What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! I hope everyone had a profitable CIMB Classic and is ready to keep the ball rolling into the WGC-HSBC Champions (which will be referred to as the HSBC from here on). The hot start to the season has got me even more excited about bringing you guys this article each week. The pressure is on for me to nail the winner of the HSBC.
The HSBC will take place in Shanghai, China at Sheshan International Golf Club. This course has been the home of this event that last few years, excluding 2012, so we have some solid course history to look at. The 77-player field is composed of the top-50 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings, along with the top players on other tours spread across the world, creating a unique mix of recognizable and “who the hell is this guy” type players. We find ourselves with another no-cut event, which will put emphasis on elite scorers. These are the types of golfers who can mix in the odd eagle and propel themselves up the DraftKings points leaderboard. Par makers aren’t going to cut it at this event, as we typically see the winners of this event finish in the -20 range. If you know me, or have read any of my stuff in the past, you’ll already know who my favorite play of the week is.
If you haven’t read one of my preview articles before, I try to stay away from just listing golfers I like. I do best to highlight different players to think about playing as well as guys I’d recommend steering clear of. Creating leverage, especially in a no-cut event, is an excellent way to differentiate and create upside to your lineup other players won’t have.
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Hideki Matsuyama – $10,000
As I alluded too above, you would have seen this picking coming. Last week, I mentioned Matsuyama is a flowchart play. Is there a cut? No. Is Matsuyama in the field? Yes. Play Hideki Matsuyama. It is a strategy that worked last week when he finished alone in second and it has worked in the past at no-cut events. He’s one of the best birdie makers in the world and a player you have to roster while he his hot. Matsuyama won two weeks ago in Japan, and finished the FedEx Cup playoffs in fine form. My favorite part about playing Hideki this week is his discount off the top two golfers in the field and his course history that will surely scare people away. He has withdrawn from this event twice in the past three years. I have no good explanation for why this is a trend, but it is a risk I am willing to bet won’t continue.
Adam Scott – $9,400
Anytime the number one golfer in my projections model isn’t priced near the top in DraftKings, he is a must play. This week, that golfer is Adam Scott, priced at a very reasonable $9,400. For 2016, Scott was first in strokes gained tee-to-green and strokes gained approach, which translate well on any course. A big thing for me this week is that all four of the Par 3s are over 200 yards, and Scott ranked first in proximity from 200+. If the flat stick keeps rolling like has carried over from the FedEx Cup playoffs, $9,400 will be the biggest steal on the board this week.
Brooks Koepka – $8,500
Like Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka excels in no cut events based on his ability to stuff the cup with birdies. He was 5th on tour last year in birdie or better percentage, plus has the length to reach some of the Par 5s in two, giving him more potential eagle opportunities. Koepka played well leading up to the playoffs in 2016, but struggled closing out the season. I’m hoping a few weeks off after the Ryder Cup has allowed Brooks to hit reset, and come out firing at the HSBC.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello – $7,600
When prices come out, I immediately scroll through and figure out which golfer jumps off the page in terms of value. Cabrera-Bello was that guy this week at $7,600, a price that almost seems disrespectful to the caliber of player RCB is. In the past year, he has had elite level finishes in some of the bigger events of the season and finished the season really strong. He is coming off of a T10 finish at the CIMB Classic. The $7K range is loaded with quality options, so high ownership with this group of golfers shouldn’t be an issue.
Gary Woodland – $6,700
I usually fade Woodland whenever I see his price creeping up, but that is not the case this week. Woodland comes in ranked 6th in my weighted ranks, and is priced down with some golfers who are grinding it out on the Japan and Sunshine Tours. Woodland was 10th in birdie or better percentage and 7th in Par 5 scoring average on the PGA Tour in 2016. There is no risk in rostering Woodland, whose value is too great to pass on this week. Don’t screw me over Gary.
Price too high? Seems like chalk? Players I will have no share of.
Henrik Stenson – $9,800
There is no question Stenson had a remarkable 2016 season, but I don’t find myself putting him on any of my rosters for this week. A major reason is my love for Matsuyama, but I also worry about his lack of competitive rounds in the last few months. His last competitive tournament was a T41 at the Deutsche Bank in early September, and of course the Ryder Cup. Call it nitpicking if you like, but these are the types of decisions required when constructing lineups this week.
Patrick Reed – $9,000
I had Patrick Reed in this section last week and it paid off, so why not double dip? Reed has played 29 events so far in 2016 plus the Ryder Cup, which is an astonishing amount. I just don’t see how Reed can get up for these events after putting it all on the line in the Ryder Cup. He seems to be just going through the motions and collecting paychecks.
Francesco Molinari – $8,300
In stacked fields, Molinari is never priced at $8,000+, and that is if he is lucky enough to be in the field. I realize he is coming off of a win at the Italian Open, but come on, this price just doesn’t make sense. In an loaded no-cut event, hunting for value is crucial. Rostering Molinari is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing this week.
So you got burned?
Roster a golfer who let you down? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Kevin Chappell – $7,500
It’s tough to really highlight a golfer who burned DFS players the last time out considering the last two of the last three tour events have been no-cut events. But, I think Kevin Chappell is a golfer who gets a lot of hype as being the next guy to win on tour and continues to disappoint. What I like about Chappell this week is the fact that he lands, in my previously stated, popular price range. He is in the running for being one of the lowest owned golfers in the range, making him a great leverage play. He has elite strokes gained stats that will put him in contention come Sunday.
Kevin Na – $7,200
This is a more reasonable price for Kevin Na, who you will usually find in this area when the fields get stronger. He had a good finish at the Safeway Open, but followed up with a subpar T29 finish. Na has sneaky birdie making ability and is fantastic on the Par 4s. Don’t sleep on Na when others might be.
Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Martin Kaymer – $8,700
I think Russell Knox will be a very popular play this week as the defending champ and also his recent form. Priced right above Knox is Martin Kaymer, a golfer who will go drastically overlooked because of Knox and his price tag, which at first look seems a bit high. Kaymer is a past winner on this course and has multiple top 10 finishes. He also is coming into this event with tremendous form. His last five events have resulted in top 20 finishes, including three 6th place performances. Kaymer is my favorite GPP play for the week.
Alex Noren – $8,000
I like to think I know golf pretty damn well, considering I write about it every week. But you could have easily fooled me if you told me to guess Alex Noren’s world ranking. He currently sits 18th, in front of some very notable names. Noren has three European Tour wins since the beginning of July, more worldwide wins than anyone else in that timespan. Priced between Ryder Cup darling Thomas Pieters and Danny Willett, Noren will practically be ignored. Pair Noren with Kaymer, and you have yourself some low owned, high upside plays.
Thanks for checking out my HSBC Championspreview article! I hope you found the article helpful and will take a chance on a few of my plays. Each week I love bringing DFSonDemand subscribers DFS Golf content, and if you have any feedback, let me know. Follow me on Twitter for more golf talk!
Good luck this week everybody!
HSBC-WGC Championship 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: