The final PGA Tour event of the calendar year is upon us, as players make their way to Sea Island Golf Club in Saint Simons Island on the Atlantic coast of Georgia. Each golfer will play one round on the Seaside Course and the Plantation Course. Then on Saturday and Sunday, those who make the cut will play their final two rounds on the Seaside Course.
The 156-player field is lead by betting favorite Scottie Scheffler at +1400, followed by Louis Oosthuizen, and Webb Simpson at +1600. Last year saw Robert Streb outlasting Kevin Kisner in a playoff to win the event. With Sea Island being a welcomed destination for many living in the southeast on tour, you will find plenty of residence toward the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.
When building a model that makes sense for the course, it’s important to weight some areas higher than others. Unlike the Houston Open, distance off the tee is not much of an asset here. Rather driving accuracy and strong putting are the sharpest tools you want in your bag. Despite Scheffler being the odds-on favorite, there is another high priced player who I will be focusing on for my DraftKings lineup:
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Cameron Smith ($10,300): Being a Cameron Smith supporter when he’s struggling with his driver, might be one of the toughest things to do. He’s a player who I am excited to roster and watch this week. He is currently the fourth highest player behind Scheffler, Simpson, and Oosthuizen. While I have gone back and forth over wanting to highlight Smith or Simpson, I ultimately have landed on Smith. While Simpson is a great option, I have him ranked fifth in my projections which doesn’t align with him being the second most expensive player. As noted, Smith is often wayward off the tee, somehow even when he is struggling with the driver, he finds himself in the mix come Sunday. Much of that has to do with his putter. He is ranked first in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting at +0.7 per round. Last season he finished 10th in SG: Putting at +0.57. Last season was a successful one for Smith as he finished with one win, two second place finishes, eight top-10s and 14 top 25 finishes. Smith should see success playing off the coast and playing with wind, an advantage he has over some in the field. While he has yet to win in his first two starts to the season, a T9 and T15 is not bad for a guy who has yet to put it all together.
Optimal Lineup (via NBC Sports EDGE DFS Tools)
Webb Simpson ($10,700)
Corey Conners ($9,900)
Charles Howell III ($7,800)
Jason Day ($7,600)
Matthew NeSmith ($6,800)
Corey Conners ($9,900): The NBC Sports EDGE DFS optimal line up last week’s best player was Talor Gooch. While the overall lineup wasn’t a smashing success, the advocacy of Gooch paid dividends if you were able to roster him. There are two players from the optimizer who I feel warrant the “must play” label. One of them being Charles Howell III and the other Conners. In my projections, I have him ranked third behind Oosthuizen and Scheffler. I love everything about Scheffler’s game right now, but as the highest price golfer on the board and still zero PGA Tour wins, I must look elsewhere. Conners probably won’t be the most popular name among DraftKings players this week. He’s not the SEC bred golfer that DFS players will be licking their chops to roster this week, but he is a great player who deserves our attention. Conners is fourth among the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. While he is top-five in GIRs, the worry spot for him will be with his putter. He will need to step it up and knock down a few more putts within 10 feet for him to seriously contend this weekend, but I like his value based on his price.
Adam Scott ($9,000): Adam Scott comes to mind when picturing the perfect golf swing. It’s hard for me to write anything negative about Scott, in fact, I often wish I could model my game after Scott’s. However, he finds himself on my tread lightly list. Scott finds himself toward the bottom half of the field in two very important criteria. When measuring the past 50 rounds among players in the field, Scott ranks 107th in SG: Off-the Tee at -0.2 and his driving accuracy has been below average. While he should be able to make up strokes with his flat stick, the $9,000 price tag is a bit on the high side for his projected points. A couple players I’d much rather roster in the $9,000 price are Kevin Kisner or Keegan Bradley.
Harris English ($10,100): This one almost hurts to write. When I was building my projections for this tournament, I certainly didn’t expect Harris English name to be ranked 39th on my board. Fading a Sea Island resident and former Georgia Bulldog was not something I thought I’d be doing in this event. In every attempt to not use a missed cut at the Shriners Children’s Open and a withdraw at the CJ Cup as my reasons to fade, I began to look deeper at the numbers. Starting with my value-based projections. He is another player whose price value to projected output is much lower than expected. Much like Scott, his SG: Off-the-Tee over his last 50 starts ranks 94th compared to the field. He doesn’t hit greens in regulation at an alarming rate again like Scott his putter will help him a lot this week. If I am rostering a player in the low to mid $10,000 price range, I’d consider Conners, Smith, or Oosthuizen. To reference his WD from the CJ Cup we should proceed with caution any time a golfer is nursing a back injury.
Hudson Swafford ($6,600): We split our two HPE Houston Open sleeper suggestions with Sepp Straka missing the cut and Denny McCarthy finishing T11 with a wonderful 6-under 64 in his final round. Much like McCarthy Hudson Swafford is a low-priced golfer who projects to do well in this tournament. While he hasn’t had the most success around the greens, his SG: Off-the-Tee (+0.4) is 10th best in the field. He hasn’t finished inside the top 20 in his last five tournaments; however, he has made four consecutive cuts. Which is very important when looking for value sleepers in the $6,000 price range. To get serious value out of Swafford, we would like for him to get back to his August form which saw a 37th finish and back-to-back top-20 finishes. For a guy who is projecting as a top-10, his price is something that makes you want a second look.
Denny McCarthy ($7,000): I flirted with a few sleeper picks like Austin Cook, Davis Thompson and Matthew NeSmith before ultimately going back to the well with McCarthy. While McCarthy’s DraftKings price tag is a bit higher than last week, his play is still valued higher than his price. After his T11 finish at the Houston Open, that gives him three top-20 finishes on the season. Last week my biggest concern was for McCarthy was his driving distance. With Sea Coast being on the shorter side, his lack of length shouldn’t be a problem here. He will have to continue to put his tee shot in the fairway and strike his irons well, which he did with much success last week. He was phenomenal in his last round in the Houston Open. He gained 3.04 strokes around the green and 2.89 strokes on the green. Should he carry that momentum into the RSM, his value will once again exceed his price.