This is our second to last stop before the Masters. There are actually two tournaments going on this week (the WGC Matchplay is also on) but only the Puerto Rico Open is being offered in Daily Fantasy offerings on DraftKings. The field this week is obviously much weaker than normal as none of the top 65 players in the world are in attendance. That being said this tournament has attracted some bigger names from across the seas and it’s boasting one of its stronger fields in a while. The event will take place on a coastal course—Coco Beach Golf Course—where wind can be and has been a huge factor in past incarnations.
The Field: The field this week isn’t your typical PGA offering as it’s mainly a mix between web.com grads, players with conditional status, veterans fitting in one more tournament before they hit the senior tour and European players trying to make an impact overseas. In a field like this it’s easy to simply go with the names you know, but it’s also important to try and get to know as many players as possible as there are some potential diamonds lurking in the rough this week.
The Weather: Wind is always a factor in Puerto Rico. This course has water in play on several holes and is bordering the ocean as well. Not only will you want to factor this in when making decisions about players but you’ll also want to check the tee times and see if one stack might get an advantage over another. The wind can obviously pick up fast in Puerto Rico, but as of now it doesn’t appear like it’s going to be blowing too hard any of the four days. Make sure you check later in the week though for an updated forecast as this can all change quickly.
Graeme McDowell ($10,300): McDowell fits the bill for me as a player I’m OK paying up for. In this weak field you could probably avoid most of the top plays and be OK but McDowell is coming in off the back of six straight made-cuts to start the year. He’s won on three other coastal courses over his career (Pebble Beach, Hilton Head and down in Mexico for the OHL Classic) and should feel confident in his chances here in such a weak field.
Peter Uihlein ($10,100): Uihlein is quietly showing up here with some of the best recent form on tour and now has seven straight made cuts on the year with four top twenties or better. He’s a Euro Tour regular who has been on top of his game since returning from injury late in 2016. Was sixth here on the back of three rounds of 67 or better in 2013 and is in arguably his best form since that result.
Fabrizio Zanotti ($9,500): Hottest golfer in the field, has a win and a T12 in a WGC event over his last two starts, which includes 35 birdies made overall. Comes in here with no course history but the Paraguayan should feel fairly at home given his routes. Will likely be a player most DFS’ers overlook in gpps but shouldn’t, as he’s played better than anyone in the field over the past three weeks.
Danny Lee ($8,700): After a string of horrible play has put together two solid starts, including a T22 at the Valspar and a T17 at the Arnold Palmer, which includes a five under in the final round. Lee also has a second place finish here from back in 2014 and it will be interesting to see how many DraftKings players trust him given that he missed five cuts in a row before the Valspar.
Brandon Hagy ($8,300): There are a few really good young players who have all started the season strong and are priced between 8 and 9k this week. Hagy is the most appealing to me however. He’s made three straight cuts since Pebble Beach, a stretch that includes a couple low rounds, including a 64 from the Honda Classic. Like last year’s winner, Tony Finau, Hagy can blast it off the tee and currently ranks fourth in that stat (distance off the tee) on tour. He also finished 16th here in tough conditions back in 2015, a good indicator he can handle a bit of bad weather if it pops up.
Others: JT Poston
Andrew Johnston ($7,900): “Beef” has started the season slowly but in such a weak field needs to be considered at under 8k. Johnston brings a resume that most golfers here cannot match, including a win at the famed Valderrama. He’s proven an ability to handle tough conditions better than most in his young career and if the conditions are similar to the last couple of years this should favour him.
Harold Varner III ($7,300): Varner is another player who has started the season slowly, but who also brings some serious class to a weaker field. Varner had a solid year on tour in 2016 and followed that up with a win across the ocean in Australia last December in a field that was arguably better than the one were getting this week. Overall, he’s now made three of his last five cuts in 2017, and was fourth in SG: Approaches last week at the Arnold Palmer. Like last year’s winner, Tony Finau, he doesn’t have any course experience but has played well at the OHL Classic, and other events off the mainland.
John Peterson ($7,200): Another talented young player who just looks too cheap this week. Peterson has been up and down to start the year but a T15 in Phoenix, which included a third round 63, showed us his game isn’t far off. He’s played well in more humid environments in the past as well as he has top twenties in both Hawaii and Mexico to his name. A big week here wouldn’t be a surprise to me at all.
Bryson DeChambeau ($7,000): Bryson isn’t quite where he was last year when he was challenging for the win at Augusta, but he looked semi-close his last time out at the Valspar. While his putting continues to be a challenge his tee to green game has been solid his last two times out. The slower/softer greens here should help and he’s simply too cheap for his talent level.
Zac Blair ($6,400): Blair brings consistency this week and a lot of good play at corollary courses. He’s finished inside the top ten at Hawaii twice and also has a top twenty to his name in Mexico. Blair has missed his last two cuts overall but I would still feel OK rostering him at his price this week as he generally makes more cuts than he misses and finished 38th here back in 2015, his only visit to this tournament.
Others: Ryan Brehm
High-upside GPP Picks
Thorbjorn Olesen ($7,700): Olesen has multiple European tour wins to his name and has generally been a great finisher over his young career. The Dane is a bit of a wildcard however as he’ll often fade throughout the week if he doesn’t get off to a good start. This makes him the perfect DraftKings gpp play this week however as he’s clearly priced far too low for this field, and carries a better shot at winning this week than most players. He’s handled windy links venues well before and that could translate well here too.
Boo Weekley ($7,300): Weekley is the first player I’m recommending solely based on his course history. He’s not missed the cut at this event in his last four visits and has three top tens here in that span. He doesn’t have any high finishes to his name this year but he has made three of his last four cuts overall. At an event where veterans often shine, he’s one I would not overlook if making multiple tournament lineups on DraftKings this week.
Michael Thompson ($6,400): Thompson is another player who fits perfectly into the gpp-only group for me. While his made cut rate is generally poor compared to other top players, Thompson has winning upside. He’s played well at windy venues before (won the Honda Classic back in 2013) and has also made the cut at this event in all three appearances. While he comes in off the back of three missed cuts he’s a player who can find form fast and has two top twenties to his name already in 2017, and also won a web.com playoff event late in 2016.
Other: Ben Crane, Seamus Power
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Graeme McDowell, Peter Uihlein, Fabrizio Zanotti, Danny Lee, John Peterson, Michael Thompson, Thorbjorn Olesen, Harold Varner III, Andrew Johnston
– Brandon Hagy, JT Poston, Zac Blair, Bryson DeChambeau, Boo Weekley, Ben Crane, Seamus Power, Ryan Brehm
Peter Uihlein 33-1
John Peterson 70-1
Harold Varner 80-1
Michael Thompson 100-1