This week the tour stays in the state of Florida and heads to Trump National in Miami for the WGC Cadillac Championship. The field this week is spectacular as it features all 50 of the top 50 players in the world. The course this elite field will be facing was newly redesigned in 2014 and showed quickly that it is no pushover. Last year the winning score was registered at 4 under par by Patrick Reed, and only 4 players total finished at an under par score for the week. This course is long (plays over 7500 yards) has over 20 water hazards (on 18 holes) and is wind exposed in several areas. If the weather gets even a little rough the players will likely be in for a 4 day suffer-fest once again.
Given that the course was newly designed prior to last year I am throwing all results from prior to 2014 out the window. Additionally, given last year’s results and the overall lengthening of the course we can see that players who rank highly in driving distance should have an advantage. Last year’s winner, Reed, ranked 3rd overall in that category for the week last year. Additionally, when playing a tough course where par is often a great result, scrambling can be very important as players will need to avoid the bigger scores as much as possible. Some shorter hitters—like Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell—placed well here last year even with their lack of length
This week Draftkings has really upped the ante once again with a 300k guarantee $300 buy-in as well as a 150k guarantee $20 buy-in as part of their micro-million main event series. It’s a great time to be a golf fan. Be sure to check out some of the other strategy articles on this site before you put together your fantasy teams for the week.
DraftKings Tiered Picks
Top Shelf (10k and over)
Rory McIlroy (15300): I really think that Rory might end up being the most pivotal play this week for gpp purposes. He’s coming off an obviously horrid week at the Honda Classic and now comes to a place where he hasn’t had much success in his career. He’s also priced nearly the same as last week and fantasy players likely will be much less willing to roster him at his high price again. However, even with all these factors in play, he is still the best player in the game who is essentially unbeatable when his game is on. As a fantasy player choosing the right time to use star players is often what separates us from the pack in a given week. I think Rory makes for a great semi-contrarian play this week and one you should consider for at least some of your gpp lineups.
Dustin Johnson (11300): My other high priced pick is coming off an even worse performance. Last week was Dustin Johnson’s fourth week in a row playing after his return, and quite frankly it showed as he looked tired and disinterested. However, if you take last week out of the equation Johnson has actually played some extremely high quality golf since his return. He placed T4 at Pebble Beach and then lost in a playoff at Riviera after James Hahn sunk two miraculous putts. Johnson finished 4th at this event last year but comes here now as a new father, and with new focus and perspective. As one of the longest hitters on tour the course suits Johnson to a tee and I expect him to challenge here once again for the win.
Second Tier (8k to 9900)
Phil Mickelson (9000): The last year or so has been frustrating to watch for most Mickelson fans as he really hasn’t challenged in any events. Phil seems to be hitting the ball fine, but recently his putting has started to let him down. He putted well for three rounds last week and ended up being in contention (but then dropped to 17th after a horrid final round putting performance). Mickelson does seem to be in a much more positive mood after this weekend, then he was a few weeks ago, and given his absurd talent this is perhaps more important than anything. Mickelson has performed well at this event (he’s a past winner) and typically relishes tough challenges. Given the toughness of the course there’s no doubting that we will get a good assessment of Phil’s game from his performance this week. I personally think he is up for the challenge and might make for a great fantasy play.
Matt Kuchar (8700): Kuchar has really played some fantastically solid golf to start his season. He hasn’t played much in the past month but is already ranked 1st on tour in scrambling, which shows how good his short game has been. Kuchar does not have the length many of the other’s player I am recommending do but his 13th here last year proved he can still perform on this course. I think Kuchar will go overlooked by many people this week and at his very much reduced price I think you should take advantage. Kuchar usually steps up and performs well in the biggest events and I can’t see this week being any different. Use him in your lineups this week and sleep soundly.
Brooks Koepka (8300): Koepka will be taking on Doral for the first time as a professional this week, but that will not stop me from recommending him. Like McIlroy and Johnson, Koepka is one of the biggest hitters on tour right now and should be able to handle the lengthy course that awaits the players. Additionally, Koepka is a Florida resident and is obviously familiar with the weather and winds of this area. Last week at the Honda, Koepka had one of the best rounds of the tournament as he shot 6 under in round 2 which allowed him to make the weekend. Koepka’s game looks to be in good shape and I think he can challenge some of the top players this week for the outright win if things go his way. For his price I think he makes for a great fantasy play.
Third Tier (6k to 7900)
Keegan Bradley (7900): Bradley is another player I am giving a pass to after his poor play at the Honda Classic. Bradley typically bounces back very well from missed cuts and tends to really thrive in tougher fields. He’s another long hitter who shouldn’t find the added length here too intimidating. Bradley did not play great in this tournament last year but it’s hardly a good idea to write someone off based on one poor performance. Before the Honda Bradley was playing some great golf and posted a 4th place finish at Riviera. I think it’s much more likely we see Bradley bounce back with a big performance this week then it is we see another fantasy dud. He’s one of my favorite plays under 8k this week.
Paul Casey (7900): Casey is one player I can’t accuse of playing poorly last week. His last two weeks have resulted in a T2 and T3 and he’s come agonizingly close to capturing a victory. Casey is former number 3 player in the world who has recently re-found his world class form. He’s a long hitter who in theory should also not be daunted by the challenges that await him this weekend. Last week at the Honda he ranked first in Greens in Regulation, always a good sign that someone is hitting the ball extremely well. Even with the super-competitive field he faces this week, I think Casey could possibly break through at this tournament and I wouldn’t hesitate to use him in your lineups.
Jason Dufner (7000): Dufner has shown that he can really handle the newly designed course, as evidenced by his top ten finish at this event last season. He may not have the requisite long driving ability that some of the players do but he can really hit his irons well, and approach shots this week will be just as critical as a player’s drives. More importantly, Dufner’s level-headedness really seems to favor him at these events and he often excels in tough conditions. He was able to survive the cut last week and his short game looked to be in good display. I think Dufner is priced pretty low for his overall abilities and record in these big events. He’s a former PGA champion who knows how to perform well when it matters, I expect him to be a great value play for fantasy this week.
Shame Lowry (6300): Lowry is a true Irishman who fits the bill of a big hitter and is someone who should have no problem with the length of the course. Lowry has actually played more in North America as of late and has posted some very solid results, including a recent top ten at the very difficult Torrey Pines. The main reason I like Lowry this week though is his price as I think he offers fantastic value and possible top ten upside. He’s a great player to pair with one of the top-tiered choices and I think he could surprise this week and post a fantastic result.
Bottom Feeders (under 6k)
Joost Luiten (5700): Luiten is another European player (Dutch) who typically shows up in North America for the larger events. Luiten certainly has decent length off the tee and should be able to handle the rigours of this course. He finished in the top 15 of this event last year and has had a fantastic lead-up to this year’s event by posting a T11 finish at the Honda Classic. He seems to love the Florida weather and is someone I would not dissuade anyone from using this week. His price alone makes him almost impossible to ignore as anything above a top 30 finish will be great value.
Stephen Gallacher (5700): Gallacher is a Scotsman who has had a few very decent results in the past couple years—including making the recent European Ryder Cup team. He landed a top ten here last year and proved he can handle the demanding nature of this course. Gallacher has decent length off the tee and when he’s on is a great ball striker. Additionally, as a Scotsman he will be well adjusted to playing in any rainy or windy conditions the players may face. Given his recent form and history at this event I think there’s a great chance Gallacher can land you a finish inside the top 25. For his price this week that would make him a major coup.
Morgan Hoffmann (5600): I think Hoffmann makes for a very interesting especially considering his price. Most will look at his lack of history at this event—and fact he withdrew after round 1 last week—and simply brush him aside. But the truth is he does have the type of game to excel on a course like Doral. Hoffmann gained entry into the field this week through his strong play in the Fed-ex playoffs last season where he showed his prowess in some very strong fields. He also is a long hitter who looked great two weeks ago when he placed inside the top 25 at the very tough Riviera. I think Hoffmann could surprise and hang around the top of the leaderboard this week, and if so might make for one of the best value plays in the entire field.
Given that there is no cut this week you can focus your research squarely on final results and forget about needing your players to make the weekend. However, remember that the best fantasy teams will still likely be balanced enough to have most of their players within the top twenty or top 15 of the entire tournament. Therefore look for plays who won’t just get you four rounds, but will also get you a top final result… and score you a nice payday.