October 31, 2023, 3:58 pm
The PGA FedExCupFall returns after a brief one-week hiatus, as the international portion of the schedule continues in Mexico for the World Wide Technology Championship. Previous iterations of this tournament were played at El Camaleon in Riviera Maya, but that is now a course in rotation for the LIV Tour. This year the event shifts to the Tiger Woods designed, El Cardonal Golf Club at Diamonte in Los Cabos. Much will be made this week of this being the first PGA Tour event being played on a Tiger Woods designed course and will probably overshadow the actual event itself.
This tournament is the second of three consecutive international fall events, before wrapping up in Sea Island, GA for the conclusion of the fall events with the RSM Classic. There are still plenty of incentives at stake for players during the fall. If this is your first deep dive into a fall event this year, I have provided a breakdown below of what is at stake.
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 saw mixed results a couple weeks ago. Thankfully, it was a no cut event, allowing Adam Svensson and Keita Nakajima to get all four rounds in, which they certainly wouldn’t have if it was a standard event. While their final positions on the leaderboard were nothing to write home about, they were able to outperform those around them in terms of DraftKings points. It also helped that spend up option (and 12-1 bet), Collin Morikawa pulled away from the field on Sunday and collected his first win on the PGA Tour since 2021.
Moving on now, let’s dig into the World Wide Technology Championship. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter (X) @mlafem10 where I post additional information and am always available for questions.
I’ve already mentioned it once, and I am sure it will be beat to death by the (very limited) coverage we get from this event that El Cardonal marks the first Tour event played on a Tiger Woods designed course.
Located on the Pacific Coast, El Cardonal is a resort course located in Los Cabos. The set up appears as if it will be bombs away for golfers, featuring enormous fairways and no rough. There is also no tree trouble to worry about. The only risk off the tee for golfers is the natural vegetation that can be found throughout the property referred to as “arroyos”. These sandy areas will be a cause for concern if golfers find themselves in one of them off the tee, so I will be making sure to target strong golfers off the tee.
Conditions should be firm and fast, as the area only receives about six inches of rain per year on average.
The fairways and greens are both made up of paspalum grass, which we usually only see at resort-style courses.
The course plays as a typical par-72 course, with four par-5s, four par-3s and ten par-4s. There is some heft to the par-5s, as none of them play under 550 yards, but holes one and eighteen play downhill, making them reachable and very generous scoring opportunities to begin and end rounds. There are two shorter par-4s that golfers will look to take advantage of with the 351-yard fourth hole (which should/could be drivable by a good amount of the field) and the 401-yard twelfth. The par-3s appear to have some teeth to them as well, with only one of them playing under 190 yards (the 154-yard sixteenth).
The greens, as previously mentioned, are of the paspalum variety and are very large in size at 8,300 on average, which ranks second on Tour. They also appear to have quite a variety of shape and undulation to them, which could cause some missteps with the putter for some.
Overall, I do expect scoring to be low given the wide landing areas available to the field, the fact that it is a resort course (which typically play a little easier because they are designed for amateurs and not professionals, and the fact that we have routinely seen courses get shredded in their first appearance on the Tour schedule. It will be an interesting week to see the level of golf played given the field and what adjustments will be made in future years.
No flyover of the course, but here is a brief video of Tiger Woods talking about El Cardonal:
This week sees what has been the norm in the fall events thus far, a few big(ish) names up top and then a fairly steep drop off. Ludvig Aberg, Sahith Theegala and Cam Young headline the field. 132 players will tee it up this week, with the traditional top 65 and ties advancing to the weekend.
As of this writing, Kevin Streelman and Joel Dahmen have withdrawn from the tournament and has been replaced by Cody Gribble and Jonathan Byrd.
Qualifying for this tournament was held on October 16th and the four golfers who played their way in were Peter Kuest, Jeffrey Kang, Hunter Epson and amateur, Billy Davis.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week. Keep in mind that this is the first time we are seeing this course, so this is my best guess at what will be important after breaking down what I have read about the course.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. Direct quotes from Tiger Woods indicated he set up the course to be demanding on having correct angles and reward good iron play.
- Driving Distance- Long course with wide fairways and not a lot in the way of penalties. Golfers will be able to mash driver on every non-par-3 here, which gives elite drivers of the ball a huge edge.
- SG: P (Paspalum)– I do expect a pretty low score for the winner, so rolling the rock on the greens is going to be essential.
- Birdie or Better- You could also correlate this stat with strokes gained on easy courses. The Tour level of golfer should be able to do quite well on this set up, so we want guys who will be making birdies.
- Par 5 Scoring- With four par-5s, it is same to assume that all four of these holes will rank as the easiest, or at least among the easiest holes on the course. Leaving meat on the bone on these holes will not be a recipe for success.
DFS Top Tier Play
Aberg has shown in his very brief career as a professional on the PGA Tour that he has one elite skill, driving the golf ball. Really you could make a case for any of the top three options in Aberg, Cam Young ($10,900) and Sahith Theegala ($10,700), but I am rolling with Aberg because he may well be the best driver of the ball in that grouping. Young has not played since August, while Aberg has been playing some fantastic golf in the fall, finishing no worse than 13th. Aberg also ranks second in the field in birdie or better and fourth in scoring on easy conditions (24 round sample size). There are a lot of unknowns heading into the week since we are seeing a course for the first time, so I will be erring on the side of caution just a bit in the fact that I also believe that Aberg has the safest floor of the top three options this week. Some weeks when the field is weaker like this one is, it may make sense to skip the entire top of the board and drop down, but I fear you are simply giving up too much win equity by not starting your lineup with one of these three options. I assume will come with the most ownership by default since he is the highest owned, but I will be sure to get different elsewhere in my lineup. Given that this is a also a great course set up for Cam Young and people love playing Theegala (myself included) and he is in great form right now, we may even see pretty flat ownership amongst the top three, so I wouldn’t worry about it and just pick your guy and focus on getting the remaining five guys in your lineup right.
Others Considered: Luke List ($9,000), Akshay Bhatia ($9,200)
DFS Mid Tier Play
Thompson is quietly having himself a nice fall swing, having finished no worse than 35th in three attempts. My model is a huge fan of Thompson this week, as he does a lot of things well that I am looking for this week. He ranks seventh in SG: OTT and is certainly not short in terms of driving distance, where he ranks 21st. Using his excellence off the tee, Thompson has been able to set himself up for scoring opportunities and converting on those opportunities, ranking fifth in the field in the birdie or better category. He is also able to parlay his excellent driving into success on par-5s where he ranks second in the field this week. We have also seen Thompson have success on desert-style courses in the past, when just last season he finished second to Jon Rahm at The American Express (no shame in that). While that course rotation isn’t exactly a parallel to what he will see this week, we have seen the upside that he can get into the mix late on the weekend in a PGA Tour event. There are a lot of interesting options in the $8K range this week, so we will have to be sure to monitor the ownership here. I don’t mind playing him if he remains relatively close to those around him, but if he starts to creep up into being double around everyone else in his price range, we may have to consider looking elsewhere.
Others Considered: Taylor Pendrith ($8,000), Chris Gotterup ($8,200)
DFS Value Play
Here is a play that does not seem to be garnering any ownership this week that hopefully can help us separate in tournaments. Schmid fits the exact type of profile of player that I am targeting this week, as he ranks 18th in distance off the tee and 19th in strokes gained off the tee. Schmid also ranks top twenty in both birdie or better and par-5 scoring. He is also in the top third of the field with his irons, so it is not like he doesn’t have the approach play to take advantage of his position off the tee (has actually gained on approach in three straight PGA Tour events). Schmid is also rounding into form quite nicely after a slow start to the fall with a 26th in Las Vegas for the Shriners Children’s Open and a second in his last outing in Europe at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, in which he had the 54-hole lead, but could not hang on come Sunday. If we are also going with West Coast easy course comps of The American Express as we did for Thompson, Schmid was also in that tournament and finished sixth. Schmid is also normally a very reliable putter, but has lost strokes in three straight on the PGA Tour, so if that can regress back to the norm, Schmid could score enough to really pay off this price tag.
Others Considered: Peter Kuest ($7,300), Tyler Duncan ($7,200)
Akshay Bhatia +3500 (.6U FD)
Cameron Champ +5000 (.4U FD)
Taylor Pendrith +5000 (.4U FD)
Davis Thompson +5000 (.4U)
Peter Kuest +9000 (.2U FD)
Position Player Name DK Salary G Ludvig Aberg $11,200 G Davis Thompson $8,300 G Matti Schmid $7,200 G G G REMAINING BUDGET REMAINING BUDGET: $23,300 FOR 3 GOLFERS