Welcome to the first edition of the Fantasy Six Pack, where we highlight six golfers to use in two popular fantasy golf platforms: DraftKings and FanDuel. What makes me qualified to offer golf picks? Simple. I’m a golf nut with a 1.3 handicap and a nose for analytics — according to Rotogrinders, I’m one of the top-10 daily fantasy golf players. You can read my full bio at the bottom, but for now let’s dig into this week’s Genesis Open at Riviera.
The Genesis Open is one of the oldest events on Tour and has always resided in southern California. It was first played 92 years ago, in 1926. Many may know it by previous names: the Los Angeles Open, the Northern Trust Open and the Nissan Open. It’s been staged at Riviera CC since 1973, with Genesis Motors taking over as title sponsor in 2017. It’s a traditional 72-hole stroke-play event with a 36-hole cut.
Average Winning Score: -13
Average Cut: Even
Yardage: 7,349 yards
Green Surface: poa annua
Fairway/Rough: kikuyu grass
Skills emphasized: Consistent and long off the tee – or for you strokes gained nuts, strokes gained of-the-tee.
Top-5 finishers last year:
1. Dustin Johnson
T2. Thomas Pieters
T2. Scott Brown
T4. Kevin Na
T4. Charley Hoffman
T4. Wesley Bryan
Standout performers over last five years:
Going Streaking: Players entering this week in great form
1. Tommy Fleetwood (DraftKings $9,500, FanDuel $10,800): A rising star, Fleetwood is set to make his first PGA Tour appearance this year and is also slated to compete in the WGC-Mexico and Valspar Championship en route to Augusta. He started the 2017-18 season on the European Tour with a bang, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship against a very strong field. Last year on the Euro Tour he ranked first in GIR, 51st in scrambling, 7th in driving accuracy and 44th in distance. As we suggested earlier, Riviera CC demands a combination of accuracy and power off the tee, and Fleetwood should have a plethora of birdie looks this week.
2. Sangmoon Bae (DraftKings $7,200, FanDuel $8,000): The phenom from Korea is back after completing a two-year mandatory military service. Bae is fresh off his best finish of the year, a T15 last week. He gained 2.4 strokes in approaches to the green, which fueled his strong finish. Ranked 22nd in strokes gained off-the-tee, Bae’s game seems to be trending in the right direction. Also, he had three straight top-15s here in 2013-2015 prior to his military service.
3. Keegan Bradley (DraftKings $7,600, FanDuel $9,200): A resident New Englander, Bradley heads west where he’s found success in the past with four top-20s in his past six starts here. On the year Bradley ranks seventh in strokes gained tee-to-green, fifth in his approach shots and 32nd off the tee. Put it all together and it should translate into success at Riviera — but putting holds him back. He enters the week ranked 205th on tour in putting and will need to improve to add another top-20 finish in LA. Bradley has made all three of his cuts this season with one top five.
4. Haotong Li (DraftKings $7,200, FanDuel $9,200): In the field this week after receiving the Charlie Sifford Exemption, named for the first African-American player to compete on the PGA Tour and awarded annually to minority players (along with Cameron Champ). Li over the past year has earned a top 5 in a major (British Open), fended off Rory McIlroy on Sunday four weeks ago in Dubai, and risen to No. 33 ranking in the World Ranking. He’s at a very reasonable price on both Fantasy sites considering his upside. We like Li to make good on his exemption and play onto the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
Mulligans: Players who need a reset and expect to play well this week
Tiger Woods (DraftKings $8,800, FanDuel $9,300): How can we talk about a golf tournament, without mentioning the big cat? This will be his second full-field tournament since returning from his back fusion surgery and the first time at Riviera since 2006. Woods’ history at Riviera dates back to 1992, where as a 16-year-old high school sophomore, he made his first PGA Tour event as an amateur. Statistically speaking, Tiger actually played decently at Torrey Pines – over the two measured rounds, he was able to gain strokes on the field in tee-to-green (off the tee + approach shot + around the green), putting and approach shots. Those stats bode well for Riv, which is demanding off the tee. The other very important thing to note is that the Riviera rough is less penal than Torrey. So if Tiger’s tee ball isn’t quite straightened out, it shouldn’t hinder him as much this week as it did last time out. One last stat to note on Tiger: this is one of Tiger’s only tournaments where he’s made 10+ starts and hasn’t won. Maybe this is the week that changes that.
Paul Casey (DraftKings $10,200 FanDuel $11,600): On Sunday at Pebble, Casey had a run of four birdies in a row to get to -12, within 2 of the lead before a double on the par-3 7th derailed his round. He ended up finishing in a tie for 8th and I’m sure he’d love to take a mulligan on that hole. Casey looked absolutely stellar from tee-to-green, leading the field at over 4 strokes gained in the category. One more stat: He hasn’t missed a cut since last year’s Sony Open, and hasn’t finished outside the top 40 since the 2017 Careerbuilder Challenge.
Where to play this week:
DraftKings: Normally home to the biggest prize pools, the buy-ins for each contest range from free all the way up to $5,300. Here is what they are featuring this week:
1. $44 Buy-in contest called the “Club Twirl.” It has a top prize of $100,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $550,000.
2. $4 Buy-in contest called the “Fore,” it has a top prize of $25,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $275,000.
3. $1 Buy-in contest called the “Short Game,” with a top prize of $2,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $2,000.
FanDuel: Growing in popularity, FanDuel isn’t quite as big as DraftKings, but still offers some great contests and a variety of scoring methods to differentiate from DK. This week’s highlights include:
1. A $5.55 buy-in contest called the “Eagle,” with a top prize of $20,000 and a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000.
2. A 60-cent buy-in contest called the “Lob Wedge,” with a top prize of $500 and a guaranteed prize pool of $5,000.
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Jason Rouslin is founder of tourlevelfantasy.com. He has been playing golf for the last 18 years, betting on golf for the last five and writing about golf for the last two. Connect with him via Twitter @dfsgolfer23 or by email at [email protected]