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PGA DFS Wells Fargo Championship Preview

If you need PGA DFS distraction to remedy your NFL team drafting a guy in the second round no one, including the entire staff at ESPN, has ever heard of, you’re in luck! I post DK targets each week here, on Fake Pigskin. My goal every week is to offer targets in each price range, identifying two to three low-cost/reasonable floor targets as core pieces for all my lineups.

In DFS golf, it’s all about getting your guys to the weekend, first and foremost. The way DK prices their fields out, I almost never will play anyone 10k or above. With something as random as golf performances week to week, they simply do not justify the investment in my mind.

Generally, I will fill out my roster with guys in the $7,100-$9,000 range. The factors I consider are event history, course layout versus player strengths, recent form, and prime bounce back candidates who are playing well, but happened to miss the cut the prior week.

One factor does not necessarily outweigh another. And, like any good speculative decision-making process, instincts always play a role. Of course there’s my personal favorite factor–as is the same with other fringe DFS sports–the DK pricing model has no clue what the fuck it is doing!

Last season, I consistently laid out the theory that rostering players five figures and above just was not worth it week to week. Scroll toward the end on my results page to see how I used the Masters results as evidence to support this. The point is, golf performances week to week are very erratic. For this reason, I would generally suggest diversifying your salary cap with mid-range to second tier players who possess similar floor/upside combinations as the chalk do.

Going a step further, unlike most other DFS games that have positions, golf is just picking six guys that are doing the same exact thing in a given week. That said, probably more than any other DFS sport I’ve played, leaving 1-2k on the table is perfectly fine. Do not feel like you HAVE to spend your entire cap.

Throughout this season I will post more thorough analyses of why both approaches make DFS golf a bit different from football, hoops, and baseball. And how ridiculously futile it makes it when trying to win. All that in mind, let’s take a look at the Wells Fargo Championship (WFC) information to clarify some unique characteristics that you may want to consider before lineups lock.

Course: Quail Hollow Club  Charlotte, NC  Par 71  Yardage 7,550

After last week’s team event, the tour gets back to its regular scheduled programming in Charlotte, North Carolina at Quail Hollow Club (QH). This venue has played host to the WFC since 2003 except in 2017 when QH served as the site for the PGA Championship.

The course under went renovations for that major championship that switched it from a par 72 to a 71. Without “majoring” up conditions for last season’s WFC return to QH, the course played similar to years past, where winners typically eclipse double-digit under par final scores. Here are the past five winners:

2018 Jason Day -12
2017 Justin Thomas -8
2016* James Hahn -9
2015* Rory McIlroy -21
2014* J.B. Holmes -14
*par 72

Keys to Success

No matter what the layout to QH is, one attribute always remains. Like those super awesomely bad nerf turbo football commercials from my childhood, players are gonna go long…. REAL long to have an advantage this week. Even longer than Avengers End Game!

Seriously though, I have not seen it but I think it’s safe to assume they win. Do we really need three hours to figure out how? I mean what is this anyway? Shakespeare? The final installment to The Godfather saga? A Vanderpump Rules reunion?

Marvel Studios

One thing is for sure. Three hours in a theater can fuck right off. I won’t be finding out how they get that magic mitten off Thanos until it’s available to rent. Or, like any red-blooded American, until I jail break my fire stick good enough for a reliable Chinese subtitled bootleg.

With that out of the way, nine of 11 par 4s at QH average out to be 478 yards. Four of those will play around 500 yards, two of which are featured on the three hole “Green Mile” finishing stretch, known to be one of the toughest on tour.

Sandwiched in between those two monster par 4s is a treacherous par 3 that plays anywhere from 200-225, depending on the pin location for it’s somewhat island green. Statistically speaking, the combination of bombers and long-range dart throwers are going to have an edge playing at QH.

Players who rely more on precision can still have success, but the path to get there will be more of a challenge. To clarify, my top four stats to weigh this week in order are:

  1. Driving distance (DD)
  2. Strokes Gained: Approach-the-green (SGA)
  3. Par 4 Scoring (P4S)
  4. Greens in regulation percentages from 200 yards and greater (GIR +200)

To help sift through the field regarding just the key stats I put the table below together using all data from the official PGA Tour website. It is listed in order of each players’ composite ranking of all four key stats for this week. Sort at your pleasure…

NameSalaryDDSG: ApproachP4SGIR 200+Composite Rank
Rory McIlroy118003126425
Gary Woodland90009276749
Jason Kokrak8700324273194
Justin Rose1030024252724100
Hideki Matsuyama101001524846111
Keegan Bradley8000606673136
Lucas Glover85009117644158
Phil Mickelson91002755498184
Rickie Fowler106002962490185
Chesson Hadley700067166735185
Trey Mullinax750020508146197
Paul Casey950078394833198
Sergio Garcia990040712530202
Sungjae Im860089383145203
Harold Varner III700034933746210
Alex Prugh640039808117217
Cameron Champ720011396721228
Byeong Hun An8300132848157246
Tony Finau930076137144249
Joaquin Niemann740052328190255
Webb Simpson970017713660256
Jason Day11000551191771262
Charles Howell III8400521012107262
Cameron Tringale700096584865267
J.B. Holmes7900336937130269
Josh Teater650013945816271
Cameron Davis6400165199105271
Roberto Castro7600192303713272
Luke List800023381168284
Henrik Stenson890012731688306
Nate Lashley620018223695306
Keith Mitchell7800475481137319
Daniel Berger7700821584831319
Dylan Frittelli740094766782319
J.T. Poston7500948537104320
Danny Lee7300445299125320
Kyoung-Hoon Lee7300177604842327
Adam Schenk6700593667165327
Jonathan Byrd670019948280329
Chez Reavie74001663431100331
Jhonattan Vegas82002310248159332
Martin Laird70001011089937345
Kevin Streelman7700134736774348
Max Homa6600509416841353
Michael Thompson7400170564888362
Sepp Straka65003757139133366
Sam Burns7200181689982367
Fabián Gómez7000158141672368
Wyndham Clark7400419248129373
Carlos Ortiz69004213712569373
Brendan Steele72003110715690384
Hudson Swafford6900827216867389
Scott Stallings7300982999164390
Russell Henley7300164894893394
Chase Wright61008217012522399
Joel Dahmen76001181048199402
Sam Saunders6600679899138402
Harris English67005416367119403
Julián Etulain66001261058195407
Zach Johnson79001742513971409
Jim Knous6400788715688409
Adam Long62001107716863418
Danny Willett68001241819687425
Shawn Stefani65001051429979425
Seth Reeves63001120918425429
Jonas Blixt6900161958195432
Sung Kang78006168156152437
Matt Every72001321739933437
Stewart Cink65001091659964437
Bud Cauley710010078125139442
Adam Svensson630016349125105442
Matt Jones72008913599120443
Roger Sloan620074121139112446
Aaron Wise81002417599153451
Hank Lebioda680011979125133456
Peter Malnati67001438467163457
Patrick Reed88008515267158462
Nick Taylor730013613348145462
Whee Kim67001817513967462
Johnson Wagner67002007048153471
Scott Brown73001651518186483
Ben Silverman650018616012518489
Dominic Bozzelli650010819517171491
David Hearn69002021833770492
Chris Thompson620015216213946499
Adam Hadwin720011417612585500
Pat Perez710018917412515503
Sangmoon Bae630010318916846506
Stephan Jaeger66009317219646507
Wes Roach600014317816820509
Tom Hoge600015846156150510
Anders Albertson610013363139176511
Mackenzie Hughes710010415716884513
Vaughn Taylor660019511267141515
Brandon Harkins690036126168186516
Richy Werenski680013815981139517
Beau Hossler69007818467191520
Sebastián Muñoz61006316699195523
Rory Sabbatini7700121147125131524
Denny McCarthy700012418199120524
Jim Herman620014714818446525
Kelly Kraft680014782184116529
Nick Watney760066128156183533
Robert Streb6800143129125136533
Chris Kirk680018471156122533
Kramer Hickok710015616999118542
Ollie Schniederjans70006186193178563
Jimmy Walker750061134193176564
Chris Stroud690015013099189568
Ben Crane660020419613938577
José de Jesús Rodríguez630015418581161581
Tyler Duncan620016917118461585
Peter Uihlein700072182139199592
Ernie Els680019415048206598
Anirban Lahiri640012717999196601
Ryan Armour710020614348205602
John Senden610018798156175616
Martin Trainer660024203184208619
Kyle Jones630019719016871626
Ryan Blaum6700153153156167629
John Chin630087205184153629
J.J. Henry6100182155125169631
Brice Garnett640018817781188634
Curtis Luck720016820481187640
Kyle Stanley7500134146184201665
Bill Haas7100161167196142666
Ted Potter, Jr.6600208138156194696
Joey Garber6000139212168181700
Jason Dufner6700176145184200705
Seamus Power7100116210206178710
Roberto Díaz6300174187139211711
Freddie Jacobson6400185113209210717
Brady Schnell6400198187168165718
Scott Langley6400213191139192735
Brian Harman6800193207156209765
Cody Gribble6300147201212207767
Rod Pampling6000179208196204787
Padraig Harrington690000000
Brandon Hagy650000000
Billy Hurley650000000
Alvaro Ortiz620000000
Nicholas Lindheim620000000
Doc Redman620000000
Will MacKenzie610000000
Chad Collins610000000
Broc Everett610000000
Brendon Todd610000000
Colt Knost600000000
Zack Sucher600000000
Smylie Kaufman600000000
Tom Lovelady600000000
Steve Scott600000000
*players without data have not played enough measured rounds in PGA Tour events

Chalky McChalkerson (Five figures to 9.1k–10 players)

Rory Mcilroy and Rickie Fowler have it all coming into this week. Solid form, superb event history, and high rankings in key stats will undoubtedly have them as popular plays in any fantasy/gambling format.

No one in this range scares me. However, if you’re looking to fade higher prices in general, Tony Finau and Phil Mickelson have similar traits in terms of course history, and statistical fit for QH.

Credit Mike Segar/Reuters

Finau has made the weekend in all four QH appearances, including two top-25s. Hefty Lefty clearly loves the club house fries as he has cashed a stellar 14 checks in 15 career QH appearances, with a whopping 10 finishes inside the top-10.

Sweet Spot (9k to 7.1k–51 players)

I wrote a lot last year how I thought Jason Kokrak was an ascending player that was on the verge of breaking through with his first PGA Tour win. I might have been one year off on that prediction.

The cause of this mid-career breakout? His putter.

(Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)

Three years into full-time tour status, Kokrak lost it on the putting surface. He was even interviewed on the Jim Rome show Wednesday, and made references to how much he has grinded through his putting issues to get where is this season. A quick look at the strokes-gained putting data tells the story better than anything:

Year SGP Rank Metric
2012 137 -0.184
2013 121 -0.119
2014 53 0.222
2015 110 -0.012
2016 154 -0.288
2017 175 -0.405
2018 110 0.022
2019 56 0.292

Now that his wand is no longer such a burden on his strong tee-to-green game, the Xavier alum is one of the safest bets on tour this year. His perfect 14/14 cuts made with four top-10 finishes before May has him in great shape to make his first career Tour Championship.

Some cheaper options in this range that have strong key stats are Luke List, Keegan Bradley, and Trey Mullinax. Another bomber in this range to consider is Aaron Wise, who finished T-2 in his first career WFC appearance last year.

Sneaky Low % Owned (7k and below–95ish players)

This might be the week Chesson Hadley gets right. His recent play has been similar to Vince Vaughn attempting to play dramatic roles.

The poor form should be enough to throw people off the scent of a venue where Hadley has had moderate success. Three of his four QH appearances have been top-20 finishes. He also is a solid fit statistically as the table above indicates.

All we need to do now is green light a Wedding Crashers sequel so we can Make Vince Vaughn Great Again too! Or, maybe just not embarrassingly awful like this quaalude induced performance in Dragged Across Concrete I regrettably chose to witness.

From strictly a key statistical standpoint, Adam Schenk, Max Homa, Cameron Davis, and Sepp Straka are my favorite plays to make the weekend in this range. And maybe even be this week’s Arya Stark once they get there. 🙂

Best Bounce Back Candidates

  • Justin Rose–MC last time out at Masters. Does not always play in this event so that tells me he wants to get back out there.
  • Byeong Hun An–MC two weeks ago at the RBCH. Very strong statistical fit for QH.
  • Lucas Glover–Same exact blurb as above.
  • Paul Casey
  • Sunjae Im–Also an MC from two weeks ago in what has been an early season rookie of the year campaign.

Best Course History Plays

  • Phil Mickelson
  • Rickie
  • Rory
  • Charles Howell III–12/16 in cuts made with two top-10s.
  • Lucas Glover AGAIN!–11/15 in cuts made with five top-10s.

Core Players

Last season, I started including my core players to build around in all my lineups. I try to identify targets before prices are released to stay focused, and avoid editing my lineup 2,000 times ten minutes before lock. These selections are players that I believe have top 25 floors with top 10 upside, and a reasonable case to win. More detailed results are to come as the season moves along. This week’s selections:

  1. Kokrak
  2. Finau
  3. Mickelson
  4. List

Good luck in Charlotte! Don’t hesitate to reach out on twitter compliments and insults are always welcome.

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