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PGA Golf DFS Advice

FantasyDFSExperts Picks for the Sony Open: Jan. 14-17, 2021

Colin Morikowa DFS
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 16: Colin Morikawa tees off on hole number five during the second round of The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek on October 16, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Matthew Bolt/Icon Sportswire)

Congratulations to Harris English ($10,800 DK $11,600 FD) 267 (-25) for winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week over Joaquin Niemann in a one-hole playoff. We return to a full field this week with a 36-hole cut. The defending champion Cameron Smith ($9,600 DK $10,700 FD), won last year on a wet track at only 269 (-11) where he earned +8 Strokes Gained putting and has been in good form over the last few months, evidenced by his 2nd place finish at the Masters. 

This week at (Waialae Country Club ) the course will play to a Par of 70 at 7,044 yards located on the scenic Hawaiian Island of Oahu. The tees, fairway, rough areas, and the greens are all Bermuda grass, which will be running at 10 to 10.5 on the stimp meter. The slower than normal PGA Tour green speeds are to guard against high winds rendering the course unplayable. The Waialae course was originally designed by Seth Raynor in 1928, and then renovated in 1999 by the PGA Tour prior to Sony becoming the title sponsor for this PGA Tour event. Since 1965, this is the only venue that the PGA Tour Hawaiian Open has been hosted. This course is more of a traditional, classic style, with narrow palm tree and rough defined fairways, with small greens.   

The (Sony Open weather forecast ) Thursday through Sunday is for temperature highs ranging from 76 to 75 degrees, with wind reaching up to 10 to 12 miles per hour on Thursday out of the E; Friday, reaching 6 to 8 miles per hour out of the NW; Saturday, 8 to 10 miles per hour out of the E; and Sunday 9 to 11 miles per hour out of the SW. A competitor can expect trade winds in the afternoon, but you may also want to look at the hour by hour forecast before selecting your roster, because if there is significant wind in the morning on Thursday or Friday and not the other day; a competitor will be playing a more difficult golf course to score on than their fellow competitors, based on the draw of tee times, making it more challenging to make the cut and have an opportunity to play the weekend.  

Cameron Smith ($9,700 DK $10,700 FD) is the 2020 defending champion 269 

(-11) in a playoff, over Brendan Steele ($7,100 DK $8,400 FD). The 

(Sony Open ) has produced winner’s that have predominantly gained strokes with ball striking stats with the emphasis from tee to green, on approach, combined with putting. I would also suggest paying attention to how a competitor has competed in the wind, although the wind is not forecast to be over 15 miles per hour when it is much more challenging and impacts every aspect of the game. Typically, the old tour pro saying – swing easy when it is breezy, will produce winning results from this style of player that has rhythm and balance in their swing without a lot of lateral upper body motion. In addition to thoroughly combing through the stats prior to preparing my weekly FantasyDFSExperts recommendations, I review other expert’s opinions, I personally evaluate and view players weekly that are covered on television; I also consider recent form, tournament history, as well as current momentum and confidence a player exudes, especially in the aspects of their game that are most important to win or to have a high finish this week.      

FantasyDFSExperts will provide three core roster picks to assist you in building a winning team of six for a weekly competitive GPP play. Then exclusively for FantasyDFSExperts members, I will make additional predictions and recommendations to build the balance of your lineup with supporting statistical and trending analysis from the entire field. Last season I provided valuable insights each week leading to the majority of those recommendations making the cut from the bottom third of the salary rankings to allow you to stack your lineup with top players with a high probability to win. When a different play is in order, I will structure my recommendations differently, with the 8 to 15 salary ranked players likely to produce five to six competitors making the cut, with a winning roster, many times seeing all players among the top 10 to 20 place finishers. I predicted several winner’s out of the B category, and even out of the C category, such as Stewart Cink, at the Safeway Classic. I also faded on favorites such as Bryson DeChambeau at The Masters, after he had won the U.S. Open only weeks before, because I did not feel his style of play and-or course history justified his salary, and he would not finish in the top 10 to 20 that week, which proved to be right on the money. I rely not only stats, but intuition and 30 plus years of experience in the golf industry as a competitor, instructor, and coach. Knowing a competitor’s game and tendencies in a variety of environments “under the gun,” along with passing the eyeball test from week to week, produced a high probability of accurate predictions in 2020, my first year of providing this service for FantasyDFSExperts members.         

With this week not having many of the highest rated players in the field, I feel it is important to select one of the top salary ranked competitors, such as Webb Simpson ($11,100 DK $12,000 FD), combined with another top two to three out of the top 20 ranked salary players such as, Daniel Berger ($10,000 DK $11,400 FD), and Russell Henley ($8,700 DK $10,400FD). Simpson has finished 3rd and 4th place the past two seasons and no worse than 13th place out of the past five years. He has also been in good form in recent months, especially on courses that emphasize strokes gained from tee to green, on approach, and with putting, Waialae CC is definitely that style of golf that should see Simpson contend to win here and finish in the top ten. Berger has especially had a hot hand of late with several top 10 finishes, consistently gaining strokes in all ball striking and putting stats, being familiar with the Waialae layout having made the cut and finishing in the top 15 twice over the past five years. Even though Henley has missed the cut here three out of the last five years, he has two top 20 finishes in addition to winning the Sony Open in 2013, and he is the leader amongst this field in strokes gained in overall ball striking stats. 

There are several quality picks that are very undervalued throughout the field, especially in the $6,700 through $8,00 DK and $7,800 through $9,400 FD salary range. This week with a 142 player field, but somewhat watered down, I will recommend choosing a top heavy roster with one of the top four player’s, each in separate lineups, with another three to four roster players between the 5 and 60 ranked salary players, and the final pick as a value to make the cut, have a top 20 finish as your sixth man from the bottom third of the salary ranked competitors.

FantasyDFSExperts will add to the obvious statistical analysis, with deeper research and the eyeball test. These details and trends from the entire field are only possible to come from someone that is intimately familiar with competitive golf, that is willing to go beyond the numbers and reaches the depth and breadth of the competitor and person to be out in front of positive results. Beyond the obvious, pay attention to my free picks, combined with the more in-depth analysis exclusively for FantasyDFSExperts members and you could be cashing a three to six figure ticket. Join me on the members side and be enlightened. 

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The Line-Up Leader DFS Picks for the Sony Open: 2021

I consider the Leader’s this week to be Webb Simpson ($11,100 DK $12,000 FD), Harris English ($10,800 DK $11,600 FD), Collin Morikawa ($10,600 DK $11,800 FD), Joaquin Niemann ($10,400 DK $10,900 FD) Daniel Berger ($10,000 DK $11,400 FD), and Sungjae Im ($9,800 DK $11,200 FD). All of these competitors are consistently strong and leaders in the ball striking stats relative to strokes gained, with a good putting week, have been in recent good form, have experience and successful history on this course, and have the prerequisite skills to win and finish in the top 10, with Joaquin Niemann being the odds-on favorite to win. While Hideki Matsuyama ($10,200 DK $11,000 FD), is normally a reliable cut maker and strong on strokes gained on approach, with many top 10 finishes throughout his career, however, this may be a week to fade on him with having a poor showing last week, finishing last in a field of 42 players.  

The Core DFS Picks for the Sony Open: 2021

These are the core recommendations to fill the two through five spots in a variety of salary ranges that I believe will shine this week to have a top 10 to 20th place finish, hopefully leading to a nice pay day for you. Cameron Smith ($9,600 DK $10,700 FD)Abraham Ancer ($9,400 DK $10,800 FD), Russell Henley ($8,7000 DK $9,400 FD), Emiliano Grillo ($8,300 DK $9,500 FD), Jason Kokrak ($8,000 DK $10,400 FD), and Brendan Steele ($7,100 DK $8,400 FD) all have consistent strokes gained tee to green, on approach, with putting, have been in recent good form, and have experience and positive results at the Sony Open or a similar course that demands the same skillset as Waialae Country Club. With a hot putter, all have the potential to have a top 10 finish or to even win this week. I think there are many good two to five roster selections within the $6,800 to $9,600 DK or $8,200 to $10,800 FD, but these are my favorites. A fade I see in this salary range is Mackenzie Hughes ($7,500 DK $8,900 FD), who is a great player, but played poorly last week, finishing last at T-42, so that concerns me in him being capable of contributing to a winning GPP roster play this week.

The Dark Horse DFS Picks for the Sony Open: 2021

There are several good values and dark horses that can have some success this week ranging in salary from $6,000 to $6,700 in DK and $7,000 to $8,100 in FD.  Excellent choices in the category are Vaughan Taylor ($6,600 DK $7,900 FD)Adam Schenk ($6,600 DK $8,000 FD), Chris Baker ($6,500 DK $7,300 FD), Michael Gligic ($6,300 DK $7,100 FD), Chase Seiffert ($6,200 DK $7,200 FD), and Nick Watney ($6,100 DK $7,200 FD). All of the aforementioned have had success during the latter half of the 2020 season with ball striking success and in challenging windy conditions or in some cases it is just a hunch knowing a player’s strengths and weaknesses, with the prognostication these competitors can play to their strengths with the likely playing conditions this week. A fade in this Dark Horse category, are all competitors in the $6,000 DK and $7,000 FD salary range. 

While these are a few teasers for this week, more in-depth analysis and justification for my recommended lineup plays, or don’t plays this week, are exclusively available for members of If you benefit from these opinions and recommendations, please send us any fodder for the “Wall of Fame” including screenshots. We will put them up on social and proclaim you the DFS champion of the world. Good luck, and Golf On!   

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