DFS Valspar Championship Preview

tiger_woods_justin_rose

For this week’s DFS Valspar Championship breakdown I’ll be covering DK sleepers, my core four to build around, a course comparison narrative, and make reference to a legendary high school party thrown by yours truly. I designate sleepers as anyone priced in the low 7k range or lower that I believe, based on various reasons, can make the weekend and potentially do some damage once they get there. Here’s a summary of my results going back to last season:

2017
TOURNAMENT MISSED CUT MADE CUT TOP 25 TOP 10 Wins
JDC17 2 6 4 1 0
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP 4 4 3 1 0
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP 1 6 0 0 0
WYNDHAM 3 4 2 1 0
NORTHERN TRUST 4 3 0 0 0
DELL TECHNOLOGIES 1 6 2 1 0
TOTALS 15 29 11 4 0
2018
AT&T PEBBLE BEACH 3 4 1 0 0
GENESIS OPEN 0 7 4 2  0
HONDA CLASSIC 4 3 0 0 0
TOTALS 7 14 5 2 0

Onto Copperhead!

Nick Watney poses with his wife Amber and the Gene Sarazen trophy after his two-stroke victory at the 2011 WGC- Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa on March 13, 2011 in Doral, Florida. (March 12, 2011 - Source: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America)

Nick Watney poses with his wife Amber and the Gene Sarazen trophy after his two-stroke victory at the 2011 WGC- Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa on March 13, 2011 in Doral, Florida.
(Source: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America)

Nick Watney $7,000

From 2009-2013 this former walk-on at Fresno St. was a perennial top player in the world surging as high as 12th in OWGR to end the 2012 season. Similar to Tiger, Watney’s back became the bane of his existence, and his game took a hit resulting in him falling outside the top 100 finally forcing him to sit out most of 2016 for rest and rehab. After a solid 2017 that saw him return to the Fed Ex playoffs, the fully healthy Sacramento native’s game is trending in the right direction so far in 2018 where he’s managed five consecutive weekend stays, six of eight overall, and a T-33 finish his last time out at the Honda Classic two weeks ago. In terms of Copperhead specifically, Nick must enjoy the layout because he’s cashed checks in all 10 career appearances including five finishes inside the top 25. At this budget friendly price, Watney presents a strong case to make it 11 for 11 in honor of one of America’s greatest heroes who saved us all from the upside down…

Don't fuck with this kid...

Thanks Eleven!…

(Courtesy: Stewart's Twitter)

(Courtesy: Stewart’s Twitter)

Stewart Cink $7,000

I covered Cink’s quasi renaissance for the Honda Classic in which he turned in a modest T-46 finish. What he may lack in upside, he makes up for with his passion for barbecue comeptitions where he recently placed 27th overall matching last year’s finish at the VC. Overall, since officially becoming a PGA Tour event played at Copperhead in 2000, the 44 year-young has cashed 10 checks in 14 appearances with six coming inside the top 30. I think Cink’s inspired play will continue, and he’ll eventually churn out some top 10s like last season when he netted three. For what it’s worth, there’s been lots of talk this week about Copperhead drawing a strong course comparison to the Career Builder Challenge (CBC) where Cink finished T-20 back in January. Just sayin

Hudson Swafford hugs his wife Katherine just after winning the CareerBuilder Challenge at PGA West, January 22, 2016.  (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Hudson Swafford hugs his wife Katherine just after winning the CareerBuilder Challenge last season. (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Hudson Swafford $6,800

Speaking of the CBC angle, this three time All-American at the University of Georgia earned his first PGA Tour win there in a 2017 breakout campaign. In this article, he discussed how winning is contagious, and the confidence he drew from playing in that final grouping and finishing the job. His results the rest of the season suggest the former consumer economics major’s boost in self-belief was real as he produced three subsequent top 10 finishes for a career high of four total on the year. This season, he’s been stellar making the cut in eight of nine starts with three finishes inside the top 30. I think his first top 10 of 2018 is coming sooner rather than later.

Dylan Meyer drives off the 17th tee during a quarterfinal round of the U.S. Amateur golf tournament at Oakland Hills Country Club, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Bloomfield Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Carlos Osorio

Dylan Meyer drives off the 17th tee during a quarterfinal round of the U.S. Amateur golf tournament at Oakland Hills Country Club, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, in Bloomfield Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Carlos Osorio

Dylan Meyer $6,600

Admittedly, this is wishful thinking. I wrote about Meyer last year when he made his first career start in a PGA event at the John Deere Classic. Simply put, this savage shamelessly rocks glasses with a visor on the course, has a twitter game that demonstrates confidence will not be a problem when he tees it up with the big boys, possesses the requisite crazy talent to surprise this week, and shares a first name with a personal hero of mine. Is this a long shot play? Yes. But it’s hitting on selections like this that can make your DFS dreams a reality if Meyer was somehow able to manage a top 20 finish. It’s like I told my Mom when she scolded me for using her house to host a high school get together that would make Wooderson jealous, you have to dare to be great. Not sure how this factors in, but Meyer is a staunch supporter of another individual whose twitter act is nothing short of electric.

Core Four

Before prices are set on DK, I like to get a feel for who I’m targeting in a given week. This helps me stay focused, and not get caught up on liking someone just based on their price. For example, Lefty was my pick to win last week. No matter what he cost, Phil was going in all lineups. Unfortunately, that was about the only thing I did get right as the rest of my core went a bit like Fergie’s NBA All-Star weekend. To make matters worse, Fergie had to watch her ex’s new bae win the Oscar for best looking human being this past weekend. Hopefully Fergie and, more importantly, myself can get things turned around moving forward at Copperhead.

1. Justin Rose – Winner

  • I swiped hard right on him playing lights out coming into last week. After a rough first few days in Mexico, he finished strong on Sunday with a final round 67. He ended up 5th in the field making 20 birdies on the week. However, he was uncharacteristically inaccurate in his iron play ranking 53rd in SG: Approach. I’ll operate under the assumption that this was a temporary setback in the Englishman’s current high level play making him a prime bounce back candidate this week.
  • Made eight of nine weekends in his career in this event including two top 10s in his last four outings.
  • Never finished outside the top 30.

2. Ryan Moore

  • I discussed my “even year” theory for Moore’s career for the Genesis Open where he charted a T-9 finish. I like the trend to continue.
  • Played extremely well here in recent years with three consecutive top 20s including two top 5 finishes.

3. Matt Kuchar

  • Arguably the safest floor in the field this week where he’s nine for 10 in weekend reservations with seven top 25s in his career.
  • Quietly still maintains top 10 upside each week as he proved with a T-5 a month ago in Phoenix, not to mention nine top 10s last season overall. Maybe there’s a slight chance he can channel his inner Phil and hoist his first trophy in almost four years…

4. Jason Kokrak

  • I wrote about him in my Pebble Beach preview as a sleeper and his play hasn’t disappointed. In terms of cut percentage combined with Fed Ex ranking, he is off to the best start of his career in his seventh full season on tour. I believe he’s a player on the rise who will get his first PGA Tour win this season.
  • Made three of his last four cuts at Copperhead. Best finish was a T-7 in 2015.
  • If you at all buy into the CBC correlation theory he finished T-8 there in January.
  • With bigger names like Patrick Reed priced the same, Kokrak makes for a more shrewd, low usage play.

Projected Lineup

While we’re discussing breakouts, no one paying attention will be overlooking Cameron Smith this week as a dark horse to net his second career tour victory. The 24 year-old Australian has been white hot in 2018 with three top 10s (four all of last season) including a T-6 his last time out at the Genesis Open in a talent rich field. His play the last five months has risen his OWGR from 124th all the way to 52nd.

Player Salary
Justin Rose  $    10,000
Ryan Moore  $      9,100
Matt Kuchar  $      8,200
Jason Kokrak  $      7,700
Cameron Smith  $      8,000
Nick Watney/Stewart Cink  $      7,000


Tiger Thoughts

The fact that he committed to playing Copperhead (he’s never played in this event, and no the 1996 appearance when it wasn’t an official event doesn’t count) tells me he feels healthy physically. And that’s the best news yet in this comeback attempt. Now, the question over the next two events leading into Augusta will be where is he between the ears. If he manages to stay for the weekend in both events, and starts posting multiple rounds under par (three out of 10 so far this season) with a few vintage Big Cat fist pumps mixed in, I’ll start buying in that this is the start of something real where he at least gets back to mattering in a way like Phil or Matt Kuchar does. But no. As of right now, he’s not winning The Masters, and Jim Nantz should have been ashamed for starting to push the narrative because Eldrick brilliantly shot even par at the Honda Classic while getting beat heads up by someone named Sam Burns in the final round. That said, if he finishes in the top 10 in these next two events, I reserve the right to conduct the Tiger hype train right down Magnolia Lane.

Good luck at Copperhead! Follow me on twitter @realBobbyAdcock.

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