Henrik Norlander and Kramer Hickok have both tested positive for COVID and will miss this week’s RSM Classic. They will be replaced in the field by Ryan Brehm and Rhein Gibson. I would not either player to get added to the full week pricing pool, but we should see them available for round 2 showdown slates. Sam Burns and Bill Haas are the other two names to remove themselves from the field this week.
The excitement of Masters week could be delayed by a series of storms headed towards Georgia. According to Roth rain could arrive as early as Wednesday night and linger throughout the day on Thursday. As the DFS community fidgets and makes adjustments to rosters due to the threat of rain, Roth is quick to remind us that wind has more of an impact on golf and that for the most part, we should look to lesson the edge gained by trying to stack a wave due to a perceived edge. The timing of the rain could be a big deal that possibly makes golfers in the late wave play more holes on Friday. That being said we could wake up on Thursday morning and see all tee times delayed. The unpredictability of how the rain will play out makes it hard to make a strong call in terms of predicting a tee time wave draw this week.
Narratives are often stronger than actual facts. The current popular view on Matt Kuchar by many in the world of DFS golf is that he is a player on the downward trend of his career. Heading into an event that Kuchar plays extremely well there is very little interest in adding Kuchar ( under 4% POW) to roster builds for the week. In his last seven starts at The Masters Kuchar is 7 for 7 in cuts made with 5 top 25 or better finishes highlighted by 3 top ten or better performances. Despite his low price there does not seem to be many takers in the idea that course history matters in the case of Kuchar for the week. If you are looking to take a risk and add Kuchar to your roster pool then a top 30 or better finish is all you need in order to crush expectations. Kuchar has only finished outside of the top 30 three times in his previous 13 starts at the Masters.
Augusta National took to Twitter this morning to announce a change to the cut rule for The Masters. Starting this year top 50 plus ties will play the weekend, golfers within 10 shots who are not inside the top 50 will no longer make the cut.
Sergio Garcia will miss this week’s Masters due to a positive COVID test this morning. Garcia took to social media this morning to announce that he tested positive. Garcia will miss his first major championship in 21 years. There are no field replacements for the Masters.
Last week’s surprise winner Brain Gay has decided to skip out on this week’s Houston Open. Gay has been replaced by Fabián Gómez. Due to the timing of this move, we should not see Gomez added to the full week pricing pool, but he will show up in round two showdown slates.
If you are the type of player that likes to bet on the long term talent of a golfer, then this is a good week to bet on Rickie Fowler. The one-time darling of DFS golf has not exactly played his best golf over the last few months. Since the tour’s restart, Fowler is 5 for 10 in made cuts with 0 top ten or better finishes. Looking to turn the tide this week, Fowler is both cheap ( relative to long term talent) and somewhat low owned ( less than 7%). The difficulty of trying to navigate a no-cut event is magnified by the fact that this week’s venue ( Shadow Creek), will host its first tour event. Shadow Creek is a venue created and built by Vegas mogul Steve Wynn. No expense is spared in the building and or upkeep of this course and early reports have the greens being extremely on the fast side. Fowler has always been a historically good putter, and if you feel like there is a strong chance that he will turn it around sooner than later, then this is a good week to take a shot on his long term talent at low ownership.
Limited fields with no cuts are always an interesting riddle to solve. Trying to handicap motivation for players is never an easy thing. For a player like Joel Dahmen, this week should mean more than others. A chance to play in a strong field no-cut event gives Dahmen a chance to improve his standing on tour. In order to fit in some of the top-priced golfers, you will have to look at adding a few cheaper golfers into your player pool for the week. Normally we like guys at a discount to just make the cut, this week however we have to look at trying to target golfers with more upside due to the lack of a cut. Dahmen is an elite ball-striker who has shown flashes of upside over the last twelve months. From a motivation standpoint, this week should mean more to Dahmen than other established players, so there will be a bit more emphasis on grinding out four rounds regardless of where he stands after day one. With a top 10 at this year’s PGA Dahmen has shown he can excel in strong field events and will look to get his 2021 season off to a strong start with a good showing this week.
News broke this afternoon that both Tony Finau and Dustin Johnson are out of this week’s CJ Cup due to COVID-19. Finau tested positive last week but has not yet cleared the testing protocol in order to return. DJ tested positive today and will miss this week. Robby Shelton and J.T. Poston are now both into this week’s field.
When you look at the second half of the 2020 season, it’s really hard to quantify the true form of a golfer. Three times since the restart we saw players win the following week after missing a cut. There is a strong argument to be made that the restart adjustment was harder than most of us would put much stock in. With the tour somewhat back to normal ( minus fans), we should start to see some players settle into some familiar routines. Despite his somewhat lackluster play since the restart ( only one top ten in 8 starts) Cantlay looks to build on a very strong course history at TPC Summerlin. In his 12 rounds at this course, Cantlay has shot 67 or better 8 times. In his three starts at The Shriners Open Cantlay has one win, a third, and lost in a playoff last year to Kevin Na. Cantlay loves this course and is an odds on favorite to play well once again this week.
Prior to last week’s top 20 finish at The Sanderson Farms Championship, Brandt Snedeker had all the signs of a struggling golfer. Since the tour’s restart in June Snedeker had only made 4 of 8 cuts with no top 40 or better finishes. For those willing to dig in and find out a bit more about Snedeker’s struggles, you would have seen that he had recently just switched coaches. Now working with former tour player Bradley Hughes, Snedeker is hopeful to build on a good week. With a change in coach and perhaps some swing philosophy there is always a chance of poor form in the short term, but despite his poor results, you could see flashes of Snedeker finding his game. His missed cuts were often due to a poor start or just a few bad holes. Snedeker is often a streaky golfer and with a price that is still low in comparison to his talent level there is strong merit to adding this short game specialist to your roster builds for the week.
Smylie Kaufman will not play this week and has been replaced by Chase Seiffert. Due to the timing of this move, we should not see Seiffert added to the full week player pools, but he could show up in the round 2 showdown slates.
Making only his 5th start of the 2020 calendar year, Francesco Molinari returns to action at this week’s Shriners Open. Molinari was able to follow up on his breakthrough 2018 season ( winning The Open Championship) with his 10th career victory at the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Unfortunately for Molinari, the 2020 season was derailed by a combination of his poor play to start the season and then by the stoppage of play due to COVID-19. Returning to action this week there is almost no buzz about Molinari’s return to golf. Even at his extremely cheap price, Molinari is projected at sub 2% ownership on DK for the week. While there is the element of uncertainty of how Molinari will play after a long layoff, it would not take much in terms of roster shares ( MME) to gain an edge on the field this week. If you are betting on long term talent, then this week would be a great spot to start looking at Molinari.