WGC-HSBC Champions Fantasy Golf Preview
By Rocco Minsk The final week of the Asian leg of the tour is here and our weeks with DFS golf are waning to a close before an interminable break. This week takes us to China for the first WGC event of the season and in specific, Sheshan Golf Club. This means nighttime golf for the third week in a row, which is a nice treat, but does nothing to liven up the daytime. The Asian leg means no cutlines so for players who absolutely must have a cutline, Draft Kings will be offering action on the Sanderson Farms Championship as well. There are many ways to construct a good lineup this week and even the best players will be fiddling until tee time.
I am sure many of the players who played last week are still in shellshock as to how difficult the course was in Korea last week. From looking at the course, I knew it was going to be tough. Unfortunately, making predictions was also tough last week as normally reliable golfers like Xander Schauffele took a walk on the wild side. The good news is that there are years of course history at Sheshan and you won’t be flying in the dark as to how the course will play. There are two elements that will come into play here. First is that there is water, water, everywhere, but players should be able to control their shots better than at Nine Bridges last week without the altitude, so golfers may find the drink, but they won’t routinely go swimming. The second is that there are easily conquerable par 5’s where golfers must birdie to keep up.
I am looking at greens in regulation and strokes gained tee to green as key statistics this week along with par 5 scoring. It is very easy to make a case for quite a few golfers this week given Draft Kings pricing which seems a little softer than usual. Also, since there are quite a few international players on hand, it helps to have a working knowledge of the Euro Tour. With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the week.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11400) We had previously recommended caution until Matsuyama righted his game and Hideki did that at the CIMB Classic with a 5th place finish. His all-around game plays beautifully at this course as the defending champion. He just absolutely loves WGC events. Personally, I usually don’t go above $11000 for a golfer, but if you do Matsuyama is a sound choice.
Jason Day ($10200) Jason Day is back to being Jason Day and that should be worth than $10200. Day benefits from the presence of Matsuyama and Johnson, who drive Day’s own price down, but he is on par with those two golfers when he is in form. Day’s top-15 showing at the CIMB Classic showed that his late season resurgence was for real and his struggles last year are behind him
Mark Leishman ($9900) I cannot say enough about Leishman’s recent form. I have been resisting playing Leishman for the longest time and it has come back to bite me. Leishman has an amazing five top-6 finishes in his last nine starts and showed this past weekend that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the new tour season. His only bad outing in his last five events was the Tour Championship, which came directly after a win.
Paul Casey ($9400) Casey’s price has trended down to where he was a must play week in and week out last season. He was not as competitive in Korea as he usually is, but there are three things in this world that are certain; death, taxes and Paul Casey in the top-20. With Casey under $10,000, this is an investment worth making.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8600) I usually weight recent performance more heavily than anything else when selecting golfers, but Fleetwood is a GIR machine who will do well on this course although he just ended a long cold spell with a 6th place finish in his last star. Fleetwood leads the European Tour in GIR and had a second place finish on one of the Euro Tour’s two China stops in April.
Tyrell Hatton ($8200) If there is one golfer you have to roster this week, it is Hatton who has been blazingly hot on the European Tour. His putting has been incredible, making a 20 foot putt on 18 to win the Italian Open and he has won his last two events. He has four top-10s in a row and eight in his last 20 starts – he is the most in-form golfer on the other side of the pond, period. Many backed of him after he failed spectacularly at the Masters, but those struggles are over.
Matt Kuchar ($7700) Kuchar’s pricing always seems to benefit from the close correlation between DK prices and Vegas odds because he has not won on Tour since 2014 and always seems to be a medium priced golfer at strong field events. Kuchar does not have an extensive course history here and people may pivot to the splashier Tony Finau here, but you know exactly what you will get with Kuchar, a near top-10 finish and very low odds of chunking.
Chez Reavie ($7500) Reavie is a silent assassin and is almost morphing into Kuchar 2.0. He rarely is in contention on the final day, but every time you look up, Reavie is hovering around the top-20. Last season, he was in the mix at a higher level of tournaments than in the past with top-25 finishes in two majors and top-15 finishes in two of the FedEx Cup playoff events and has not finishes outside the top-20 yet in the new season.
Thomas Pieters ($7500) We panned Pieters in these pages a few weeks ago but he has performed decently (but not great) so far this season with finishes of 44th and 28th. This pick is based on the fact that Pieters loves WGC events with three top-15 finishes including a 4th and a 5th. With par 5’s reachable in 5 and drivable par 4’s, a boomer like Pieters will help your team, but he is likely to put up a high number or two.
Thorborn Olesen ($7300) Olesen finished 10th at WGC-Bridgestone and is often competitive aginst good fields. He had a 31st and an 8th at the Euro Tour’s China stops. He is not a player with whom casual followers of golf are familiar.
Richie Ramsay ($7000) Ramsay has played very well in Europe recently, with his only poor result recently being when he withdrew from the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a shoulder injury, but he made the cut his next time out to alleviate concern over his shoulder injuries. Ramsay too plays well in China, not having missed a cut in the Euro Tour’s events in China going back to 2012.
Poom Saksansin ($6900) He will eventually be a name that most DFS players will get to know well. Saksansian showed great flashes at the CIMB Classic and was a GIR machine, hitting 83%, which will be a key stat here. He is a good candidate if you are looking to use another spot to subsidize DJ or Matsuyama.
Jon Rahm ($10000) Rahm played brilliantly towards the end of last season, the hesitation here is his struggle at last week’s Euro Tour event in Spain, where he MC’d and his body language resembled the bad Jon Rahm, which merits concern.
Xander Schauffele ($8700) Schauffele had a serious meltdown after round one at the CJ Cup and while that is not indicative that he has lost his skills, it is cause for concern the week after a debacle because that sort of struggle more often than not carries over into a second week.