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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The Northern Trust

Welcome back golf fans! The Wyndham Championship exceeded expectations in almost every way. In what was supposed to be a "hangover" tournament, we saw a round of 59 from eventual champion Brandt Snedeker and an exciting Sunday finish. We had two players from last week's column that played very well, as Webb Simpson and C.T. Pan both finished tied for second! The Wyndham also marked the last chance for players to make it into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which brings us to this week's tournament The Northern Trust.

The Northern Trust kicks off the FedEx Cup Playoffs and consists of the 125 players that qualified for the playoffs with their play this year. We will see an excellent field that features many of the world's top players including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Tiger Woods. Rickie Fowler was forced to withdraw with an injury, Henrik Stenson withdrew Monday, and Rory McIlroy opted to skip the event for rest. The Northern Trust rotates courses and this year we head back to Ridgewood Country Club. The classic A.W. Tillinghast layout hosted in 2008, 2010 and 2014, so those will be the years that we focus on for course history purposes this week. This should be a fun tournament, we have great players and a legendary course. Let's dive in!

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: Ridgewood Country Club - Par 71 - 7,385 Yards

This A.W. Tillinghast masterpiece opened in 1929 as a 27-hole course. You might have heard of the legendary Tillinghast, he designed Bethpage Black, Winged Foot, and Baltusrol among many other fine it is safe to say that Ridgewood has a championship pedigree. This week the players will face a mixture of the best holes out of the 27 available across the property. Accuracy off the tee is required. Penal rough will punish errant drives and even shots that find the fairway will need to be in the correct position for the all-important approach shot. Like most of his designs, Tillinghast wanted Ridgewood to be a second-shot course. The greens are small with difficult bunkers protecting them. In short, every aspect of a players game will be tested this week. Players will need to be precise off the tee, accurate with approach shots, and able to scramble around the greens. While nowhere near the birdie-fests we have seen recently, players can score on the par-71 and will probably need several rounds in the 60's to be in contention Sunday afternoon.


The Horse

Jason Day (DraftKings - $10,700 & FanDuel - $11,900 )

This week's Horse was a no-brainer for me. Jason Day has shined in his previous appearances at Ridgewood Country Club and has displayed solid form throughout this season. The Aussie has, somewhat quietly, picked up two victories in 2018. After a 2017 season that was plagued by injuries and family issues, Day reestablished himself quickly this year by winning the Farmer's Insurance Open in January. The 30-year-old then cruised to another win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May. Since an ugly U.S. Open performance, Day has been rock-solid, notching four consecutive top-20 finishes over his last four tournaments.

Day's history at Ridgewood dates back a decade, when he finished T31 in 2008. His two subsequent appearances have gone much better, as he logged a T5 in 2010 and tied for second in 2014. Day's success at Ridgewood can be traced back to his phenomenal short game and his ability to navigate the dangers that surround the small Tillinghast greens. Our friends at Fantasy National confirm our suspicions that a player's short game is of huge importance at Ridgewood, as top-10 finishers in this tournament have averaged gaining nearly two strokes per round on the rest of the field with their short game. Day's numbers in this area are off the charts. He ranks first in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, first in Strokes Gained: Putting and second in Sand Save Percentage on the PGA Tour this season. Day's weakness is his tendency to get wild off the tee and be a little loose with iron shots. Despite these shortcomings, he still ranks seventh on the PGA Tour in scoring average. So while we would certainly love to see some sharper ball striking from the Aussie, I don't expect it to be a huge roadblock for Day in the Northern Trust.

Day's DFS pricing for The Northern Trust comes as a bit of a surprise. We have seen his salary gradually come down as the season has progressed, but this week we find him with the third highest price tag on DraftKings, trailing only DJ and JT. While the price is steep, this should only help to lower Day's ownership. Brooks Koepka should garner lots of attention at just $200 less than Day on DKings. I'm firing away with J-Day in GPP's and feel that he has tournament winning upside this week.


The Ponies

Matt Kuchar (DK - $8,200 & FD - $10,400 )

Over the last few years Matt Kuchar has been an ATM machine for DFS players, but the man I've long called "Old Faithful" has become a much less reliable option this season. It's probably not fair or reasonable to expect Kuch to continue performing at the elite level he's maintained for so many years, but lots of fantasy players have been burned by the veteran in 2018 and loyalty is fleeting in the DFS world. The 40-year-old hasn't had a horrible season, but he has struggled in the majors and missed way more cuts than we have seen in the past. He did grab a T9 in The Open Championship last month and popped up on the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational leaderboard a couple of weeks ago at a course where he's had tons of success throughout his career.

These recent spurts of form lead me to feel optimistic about Kuchar at The Northern Trust. His history at Ridgewood is elite. He won the 2010 Northern Trust title on the classic Tillinghast layout and followed that with a T5 finish in his next visit in 2014. Like Jason Day, Kuchar has found success at Ridgewood in large part due to his short game. While not at elite levels in 2018, the veteran hasn't totally lost his touch around the greens this year... Kuchar ranks 39th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 12th in Sand Save Percentage and according to Fantasy National, Kuchar is eighth among this week's Northern Trust entrants in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds.

I'm confident the Georgia Tech alum can find his way back to "Old Faithful" form this week. He will be comfortable on a course where he has had so much success and his game has looked better over the past month. Kuchar is a cash game play of course, but his recent form might push his GPP ownership down to reasonable levels. His proficiency in Par-4 scoring should come in handy this week. His $8,200 DraftKings price is a nice mid-range value for those taking a "solid" approach with lineup construction.

Stewart Cink (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,900 )

Stewart Cink has been extremely profitable for me this summer and I'm very happy to highlight him again this week. The veteran has been priced crazy low on DraftKings over the past few months, but he finally received a salary bump to $7,500 for The Northern Trust after an impressive tie for fourth in the PGA Championship. With Cink's current form and track record at Ridgewood, this price is still a bargain we should be willing to jump on. The 45-year-old might not be flashy, but his Northern Trust history will get DFS players excited. Cink logged T15 finishes at Ridgewood in both 2010 and 2014. Those solid results combined with his sharp current form make Cink a greenlight play for me this week.

When I say Cink's current form is sharp, I'm talking Razor Ramon baby. He has been showing the young guys on Tour how it's done lately, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach and 30th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. While Cink's ball striking is his bread and butter, his short game has been quietly solid as of late. Fantasy National lists him at sixth among this week's competitors in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds.

I love Cink's prices on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He is cash game playable and brings tons of flexibility to GPP lineup construction. His play in the recent PGA Championship will put him on a lot of DFS radars this week and he will be a fairly popular play for The Northern Trust. I liked it better when Cink was under $7k and getting no respect, but I'm going to continue riding this Pony until he bucks me. I'll have the veteran in tons of lineups this week.

Joel Dahmen (DK - $6,800 & FD - $7,500)

I'm going a little off script for my final Pony of the week. Joel Dahmen has never played Ridgewood Country Club, but this guy is just playing too good to ignore. Similar to C.T. Pan last week, Dahmen is low on name recognition, but high on results. He has flown under the radar while putting together an impressive resume this summer. Beginning with a T16 at the Wells Fargo Championship back in May, Dahmen has reeled off four top-25's, a top-10, and two top-5's with only two missed cuts that came back-to-back in June. Those are eye-opening results. Now, most of those fields weren't as talent-rich as The Northern Trust will be this week, but we're talking about a guy with huge upside that's had sustained success this season in legit PGA Tour events.

Dahmen's calling card his is ball striking. He stands at 33rd on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach and 43rd in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in 2018. Those are solid numbers, but when we use Fantasy National to dig a little deeper into Dahmen, we find that over his last 24 rounds when compared to the entrants in this week's Northern Trust he ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach, third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and second in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. That is elite level stuff. In fact, there are only three other players that rank within the top-five in all three of those categories over their last 24 rounds... Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Francesco Molinari. Pretty nice company for a guy with a sub-$7k DraftKings price tag. Dahmen is not without his weaknesses, he can struggle both on and around the greens and the Ridgewood layout will put his short game to the test.

I'm never going to recommend going all-in on a value play, but Dahmen's stats and results make me want to push a lot of my chips in the middle. We are rolling the dice with how the 30-year-old will handle the demands of Ridgewood's greens and bunkers, but at only $6,800 on DKings I'm willing to take my chances. I will be using Dahmen liberally in large-field GPPs.


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Premium DFS Golf Tools and Lineup Optimizer

Our friends at Fantasy National have created some game-changing DFS Golf tools, and you can read all about them here. They are hands-down the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry.

Fantasy National Golf Club

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