NORTHERN TRUST OPEN FEB. 19-22
This week the tour heads to sunny Los Angeles for the Northern Trust Open. The course for the NTO is Riviera, one of the oldest and most popular tracks on tour and the field this week should be evidence of that. Riviera is a par 71 old-style golf course that plays decently long at over 7300 yards. Typically, this has been a shot-makers course with some skinny fairways and small greens and one that has typically rewarded great ball strikers.
This course can play tough and really has favored players who have come into the event in good form. The main stat I looked at this week was ball-striking, but driving distance is also something to consider as players like Bill Haas and Dustin Johnson have had success here. Finally, good recent play leading into the event is a stat I’ve weighted highly as the course is not an easy one and good form seems a necessity here for a good result.
For scoring purposes, our goal remains the same. DraftKings lineups features 6 player rosters and those who get all 6 players through all four rounds will have a large advantage over the field. I have some strong value plays this week under 7500 with a mix of good ball strikers and players coming into the event in great form.
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DraftKings PGA Tiered Picks
Top Shelf (over 10k)
Jimmy Walker (12,300): Walker makes this list for two reasons. First he has had a massive price drop after his paltry top 25 finish last week, and second, he absolutely loves Riviera and has played very well here in the past. Walker had two top 5 finishes at the NTO before his breakout season last year and in all his appearances since 2009 has failed to miss the cut. I think there’s a good chance Walker atones for his slight “off” week at Pebble with a huge week at Riviera.
Hideki Matsuyama (10,300): Matsuyama is someone I always have on my radar. He’s quite simply one of the most talented young players in the game right now and he has some great stats that support you rostering him this week. Hideki is currently ranked second overall in ball striking thus far on the year and has really had some close calls recently with two second place finishes in the past month or so. I really like the course setup for him this week and think he’s actually priced a little too low for his ability.
2nd Tier (8k-9900)
Harris English (9000): English is coming off a tough playoff loss in his last event. What is so encouraging about the loss though is the fact that English played great tee to green in the event and has now put together a great start to the season. English finished tenth at the NTO last year and he sets up very well for the course. He’s a great ball striker who is currently ranked 20th for the year in that category and hits it nearly as long as last year’s winner, Bubba Watson.
Webb Simpson (8900): Webb Simpson has had a fantastic start to the 2015 calendar year. He’s placed within the top 20 at both events he’s played and is hitting it great. Simpson currently leads the tour in ball striking on the young season and has looked ready to climb back into the winner’s circle soon. Simpson finished 6th at this event last year and, given his love for older-styled golf courses, I feel like he may improve on that position this year.
J.B. Holmes (8,800): Holmes had a terrific, albeit bumpy, week at Pebble Beach. Holmes’ form has been fantastic as of late and he now comes to a course in Riviera where has posted some of his best results in years past. While he’s never won here, Holmes has recorded numerous top 5 finishes. Holmes has always been a streaky player and before he won last year he recorded a string of top ten finishes before actually getting into the winner’s circle. Given his recent streak of good play, picking Holmes for your teams seems like a no-brainer if you can fit him in at his current price.
Graham DeLaet (8200): DeLaet is another player who just seems perfectly suited for Riviera. DeLaet finished last season as the 2nd best ball-striker on tour and comes into the event rounding into form. He landed a top ten three weeks ago in Phoenix then missed a start due to the flu. He should be back at 100% this week and he has been consistent at this event having made the cut in all three of his starts here. DeLaet is another player whose price went down this week, and I suggest you take advantage.
3rd Tier (6k to 7900)
Robert Streb (7400): Robert Streb is playing some unbelievable golf lately. He’s already cracked off a win this season and has numerous top ten’s to go along with it. Streb is a ridiculously good striker of the ball who hits it long off the tee to boot. He really fits the mold of people who have had success at Riviera in the past and I can think of no reason why he would struggle here. I really like Streb this week on Draftkings as I think he’s probably $1000 or so underpriced.
Kevin Chappell (7200): Chappell is another great ball striker who has put together some decent performances as of late. Chappell was in contention at Pebble before slipping slightly in the final round. He ranked 11th in ball striking last year on tour and has recorded two top 30 finishes at Riviera in his past three visits. Given the way he’s been playing there’s a good chance Chappell will improve on those finishes this week.
Alex Prugh (6800): Prugh may not be a well-known name amoung DFS players but if he keeps up his recent string of good play he may soon become one. Prugh ranks 2nd this year in ball striking and has now recorded back to back top ten’s in his last two starts. Prugh seems set up for another good week as he has played at Riviera once before and ended up finishing tenth. He now gets to play there again playing possibly the best golf of his life. A decent chance for another top ten seems likely. I really like him for his reduced price as he’s clearly playing better than many players priced above him.
Bottom Feeders (6k and under)
William McGirt (5800): McGirt actually led this event for most of last year but faded in the final round once the pressure started. McGirt is a great ball striker who is also known for his accuracy off the tee. He’s had his best success at older-styled golf courses like Hilton Head and Riviera and should have a great chance of making the cut this week. He looks to be in good form after a nice showing in Pebble and offers some upside at his price.
Colt Knost (5000): Knost is a player I have wanting to write-up for some time now. He has made his last 4 cuts on tour and seems to be on a bit of a role. Knost is by no means a big hitter but he is a very accurate driver and iron player when he is on. That should serve him well this week as Riviera does have some tight fairways and small greens. I like Knost’s form coming into this event and think he has a great chance of making the cut; that alone would be a great achievement for his price this week.
Andrew Svoboda (4700): Svoboda is another player who is on a nice stretch of play who is priced very low this week. Svoboda ranked 26th in ball striking in 2014 and by all means should have the type of game to succeed at Riviera. He finished in the top ten at another old-styled, shot-maker’s course at Sea Island (in the McGladry classic) and I like his chances to make the cut and possibly even contend for a top twenty position this week. He’s a great cheap play to pair with your favorite stud player.
This week we return to a regular tour format where the cut will be after two rounds and all the players will be on the same course every day. Really concentrate on those players who have flashed some form already in the young season as Riviera has not been kind to those who can’t handle some difficult shot-making. There’s some good value in the middle and upper-middle tiers this week so don’t be afraid to fade some of those higher picks.