Fantasy Golf Picks: The Greenbrier Classic Sleepers & Strategy
The Greenbrier Classic
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The Greenbrier Classic Preview
With a dearth of options in the Yahoo! A-List, expect the majority of Fantasy rosters to include last week’s playoff victor Bubba Watson. Makes sense. Bubba’s the highest ranked player in the field, owns a home on the course, and enters fresh off a win; it’s the perfect troika of high ownership numbers. Yet, Watson’s been a mixed bag coming off his previous seven career wins…
2010 Travelers | MC at John Deere two weeks later
2011 Farmers | T29 at Waste Management following week
2011 Zurich | T48 at Wells Fargo following week
2012 Masters | T18 at Zurich three weeks later
2014 Northern Trust | T9 at Match Play following week
2014 Masters | T48 at THE PLAYERS four weeks later
2014 HSBC | T10 at Tourney of Champions nine weeks later (Limited field; only 34 players)
Solid results, certainly, but hardly Fantasy excellence. It’s tough to repeat on Tour, even more so in back-to-back weeks. The feat hasn’t been accomplished since Rory McIlroy did it last season at the Bridgestone and PGA Championship. Before that, it was Rory again at the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championship in 2012. Tiger Woods pulled off the rare back-to-back lapping the field at the Buick and Bridgestone in 2009. Remember when Tiger used to play consecutive weeks? It was quite a time to be alive. Michael Jackson was still living... until he wasn’t.
Fading Watson at all costs would be silly, he’s clearly shown a propensity to stick around for the weekend following a victory, but I do see more value pivoting off Bubba and taking two similarly skilled, lesser owned options. It’s going to look foolish come Sunday if Bubba’s hoisting another trophy; I just don’t believe he’s in the same class as Rory or vintage Tiger. I doubt he does either. If Bubba tanks, you basically have a free roll on Fantasy points all weekend.
It’s a worthy gamble.
The Greenbrier Classic Key Stats
Par 3 Efficiency 200-225 Yards
Par 70 Adjusted Scoring
Birdie or Better Percentage
Has there ever been a more apt name for a golf course than The Old White TPC? Doubtful. If you’re a big course history researcher, know that the layout was transformed after the inaugural Greenbrier in 2010, likely to prevent Stuart Appleby from ever firing 59 again. So if you’re going to track results from previous seasons, remember, start in 2011.
For the course itself, it’s a fairly simple layout. While no single skill set leaps off the page as a predictive metric, the Greenbrier’s massive fairways afford deeper hitters an opportunity to hit a lot wedges into the greens. TPC Old White has the easiest fairways to hit on the schedule and sports the shortest proximity to the hole of any course not played during the swing season. If you’re looking for comparable results and field strength, check out the Frys.com leaderboard, you’ll see a lot of common names.
Players will need to give themselves as many birdie chances as possible over the four rounds. Duh. The winning score has landed in the -13 to -16 each of the last three years, so it’s imperative to fire all four rounds in the 60s with the potential to go super low two of those days. Generally speaking, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green is the premier predictive stat every week, but based on past history, it’s even more prevalent at TPC Old White. So a combination of SG: T2G and Birdie or Better Percentage will prove to be the most telling numbers at the Greenbrier. With scoring expected in the mid-to-high 260s, targeting a few recent Web.com Tour grads may not be the worst idea; victory at TPC Old White will akin to winning those birdie fests.
The Greenbrier Classic Picks
J.B. Holmes & Webb Simpson - The A-List comes down to Bubba, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes and Webb Simpson… sorry Tiger; and I’ll continue to back JB until I run out of starts. Holmes has traded T10 finishes with underwhelming showings dating back to February, and seems primed for another breakthrough in West Virginia. The bomber sits 11th in SG: T2G, sixth in birdie average and eighth in birdie or better conversion rate. Plus, his extreme distance will grant him plenty of approaches from his best range (13th; 50-125 yards) and the ability to attack the lengthy Par 5 12th. An average nine eagles have been made on the 568 yarder the past two years, expect JB to be one of the few to actually get a look for three. Webb is a nice blend of; stats, course history and recent form. His putting deficiencies are well documented (172nd in SG: Putt), but the remainder of his game is on point, sitting eighth in SG:T2G, 17th from the sand, 18th in ball striking and 33rd in birdie or better percentage. All good news. Tack on his Par 3 prowess, 19th in Par 3 birdies or better and 11th from the key distance (200-225 yards), and the blueprint is in place for his third T10 finish in the past four years.
Yahoo! A-List Alternates: Bubba Watson & Bill Haas
Graham DeLaet & Kevin Kisner - Merely looking at full season’s stats can be misleading. It’s definitely helpful, no doubt, but some players set themselves up nicely based on early season play, while others are forced to dig themselves out of a pit - DIG UP STUPID!!! Graham DeLaet’s been doing some serious shoveling lately. The Canadian has seen a metric rise in his SG: T2G, ball striking and Birdie average numbers the past month, which coincides with his recent run of consistency. After starting the season with injuries issues and a run of five missed cuts and two withdrawals in his first 13 events, DeLaet’s now played five straight weekends, slowly inching up the leaderboard, culminating with a solo fourth at the Travelers. He posted all four rounds in the 60s last week, and has breached 70 in 12 of his last 15 rounds. Hopefully, Kevin Kisner’s brutal track record at this event (three MCs in three starts) will keep everyone off his scent. Kisner is exponentially better this season and any other in his career, so I'm comfortable believing his recent play is a much better predictor than anything he’s done over the past few seasons, when he was battling to keep his Tour card. Kisner’s made 11 of his last 12 cuts, and since an expedite exit out of Houston in early April, he hasn’t finished any worse than T38 (Wells Fargo) with five T15s and a pair of playoff losses. While he has notably less distance than most of my selections (120th in Driving Distance), Kisner still checks out tee-to-green (40th), as a ball striker (41st) and maybe most importantly, with the proximity at TPC Old White being so short, his 11th ranked putting inside 10-feet will lead to a bounty of birdies.
Patrick Rodgers & Paul Casey - Keep riding the heater with Paul Casey in a weak field. Don’t over think it. He’s here for safety. I mentioned those Web.com Tour guys could be live, so why not take one that can go SUPER low at a moment’s notice. Patrick Rodgers hasn’t quite met expectations following his solo second at the Wells Fargo, but has rebounded after an MDF and MC with there straight T40 finishes. He’s top five in distance in this field and shown a penchant to card some very low rounds. If he can keep it on the short grass more often than usual this week, expect Rodgers to flirt with the low 60s a couple of days. Can he keep it together for all four rounds? Probably not. However, if you can catch his HOT FIYA round at the right moment, it’ll be a giant scoring day your roster.
Yahoo! B-List Alternates: Chris Stroud George McNeill, Cameron Tringale & Daniel Berger
Brendon Todd & Keegan Bradley - It’s almost impossible to catch Keegan Bradley on the right week. However, with T25 ranks in SG:T2G, distance, total driving, ball striking, putting 20-25’, bounce back percentage and Par 3 efficiency 200-225 yards, he sets up rather well for TPC Old White. And against a weak field, a dash of pedigree isn’t the worst thing to have on your squad. Since Keegan is a timebomb, I’ll round out my roster with some safety. Brendon Todd sits top five in the field from the key Par 3 range, SG: Putting, sand saves and driving accuracy. Like Kisner, his lack of distance could be problematic, but he’s still managed to gain the 43rd most strokes tee-to-green, so, what me worry? Todd should grind out the cut and make a move up the leaderboard on the weekend with his round-to-round consistency.
Yahoo! C-List Alternates: Tony Finau & Scott Brown
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