What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! I hope everyone enjoyed the Sony Open and was able to have a profitable week, with or without Justin Thomas! Thomas isn’t in the field for the CareerBuilder Challenge, so we will finally have a different winner in 2017.
The CareerBuilder Challenge is a very unique event. It will be held at three different courses in La Quinta California – Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta Country Club and TPC Stadium Course. The pros will have a chance to play each venue once, making the tournament a 54-hole cut event, before the final round, which will be held at the Stadium Course. These courses are all of the Par 72 variety, with a yardage of about 7,100 for all three, and they all ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of difficulty in 2016. As it is a 54-hole cut event, the strategy when picking players is a bit different, as all golfers are guaranteed three rounds. This will put a larger than usual emphasis on birdie makers and golfers who dominate Par 5s, in the hopes of multiple eagle opportunities. I’ll be looking for solid drivers of the ball, but mainly focusing on players more known for their ball striking and approach game.
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Patrick Reed – $11,200
Patrick Reed is the highest priced golfer for the week, and is in a situation I find very similar to Jordan Spieth last week. The DFS Golf industry seems to be enamored with the $9K price range so much, that Reed is going overlooked when he is clearly the most elite golfer in the field. Yes, he commands a high salary, but there are plenty of options in the $7K range to make lineup construction with Reed feasible. Reed won this event in 2014, where he set the scoring record for this event and recorded 32 birdies on the week. He is coming off of a T6 finish at the Tournament of Champions, showing he is in the form required to pull of a win. While everyone is loading up on the less talented $9K priced golfers, go overweight on Reed and enjoy the sweat come Sunday.
Jon Rahm – $9,700
I am going to eat some chalk with this pick here, but I believe it is warranted. Jon Rahm stormed onto the scene in the middle of last year and recorded multiple top 15 finishes in his rookie campaign. This will be his first start in the 2017 calendar year, so rust maybe be an issue, but he is still guaranteed 54 holes and has the talent to score some serious DraftKings points this week. Rahm shows up ranked #1 in my weighted stat rankings, thanks to his dominance in the strokes gained stats, as well has his elite ranking in Par 4, Par 5 and BoB%. Of the young players on tour, Rahm is easily the most likely to snag his first victory before the rest, and I do not want to miss the boat when he does. This is the type of field I can see Rahm running away from if he can continue to score like he did in 2016.
Brendan Steele – $9,300
As I mentioned above, the $9K range this week seems to be loaded with quality options, and Brendan Steele is one of them. If you want to pivot away from the chalky options, like Jamie Lovemark and Charles Howell III, two of the most tagged golfers this week on FanShareSports.com, Brendan Steele is the guy who will provide you with a high upside contrarian play. Steele has had success at this event in the past, finishing second here in 2015, while making the cut four of his last five trips. Like Reed, Steele is coming off of a T6 finish at the Tournament of Champions, carrying over his form from a strong finish to the 2016 season. Steele is a great ball striker who crushes Par 5s – the exact style of golfer who will excel this week in La Quinta.
Lucas Glover – $7,700
You are always flipping a coin when it comes to rostering Lucas Glover, and the coin is deciding if the putter will show up or not. At an event like the CareerBuilder, I am willing to take that coin flip risk and have Glover’s elite tee-to-green game outweigh his questionable putting. Glover finished 2016 with two top 5s in his last three events and can combine that recent success with two top 20 finishes at this event in the past two years. I have no doubt Glover will give himself a ton of birdie looks this week, and over the course of 54 holes, that could easily equate to a high finish come Sunday.
Cameron Smith – $7,000
The young Aussie is one of my favorite value plays on the board and will end up on my cash game lineup this week. Cameron Smith has made eight consecutive professional cuts, a combination of PGA, Austrailian Tour and Web.com Tour events, and has had some high finishes in those events. He ranks 35th in BoB% on the season, and is inside the top-20 in Par 4 scoring average. At $7,000, you won’t find a golfer in better form who is on the cusp of breaking out.
Henrik Norlander – $6,800
Henrik Norlander is another guy who will allow rostering Patrick Reed possible. Norlander has always had incredible ball striking skills and ranks high in just about every proximity stat. His downfall has been his putting, but so far in 2017 (yes, a tiny sample size) he ranks 13th in strokes gained putting, while not registering a three putt in 144 straight holes. He came close to winning his first title at the RSM Classic, losing in the playoff, and came T20 last week at the Sony Open. He has an easy shot at finishing inside the top 10 in La Quinta.
Bad course fit? Terrible recent form? Players I will have no share of.
Jamie Lovemark – $9,600
There is no question Jamie Lovemark is showing some of the best form in the field. His price is $9,600 due to his recent form, and his 6th place finish at this event last year. For me, I am not making enough lineups to have shares of Lovemark. It is a very risky fade, but at his extremely inflated price and the potential of him being one of the highest owned golfers of the week, fading him is the better option. If you plan on rostering Lovemark, you will need close to 50% exposure in order to gain a leg up on the field. I am not willing to commit that much exposure to a golfer you are buying high on.
Kevin Kisner – $8,900
For me, Kisner comes in ranked as one of the lowest for any golfer priced above $8,000. First, he has had suspect results at this event in the past, with missed cut, T48 and T66 his last three outings. His T4 finish last week at the Sony Open was inflated by a 60 in Round 3, but for the week, he only hit 72% of greens in regulation. He tends to rely heavily on the flat stick, and if he hits only 72% of greens this week, the putter won’t be nearly as effective due to the trouble that surrounds most of these greens.
So you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Paul Casey – $10,000
Paul Casey is the perfect definition of a “So you got burned?” player. He was extremely high owned last week across all formats and price levels, and missed the cut with a feeble effort. He was also a very popular One-and-Done pick, which can also leave a bad aftertaste lingering in the mouths of those who picked him. What a perfect opportunity to jump back on Paul Casey and burn everyone who is allowing recency bias to impact their decisions. Casey was had -2.36 strokes gained putting last week, which was clearly the reason he missed the cut. He did however hit 80% of his greens in regulation, a stat that is transferable to the CareerBuilder. He is still priced up with the big boys in the field, but will likely be overlooked because of the pool of quality golfers around him. The rust has been shaken off, and Casey, who was a late enter into the CareerBuilder Challenge, is my favorite play of the week.
Jason Dufner – $9,200
The 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge Champion also burned a lot of DFSers last week with his blow up on Friday to miss the cut. He was viewed as a strong cash play because he is a golfer who very rarely misses a cut. Well, time for Jason Dufner to start a new cut making streak this week in La Quinta. He clearly can excel at this format of tournament, showing that last year by lifting the trophy on Sunday. I don’t think one bad round of golf by Dufner should change the opinion on him as much as it will. In a price range with a lot of good options above and below, Dufner will see a suppressed ownership that should be taken advantage of.
Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Russell Henley – $9,500
The chalk this week lies in the heart of the $9K range, with Jamie Lovemark, Jon Rahm, Charles Howell III and Emiliano Grillo. All four of these golfers are inside @FanShareSports top eight most tagged golfers of the week, leaving Russell Henley completely overlooked. Henley has only been tagged three times this week by DFS Golf touts around the industry, yet shows some of the best current form out of the group. He has four straight top 25 finishes, three of those were top 15s. Henley is an excellent ball striker who excels on Par 4s. Henley is fantastic tournament option as you pivot away from the chalk.
Scott Piercy – $8,300
Scott Piercy makes this segment because of Luke List, who is priced $300 more than Piercy and is currently the 3rd most tagged golfer on FanShareSports.com. List has the form and stats that should translate well this week, but he also has blow up potential due to his lack of accuracy off the tee. Piercy makes for a great pivot option, as he is a player who can score with the best of the best on tour and is an excellent ball striker. Piercy also let large group of people down last week with his T57 finish at the Sony Open. Like Paul Casey, Piercy is another guy I will be jumping back on this week.
“The Price is Wrong, Bob!”
The pricing on these golfers just doesn’t make sense.
Francesco Molinari – $10,300
There was only one golfer whose price tag really stood out to me this week, and it’s the Italian sensation Francesco Molinari. Molinari’s last four starts have all resulted in top 10 finishes, including a win at his nation’s event. However, he hasn’t played a competitive round in quite some time. Most people will have the same reaction I did when I saw Molinari’s salary and steer clear of him. But, with Bill Haas likely to be the most popular golfer in the field (most tagged player on @FanShareSports), Molinari makes for a solid contrarian option.
CareerBuilder Challenge Research Spreadsheet
Note that this spreadsheet is FREE each week for Pro Members. If you are not a Pro Member, use code “ERIC” for 15% off:
Thanks for checking out my CareerBuilder Challenge preview article! Be sure to follow me on Twitter. Also, check out @FanShareSports as they curate content from all across the DFS Golf industry, breaking down players that are being mentioned the most and identifying golfers who will be popular that week.
Good luck this week everybody!