We had a decent week at the API, but had two major players (Matt Kuchar and Will Wilcox) miss the cut by a single stroke. That’s golf. Congrats to Jason Day on a tremendous wire-to-wire win, especially considering he has a pretty brutal history on Bermuda grass in Florida. With recent wins by Day, Bubba Watson, and two by Adam Scott, we’re setting up for a Masters Tournament for the ages. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about the Puerto Rico Open… which couldn’t be further from the Masters.
The top players in the world are playing the WGC-Dell Match Play event this week in Austin, TX, so the field in Puerto Rico is…uh… not great. BUT JOHN DALY IS PLAYING! Also, FedEx Cup points and a huge purse are still on the line. The course itself is pretty interesting, because it’s a par-72 that’s listed over 7,500 yards. But looking at past winners and leader boards, it’s not exactly a bomber’s track per se. Much of the distance is in the par 3s and par 5s, which will neutralize distance off the tee as a major advantage. Most courses in this part of the world are designed for high wind conditions and are pretty wide open off the tee. Winning scores have ranged from -7 to -21 over the years, so pay attention to the weather reports this week. Last year’s event was a bloodbath, with Alex Cejka backing into a playoff due to late carnage behind him.
You can use the usual SG:T2G, bogey avoidance, birdie or better %, etc. this week, but I don’t want to focus too heavily on stats because of the unpredictable wind conditions and the really low strength of field. I do think, however, that looking at other weak-field events and windy, seashore courses should provide some insight into the type of players we can target this week.
- Weak Field Specialists
As mentioned, we have an extremely soft field this week, so we should target some players who outperform their averages when playing in weaker field events. Let’s take a look at some of the players who specialize in weak field tournaments, and as I’ve said before, I’m going to HIGHLY suggest checking out Josh Culp’s data (@futureoffantasy, futureoffantasy.com). Here are the players who check the box: Brendon Todd, Tony Finau, William McGirt, Graham DeLaet, Boo Weekley, Scott Stallings, Scott Brown, and David Toms. The correlation is pretty obvious, as DeLaet, Brown, and McGirt are the top-3 players in terms of DraftKings pricing this week.
- Wind Specialists
I’m also going to take a look at players who gain the most strokes in the wind. This data is skewed to an extent as well, as wind direction/speed is constantly changing and extremely unpredictable. Here are the players who gain the most strokes playing in windy conditions: Luke Donald, George McNeill, Jonathan Byrd, Rory Sabbatini, Chesson Hadley, Billy Hurley III, Jeff Overton, Alex Cejka, Michael Thompson, and Shawn Stefani. *UPDATE: Jeff Overton has withdrawn from the event, and defending champion Alex Cejka recently injured his right hand in a home accident. Roster Cejka at your own risk.
Remember, this is a really soft field with players who have a lot of volatility. Don’t go overboard. I really think it’s a good week to scale back your investment, and really focus on your process. If you do well this week, you’ll probably have an edge most in most tournaments going forward. Every player in this field, from $4,700 to $11,000 is very capable of missing the cut. With that being said, here’s my stab at a top-10 for the Puerto Rico Open, in terms of overall value:
- Scott Brown
- Graham DeLaet
- William McGirt
- Kyle Reifers
- Patrick Rodgers
- Jerry Kelly
- Derek Fathauer
- George Coetzee
- Kyle Stanley
- Tony Finau
*For those of you interested, my Final Four for this week at the WGC-Dell Match Play are Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman, Jason Day, and Branden Grace. I picked Leishman over Grace in the championship match.
Good luck this week!