Tournament History, Performance, Stats and Salaries Below!
The PGA Tour heads to Memphis, Tennessee this week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic from TPC Southwind. At first glance this looks like a course where many golfers would enjoy playing because all types of golfers have a chance at this course. It’s not too long, it’s not short, and it tests every aspect of a golfers game not just how far a golfer can rip it off the tee. The problem with this tournament is where it’s placed on the schedule. Being sandwiched between The Memorial and the US Open causes many of the top golfers in the world to skip this event. Because of this the field is usually weak and this week is no exception. After the short list of big names the majority of the players in the field are guys looking to move up in the FedEx Cup point rankings, journeymen, or really young guys looking to make a name for themselves. Another problem with this event is that a lot of golfers will WD from the event if they struggle early in the tournament, especially golfers that are playing the US Open next week. Last year Dustin Johnson was highly owned here and WD after 9 holes from an “illness.” My guess is he wasn’t really sick, he just bogeyed the first three holes and went into DGAF mode. He was at Chambers Bay less than 24 hours after his WD, so how sick was he really? From a DFS standpoint, this makes it a little tougher week than usual. As a DFS player there are two ways to go about week’s like this. You can either limit you bankroll usage and save your money for week’s where you feel more comfortable. This is probably the best option for DFSers who rely solely on stats and don’t do much homework on lesser known golfers and how specific golfers are truly playing. If you’re a hardcore golf guy and watch a lot of golf to go along with your normal DFS research, this might be the kind of week where you just use your normal bankroll or even up the ante a little bit. Having knowledge of the lesser known golfers and how certain golfers are playing recently even if their stats for the year are poor can give you a leg up this week. Whichever direction you choose, I’ll be here to help guide you through the tournament and hopefully to DFS glory! Now onto the course.
TPC Southwind is a 7,239 yard par 70 course with four par 3s and two reachable par 5s. Off the tee golfers will face narrow fairways that are very difficult to hit. If golfers miss the fairway, which they will, they will have to deal with some trees, bunkers, and a good amount of water. Speaking of water, even though it’s only in play on about 10 holes, more balls have found the water here at TPC Southwind than any other course on Tour since 2003. TPC Sawgrass is the next closest and it still has about 1000 less water balls than TPC Southwind. Luckily the rough is not too thick so both supremely accurate golfers and golfers who hit it a mile but don’t miss too wildly will have a slight advantage here. On approach shots golfers will see smaller than average greens with bunkers and water surrounding them. There are a lot of long par 4s on this course and nearly half of all approach shots come from the 150- 200 yd range, so finding golfers with good mid iron games will be important. The greens are tough to hit, undulating, use Bermudagrass, and are firm and quick with a stimpmeter rating of around 12. Weather can also play a factor as it’s usually very hot and humid in Memphis this time of year and many storms can just pop up out of nowhere. As of now it looks like it’s going to be very hot and humid this weekend but not much rain is in the forecast and the winds should stay light. We all know how incorrect weather forecasters can be so check the weather on Wednesday night to see if there will be any advantages of playing golfers in either the AM/PM or PM/AM wave.
Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats every week.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
I really like looking at trends for the course over the years to judge what stats to use each week. Because of the history of weak fields at this event it was tough to pick out stats based solely on trends. The one that stuck out to me was P4. P4 is important in all events with 12 total par 4s but the trends say it’s more important at TPC Southwind. The average P4 ranking for golfers that finished T3 or better since 2005 is 65th which is much higher than any other stat this week. 31/45 golfers with recordable stats that finished Top 3 were inside the Top 95 (well above average in this field) in this stat for the specific year they finished Top 3.
Good Drive Percentage (GD%):
GD% combines fairways hit off the tee and greens hit from off the fairway. Since the fairways and greens are both hard to hit, I think this stat can be very useful when picking golfers this week.
Ball Striking (BS):
There is some overlap between GD% and BS but I still think it is an important stat at TPC Southwind. BS is Total Driving (Driving Accuracy + Driving Distance) plus Greens in Regulation. Finding golfers who are accurate, can hit it somewhat far, and hit a lot of greens will be key at TPC Southwind.
Strokes Gained: Around The Green (SG:ATG):
The greens are small and they will be missed. How a golfer does getting it up and down from around the green will be important. You could use scrambling statistics instead but with the advent of SG:ATG I think it is more accurate in showing how a golfer truly fares from around the green compared to his counterparts than normal scrambling stats.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
Phil Mickelson ($11,300):
I like DJ this week but I’m not sure how much of him I’ll have due to his propensity to not care too much during events right before a Major. I won’t be fading him completely because he is a class above all the golfers in the field, but my weight on him will be light. Instead, my main focus up top will be between Phil and Koepka. Phil has been playing decent recently with a couple of Top 20s in his last three events. He also seems to play this course very well with a 2nd, 11th, and 3rd place finish here the last three years. His stats are well above average for the field and I feel that he’s the type of golfer you don’t have to worry about withdrawing mid tournament. There are many instances where he has won or finished near the top at tournaments right before a Major including this one. He’s a fiery competitor who wants to win at everything he does, so the risk of him over looking this tournament is small. (GPP and cash)
Brooks Koepka ($11,100):
Koepka is my #1 ranked golfer overall this week. Stat wise, he’s a monster. He’s 27th in GD%, 7th in P4, 27th in BS, 42nd in SG:T2G, and 40th in SG:P. He’s also 41st in Proximity from 150-175 yards and 7th in Proximity from 175-200 yards. As stated before in the course description, nearly half of all approach shots come from this range. He struggles a bit around the green but hopefully he hits enough GIRs to compensate for that. He’s been playing well recently making 3/4 cuts the last couple of months including a 21st place finish at The Masters and a 2nd place finish in his most recently played event at the Byron Nelson. He has only played this event twice but finished 19th in 2014 and 3rd last year. He has immense talent and another victory for him is on the horizon. It could even come this week. (GPP and cash)
Gary Woodland ($10,400):
Woodland’s game has improved tremendously since he went back to his old swing coach Butch Harmon. Since he reunited with Butch in late March, Woodland has reeled off six straight Top 33s with a 12th (Byron Nelson) and 4th (The Memorial) place finish in his last two tournaments played. He hasn’t played TPC Southwind in a few years making me wary of using him in cash games but finished 18th here his last time out. Other than GD%, his stats are very solid. He’s 32nd in P4, 40th in BS, 75th in SG:ATG, 14th in SG:T2G, and 3rd in Proximity from 150-175 yards. He hasn’t won in a while but with his current form and new found confidence while working with Butch, I think he has a shot at contending this week. (GPP only)
Others to look at in this price range:
Ryan Palmer ($10,800)
Daniel Berger ($10,100)
Charles Howell III ($9,400)
Mid Level Golfers ($7100-$8900)
David Hearn ($8,400):
Shockingly Hearn is my #1 ranked golfer when it comes just to stats. He’s 14th in GD%, 32nd in P4, 50th in BS, 66th in SG:ATG, 61st in SG:T2G, 22nd in Proximity from 150-175 yards, 23rd in Proximity from 175-200 yards, and 91st in SG:P. Now stats don’t always paint the whole picture so we need to look at his current form as well and it is solid. He has five Top 28s in his last six events played including three Top 20s in that span. He has also made 4/5 cuts at TPC Southwind in his career. I’ll be riding the hot hand with Hearn this week in all formats. (GPP and cash)
Francesco Molinari ($8,100):
Molinari killed a lot of lineups last week including a bunch of mine but I feel like last week might have been an aberration due to the fact that he played the Euro Tour the week before. Jet lag could have definitely been a factor as he started out ok on Thursday but looked tired and faded on Friday to miss the cut. Hopefully this keeps his ownership down as I think his game suits the course. He’s accurate off the tee, has a great tee to green game, and scrambles well. Before his MC last week he had made 5 cuts in a row with three Top 17 finishes including a 7th at The PLAYERS and a 9th place finish at Bay Hill. He has never played TPC Southwind making him a GPP play only but I think he has a good chance of getting back on track this week. (GPP only)
David Toms ($7,600):
Toms has been on a nice run lately making 6/7 cuts with a couple of Top 25 finishes in that span. His stats for the course check out nicely. He’s 30th in GD%, 32nd in P4, 102nd in BS (right around average for this field), 7th in SG:ATG, 54th in SG:T2G, and 56th in SG:P. He has a somewhat checkered past here at TPC Southwind, especially recently but I think I can look past that with his solid form and stats to use him in all formats this week. (GPP and cash)
Retief Goosen ($7,600):
Goosen has been very consistent this year making his last 10 cuts on Tour. His game has actually been trending up recently with a 14th (Wells Fargo) and 12th (The PLAYERS) place finish in his last two events played. Stat wise he’s just middle of the pack but he does well around the greens, has good Proximity stats from 150-175 yards, and is a top notch putter. He missed the cut here last year but made his four cuts prior and finished 3rd here in 2011. If you putt a gun to my head and told me I had to pick between Toms and Goosen at this price for cash games, I’d lean toward Goosen. (GPP and cash)
Spencer Levin ($7,400)
Levin is just a GPP flier for me this week but his stats for the course are too good to ignore. He is actually my 4th ranked golfer this week when just taking stats into account. He’s 21st in GD%, 63rd in P4, 65th in BS, 41st in SG:ATG, and 70th in SG:T2G. He has made his last two cuts on Tour with a 57th at The Memorial and a 4th place finish at the Byron Nelson. He also has two Top 25 finishes his last three times out at TPC Southwind. I expect him to be low owned and he could do very well this week. (GPP only)
Tim Wilkinson ($7,200):
Wilkinson has been a popular play recently and looking at his form, it’s pretty easy to see why. He has made his last six cuts on Tour and he’s always available on the cheap on DraftKings. It’s not like he’s just barely making the cut and finishing poorly either. During this six tournament span he has four Top 30s and two Top 11s. If it was just about form I probably wouldn’t have written him up. His stats for the course are great. Like Top 10 great. He’s 139th in GD% and 133rd in BS which is a little below average but he’s 5th in P4, 15th in SG:ATG, 72nd in SG:T2G, 2nd in Proximity from 150-175 yards, 27th in Proximity from 175-200 yards, and 11th in SG:P. He’s also 8th in Bogey Avoidance which can help this week because of all the possible trouble spots out on the course. He has made his last two cuts at TPC Southwind and I’ll be using him in quite a few GPP lineups this week. (GPP only)
Others to look at in this price range:
Jon Curran ($8,300)
Chad Campbell ($7,800)
Jason Bohn ($7,300)
Bud Cauley ($7,200)
Scott Stallings ($7,100)
Low End Value Picks ($5400-$7000)
Ben Crane ($7,000):
Crane has been trending upward with a couple of Top 30 finishes in his last two events. Stat wise he’s just average but he is a very good putter and well above average in GD% and P4. The reason I’m on him this week is because he is a huge fan of this course. He has made seven consecutive cuts here with four Top 20s and a win in 2014. Combining that with his solid recent form makes him a solid play for his price in all formats this week. (GPP and cash)
Patrick Rodgers ($7,000):
First off let me say that Rodgers is NEVER a cash game option. He’s super volatile and I don’t think consistency is in his vocabulary. I do like him a little this week for GPPs though. Stat wise he’s actually ranked 5th for me this week. He’s 36th in GD%, 25th in P4, 19th in BS, 71st in SG:ATG, and 50th in SG:T2G. He finished 29th here last year and he does have five Top 21 finishes this year predominantly in weak field events. (GPP only)
Alex Cejka ($6,700):
Cejka has some decent recent form making three out of his last four cuts including a 9th place finish at The PLAYERS. He has made his last three cuts at TPC Southwind and finished 22nd last year. His stats for the course do line up real well this week. He’s 56th in GD%, 32nd in P4, 73rd in BS, 46th in SG:ATG, 65th in SG:T2G, and 93rd in SG:P. He’s also 14th in Bogey Avoidance so that’s a plus as well. I’ll have a few shares of him in my stars and scrubs GPP lineups. (GPP only)
John Merrick ($6,200):
After a dreadful start to his season, Merrick has made consecutive cuts for the first time all year during his last two tournaments played. His course history here is superb for a golfer at his price. He has made seven cuts in a row at TPC Southwind with two Top 11s and a 2nd place finish here in 2012. Combine his form and course history and I think he makes for a good play this week. I’m even thinking about rostering him in cash games just so I can afford more of the top golfers this week in a weak field. (GPP and cash)
Others to look at in this price range:
Camilo Villegas ($6,900)
Cameron Percy ($6,800)
Lee McCoy ($6,700)
Blayne Barber ($6,600)
That’s it for this week. For more PGA DFS knowledge check out my Podcast. It’s called Fantasy Golf Degenerates and you can find it on iTunes. I also host a web chat on Slurv.com every Wednesday at 1pm EST so if you have questions you can ask me there. I will be posting a video with my favorite cash game plays on Slurv.com every week as well. Follow me on Twitter for more fantasy golf info! Good luck to everyone this week and hopefully you win big!