WGC Mexico Recap
There wasn’t too much drama this past weekend in Mexico City. Dustin Johnson defeated Rory McIlroy by 5 strokes to win the WGC Mexico. Johnson took the lead after round 2 and never looked back. McIlroy was the only one within striking distance on the weekend, but Johnson never gave him an opening. It was DJ’s 20th PGA Tour win and his 6th WGC title. Johnson entered the tournament as one of the top favorites at odds of 10 to 1.
Honda Classic Preview
The PGA Tour’s Florida swing starts this week in Palm Beach Gardens. The Honda Classic will be played at PGA National just a few miles off the eastern coast. There will be 144 players teeing it up, and the standard cut rules apply after the 2nd round. The field this week is not nearly as strong as the past couple weeks, with only 3 of the top 20 ranked players in action.
Justin Thomas is the defending champion. He finished at 8 under and defeated Luke List in a playoff last year. Rickie Fowler won in 2017 at -12 and Adam Scott won in 2016 at -9. The winning score has been single digits under par in 9 of the 12 years that the tournament has been held at PGA National. Obviously in the past few years, very strong players have won the event. However, that hasn’t always been the case, with players such as Mark Wilson and Michael Thompson (chalk week!) having won in the past 12 years.
Course details for PGA National are shown below, with the difficulty ranking based on the 2018 tour season.
· Par 70
· 7,125 yards
· Bermuda greens
· 2nd most difficult (out of 51)
This course is perennially one of the most difficult on tour. As indicated above, last year it was the 2nd most difficult course, ranking behind only the US Open. The cut was +6 last year! It played a bit easier in 2017 and ranked 16th, but in 2016 it ranked 5th most difficult. There is a lot of water and lots of high numbers to be made at PGA National. Historically, wind has played a major factor in this event, leading to the higher scores. The early forecast this week, though, does not include too much wind. Winds are projected to be in the 5-10 mph range all week at this point. If that is the case, the course likely won’t play quite as difficult as it did last year, although it still won’t be easy. Inevitably you will have rostered a player that is +5 midway through the first round. Be prepared!
PGA National is a par 70 and not tremendously long. That combined with the amount of trouble scattered around the course means clubbing down off the tee will be a common theme. Analyzing the data from past years, there isn’t necessarily a clear skill set that thrives here. The number of double bogeys lurking on the course tends to increase volatility in results and make the event hard to predict. In generally, players will need to keep the ball out of the water and be effective in managing the many bunkers spread across the course. Rain is anticipated on Tuesday night and Wednesday night, which means the course could be soft over the first couple days. When choosing players this week, it’s worth looking at players that have historically performed well in the state of Florida and enjoy the Bermuda grass.
Some players to consider for your lineups: (May update and add more after ownership projections are released Wednesday!)
Jason Kokrak - $7,300 DK / $9,400 FD
This is going to be a tough course so I'm looking hard at proximity shots for my golfers. Most of our rankings are for the players last 36 rounds and I'm looking at proximity numbers of 150-175, 175-200 and 200+ which make up the 3 majority of shots. He ranks a nice 11th, 21st and 1st in those proximity numbers. He does not rank well in the Par 5's at 88th and 96th but the Par 4's he is a nice 1st and 7th. He has 2 MC at this course a couple years ago. His form is good with him scoring 71, 80, 89.5 and 107.5 DK points in his 4 starts in 2019. He is cheap enough to make a run on this course.
Vaughn Taylor - $6,700 DK / $8,400 FD
He comes in at 9th in our custom model for the course and 6th in overall stat rankings on our PGA Cheatsheet. He is coming off a 9th place finish at the Genesis Open, 71st at AT&T, a missed cut at the Phoenix Open and then a 7th at the Career Builder. In those contest he has also put up 12.7x value, 10.5x value, 4.1x value on the missed cut and 22.3x value. Proximity numbers are solid at 20th, 16th and 13th and 33rd and 39th in the Par 4s for the course.
Michael Thomas - $8,000 DK / $10,100 FD
His current form is phenominal! He is coming off a 7th place at the Genesis, 10th at the AT&T, 13th at the Farmers Insurance Open and a 9th at the Career Builder. Those counted for 88, 100, 88 and 125 DK points. He also comes in as 7th in our custom model. His last 5 at this tourney were 24th, MC, 53rd, 44th, MC. His rankings are up and down for the stats we are looking at but since it's only 36 rounds I'm looking past them.
STATS - you know we love them and here they are!
Holes with the highest birdie % that will score the most points:
#3 - Par 5 - 538 yards - 42.3% birdie rate
#18 - Par 5 - 556 yards - 36.7% birdie rate
#4 - Par 4 - 395 yards - 19.6% birdie rate
#13 - Par 4 - 388 yards - 19.5% birdie rate
#1, #8, #9 - All Par 4's - 16.5%, 17.3% and 17.5% birdie rate.
Hottest Golfers returning the most value!
1. Adam Svensson - 14.8x value - 88.6 DK points per start - 4 starts in 2019.
2. Talor Gooch - 12.6x value - 95.8 DK points per start - 4 starts in 2019.
3. Brian Stuard - 12.3x value - 80.1 DK points per start - 5 starts in 2019.
4. Scott Langley - 12.3x value - 83.6 DK points per start - 5 starts in 2019.
5. Jason Kokrak - 11.9x value - 87.0 DK points per start - 4 starts in 2019.
Golfers who have made 5 consecutive cuts at this course over the last 5 years:
1. Sergio Garcia - 33rd, 14th, 2nd, 31st and 8th.
2. Stewart Cink - 46th, 27th, 26th, 31st and 58th.
Largest Pricing Differences between DK and FD:
1. Patton Kizzire - $7,100 on DK vs. $9,600 on FD = $2,500 difference!
2. Stewart Cink - $6,800 on DK vs. $9,100 on FD = $2,300 difference!
3. Brendan Steele - $7,000 on DK vs. $9,300 on FD = $2,300 difference!
4. Jim Furyk - $7,000 on DK vs. $9,200 on FD = $2,200 difference!
5. Michael Thompson - $8,000 on DK vs. $10,100 on FD = $2,100 difference!
Our Custom Model Top 5:
1. Rickie Fowler
2. Byeong-Hun An
3. Brooks Koepka
4. Justin Thomas
5. Webb Simpson
Thank you for reading and good luck!