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PGA DFS: Top Plays, GPP Pivots, and Ownership Projections for the Desert Classic

The Tour is making its way back to the contiguous 48 for the first event of the West Coast swing. The Desert Classic has had many names over the years but one thing that has remained the same is the three-course rotation. If you’re looking for trends and a course preview, check out yesterday’s article.

Three Course Rotation

With the three-course rotation, all golfers are guaranteed 54 holes. Here’s how the different groups will go through the rotation:

  • Stadium -> La Quinta -> Nicklaus Tournament
  • La Quinta -> Nicklaus Tournament -> Stadium
  • Nicklaus Tournament -> Stadium -> La Quinta

The entire day was spent trying to parse out (from three years of data, mind you) what the most advantageous split is. I respect all the opinions of those who looked into it, but I think it’s vastly overstated for one simple reason. The Tour is incentivized to schedule the best golfers to play Saturday on the Stadium Course because that’s the course where the TV coverage is centered. That might sound like I’m in a bunker with a tin-foil hat on, but the numbers bear it out.1Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 8.32.37 PM

Checking The Chalk

He’s the most expensive option this week and appears to be a candidate for chalk status. Jon Rahm ($11,600) obviously makes sense from a course fit perspective considering he won an event on this exact course rotation. Rahm hit more than 80 percent of greens in regulation at Kapalua but he had one of his worst recent performances putting. Assuming the ball-striking is still there, I’ll take my chances that the putter comes around for Rahm. Charles Howell ($10,400) and Adam Hadwin ($10,000) are both priced in the $10,000 range this week. They’re both projecting as chalky options in my first run through of ownership. Howell’s reputation as a cut-maker and as an above-average California golfer means he’ll likely be popular this weekend. He has made 47 of 52 cuts over the past 2-plus seasons. Hadwin has finished in the top six in each of the past three years here, including a memorable 59 in 2017. In the twelve rounds that he’s played on this course rotation, he has nine sub-70 rounds.

As we dip below that $9,500 and up range, we have a trio of options that popped in the ownership model. Hudson Swafford ($8,300), Corey Conners ($7,500), and Joaquin Niemann ($7,600) all popped on the first run. Swafford is there because of his combination of recent form and course history, He didn’t seem to have his best game through the fall swing, but Swafford bounced back at Waialae last week as he carded all four rounds under 70 to finish in a tie for third place. Oh, and he’s won this event before. Conners was tied for third place at the Sony Open as well. His approach game was on fire as he gained over seven strokes on approach last week. We haven’t seen Niemann in some time now but we know what his upside is. Since bursting onto the scene at the Texas Open last spring, he’s averaged 74 DK points across his 16 starts. Under $7,500, I’m not really seeing anyone that’s jumping off the projections. If I had to pick, Ryan Armour ($7,100) seems like he could get popular depending on how the rest of the week goes. George Cunningham ($7,100) is a trendy name as well, but I doubt that the Mackenzie Tour grade gets too chalky outside of some of the higher dollar tournaments.

GPP Pivots

Patrick Cantlay ($10,600) has as much upside as anybody on Tour in my eyes. He isn’t going to be super low-owned but he comes at a discount from the top priced guys. Cantlay hasn’t missed a cut since May. In his thirteen starts since then, he’s averaged nearly 80 DK points. Per FantasyLabs, he has the best long-term greens-in-regulation percentage of anyone in this range. A low-owned Luke List ($9,000) that gets one crack at each of the two easiest courses on tour is something I’m definitely interested in for GPPs. He’s as volatile as they come but when he’s on, he can go low. Sungjae Im ($8,100) is another guy who has the potential to break through in the coming weeks. In a weaker field like this, it’s not hard to imagine him finishing near the top of the leaderboard. Especially if he plays as he did on the last 54 holes in Waialae. After an opening round 71, he went 64-65-68 to finish in 16th place. It’s a gut feel with Jason Kokrak ($7,100) since we haven’t seen him in a bit but the course sets up nicely for him. He can score in bunches and we know that his distance can allow him to overpower a course when things click for him.

Cash Locks

We hit on both the cash locks last weekend with a T3 and a T8 finish from our guys Leishman and Howell. We have another format this week with a 54-hole cut. It’s slightly less important to target cutmakers with no real upside because you’re guaranteed three rounds from your golfers in total. Of course, you’d prefer to have all six golfers playing on Sunday, but there’s less of an emphasis on cut equity this week. Here are the two guys I’m willing to go all in on this weekend.

  • Jon Rahm ($11,600)
  • Joaquin Niemann ($7,600)

Ownership Projections - WMPO

NameSalaryFinal RunModel:85+ DK Points
Jon Rahm1150013.829%
Justin Thomas1100010.721%
Hideki Matsuyama1070024.819%
Xander Schauffele1010011.23%
Gary Woodland990011.529%
Webb Simpson970015.46%
Tony Finau950017.427%
Rickie Fowler940024.111%
Phil Mickelson930020.38%
Matt Kuchar920017.011%
Cameron Smith910010.53%
Adam Hadwin90009.36%
Bubba Watson890014.15%
Billy Horschel880014.020%
Chez Reavie870012.815%
Byeong-Hun An860018.927%
Andrew Putnam85005.89%
Alexander Noren840011.42%
Cameron Champ830012.524%
Daniel Berger820016.28%
Brandt Snedeker81003.81%
Branden Grace80003.217%
Luke List800014.433%
Austin Cook79005.97%
Tyrrell Hatton790014.66%
Zach Johnson78006.87%
Keegan Bradley780015.04%
Ryan Palmer77007.07%
Abraham Ancer770011.86%
J.B. Holmes76003.111%
Martin Laird760012.83%
Emiliano Grillo760014.77%
Si Woo Kim75003.21%
Kyle Stanley75006.612%
Talor Gooch750014.12%
Patton Kizzire74001.13%
Scott Piercy74002.311%
Kevin Kisner74002.52%
Russell Knox74002.88%
Brendan Steele740014.115%
Charl Schwartzel73001.22%
JT Poston73001.33%
Martin Kaymer73001.31%
Sung-Jae Im73005.67%
Jason Kokrak73008.831%
Ryan Moore72001.54%
Cheng Tsung Pan72001.811%
Kevin Na72002.32%
Harold Varner72003.923%
Joaquin Niemann72008.318%
Lucas Glover720013.318%
Bill Haas71000.22%
Chesson Hadley71000.84%
Beau Hossler71002.04%
J.J. Spaun71002.14%
Sam Burns71002.25%
Kevin Tway71003.79%
Andrew Landry70000.62%
Sung-Hoon Kang70000.81%
Robert Streb70000.83%
Richy Werenski70000.97%
Brian Harman70001.72%
Kiradech Aphibarnrat70004.92%
Keith Mitchell70006.230%
Kevin Streelman69000.216%
Bud Cauley69000.62%
Brian Stuard69000.72%
Harris English69000.83%
Russell Henley69001.25%
Ryan Armour69001.23%
Charley Hoffman69001.45%
Nick Watney68000.310%
Jimmy Walker68000.32%
Peter Uihlein68000.34%
Jhonattan Vegas68000.36%
Aaron Baddeley68000.54%
Ted Potter Jr68001.02%
Joel Dahmen680011.25%
Nick Taylor67000.22%
Ollie Schniederjans67000.23%
Patrick Rodgers67000.39%
Brian Gay67001.12%
Danny Lee67001.116%
Stewart Cink67002.815%
Trey Mullinax670010.26%
Hunter Mahan66000.214%
Jonas Blixt66000.21%
Stephan Jaeger66000.23%
Chase Wright66000.22%
Chris Kirk66000.62%
Vaughn Taylor66000.72%
Scott Stallings66001.617%
Carlos Ortiz65000.26%
John Huh65000.22%
Rory Sabbatini65000.23%
Sean O'Hair65000.24%
Denny McCarthy65000.22%
Steve Stricker65001.96%
Sam Ryder65005.58%
Chris Stroud64000.22%
Tom Hoge64000.22%
Adam Long64000.24%
Brice Garnett64000.24%
Grayson Murray64000.65%
Bronson Burgoon64001.410%
James Hahn64001.99%
Morgan Hoffmann63000.22%
Jim Herman63000.23%
Fredrik Jacobson63000.21%
Adam Schenk63000.214%
Mackenzie Hughes63000.62%
Anders Albertson63006.312%
Kenny Perry62000.22%
Colt Knost62000.22%
Brandon Harkins62000.23%
Michael Kim62000.21%
Kelly Kraft62000.22%
John Catlin62000.22%
Cody Gribble61000.23%
Michael Hopper61000.22%
Seamus Power61000.24%
Ryan Blaum61000.22%
Satoshi Kodaira61000.52%
Brandon Hagy61000.86%
K.J. Choi60000.22%
Alex Cejka60000.22%
Tyler Duncan60000.213%
Meen Whee Kim60000.21%
Matthew Wolff60007.41%
These projections were updated at 8 PM on Wednesday 1/30/2019.

  1. Shoutout to Golf Gurus (@golfsavages2 on Twitter) for his research on the topic.  (back)
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