As a corollary to the DFSDatalytics Core Fore, FantasyDraft is pleased to present Adam Daly’s “5 Birdie Bonus” – five golfers that could fit in with the Core Fore, but also make great stand-alone GPP plays. These are five golfers that fit the course well and have good form or course history, and would fit most lineup builds (stars & scrubs or balanced).
Jordan Spieth – $24,400
After a poor performance with his accuracy off the tee as well as his iron play last year – Spieth ranked 123rd in Driving Accuracy and 145th in Greens in Regulation – Spieth has been tremendous through his four events this year, winning last week to go along with three top-10s in four events. He’s accomplished this by improving his accuracy by 7% and his GIR by 17%.
His ball-striking will be one of his best assets this week, but he’ll also get to putt on Poa Annua greens. Last week at Pebble Beach when he won, Spieth gained 2.125 strokes with the putter which was his best performance so far. Spieth historically is better on Bermuda grass, but from outside 10’ he sees an improvement with the flat stick.
Spieth missed the cut here in perfect conditions last year – his second missed cut in four attempts – but in rainy conditions similar to what this week will bring, he finished 4th in 2015.
Brooks Koepka – $16,400
Priced very well this week, Koepka is a scoring machine (6th in Birdies per Round, 5th in Birdie or Better %) that could very easily score some points on FantasyDraft without worrying too much about his final position points. He had the 9th best Weighted Stroke Average last year, and although he’ll put up bogeys to match, Koepka is an excellent play on scoring potential alone.
Brooks has never actually played Riviera which can be tough for a first-time player, but he’s an excellent Ball-Striker (37th) that’s also one of the better players out of the rough – Koepka’s Proximity to the Hole is only 8’ worse from the rough compared to the fairway, at 43’3”. His putting is a little bit worse overall on Bentgrass / Poa, but like Spieth above he’s better from longer: outside 15’, Koepka sees a spike in made putts on these surfaces.
His form isn’t spectacular, finishing 42nd at the Waste Management, but he still put up a huge 136 points at that event.
J.B. Holmes – $16,000
Holmes checks some of the more important boxes when it comes to course fit:
- He’s long off the tee, but more importantly in wet conditions, he’s long off the tee through the air. Ranked 1st in Carry Distance last season with an average of 304.8 yards of carry.
- From Tee to Green, Holmes picked up 0.634 strokes last season (38th). This season in a small sample, he’s at 1.069 which is good for 26th. As the most important catch-all stat here, that’s a big plus
- Because of his length, Holmes is an excellent scoring golfer. With 48 eagles made here last year, Holmes’ P5Birdie or Better percentage of 43.85% will be a big plus
More than that, since 2008 Holmes has amassed four top-10 finishes, three top-25s, a 52nd and one missed cut. With his 22nd place finish in 2015, Holmes showed he can play this course when it’s wet. He enters the week with four straight top-35s and zero missed cuts.
Tony Finau – $15,800
Finau will have to be played by people that can ignore course history, because it’s been ugly the two times he’s played this event. One missed cut last year, and in the rainy 2015 event he finished 56th. It’ll be important to look beyond that, because statistically Finau is a great fit for this course.
Tony Finau is, like Holmes, one of the longer hitters on Tour. He had an average Carry Distance of 298.7 yards last year, and the third-best overall Driving Distance. Unfortunately he’s a little erratic when it comes to accuracy off the tee, but Finau is tremendous hitting out of the rough compared to from the fairways – from the fairways Finau leaves his approach shot an average of 37’5” from the hole, and from the rough he leaves it only 42’11”. That’s one of the smallest differences between fairway and rough, and that difference jumps Finau a full 98 ranking spots in Proximity stats.
Putting on Poa is a real advantage for Finau, as he’s the third best in the field in terms of putting on Bent/Poa vs. putting on Bermuda/Paspalum. He gains 0.451 strokes on these greens, versus a very poor -1.150 SG:P on Bermuda, and he makes a startling 34% more cuts.
Kyle Reifers – $12,800
Reifers is the exact opposite of Finau, in that he’s basically just a course history play. In his two times out at Riviera, Reifers has finished 26th (2016) and more importantly, 8th in 2015. Reifers’ recent form has been horrendous so he’ll see next to no ownership, so he’s definitely just a GPP play – since the fall swing season, Reifers has only made the cut twice, a 39th at the Farmers and a 41st at the Shriners.
Luckily, Reifers is a ball-striking stud for his cheap price: last season he was 48th in Greens in Regulation (67.62%), 56th in Proximity to the Hole from the Rough, and superbly accurate off the tee at 65.29% (30th). He’s never been much of a putter, gaining 0.102 strokes with the putter, and his 1-Putt percentage is an atrocious 37.64%; that 1-Putt should be mitigated a little on tough Poa greens, and with the cut expected around E this week in rough weather, Reifers won’t have to make too many birdie putts to make it through that line.
From that key 125 – 150 yard distance, Reifers is currently the 76th best on Tour. From most of the shorter distances Reifers is an average to slightly above golfer, but he’ll get in trouble between 150 – 200 yards.
Using these five golfers leaves you $14,600 for one golfer, which is a range with lots of value to pick that sixth player from. If using the Core Fore from DFSDatalytics.com, there are some strong combinations that could be made to take down GPPs.