Analysis and write-up provided by KendoVT. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see each player’s tournament history. We are a bit light on tournament history this week since two of the three courses in the rotation are brand new. However, we can use past tournament performance to find players who can manage different courses over the same tournament.
The PGA Tour moves to California this week for the old Bob Hope Classic. It is now called the CareerBuilder Challenge and will be played on three different courses: The Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West (1 round), La Quinta Country Club (1 round), and The Stadium Course at PGA West (2 rounds if golfers make the cut). This tournament is a bit unconventional because ALL golfers will play each course once the first three days, then there will be a cut on SATURDAY. The remaining golfers will battle it out Sunday at The Stadium Course to find a victor. Because of this, golfers in your lineups that miss the cut will have less total effect on your DraftKings score. Having as many golfers as possible make the cut is still important, but you can get away with more missed cuts meaning you can be a bit more aggressive in picking golfers with upside, especially for your cash lineups (Double Ups, H2Hs, and 50/50s). This event is also a pro-am so the courses won’t be set up too difficult, except on Sunday at The Stadium Course. The pro-am event ends on Saturday so they will probably move tee boxes back and make the pin locations a bit more challenging for the pros on Sunday.
The Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West is a 7,200 yard, par 72 course with four par 3s, four par 5s, and 10 par 4s. The course has hosted PGA Tour Qualifying Tournaments and a 59 has been shot here in tournament play in the past. This course at first look does not seem too difficult. The fairways will be average to large in width with many bunkers and water in play off the tee on many holes. I don’t think the rough will be too thick because of the fact that it’s a pro-am. My guess is Tour officials will try to set up the course a little easier than usual because they will be trying to avoid 6 hour rounds with the amateurs playing along side the pros. The greens will be undulating, multi tiered, and on the large side with bunkers and water surrounding most greens. Like the other two courses, the greens will be bermudagrass.
La Quinta Country Club is a 7,000 yard par 72 with four par 3s, four par 5s, and 10 par 4s. It has been on the regular rotation at this tournament for years and was actually the 5th easiest course last year on Tour. The fairways are tree lined and average at best in width. Bunkers, water, and local vegetation are in play for wayward drives off the tee. The greens are average in size with trouble surrounding them.
The Stadium Course at PGA West is a totally different animal compared to the other two courses. It is the definition of target golf. It hosted the Bob Hope Classic in 1987 and the golfers back then complained so much about how difficult the course was, that they dropped it from the rotation and a PGA Tour event hasn’t been played there since. I don’t think the current players will have as much of a problem because of equipment changes and the fact that they play this kind of course all the time. Back in 1987, golfers were used to wide open, easier courses. Now a days golfers play these tight target golf courses all the time. The par 72 course will be around 7100 yards with four par 3s, four par 5s, and 10 par 4s. The fairways are tight with thick rough, bunkers, and water in play on wayward drives. The greens are small with trouble all over the place. There are island greens, 200 yard carries over water on par 3s, and enormously deep bunkers. There is actually a bunker on the course that is over TWENTY FEET deep. Golfers will need to hit their spots and be as accurate as possible to succeed at this course.
Looking at the course description above, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats and current form to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week. More focus will be put on current form because course information and finding trends for key stats is difficult/impossible for the new courses. Because of all the unknowns of playing at 2 new courses, betting less of your bankroll than usual might not be a bad idea this week. I will not be looking too much into course history because of the new courses as well.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G) and Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P), which are key stats every week.
Driving Accuracy (DA):
DA will be important this week, especially at The Stadium Course. The fairways are super tight and the rough is very thick. The other two courses are much more forgiving off the tee so I wouldn’t completely fade inaccurate bombers but missing fairways at The Stadium Course can take you out of the tournament quickly. Missing the fairway at The Stadium Course could lead to impossible approach shots because of how small the greens are and all the troubles surrounding the green.
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
Golfers will need to take advantage of par 5s especially on the two easier courses to do well. Playing well on par 5s at Nicklaus and La Quinta will give golfers a little leeway if they struggle at the Stadium Course.
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
Since the cut is on Saturday this week having golfers in your lineup who make a lot of birdies should help your DraftKings score. Birdies are 3 points and bogeys are -.5 points on DraftKings. Golfers are guaranteed to play 54 holes so there will be more opportunities for birdies even if they don’t make the cut.
Even though the greens vary in size depending on which course the golfer is playing, Proximity will be an important stat this week. The Stadium Course has small greens. Hitting it close will be very important there. The Nicklaus course has large multi tiered greens, so hitting the ball in the right spot will still be important there as well.
Bogey Avoidance (BA):
Avoiding bogeys at La Quinta and The Nicklaus course will be important. These courses are easy so golfers can’t lose strokes to the field here. Bogeys will happen at the Stadium Course but avoiding them there could lead to a victory.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
*** I will be using stats from last season but I will take a peak at this year’s stats where applicable.
Patrick Reed ($12,400):
Reed is one of the hottest players on Tour right now. He has six Top 10s in his last 6 events worldwide and finished 2nd in his last two events on Tour. His stats this year show why he’s been so good. In the 2015-16 year so far he is 11th in SG:T2G, 16th in BoB%, 1st in BA, 25th in P5, 26th in DA, and 33rd in SG:P. He hasn’t won on Tour in over a year and the way he’s playing, he’s due. I’m not going very far out on the limb here but he is my pick to win this week. It will be tough fitting him in cash lineups because of his price, but if you can find a way, I wouldn’t be against it. (GPP and cash)
Matt Kuchar ($12,100):
Kuchar had a lot of DFSers worried last week because he made the cut right on the number. He then went 9 under over the weekend to finish a respectable T13. His stats for the course are great. He’s 22nd in SG:T2G, 26th in BoB%, 14th in BA, 4th in P4 scoring, 76th in DA, and 33rd in SG:P. His price is a little high to use in cash games but he makes for a good contrarian GPP play because everyone will be on Reed. Ownership percentage should be low. (GPP only)
Jason Bohn ($10,100):
Bohn is one of my favorite plays this week. He’s affordable enough where you can make a solid balanced lineup with him as your highest priced player and he has tremendous upside. He has made all four cuts during the Fall Series and finished Top 3 in three of them. He’s consistent with great stats for the course like usual. He is my number 1 ranked golfer this week and he will be in my cash lineup. (GPP and cash)
Jason Dufner ($9,800):
Dufner’s price shot up a bunch this week but I still like him. His tee to green game is one of the best and his putter is improving week to week. His overall key stats for the course are not that great but he has two Top 10s in his last two starts and I’m riding the Dufner train until he proves me wrong. (GPP only)
Webb Simpson ($9,600):
If Webb could putt he would be one of the best players on Tour. His other key stats are great and even with a 174th ranking in SG:P he is still my 3rd ranked golfer this week. He’s 7th in SG:T2G, 68th in BoB%, 32nd in BA, 4th in P5, 26th in DA, and 32nd in Prox. If he can somehow get his putter going he has a chance at a high finish. (GPP only)
Charles Howell III ($9,100):
CH3 has been playing exceptionally well so far this season. He has made all six of his cuts and has five Top 17 finishes in those starts. His stats aren’t the best but I think his form is good enough where you can make him a cash play this week. (GPP and cash)
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.