Course: Old White TPC
Yardage: 7,287 – Par 70
Overview: Kyle Stanley is your 2017 Quicken Loans champion after he beat out Charles Howell III in a playoff to capture his second career victory on Tour. Stanley’s career has come full circle since his first win at age 24 in 2012. The week prior to that he had blown a 6-shot final round lead which included him triple bogeying the par 5 18th hole. He went on to win the very next week, which had us all declaring him as one of the next up-and-coming youngsters. It’s five years later now and that two-week stretch is still his pinnacle. His career since then has seen ups and downs, mostly downs, including losing his Tour card after the 2014 season. It’s been a windy career for the 29-year old, but he’s having a very respectable season (14th in FedEx cup points) and has become one of the best ball-strikers in golf. With this win, he has gained entry into the British Open, which is his first major appearance since 2013.
The Tour moves on to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic. Last year severe flooding had the entire event cancelled and was not rescheduled, so this will be the first Greenbrier since 2015. As expected we have a less than stellar DFS Golf field of players to choose from. Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson are your only world Top 25s in the field. Following them, you have a lot of guys that are probably the highest they’ve been priced all year. Bill Haas, Webb Simpson, and David Lingmerth all are priced at or over 10K. After that, you have Bubba Watson, Charles Howell III, Danny Lee, Keegan Bradley, Russell Henley, Tony Finau, Kevin Streelman, James Hahn, Sung Kang, J.B. Holmes, and Graham DeLaet making up your $8,500-10K range. A long list of mid-tier players and underachievers make up the rest of your player pool.
Hosted at Old White TPC, the course was restored after the flooding. The layout remains the same, but the contours of the greens were restructured and the greens, fairways, and bunker faces are made of entirely new grass. This is a ball strikers track. The fairways are very wide, which allows the big hitters to grip it and rip it, and knock short irons and wedges at the greens. The best ball-striking stat to live by this week is strokes gained: tee to green. Everyone will be hitting fairways this week so SG: Approach is another category that will separate the field. Old White TPC features three par 3s measuring between 200 and 235 yards, so target players who are efficient on par 3s ranging from 200-225. As always, with a course that is par 70, scoring well on the par 4s is a must. Making pars won’t be enough this week, players must have a high birdie % on the par 4s to contend this week. I mentioned earlier that the contours of the greens were restructured as a result of the flooding. This means that everyone will be playing on greens they’ve never seen before. Green reading abilities will be rewarded heavily since no one can rely on memory. Strokes gained: putting and one-putt % will be more important than usual. Anyone who plays golf knows that there will be growing pains when learning new greens. A knack for learning green speeds and tendencies quickly, will go a long way. So players who putted well last week at Potomac or at Erin Hills will have an advantage on the field.
2012: Ted Potter Jr.
2013: Jonas Blixt
2014: Angel Cabrera
2015: Danny Lee
2016: Tournament cancelled
The Greenbrier Classic Picks
Kevin Kisner ($10,700) If I’m going to spend this kind of money on a guy, I’m going to take someone I can trust. Kisner has been a safe play all year, his last missed cut was the first week of May. His statistics are solid all the way around, too. He’s a tee-to-green monster, gaining 1.4 strokes per round which is 10th on Tour. Then he gains another half stroke per round on the field with the flatstick (25th). He’s no slouch from outside 200 yards either. Kisner is having his best season this year, and should be able to outplay the majority of the competition this week.
Danny Lee ($9,500) Danny Lee has multiple things going for him that will most likely make him a very trendy pick. He won this tournament the last time it was played in 2015, and he’s been playing very good golf for the last month or two. A T-22 last week made it 4 top 25s in his last 6 events, and he’s made all 6 of those cuts. Lee is a great putter (24th in strokes gained), and very good on the approach (50th in strokes gained: approach). His weaknesses are his chipping and gaining strokes off the tee. With extremely wide fairways I think that one of those two weaknesses will be irrelevant. His irons and putter are hot right now so I’ll continue to go with Danny Lee, especially at a course he’s had success at.
J.B. Holmes ($8,500) I’ll be honest that picking J.B. Holmes scares me, especially with how inconsistent he’s been this year. But this is a ball strikers track where the big guys can smash their drivers every hole into wedge range. The U.S Open was clearly a ball-striking course with extremely wide fairways
like this one, and J.B finished 12th there. TPC Sawgrass is also a ball striking type of course and J.B. led the way after three rounds, and I’m going to pretend that 84 on Sunday never happened. J.B. is very good from 200-225 yards (30th) and gains half a shot from tee to green (58th). His course history is solid as well, making the Top 30 in four out of five tries. I expect him to have wedge after wedge into greens this week. If he can stay away from the big numbers he should contend on the weekend.
Gary Woodland ($7,500) Speaking of bombers…Gary Woodland. The one-time college basketball player can bomb it as well. Woodland gains about a stroke per round on the field from tee-to green (25th). He’s 44th in strokes gained: approach, and hits the 17th most greens on Tour. His weakest ability is putting, but he’s actually fairly average at rolling them in. His driving accuracy has been spotty, which is precisely why he’s a good pick this week. The wide fairways should be welcoming to players who’ve struggled with accuracy off the tee. Woodland skipped last week to spend time with his wife and newborn son. He should be ready to get back to bombing drivers and spinning some wedges in tight.
Stewart Cink ($6,900) Stewart Cink is the player who’s glaringly underpriced for this tournament. He should be a very chalky pick this week as a result, but for $6,900 you can’t get a more experienced player who’s also playing well this season. He’s 11th in strokes gained: approach, 32nd in Strokes gained: tee-to-green, and 20th in putting. I’m not sure what the DraftKings experts seem to know that we don’t, but I’ll take my chances on Cink.
Nick Taylor ($6,700) Nick Taylor has consistently been the best pick for this price range. He has now made 8 of his last 9 cuts, including two top 10s and four top 25s. He is 55th in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and he gains shots in all of the ball striking categories. Taylor has been able to have a good amount of success in the weaker fields this season. This may be the weakest field we’ve seen yet. I think he can give you value that’s more on par with a player in the 7-8K range.