The PGA TOUR leaves poa annua behind as they head to PGA National to kickoff the Florida Swing.
Golfers that played in the alternate-field Puerto Rico Open might be at a slight advantage as they played on some grainy greens last week at Coco Beach. More on who might like the bermudagrass greens later but first let's talk about the field.
The field this week will begin with 144 golfers before the Top 70 and Ties play the final two days.
With roughly just 50% of golfers playing all four rounds, getting 6-of-6 through the cut line will again be a tough task. Add in water hazards on 14 holes this week and it's a good week to not count your chickens before they hatch. Double Bogeys generally fly off the shelf here at PGA National's Champion Course.
Thursday (R1): Partly Cloudy with a high of 82 degrees. Winds calm around 6 MPH.
Friday (R2): A small chance of PM Thunderstorms. High of 83 degrees with winds calm around 6 MPH.
Precipitation chances range from 20 to 40% from 1 PM to 5 PM on Friday afternoon. The rest of the week looks clear. It's also shockingly calm in terms of the wind forecast. The 4-day course record here is 13-under by Camilo Villegas in 2010. Gamers should expect a similar winning score this week, as long as the wind forecast stays calm.
If we are looking for wave advantages then the Thursday starters may have a slight edge. Emphasis on MAY. Pre-tourney rain should keep the greens relatively receptive on Thursday morning and if Friday PM showers end up canceling play then they may get another shot at fresh morning greens on Saturday.
The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts.
The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings.
Brooks Koepka (83.55 Projected Pts): Another week and another appearance here for Brooksy. This is a home event for BK but it hasn't shown on the history sheet with four finishes of T26 or worse. It's a course that doesn't let you pound drivers at well. Koepka will try to push the envelope whenever possible but it's hard to get too aggressive here. I've positioned him around 10th on my pre-draft list which means I will let others risk him unless he falls too far.
Brian Gay (62.28 Projected Pts): The straight shooter sits relatively high on the projection list at the low 60s. He's around names like Alex Noren, Luke List, and Keith Mitchell. I'd much rather have the others than take a chance on Gay who arrives with negative strokes gained tee-to-green in four of his last five starts. That includes his most recent start where he lost a whopping 7.9 strokes on approach.
Sam Burns (31.42 Projected Pts): If you are playing in the 8 or 10-person drafts this week (or the Expert Drafts) then Burns is someone to move up your board. The LSU product six career top 20s on the PGA TOUR and five of them have come on bermuda (or overseeded bermuda) greens. After a few poor showings out West, he will be glad to get back to the Southeast and putt on some bermuda again. Finished T8 here last year.
Sergio Garcia (54.49 Projected Pts): His projection increased slightly since last week at the WGC-Mexico but it's still criminally low when you consider his form over the last six months. He regained his form and arrives with eight finishes of T9 or better in his last 10 worldwide starts.
We just mentioned Sam Burns when it comes to love of bermudagrass. Let's go through the field to see what other golfers might enjoy the return to bermuda.
Looking at sample-adjusted performance on bermuda since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on Bermuda (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Webb Simpson, Luke List, Austin Cook, Lucas Glover, and Jimmy Walker. All of them grew up and/or went to school in the South/Southeast. The farthest West we get is Jimmy Walker who is a East Texas guy.
Nick Watney: The 5-time TOUR winner arrives with cuts made in 7 of his last 8 starts. He's been flirting with regaining his lost form but hasn't completely got there. That explains the low price across the industry. What makes him attractive this week? First, he is 4-for-4 here at PGA National's Champion Course. Three of those have been T33 or better with the fourth being a T41. After that we can look at his overall resume on bermudagrass. We just saw him in the list above in terms of increasing his performance on bermuda versus his baseline. That is great to see. Diving into those results, we notice he's finished top 40 in 7 of his last 10 appearances on bermudagrass. Arriving with no hype whatsoever, Watney should be a great value play to help diversify your otherwise chalky teams.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!