Coop’s Fort Worth Invitational Preview

We conclude our two week Texas tour this week in Fort Worth at the Colonial Country Club (CCB). This tournament currently lacks a corporate sponsor thus it being called the Fort Worth Invitational but that shouldn’t detract anyone as the tournament committee is still committed to putting on a great show for what is the longest running tournament on tour that continues to play at its original course. Being an old tournament there are few traditions such as the winner receiving an official Scottish royal tartan plaid jacket and there name ingrained on the Leonard trophy with all other winners since 1946. One of the unique traditions is that former champions of the tournament select two young players who would not have met the invitational qualifications to compete. In 1967 Dave Stockton won this tournament after being selected for one of the two “Champions Choice Invitations”. Other notable players to receive this special invitation in the past would be Curtis Stange, Davis Love, Craig Stadler, Tom Weiskopf, Mark O’Meara, Paul Azinger, and Jordan Spieth. This week we have a fairly strong field made up of 120 players including twenty of the T50 players in the world followed by another nineteen who rank inside the T100. Kevin Kisner is the defending champion while Jordan Spieth and Chris Kirk won the previous two years. One thing to keep in mind this week is that since we only have a field of 120 players only around 45 players will miss the cut which last year led to a 15% 6/6 rate. The good news is,in my opinion, I only see around ten players who I feel confident won’t make the cut which means we see a good possibility of chalk missing the cut since the field is competitive from top to bottom. Even with a competitive field there will be more chalk than typical since we only have 120 players to choose from.

Colonial Country Club
This week the players will be up against an old fashioned classic golf course as CCB plays at around 7200 yards par 70. Over the past three years the winning scores have ranged from -10 to -17 while a score of par for the tournament gets you a finish of 30-45th. CCB can be a challenging course when the wind is up but when down the course can be scored on. Let’s start with the greens which are bentgrass and are smaller than average while they typically run around 12 on the stimpmeter. The fairways at CCB are tree lined and some of the more difficult to hit on tour while we will see many of the long hitters clubbing down off the tee. With CCB being a par 70 course the players this week will only see two par 5 holes. Both par 5’s are long, 565 yards and 630 yards, while they don’t offer up many eagles since we only saw a total of four last year between the two holes but they are the two holes most frequently birdied. Three of the par 3’s play between 190-200 yards while the fourth one is a long hole that plays around 245 yards. Minus the 16th hole, you will be happy making par as birdies on these par 3 holes are limited but the good news is the par 3’s are not blow up holes since the amount of double bogeys or worse is very few. The par 4’s are the holes that you need to perform well on this week as the players will see twelve each round. Fortunately the players will only have to deal with three par 4’s that play 450 yards or longer but that doesn’t mean the other nine par 4 holes are easy. The only easy, must birdie, par 4 is the second hole as it offered up the most birdies amongst all par 4 holes. In general CCB will bite you with plenty of bogeys but is not a blow up course since the amount of double bogeys is limited and typically take place on the 9th and 18th holes. CCB starts with two easy holes, #1 and #2, but then you have to deal with what they call the The Horrible Horseshoe consisting of hole #3 which is the second hardest hole, followed by hole #4 the long par 3 that has never seen a hole in one in tournament play, and finishes with hole #5 the toughest hole on the course.

Stats To Focus On This Week
This week I will be looking for players who have solid driving accuaracy since CBB is a tight course and the rough is not a place you want to play from this week. As you will see below I believe the two best stats this week to focus on are SG Approach and bentgrass putting. I feel confident that the players who strike the ball well while giving themselves plenty of birdie opportunities will win over this week. I also expect this to be a high scoring tournament as the weather looks perfect for great scoring so I will be looking for players who are making birdies at a high rate, birdie or better.

Who To Pay For Up Top
Last week Jordan Spieth (11.7k) was a huge favorite in a weak field at a course he was a member at and he disappointed with a 21st place finish. Spieth struggled on the greens as he missed several short putts throughout his four rounds and I am sure the DFS community took note. Spieth said on Saturday that as much as he had played Trinity Forest he still struggles reading the grainy bermuda greens. Spieth’s putting issues were amplified due to how great his iron play was because he was consistently giving himself putts he could make. This week Spieth will be on bentgrass greens that are fast and I will have no problem going back in on Spieth this week. I am hoping the reasons above keep others off Spieth lowering his ownership. In addition due to the deeper field it is easier to make solid teams with Spieth this week with win equity so if he does not win you will still have other players who can carry the load. Spieth is one hot putting week away from not only winning a tournament but doing it in a landslide.

When you look at the previous players who have done well at CCB you don’t see many “bombers” as often the top of the leaderboard is filled with players who manage the course with accuracy. Last year Jon Rahm (11k) showed that players who hit the ball long can indeed compete at CCB as he finished second. I have a feeling Rahm will be popular this week even though the course doesn’t seem to be a perfect fit. Rahm does have positive numbers on bentgrass greens vs other greens which bodes well since he has not been putting well recently. I do like Rahm this week because he has the ability to make plenty of birdies and I feel this week there will be plenty of opportunities.

I very well could be wrong but I feel Justin Rose (10.6k) is going to be the lowest owned player amongst the group of players over 10k this week. With the field being smaller thus making ownership higher on players I don’t think you will see a Rose under 10% owned but I feel he could end up in the 12-15% range. Rose played phenomenal golf at the end of last year into the beginning of this year but has lost that form recently as in the last four tournaments he has finished between 12th and 52nd. When I look at what tournaments Rose has played over the last four to five years I don’t see any than are comparable to CCB. This could be concerning but I don’t consider Rose a bomber and I do see this being a course that could fit his game style. One minor concern I have for Rose this week is he has a negative number when putting on bentgrass greens vs other greens over his career but he has putted well at Augusta National, which has fast bentgrass greens.

I would imagine that Rickie Fowler (10.4k) will be fairly popular this week as he has a strong following and is priced fairly cheap. Fowler has been a headache this year as he has not been able to follow up his great year he had last year. One of Fowler’s biggest issues this year has been blowup holes have been popular. Fowler is struggling with his putter which is odd as I consider him one of the best. One thing Fowler has going for him is he has a better putting number on bentgrass greens vs other greens.

Strong Mid Tier Players This Week
Unlike last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson we have a strong field of mid class players that are all very capable of winning this week. Leading this group off we start with Webb Simpson (10.2k) who has solid course history at CCB and is coming off a win at the Players Championship. Simpson has turned his entire game around due to his putter as it has carried him back to the upper tier of golfers. Simpson has finished no worse than 37th in his last seven tournaments which includes four T10 finishes. The question you have to ask yourself this week is do you start your teams with Simpson and go balanced or if you are playing him do you include Fowler or Rose on the roster? If you go balanced you can get three to four other players with solid win equity but if you add another big stud player with Simpson you are limiting your win equity to basically those two players.

Last week Matt Kuchar (9.3k) was priced up in a weak field and ended up being a low owned player who missed the cut. Kuchar was quite vocal that he did not care for Trinity Forest Golf Club which tells me his mindset didn’t help with his performance last week. This week we have a cheaper but still expensive Kuchar on a course that fits his game well and it will be interesting to see how many people take a bite on him. I think Kuch will be ignored this week due to his price and low win equity but I also feel you need to pair him with players who have win equity as his best finish will probably be a T5. In Kuchar fashion he hasn’t been doing anything spectacular but rather just getting the job done. Perhaps he has a little more personal motivation this week after being disappointed with himself last week which could make him a great GPP play.

When projected ownerships hit Brooks Koepka (9.2k) is the player I will be most interested in seeing what the experts think will be his path this week, chalk or low owned. Since returning from injury, Koepka has been playing well finishing 11th at the Players Championship and 42nd at Wells Fargo. Koepka is a player that you need to roll with when he is in good form as the results will be there while when he is in bad form you need to avoid at all costs. I am trying to level my excitement for him because when you look at his scores since his return he only has one sub 70 round in eight attempts which is concerning. The other big question with Koepka this week is does the course fit him. After looking at Koepka’s career finishes I now feel like I am looking at the same scenario we had a few weeks back when Dustin Johnson played Hilton Head. Koepka has never played a course similar to CCB, which now makes me think he is just playing to get in form while hoping he starts his peek at the FedEx St Jude Classic heading into the US Open. In the end I need to decide if the positives outway the negatives and currently I am thinking with no course history, no similar course history and only shooting below 70 once leads me to a fade.

Many in the DFS community would consider Patrick Cantlay (9.0k) a disappointment this year as the expectations for him were high coming into this year after he performed well last year. Cantlay meanders around 15th to 30th place in the majority of his tournaments this year but seems to play better golf at short courses such as CCB. I feel pretty confident that Cantlay will be a popular play this week even though this is his first appearance at CCB. I don’t see Cantlay winning this week but I do feel he will have a strong tournament and is a good bet to finish T10. First time players at CCB have played well but it does take some experience to win this tournament.

I can say I have not played much if any Bryson DeChambeau (8.8k) so far this year, mainly due to his high ownership at cheap prices. This week DeChambeau is priced up and I expect his ownership to fall under 10% this week due to his price and course history. DeChambeau has struggled at CCB and his game style probably isn’t a great fit for this course but he is playing the best golf of his short career. DeChambeau is hitting the ball well as he is in the T11 SG Approach and proximity over his last five tournaments. It won’t take much to be overweight on DeChambeau this week as I am hoping his current form overcomes his history at CCB.

If you follow Emilliano Grillo (8.6k) on Twitter then you know he enjoys playing this old style golf course as he has made positive comments about CCB. I expect Grillo to be fairly popular this week since CCB fits his game style and his form has been solid. Grillo has finished T16 in three of his past four tournaments and has yet to miss a cut this year. Grillo comes in boasting solid stats with his approach game and putting and will be a difficult fade this week. If you are going in on Grillo I suggest you differentiate your lineup with at least two players as I have a feeling he will be paired often with the next player I am about to discuss.

I think it is safe to say that Chesson Hadley (8.3k) will be chalk this week due to his price and form. Hadley has five consecutive T20 finishes and CCB is a course that should fit his game well. Hadley has missed two of his last three cuts at CCB so perhaps that keeps his ownership down slightly but his current form far outways his course history in my opinion. Hadley continues to strike the ball well ranking high in SG Approach while if he does happen to have a bad week it’s most likely due to him missing greens and his suspect game around the green doesn’t come through for him. If you do play Hadley you will need to be well overweight on him or you will need to differentiate your lineups with other roster positions.

I currently have mixed thoughts on the defending champion Kevin Kisner (8.1k) since he has missed his last two cuts. I felt Kisner would be a good play at the Payers Championship since he plays well on shorter courses plus he was on a Pat Dye track which usually bodes well for him. Kisner has great history at CCB but his current form is not well as he has missed five of his last eight cuts. Kisner will give you a good idea of how much people in the DFS community value form vs course history. If Kisner comes in at a low ownership I don’t mind playing him in a few lineups but I can’t say I am overly excited to click on him this week. Kisner ranks 112th in SG Approach within the field over his last five tournaments and if he has any hope of performing well this week he will have to turn this part of his game around this week.

Plenty of Young Upcoming Studs This Week
I will be paying close attention to the talk on Aaron Wise (9.6k) this week in order to try and figure out his ownership. Wise was in my initial player pool last week but then I outsmarted myself because I felt he would be chalky coming off a 2nd place finish at Wells Fargo. Come to find out people didn’t want to pay 8.8k for Wise last week as he came in at under 10%. Wise now is priced even higher, in a deeper field, coming off a win, so does this mean we have another week that he comes in at low ownership? No doubting that Wise is playing great golf but can he continue his recent success is the question because at his price he will need to finish T10 for you. Wise is striking the ball extremely well and who is to say he isn’t the next great young superstar and he pulls off another great finish. In addition, Wise is playing for a spot in the US Open as he is ranked 66th and needs to get to the T60 level or better to qualify.

Last week Beau Hossler (7.7k) was around 18% owned on average and like Spieth a member at Trinity Forest, disappointed the DFS community with his performance. Hossler finished strong in round four with a 64 but it was a 73 in round three that took him out of the tournament. One thing I have noticed about Hossler is he struggles in the wind, something to note in the future. Don’t think for one moment that the win by Wise last week on the home course for Hossler didn’t go unnoticed. Hossler and Wise have met several times over the past couple years in high profile college and junior tournaments and have developed a rivalry. Hossler has been struggling with his iron play but hopefully his great play in round four of last week will carry over to this week. Hossler is still putting well and I feel he will be low owned this week and worth taking a couple shots at.

Another player I am currently mixed on is Sam Burns (7.2k) who is making his debut at CCB this week. Burns has played well this year making six of seven cuts and his two best performances are on smaller tracks, Honda and Valspar. Burns has showed that he is one of the better players with the putter as it has been carrying him to the top in SG putting. So why do I have mixed views on Burns this week? He is not playing in Florida were his best finishes have come, he has not had the best results on bentgrass greens, and he has made six eagles over his last four tournaments. It is a small sample size but Burns is flat with SG Putting on bentgrass while he has excelled on other turfs gaining almost two strokes. Over Burns last four tournaments he ranks 42nd in SG Approach while his proximity puts him at 97th. Burns has been carried by a hot putter and now he is on greens he hasn’t putted his best on, I will pass.

Joaquin Niemann (7.1k) missed yet another cut in his early career which now makes him one for four. Niemann is only playing on exemptions and he needs some very good performances so he can continue to play on tour as exemptions only go so far. I felt last week the talent that Niemann carries would help get him through the cut in a weak field but as we all know that did not pan out. Niemann will most likely be ignored this week due to missing three of his last four cuts but he will be back on bentgrass greens which have been nice to him, gaining almost three strokes putting. In addition Niemann has been striking the ball well on approach, ranking 3rd over his last four tournaments. I have no problem going in on a low owned Niemann due to the bentgrass greens.

Sleepers
I am not as excited as others to play Charles Schwartzel (8.9k) this week because I have been playing him his last two tournaments at very low ownership. Schwartzel this week should come in at high ownership due to his last two performances were he finished second at the Players Championship and ninth at the Wells Fargo. Edit: I start my blogs before pricing comes out working on them a little bit each day and this is what I had to say about Schwartzel who I expected to fall in the 7.7k range. Now that Schwartzel is priced up this week I do have interest in him as I don’t feel many people are willing to pay the price tag. Schwartzel ranks 20th within the field in SG Approach over his last five tournaments and like Spieth he has been providing himself with a plethora of birdie opportunities. As long as the ownership stays relatively low on Schwartzel I will have my fair share as I feel his game fits CCB well. Edit #2: Schwartzel has now WD from the tourney so all my thoughts are irrelevant. I hate when this happens because now the ownership that was going to be on him will now make other players priced around him higher owned.

I really hope that people stay off Xander Schauffele (8.2k) because I really like him this week. X-Man is coming off a second place finish at the Players Championship which may draw people back on him. When you look at his Approach game it is trending in the right direction and he has a positive number putting on bentgrass greens vs other greens.

One player that I feel may go overlooked this week is Brian Harman (7.8k) as he continues to make cuts and post mediocre results. Harman is another player that I am targeting due to his positive bentgrass putting statistics with the hope that his iron play is on.

Before Aaron Wise, Beau Hossler, and Keith Mitchell came along the hot rookie of the year was Austin Cook (7.4k). For those that don’t remember Cook has a win this year at the RSM Classic to go along with fifteen cuts made in seventeen attempts. Most recently Cook has been very consistent as he has finished between 30th and 50th over his last ten tournaments that he made the cut in. When you look at the stats for Cook they are all mediocre just as his results have been but his strongest part of his game will be critical this week, putting. Cook is a strong putter, especially on bentgrass greens were he ranks 2nd in the field vs putting on other surfaces. I am hoping Cook gets lost this week and comes in at less than 5% because I foresee a solid week from him.

Chasing Last Weeks Players Who Performed Well
As you probably know the field last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson was weak which led to players who typically don’t perform well having a good week. In addition we saw Trinity Forest Golf Club play easy with its wide fairways and weather conditions which provided exceptional scoring opportunities. This week we have a deep field and a golf course that is much tighter which should bring these players back to there typical performance. Sure, there will be a few players who compete for a T15 finish that played well last week while I am sure even more will make the cut but I don’t think it’s nearly as easy to identify who these players will be this week. I will be avoiding players like JJ Spaun, Nicholas Lindheim, Martin Piller and Ryan Blaum to name a few. If you have followed me, you know that I am a backer of Spaun but will be passing this week as his performances on bentgrass greens have been far inferior over his short career. The one player that I am interested in chasing is Joel Dahmen (7.1k) who has made six consecutive cuts. Dahmen played solid golf last year during this stretch and has improved his performance this year over last year. Dahmen has posted solid results at the Wells Fargo and Honda Classic tournaments which also had solid fields. My one concern about Dahmen is if this does turn into a birdie fest his chances are hurt because he has not been a strong birdie maker.

Other Players I Like
Adam Hadwin
David Lingmerth
JT Poston
Sean O’Hair
Danny Lee
Adam Scott
Chris Kirk

Players I Will Fade
William McGirt
Ryan Palmer
Cam Smith

That’s all for this week, good luck to everyone! I will end by saying, if you are not a RG golf forum follower you should be as last week the forum saw several followers do extremely well. Thanks
Coop

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