

The "Big Aussie" makes our list this week due to his strong record at The Memorial and flashes of brilliant play this year. Leishman has been rock-solid at Muirfield Village, making the cut in every appearance since 2011. He has been knocking on the door at The Memorial in his last three trips, finishing T-5 in 2015, T-11 in 2016, and T-15 in 2017. He owns a 69.67 scoring average over those last 12 rounds at Muirfield Village.

Leishman has been very close to winning on the PGA Tour in 2018, most recently finishing second at the AT&T Byron Nelson two weeks ago. Leishman fired a career low 61 in the first round, but was overcome by Aaron Wise despite scoring in the 60's in all four rounds. We also saw Leishman play well in a couple of other premier events earlier this season, finishing seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and ninth at The Masters. His 2018 stats match up well with Muirfield Village, Leishman ranks 26th in SG: Approach The Green and 15th in SG: Around The Green.

While Leishman has been a top-flight professional for years, he seems to often-times fly under the DFS radar. I'm hoping that is the case again this week as Leishman is sandwiched between some popular names in his price range on both sites. At his $9,000 DraftKings price tag, I'm comfortable starting my cash game lineups with the Big Aussie this week. He has GPP appeal also, especially if we feel like his ownership levels will be reasonable.

Matt Kuchar (DK - $8,500 & FD - $11,300 )

In last week's edition of Horse For The Course, I called one of the ponies, Steve Stricker, "Mr. Excitement". He has a challenger this week, the most electrifying man in golf...Matt Kuchar! I know Kuchar wears Skechers, never curses, and probably only drinks whole milk, but he has been a beast at The Memorial. "Kuch" won this tournament in 2013 and has recently logged back-to-back fourth place finishes in 2016 and 2017 at Muirfield Village. He has recorded seven Top-10 finishes across his career at Jack's tournament and ranks third in all-time earnings at Muirfield Village.

Kuchar finds himself in an unusual position entering this week, he's been on a bit of a cold streak. He's went seven consecutive starts without a Top-15 finish, which is very unusual for the rock-solid veteran. His stats reflect his recent struggles, Kuchar ranked 28th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green in 2017, but currently sits at only 76th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green in 2018. If Kuchar is looking for a spot to break out of his mini-slump, Muirfield Village sure seems like a great spot.

The downside of Kuchar in DFS is always his high ownership. He is super-consistent and the masses gravitate towards safety. While I expect his ownership to still be relatively high, I do think that his recent struggles will make a dent in his popularity. At a DraftKings price of $8,500 he makes tons of sense in cash games. While he definitely won't be contrarian in GPP's, he is a salary saver that offers DFS players some flexibility when building multiple lineups.

Keegan Bradley (DK - $7,200 & FD - $9,000 )

It is becoming a habit for me to attempt to think a little "outside of the box" on our last pony of the week. Last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, I wrote up Rory Sabbatini and it worked out pretty well, he finished T-20 in Fort Worth. This week, I'm gambling on Keegan Bradley at The Memorial. Like Sabbatini last week, Bradley has course history that's a little more erratic than the other picks. We have seen him have both highs and lows at Muirfield Village. Bradley had an absolutely ugly missed cut last year, but posted back-to-back 8th place finishes in 2016 and 2015.

I like the form that Bradley flashed in his most recent tournament appearance, The Players Championship. He finished in a tie for seventh, that was highlighted by a final round 66 at TPC Sawgrass. Bradley has upside as evidenced by three Top-10's this season. His ballstriking has been impressive this year, Bradley ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Approach The Green and 10th in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green. Bradley has also been accurate off the tee, ranking 23rd in driving accuracy percentage. His undoing is the putter, he's a dismal 199th on the PGA Tour in Total Putting.

Bradley is a very affordable $7,200 on DraftKings. He is a perfect candidate to save salary cap dollars for those that are mass-entering tournaments, but Bradley is strictly a GPP this week due to his volatility. I do like the way Bradley is striking the ball right now. If, and it's a big if, he can replicate his putting from The Players Championship, he has tournament-winning upside for a nominal price.

 

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