October 11, 2023, 2:25 pm
The PGA FedExCupFall returns after what ended up being an exciting finish on Sunday. Ben Griffin held the lead almost all weekend in search of his fir PGA Tour victory, but a shaky back nine and a bogey on the 18th opened the door for a five-man playoff. Ludvig Aberg, Scott Stallings, Ben Griffin, Henrik Norlander all came up just short as veteran Luke List bombed a long putt on the first playoff hole to capture his second PGA Tour victory (which also came in a playoff). As a reminder, the fall events are a somewhat continuation of this past season. For those that missed the Fortinet Championship, I have provided a breakdown of what is at stake for these fall events below.
FedExCup points are still going to be accrued for those in the field that did not finish inside the top 50 of this past season’s standings. It is a little bit of a mess how they are doing this but here is my best attempt at summarizing everything:
- Those who finished inside the top-50 are qualified for Signature Events next season and can compete in the FedExCupFall events, but only for money and not accrue and FedExCup points.
- Those who finished 51-70 are guaranteed their Tour eligibility, but can continue to earn points to make themselves eligible for the first two Signature Events (after the Sentry Tournament of Champions).
- Those who finished the season at 71 and beyond are competing to be inside the top-125 by the end of the FedExCupFall and receive exemption for all full-field events and the PLAYERS Championship in 2024.
- All winners of events during the FedExCupFall series will receive invites to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, PLAYERS Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship (if not already qualified).
The DraftKings plays were a great core last week, even with a disappointing effort from our top priced option Eric Cole (T-35th). Our mid tier and value plays came up big with Tom Hoge finishing T-13 and Scott Stallings at under 5% ownership finishing tied for second and being a part of the playoff to win. The bets left a lot to be desired, as there were no sweats on the victory. Let’s keep the momentum running through the fall for this week.
The fields will be weak all fall, but there is still money to be made, so let’s dive in as we prepare for the Shriners Children’s Open.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter (X) @mlafem10 where I post additional information and am always available for questions.
Sin City plays host this week to the PGA Tour as golfers will be teeing it up at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Playing as a par-71 at 7,255 yards, TPC Summerlin ranked as the 6th easiest course on tour last season. While there are some distinct differences between CC of Jackson and TPC Summerlin, the general theme of a “birdie fest” will overlap, as will a lot of the same key stats we will be looking at.
Only three par-5s in play this week and, you guessed it, they are three of the four easiest holes on the course with all of them yielding a birdie of at least 40%. We even see a pretty high eagle rate on the 560-yard 16th hole which boasts and eagle rate nearly 5%. On the flipside, the four par-3s rank as three of the four toughest holes on the course with all of them except the 168-yard 14th averaging a score over par. The 196-yard 17th sees not only the fourth highest bogey rate on the course, but the second highest double bogey rate. This adds to the excitement of the closing stretch of TPC Summerlin, with 15 & 16 being two of the three easiest holes on the course, and 18 playing slightly under par as well.
The par-4s are predominately pretty short by PGA Tour standards with once again six of them playing between 400-450 yards and one of them playing between 350-400 yards and two of them playing under 400 yards. By far the hardest hole on the course is the 492-yard 3rd, which is host to the highest bogey and double bogey rate the golfers will face during their rounds.
Off the tee will once again be pretty driver heavy this week. Not only is there a lack of water hazards, generously wide fairways and lack of rough that would give pause, we get the added element of elevation. TPC Summerlin has the highest elevation of any course on Tour, which as you can imagine, leads to an increased average driving distance. Golfers will still want to make sure they find the fairways to maximize the spin they can put on the ball, to give themselves the best chance for their scoring opportunities, which there will be plenty of.
Wedges will be coming into play on approach shots, as nearly 35% of second shots come from 100-150 yards out. This courses often sees about Tour average distribution of shots from the 150-175 yardage range, but well below average in the 175–200-yard range.
After a brief return to Bermuda grass greens (the rough here is Bermuda grass) we get Bentgrass greens this week instead of the traditional west coast Poa. The green speeds are around average with a stimpmeter in the 11.5-12 range. Golfers will want to make sure to hit the greens at TPC Summerlin (which they do at a well above average rate here), because if they don’t, scrambling percentage is below Tour average here and can lead to costly bogeys in a birdie heavy environment.
Here is a link to a flyover of the course:
Given the FedExCupFall spot on the calendar for this event, it was able to attract some bigger names, but nothing overly crazy. We get another looking of the young European phenom in Ludvig Aberg, as well as fall season debuts from Si Woo Kim, J.T. Poston and defending champion, Tom Kim. This week also sees the appearance of LPGA Tour superstar Lexi Thompson teeing off as a sponsor’s exemption.
As of this writing, we have seen a withdraw from Trey Mullinax, Brandon Matthews and Brice Garnett. Dylan Wu, Nicholas Lindheim and Brian Stuard are your replacements added to the field.
Andrew Novak, Isaiah Salinda and Vijay Srinivasan are your Monday qualifiers for the week. This week is a 132-player event with the standard top 65 and ties cut after Friday.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. Winners have on average picked up over one stroke per round on approach at TPC Summerlin.
- Birdie or Better %– Scoring is going to be a theme throughout this write up. We want golfers who are making birdies and not going through the motions with pars. That will not cut it this week with the average winning score coming in the 20 under range.
- SG: P (Average Bentgrass)– A hot putter has been an essential ingredient for strong performances here. Targeting typically strong putters in these conditions isn’t a bad idea.
- Par 5 Scoring- In a potential birdie fest/low scoring environment, we want our golfers to get after the par-5s, especially when the three on the course are the three of the four most gettable.
- SG: Total (Easy Courses)- Some golfers have games that are better suited for grind it out, U.S. Open style of play. If I haven’t made myself clear about the importance of scoring yet, this will hopefully drive it home. I am also looking at DraftKings points over the past 24 rounds.
DFS Top Tier Play
Clicking J.T. Poston for $10,000 feels gross, because it is, but such is life when playing PGA DFS in the fall (and some weaker events on the regular schedule as well). When we last saw Poston, he was finishing his season at the BMW Champions, failing to advance to the Tour Championship. That final stretch run to his season included six top 25 finishes in seven tournaments, with four of those seeing Poston finishing inside the top 10 (best finish was a T2 at the 3M Open). Granted, that was a couple months ago now, but there is still a ton to like about Poston this week. J.T. is not afraid of making his move in weaker field tournaments, actually, it is where he has thrived in his career. The 2022 John Deere Classic and the 2019 Wyndham Championship are Poston’s victories on Tour, which were easier courses with weaker fields. In addition to that, Poston doesn’t rank outside the top 40 of any of the key stats that I am looking at this week. Off the tee is certainly the biggest hole in Poston’s game, but that can be somewhat neutralized on this course, where his elite iron play (15th over past 24 rounds) and excellent putting (13th on average speed Bentgrass greens). You are not getting an ownership discount with Poston, but he provides salary relief from the even more chalk Aberg ($11,000) and Tom Kim ($10,900) plays, with similar winning upside.
Others Considered: Adam Schenk ($9,200), Ludvig Aberg ($11,000)
DFS Mid Tier Play
Per DataGolf, Spaun is tied for 6th in odds to winning the tournament, but is the 12th most expensive golfer on DraftKings. Now that doesn’t always translate, but I think he are getting a discounted price for Spaun. I normally like to spend a little less than this on my mid tier play, but given the savings we get by starting our lineup with Poston, I have no problem going to Spaun as my second man in. Why am I so high on Spaun this week? Spaun has three top 15 finishes in six outings at TPC Summerlin and is coming off of an 11th at the Fortinet a few weeks ago. Spaun is also one of the best in the field at attacking easier courses and more specifically, rates out really well on easy par-4s (which there are an abundance of this week). Off the tee is no worries for Spaun, so we don’t have to worry about him going wild and putting himself out of position. Once in position, Spaun is usually dialed in with his approaches and is one of the best in the field in GIR (Greens in Regulation) Gained on soft greens (Ranks 16th), which these tend to be at TPC Summerlin. The concern with Spaun is the putter, but the misses are usually for birdie and not for par as Spaun is one of the best at 3 putt avoidance in the field on these green types. Yes, we want birdie makers, and while that is weighted heavily this week, it can be a noisy stat at times. I can trust that Spaun isn’t going to blow up and put himself in a position where a few blow-up holes knock him out of the tournament all together. I do think Adam Schenk at $9,200 slightly above him and Tom Hoge ($8,700) will soak up a good amount of the ownership in his range, gaining some leverage on the field. Spaun won’t be totally unowned, but at a number that I am comfortable with, especially when paired with J.T. Poston.
Others Considered: Doug Ghim ($7,800), Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,000)
DFS Value Play
Recent form can be tough to gauge in the fall events, with a lot of the golfers having played sparingly over the past couple of months, but I think we can declare Merritt “in form” at the moment. Merritt comes in with two top 10 finishes in the fall events, having gained strokes with the putter in each of those events, as well as some solid around the green play. We will see how sticky that continues to be, but there are a lot of things that are working in Merritt’s favor this week. Merritt is one of the best at finding the fairway and should be able to utilize his position off the tee to put himself in scoring position on this easy course set up. Speaking of easy, Merritt plays his best when it is easy scoring conditions (the only scoring conditions where he positively gains strokes overall) and ranks 36th in SG: Total over the past 24 rounds in easier conditions. Merritt also ranks 8th in the field over the last 24 in SG: T2G (Tee to Green), which encapsulates off the tee and iron play in one metric. There are more popular plays down in this range in Nick Taylor ($7,100) who is mispriced, Sam Ryder ($7,400), last week’s runner up in Ben Griffin ($7,500) and Mathew NeSmith ($7,100) who has excellent course history. I can see Merritt getting overlooked in this spot and giving us great leverage in our lineups with what will hopefully be another strong fall performance.
Others Considered: Nick Taylor ($7,100), Webb Simpson ($7,000)
Si Woo Kim +2800 (.8U-FD)
J.T. Poston +3500 (.6U-DK)
Austin Eckroat +7500 (.4U-FD)
Troy Merritt +11000 (.2U-DK)
Position Player Name DK Salary G J.T. Poston $10,000 G J.J. Spaun $8,900 G Troy Merritt $7,000 G G G REMAINING BUDGET $24,100 for 3 golfers