(UPDATED: Post Dustin Johnson, Lee, Kuchar and Harrington withdraws)
Last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open was tame in terms of their historical audience, but not light on drama for those of us watching on television. For the record: I will never pick against Brooks Koepka in DFS ever again. Forget the injuries and the swing coach change or even the missed cut in San Diego – he proved why he is an elite PGA Tour champion in Scottsdale. With my mea culpa for Brooks out of the way, we had some really good picks for you that simply weren’t being talked about in many other places. We hoped for a better finish for Jon Rahm but by no means did he disappoint. Brandon Steele continues to produce every time out. Steve Stricker shows the potential beauty of going with old farts among the ripped kids. Even my QAnon-level crazy pick, Ted Porter Jr. (who was T-18 in San Diego after missing eight cuts before that this year), made the cut. He almost made me look like a total genius after the first round, but didn’t power through the next few rounds as well as we hoped. Nevertheless, you should have been able to have some wins with what we hooked you up with last week, but then again, that was last week, and you need your fix for this week, and that is what I am here to do.
This Week’s PGA Tour Event
The Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am isn’t going to be a pro-am at all this year, which will leave many of the richest, most connected, famous amateur golfers missing out on their best weekend of the year. Some tour players have told me (or at least intimated) that they don’t really like this event, in that the rounds are slow, and the poa annua greens, especially on Pebble Beach, can be bumpy. Compared to Riviera, I get what they are saying, and perhaps that’s why the field at the Genesis is so strong, versus the AT&T at Pebble. There also will not be any spectators on the two courses, because of COVID-19 precautions.
It may be to some of the players’ liking to leave the well-heeled armatures at home for 2021, but one factor that they won’t like is the removal of Monterey Peninsula Shore Course from the AT&T course rotation. While perhaps not as exotic as the former third course of the rotation (and my personal favorite course ever), Cypress Point, MPCC is one of the elite best courses that these guys get to play, including Open and PGA venues, Riviera, and a few other Tour favorites.
I have been blessed to play Pebble Beach close to 50 times over the years, including in both tournament and U.S. Open conditions, and I can confirm that it is the gem that Jim Nantz and Sir. Nick Faldo rave about in so many ways. Overall, the course isn’t very hard for today’s tour pros, unless the wind is really blowing or it is raining – which is possible at this time of the year. Just because it is California doesn’t mean that you are going to get Los Angeles-like, 70-and-sunny weather every day for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, as we saw in Scottsdale last week. The Monterey Peninsula gets its own weather in a micro-climate, which we will check on. The first seven holes at Pebble Beach can be tricked out, but are pretty easy. It is likely that No. 2 will play as a tough par four, as opposed to a par five, for us mere mortals. No. 6 is a reachable yet somewhat blind par five up the hill, with water in play off the tee if you were to get too cute. No. 7 is the shortest hole on tour at maybe 100 yards downhill. It might also have the most striking view on any golf hole on the planet. Considering how good this field is with their wedges, don’t be shocked to see more than one ace at No. 7 at Pebble this weekend. It is hole No. 8 where Pebble Beach changes its complexion completely. This nasty par four requires the tour players to throttle back off the tee for what results in about as hard of an approach and green complex that you will find on tour. No. 9 and No. 10 are long par fours that are influenced by the ocean and wind. No. 11’s green is brutally sloped and tiny. Some guys might be tempted to go for it, but God help you if you think you can get up and down from a short-sided position. No. 12 is the point where players turn back into the wind for what is often a two-club, cold ocean breeze that makes a 200-yard shot into this par three very hard. No. 14 is my least favorite hole on the course. While the green has been redone, it has very little playable surface and, for most, isn’t a reachable par five. The finish at Pebble Beach is as good as any in golf. No. 16 is a strategic par four that nearly every tour player will hit less than driver on, but watch the action on the green, as I’ve seen some crazy performances from the best players in the world on one of golf’s biggest stages. No. 17 is about as iconic of a par three as there is out there. The direct wind is a major factor, but pin position is even more important. The old 17 isn’t all that hard for tour guys when it is on the right. When it is on the left (think: Tom Watson chipping in at the 1982 US Open), that segment of this hourglass-shaped green is basically an island protected by sand in all directions. No. 18 at Pebble Beach is one of the best finishing holes ever. Tour pros can take it out over the ocean and curve it in on the ocean breeze, with hopes of passing the somewhat new installation of small cypress trees transplanted from the first hole to the fairway. The green on No. 18 is small, but tour pros still go for it, even if birdie is more likely with a wedge for a third shot. The course conditions at Pebble Beach are consistently good, as people pay big money to play there when on vacation (remember vacations?), but the greens don’t get the same love that private courses in the Top 20 get, as they are played pretty much all day, every day. They get a lot of small punches, but aren’t attended to as well as they could be. By no means are they “bad,” but some picky tour pros don’t like their poa annua surfaces, as that can result in “flowering” later in the day, which makes for a somewhat “bumpy” putting surface.
Spyglass Hill is another Top 100-rated track that is a Jekyll and Hyde type of design. The first five holes are exposed to the ocean, and offer a lot of the same experience as its ultra-exclusive neighbor, Cypress Point, which you can actually see from the third tee. By the time you tee off on No. 6, you are in the pine trees for the rest of the day for a more Pinehurst-like than Pebble-like experience. Spyglass is a far more difficult course overall, even if it isn’t as exposed to the wind as much as Pebble Beach. The stretch of No. 14 through No. 16 can be very tricky, even if there is a very short par three in the middle of the sandwich (a hole that I aced my second ball on for my best “par” ever). No. 17 at Spyglass is a very strong but short uphill par four that doesn’t require driver off the tee for tour pros. The green has a lot of teeth, thus being below the hole in Tour conditions is a major premium. Spyglass Hill finishes on a whimper, with a straight-ahead par four that most tour pros will hit a short iron into. Spy’s greens tend to be less haggard, but it often plays more wet, as Pebble’s drainage is simply world-class. Expect the scoring to be a bit higher on Spyglass Hill, thus don’t freak out if your DFS horse gets off to a slightly slower start at Spy, versus Pebble.
The weather for Carmel, California this week isn’t going to be perfect – so says the 10-day forecast as of now. There are evening showers predicted on Thursday, with rain possible Friday and Saturday. Unlike the perfect-70s-and-sunny that we saw in Scottsdale, the temperatures will be in the mid-50s. Now, I can’t hear the violin cases opening to play us Californians a sad song of pity, but weather is actually a factor for overall scoring. So is the idea of a “softer” course that allows the big hitters to get no-roll, but still attack pins in ways that they couldn’t dream of for a U.S. Open in the summer. Keep an eye on the weather at the above link, and perhaps make a move in your rosters, based on who might get out early on Pebble before the rain on Thursday, as they could shoot something low that others in the rain on Spyglass might not be able to do.
Past Champions (DraftKings Prices)
Past champions at Pebble Beach date back to the 1930s and Sam Snead. More recent winners that have 2021 relevance include Phil Mickelson ($8,600), Dustin Johnson ($12,000) (DJ just withdrew at Pebble) and Jordan Spieth ($9,700). After a long spell of poor play on Tour, Spieth snapped back in Scottsdale last week, but so did his price on DraftKings. Phil and D.J. played in the Middle East (with D.J. winning) and, while they likely both flew to California on their private jets, that’s a lot of travel. Historically, Phil would commute on his Gulfstream from Pebble to San Diego every night of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but he’s since moved to Florida, so who knows where he’s staying at night this week. What we do know is: these two players could very well be pooped out this week from all of the travel.
My off-the-rails pick from last week, Ted Potter Jr. ($6,800), is a past champion of this event, and still very cheap. I am not sure I can put him in my main lineups, despite Potter making two of his last two (missing eight before) cuts. He does play well at this event, but TPC Scottsdale was a far easier course in perfect weather last week, and he didn’t come through after the first round. He’s a GPP pick at best.
We all remember Tiger Woods blowing away the field at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open, but he’s not in the field, nor is he expected to be in the field next week at his own event at Riviera, thus no need to speculate on how he will play this week.
Here’s some core lineup support and why to pick them (DraftKings Prices) for a 50-50 lineup.
|Player #1||Will Zalatoris||$9,900|
|Player #2||F. Molinari||$9,300|
|Player #6||S. Cink||$7,200|
Remaining cash $0
Will Zalatoris ($9,900) came in a very respectable T-17 in Scottsdale and is one of the better-looking options at the top of the board. Yes, I want Dustin Johnson ($12,000) but at his price, he’s very expensive. Zalatoris’ 14 (yes, 14) Top 10s make him a sneaky pick for a strong finish, but leaves enough money to spread around for other likely cut-makers. His 91.6 FPS average is enough for me to make the compromise.
Francesco Molinari ($9,300) didn’t play in Scottsdale, but he did drop a Top 10 in San Diego at the Farmers. He’s a recent transplant to Southern California, and has been playing a lot at Riviera, I hear. Keep that in mind for next week, but I like the one-two punch of these two at the top of a ticket. He should be used to putting on poa annua greens and the somewhat chilled temperatures.
Stewart Cink ($7,200) is a cut machine, with seven out of this last nine made, which is exactly what we need from a $7,200 player this week. He’s got two Top10s, too, thus has some higher-end performance potential.
Why Should You Buck Up $99 To Read More
• Two old guys that aim to repeat my genius with Steve Stricker last week.
• A cut-making machine with Top 10 potential this week.
• More Euro-player love
• Many other alternate moves to help you craft many solid tickets for all sorts of DFS events.
• A full lineup based around Cantlay and Jordan Spieth.
Brandon Steele ($8,400) is more expensive this week, but he’s been my cut-making horse who has come very close to winning this year at the Sony – which is the second time that nearly happened for Brandon in Hawaii.
R. Cabrera Bello ($7,700) is my best Euro pick for the week, in that he’s mid-priced and a cut-maker, and I expect the same at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this week. His FPS are averaging a little low at 55.6, but I am feeling a breakout coming.
Doug Ghim ($7,500) is in the “kid” department, but he’s made eight of his last 10 cuts, is averaging 72.9 fantasy points, and is a very good player. He’s a sneaky pick next week at Riviera, because of his runner-up performance at the U.S. Armature a few years back. I like him this week, too, as a sleeper pick.
Alternative Moves …
We left $500 in cash on the table in my lineup above, thus there are many other variations you could make for the week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Allow me to propose some.
The A-List Values
• Patrick Cantlay ($11,300) rocks a high fantasy point average at 93.9, and has a perfect cut-making record. He’s one of the biggest studs in the field, and there is nothing not to like about him except his price in this top-heavy field.
• Jordan Spieth ($9,700) likely should have won in Phoenix last weekend, but he just came apart after his staggeringly good 61 on Saturday. Jordan was a FedEx points killer and a DFS superstar for so long, but he lost his way. Often, he seems like he’s searching for his swing, and that he isn’t “right” – but not for the first few rounds at TPC Scottsdale. Could he bring his newfound confidence to Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill? Damn right, he could.
Sam Burns ($9,100) is a little expensive this week in a field that isn’t as packed with superstars as last week. He is a cut-maker and has eight Top 10s in eight events so far this year. He’s a somewhat offbeat pick, but he’s one hell of a player and very much on the rise in my book. He was in our B List picks last week, but his price is up big-time this week.
The B List Values
• Phil Mickelson (8,600) gets you a both a multiple past champion at this event, and a champion on the Champion’s Tour. Rocking an AARP Card is likely easier than a PGA Tour Card, but Phil has them both. What I like about old guys in DFS is that their price is normally depressed (unlike their savvy outlook towards playing with the kids), but that isn’t the case with Phil. Phil is also very good at Spyglass Hill, which is very good for this event. We discussed the travel already, which is a concern, but I still love FIGJAM.
• Henrik Norlander ($8,700) is a sexy pick, with a killer runner-up finish in San Diego at the Farmers, and he delivered for us in Scottsdale with a T-22. I like him at the price coming into Pebble, and why not? Young stud Euro-player with all of the skills, who nearly just won on the PGA Tour in California with poa greens on a tough course in some weather.
• James Hahn ($8,000) collapsed under the pressure of closing out the win this past Sunday in Scottsdale. He knows how to win on the PGA Tour, but can he close out the deal? I think he can the next time he gets in contention. In the meantime, I don’t think he will hurt you with 8/10 cuts made and almost 70 FPS every week. Seemingly, Hahn is a safe bet this week, unless he’s so emotionally tapped out from a close call with a win. I don’t think that is the case.
Brian Harman ($8,200) is a big bomber who can handle the weather at Pebble and Spyglass this week. He’s a consistent cut-maker and somewhat mid-priced when you look at the field this week.
The C List Ultra-Values
• Patton Kizzire ($7,600) is towards the top of the pricing in the C List, but he’s a cut machine with high-end upside, as we saw at the Sony just a few weeks ago.
• It is going to be hard to call me out for my age discrimination pick of the week after bringing you Steve Stricker in Scottsdale. This week, I am going with Jim Furyk ($7,400) who has a perfect record for making cuts, and can take his quirky swing to Pebble and treat it like the U.S. Open course that it is. At his price, all we need is a cut made, and I don’t see this week being the week he breaks his streak.
• You got to love it when a hot young player is missing his photo on their DraftKings profile. A total sign of disrespect to Bo Hoag ($7,300) who was one of our picks from last week that got us a T-36 in Scottsdale. He’s playing well. Stick with a winning horse in Bo Hoag at these lower prices.
• Ted Potter Jr. ($6,800) was my Rudy Giuliani, batshit-crazy pick last week, and he made the cut in Scottsdale, but didn’t do much more. The problem at the Pebble AT&T Pro-Am is that he’s a recent past champion. If you want to win the GPPs, you need a little bit of crazy on your side. This is Four Seasons Total Landscaping-level crazy for you.
• Peter Uihlien ($6,500) is an under-the-radar Euro-pick who does very well overseas, and seems to be a bit out of the view of other DFS players, especially this week, with some real outliers in the field. He’s good on the cuts, and makes most of his cuts. At $6,500, I could live with that, especially if it allowed me to pick one of the few superstars on the docket.
COVID-19 is as real as a heart attack, and players in all sports are being pulled from action. Keep an eye out for anything fishy, and make changes as needed. This is why we have alternative picks for you offered here.
There is likely to be a lot of weather this week, but in this part of the world, things can change fast. As I suggested earlier, be mindful of guys who might start early on Thursday at Pebble Beach before it gets rainy or windy, as Pebble is the easier of the two courses, and those strokes could really help come Sunday, when we all want to cash out our tickets for big wins.
Here’s A Bonus Dustin Johnson-based Lineup
|Player #1||Patrick Cantlay||$11,300|
|Player #2||Jordan Spieth||$9,700|
|Player #3||T. Potter Jr||$6,800|
|Player #4||Bo Hoag||$7,300|
|Player #5||Jim Furyk||$7,400|
|Player #6||Doug Ghim||$7,500|
• Here are some power rankings and Top 10 players likely to win from ProGolfNow.com. We’ve got a little crossover. I like their pick of Berger and Cantlay. Jason Day is never a stiff, either.
• Here is the history of the Pebble Beach.
• Here is a complete list of The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. past champions.
• Here are some odds on for this week from USA Today that have none of my picks in them.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
Best of luck and have fun!
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