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DraftKings Fantasy Preview: AT&T Byron Nelson

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Last week we offered HUGE prizes, and it was fitting that I produced my worst-performing starting lineup of the season. If my dry spell continues, all the better for you.

For this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, DraftKings once again boasts the $100,000 prize pool contest with a $10,000 chunk for the contest winner (and top 7,850 positions earning money). You can enter HERE with a simple $3 entry fee, and we have our usual Beat the Writer contest where if you outperform my main lineup, you are refunded that $3 charge.

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For clarity, to be eligible for “Beat the Writer,” you must create a new DraftKings account through any link in this article. Once you have done so, you are automatically in “Beat the Writer” each week when you set lineup(s).

Anyway, onto my analysis.

The Course

TPC Four Seasons Resort-Las Colinas has a reputation as a driving mecca. Long-hitters are strongly favored, but inaccuracy is punished with a tree-lined landscape and a large number of water hazards.

FourSeasonsTPCSurprise, surprise: I didn’t take these assumptions for granted! I actually expanded my usual analysis by including the top-15 and ties at each of the last five Byron Nelsons, along with golfers who were near the top through three days before a final-round implosion.

And, yeah, not sure I agree with that profile. OK, the long-hitter advantage is indeed quite robust, but approach play came out most important in my sample. And while driving joined in a close second, accuracy is overrated at TPC Four Seasons. Precision off the tee at the Nelson is about as potent as it is at the Wells Fargo (i.e. not useless, but semi-marginal). Let me also note that the course will likely play wet this week, meaning balls will stick and make fairways easier to hit.

In the sample, approach play and driving finished well ahead of short game and putting (despite undulated greens) in facilitating high finishes. So you’ll want to lean toward excellent ball-strikers this week.

It doesn’t really matter how low or high your ball flight is here, just know that this course usually faces some wind (this is Texas!) and there are forecasts for some bigger gusts this week. So I would urge on the side of good wind players.

Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 313 Points, 31,933rd of 38,315) 

  • Jason Day — $11,200
  • Charley Hoffman — $8,400
  • Russell Henley — $7,900
  • James Hahn — $7,700
  • George McNeill — $7,100
  • Morgan Hoffmann — $7,000

Honestly, up until a couple of years ago, Day wasn’t a great approach player, so it’s kind of odd that he finished top 10 his first three trips here, but he did. Now that he has a fiesty iron game in his repertoire, the course is an even better fit. I chalk up his recent 81 at the Players as a fluke.

CharleyHoffman

I flat out love Charley Hoffman. Yeah, I pick him a lot, but these are my results with him at an average mid-tier price: T9, T30, T10. Very solid. He’s just a great player who doesn’t get his due, and I’ll stand by that even if he burns me this week. Not only skilled, the Hoff’s game has been on fire for months and he’s one of the best long-hitting ball-strikers out there.

Henley is my bargain of the week. His game doesn’t scream this course, but neither did Day’s at first. The Bulldog has just been very consistent this year and rounded into great form these last couple of months. If this course gets tough, which I think it might with the wind projections, Henley is at his best when the scores are high.

Moving through the rest, Hahn is a bit of a flyer based on his last two events (73rd-CUT), and also a possible dynamic play because of his game meshing with TPC Four Seasons and his T5 here last year. McNeill is kind of the opposite. His play at the Nelson has alternated between missed cuts and nice finishes for an overall shaky record, but a T12, T17, T28, T5 run in his last four starts this year is something to behold.

And I have to pick Morgan. Super-talented, T36 or better in five of his past six starts and a perfect game for this course as highlighted by T5 and T16 in his first two showings here? Yes, please!

Overpriced Player to Avoid

  • Ian Poulter — $9,600

Poulter’s showing at Colonial wasn’t a surprise if you kept track of his excellent form. I’m cooling on him just for this one week, though, because a long-hitting ball-striker’s track like this is the opposite of the Englishman’s game.

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Cash-strapped Pick to take a chance on

  • Charlie Beljan — $6,200

Beljan’s had some ghastly performances of late, but fits the mold of this course with his long-hitting and outstanding approach play. He also finished T11 at this course last year.

Alternate Six-Man Roster (Last Week: 318.5 points, 31,056th of 38,315)

  • Brandt Snedeker — $10,000
  • Justin Thomas — $9,200
  • Ryan Palmer — $9,200
  • Brooks Koepka — $7,700
  • Luke Guthrie — $6,800
  • D.A. Points — $6,800

I’ll go after Sneds considering he appeared to uncover something at Colonial.

JustinThomas

Like everyone, I was on the Thomas train from the start of the year, although I have not picked him in fantasy enough as he’s continued to roll along. Palmer really torched me last week when he finished bogey-double and missed the cut at a course WHERE HE’S A MEMBER! But his record at TPC Four Seasons is similarly spectacular and I’m betting on him not imploding two weeks in a row especially because I love how his game meshes with the layout. I didn’t predict a great year for Koepka and he’s proven me wrong to a degree. He was back to 100 percent at the Match Play last month and I really like the fit here for him.

I’ve been holding out on Guthrie for two weeks and I think this is the time to play. The Illinois grad loves bentgrass greens and has got his game to click again. He was 6-under with six holes to go at the Players (just like Fowler) and had serious birdie spurts, including a closing 29, at Colonial for a T27.

Points, meanwhile, has packed up on four of his past five Fridays. That one made cut was a T12 at Zurich, an event he generally plays well at. He also plays well at the Nelson, I’m taking the chance he follows his New Orleans lead.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kevin Casey

    May 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    URGENT: Twelve players have withdrawn from the Nelson this week, including two of my picks, Jason Day and George McNeill. Very Unforeseen.

    To update, here are my revamped rosters:

    Main:
    Ryan Palmer, $9,200
    Justin Thomas, $9,200
    Charley Hoffman, $8,400
    Russell Henley, $7,900
    James Hahn, $7,700
    Morgan Hoffmann, $7,000

    Alternate:
    Brandt Snedeker, $10,000
    Jimmy Walker, $9,400
    Keegan Bradley, $8,400
    Brooks Koepka, $7,700
    Luke Guthrie, $6,800
    D.A. Points, $6,800

    For an explanation: I had to take out Day and McNeill. I moved up Palmer and Thomas, and had no qualms doing so (I highly considered both of them for the main roster even after I had first completed it.)

    As for the back-up roster, with Palmer and Thomas now gone, I put in Walker and Bradley. Walker is actually kind of a risky pick. He’s been in a slump since the Masters, and he did injure his wrist at Augusta. There’s been no update on that since, which isn’t necessarily good. His wife said immediately after the tournament that it would probably only hurt for a couple more days, but you can’t always trust those amateur initial diagnoses, and Walker noted the previous day that he had plans to have his risk examined. All in all, I’m not totally convinced that his wrist is 100 percent and he’s in bad form, but Walker has had some of his best performances after a sting of mediocre golf. His record at the Nelson the last few years has been thoroughly OK (mills around the 30th position), but this course does really suit his game. He’s very much like Day in that he’s a long wild hitter who has seen serious improvement in his irons. Actually Walker’s iron improvements have been even more drastic and a big key to his rise since 2013.

    As for Bradley, he’s also not coming in on great play, but his record here is a win, a second and two other top-30s. Makes sense because his game is good for this course. A lot of hoopla over his switch to the standard putter and consternation over his drop from top-50 putter to 133rd in strokes gained in 2015. That number is misleading, Keegan has pretty much putted around Tour average this year, save for two tournaments where he had a really tough time on the greens. It’s not like he’s putting consistently poorly, just a pair of awful results are marring his numbers. He’s fine if he putts to his adequate norm or better, which is pretty likely this week on a course he likes.

    • Kevin Casey

      May 27, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Also, as Poulter has withdrawn, I guess a new big name to avoid. I’ll go out on a limb a bit and say Gary Woodland at $9,200. He’ll like the soft conditions this week being the ultimate bomber for this course. He also has a good record here, including a T7 in 2014. I don’t know, he’s just very streaky though and I think a bad performance is coming this week.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the 2020 Players Championship

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The field this week featured the best golfers in the world, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and more.

Rory McIlroy enters the tournament as the defending champion, looking hoist the crystal again.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from TPC Sawgrass.

General Galleries

Special Galleries

Bettinardi’s St. Patrick’s Day covers  

Brand-new Srixon 745 in Keegan’s bag

Roger Sloan’s custom Cameron

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal irons spotted in Nick Watney’s bag 

Joel Dahmen with a battle-worn hybrid

Fresh eggs for Patrick Reed…

Justin Rose continues to tweak his equipment

Carlos Ortiz looks to be picking up some supplies to mark the end of his driveway…

Jordan Spieth with a Vokey WedgeWorks Proto 60T in the bag

Kiradech Aphibarnrat with lead tape and stamping on cavity-back irons. Solid! 

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Tour News

GolfWRX Spotted: Justin Rose with mixed bag at Arnold Palmer Invitational

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It’s not very often we get breaking equipment news this time of year on the PGA Tour schedule, but this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the highest-profile players on tour, Justin Rose, was spotted testing multiple brands of clubs throughout his entire bag.

It started last week at the Honda Classic when Rose put a TaylorMade SIM driver with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage in play. As of today’s first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose has a mixed set including TaylorMade, Cobra, and Titleist clubs, along with an Axis1 putter.

Here are the details of Rose’s equipment:

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees @ 8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 80 TX

5-wood: Cobra SpeedZone Tour (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 X

Irons: TaylorMade P730 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52, 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design Prototype K Grind (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5 (52, 56), Proto Hi-Rev 135X (60)

Putter: Axis1 Rose
Grip: Flat Cat Svelte

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ‘19 (No. 1)

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Equipment

Inside look: Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges on tour…6 months after launch

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Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges hit professional golf tours months ago. We reported on the launch extensively (see our videos later in the article) with deep coverage on the PGA Tour and at retail. As with any new offering, and especially for the gearheads on GolfWRX, it’s the tour chatter that drives us. What the pros do, play, and think is always a driving force.

However…

Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aftermath of a launch. What are the reactions and tweaks that are made once the shine has worn off?  It’s not uncommon for players to need to warm up to a new product before it ultimately finds its way into the bag permanently.

When Jaws hit the scene, it integrated quite quickly, and that is saying a lot. The MD4 was a very successful wedge line on tour and at retail. It was a huge initial launch and one Callaway was happy with as a solid portion of its staff put Jaws in play straight away.

In my conversations with tour staff and techs, spin and lower ball flight has been a recurring theme. In the case of the Tour, being able to flight a wedge down and not have it float, while maintaining maximum spin, is a weapon. Imagine being at Honda last week and knowing you can hit a knee-high fastball with a 58-degree wedge and trust the ball will stay down, not skip, and will stop dead in its tracks. On tour, its the speed of the stop that is valuable, not ripping it backward—that is typically only fun for TV. Golf these days is more like darts and less like billiards.

As to be expected, the grinds on all Callaway wedges are tour favorites. It’s pretty simple to fall in love with something that comes ought of the mind of Roger Cleveland, who has been the driving force in putting Callaway consistently at the No. 2 most-played wedge on Tour.

But how has the MD5  really done thus far?

Let’s be clear, most guys don’t make switches late-summer or fall (when MD5 was launched on tour). The season is too far down the river and the coming winter gives them quiet time to really test. Also, when you work through the California swing, a good portion of the higher-ranked staff only poke their heads out once or twice. This doesn’t mean the guys on the truck aren’t building new products, but a good portion of it is for winter testing, emergency backups, etc.

But now we hit the Florida swing. The Masters is a month away. The world’s best start to show up consistently, the playing surfaces change from the West Coast to the East Coast, and all of these guys are in full attack mode. Any real testing or guesswork is pretty much done, and it’s time to get going. This is the time when you can actually see if a product has staying power.

The question is since Jaws hit the scene, what have the pros learned, what adjustments have been made to dial them in, and ultimately, is this wedge line a success? I wanted to tackle this question from two different perspectives: from the reps on tour and two young staff players that have them in play.

In this case, there is the guy on the Callaway tour trailer who is in charge of wedges, Simon Wood, and young tour staffers Akshay Bhatia and Min Woo Lee.

Three unique perspectives—and also perspectives that give us an honest look at the performance and popularity of a “new” wedge on Tour.

I talk with Simon Wood quite a bit. He’s a good as they get in this category, having worked for years in Europe and on the U.S. tour. His knowledge is extensive and even more importantly, he is ridiculously honest. If the product is solid and he believes in it, he will tell you. If he goes quiet, there’s that too.

I caught up with him on a day off and this was the update he gave:

Wunder: It seems MD5 came out of the gates quickly and never really slowed down, are you surprised at the response?

Wood: Not at all. Truth is, these players are very particular about what makes it in or out of the bag. A new club has to do something better than the old one and do all the things they liked about the old one. The Jaws really spins. This is a unique groove system, and I’ve noticed the players like it for two main reasons 1) They can keep the trajectory down on the high lofts 2) they can be a bit more aggressive because of the amount of spin these wedges offer. Out on tour that’s a big deal.

Wunder: What percentage of staff (25+players on U.S. Tours) are in the MD5 across the board?

Wood: I’d say close to 50 percent, which is a good number considering how many good options are out there.

Wunder: Now that we are in the Florida swing, are you having to do anything special to adjust to the new grass and conditions?

Wood: No its the opposite actually. I think with the grooves being as good as they are and the number of options we have grind wise, we on the truck are doing less tweaking and grinding to wedges. That’s a sign one the R&D team did a great job with this design and two that our players trust our product enough to let their creativity take over.

Wunder: Any surprise grinds that are popping up more often?

Wood: It’s not a surprise because we knew it was good, but the low bounce W has been a hit thus far. Lots of guys testing and gaming that one.

I then went on to chat with Callaway staffers Min Woo Lee (winning WITB, podcast link below) and Akshay Bhatia on their experience with Jaws. This perspective was interesting because Akshay is young, he’s fighting for a place to play this summer, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing as a professional. Min just recently won in Australia and has enough time under his belt now to understand a real asset over something he’s still trying to make work.

Point is: pressure is high on both of these kids, and the last thing either wants to struggle with is their wedges.

Wunder: You were an early adopter of the MD5 last fall, have you noticed any significant improvement over your previous gamers?

Bhatia: Trust is the biggest one. I love the shape of these wedges and just knowing that Roger and Phil have an influence on the wedges you are playing gives me so much confidence. From a performance standpoint, I like the variety in grinds the MD5 offers. Anywhere I play I have an option, whether it be X in soft conditions or C for the firmer turf.

Wunder: With the aggressive grooves of the MD5, what shots have you gained that you didn’t have before?

Bhatia: Definitely the off-speed/three-quarter shots with some spin. These wedges really keep the ball down and it’s a bonus when I know I can take something off of a shot and the ball will stay down and hold its line into the wind.

Wunder: And your current set up is?

Bhatia: Currently, I’m in the Jaws MD5 50S, 54S bent to 55, and the 60C or X depending on the conditions (KBS $Taper 130X shafts in black with Iomic grips) with some heel and toe relief in the X. I also like to mess around wit the PM Grind 60 if I’m looking for a different look.

Young Callaway staffer Min Woo Lee, who recently triumphed at the European Tour’s Vic Open, has this to say

Wunder: What ball flight differences do you see in Jaws over the past wedge set?

MWL: Overall the same. I like to pick my trajectory. So if I didn’t like it,  I wouldn’t have put it in my bag…need to have every shot at my disposal.

Wunder: Do you do any extra grinding to your S?

MWL: Just in the 60, there is a little leading edge relief ground in. Prevents it from digging and gives me a bit more ability to be aggressive into it.

Wunder: Are there any other grinds you tried?

MWL: I tried the low bounce W and really liked, but the S grind has been my go-to for a long time, I know how to play with that one.

Wunder: As far as full shot turf interaction, why do you prefer the S?

MWL: The S is always what I’ve been into looks-wise, nothing else really caught my eye like that grind did. I do pretty good chipping around with it around the greens and we have some history so why mess with a good thing.

Overall, I think the MD5 wedge line has been a success on tour. Let’s be honest, wedges arent drivers, but identifying a popular line over another is quite interesting. These guys can get a TV remote ground into something useable, so when there is a shift across the staff to a new model, it validates that the ideas in it are sound and the wedge performs like it says it will. For larger tour staffs like Callaway has, operating a 50 percent clip for full line use is a really solid number.

Let’s be clear here, Callaway hasn’t made a bad wedge…like ever. From X Forged to the MD line and now into Jaws, Roger and the team know what they are doing. In my experience with these wedges, I will say that the grooves are ridiculously aggressive, and as Bhatia mentioned, there is a grind to satisfy any conditions.

Do most OEMs make solid wedges? The answer is of course they do; they all do. But the advantage that Callaway has over the rest in this category is Roger Cleveland. Having the man who inspired some of the most iconic wedge shapes ever coupled with a superb R&D team yields a combination that will deliver quality and performance time after time.

Here are some pics from the forums of MD5 out on tour now.

Akshay BhatiaFrancesco Molinari
Brendan GraceIsaiah SalindaJ.J. SpaunAlex Noren
Chun An YunHenrik Stenson Matt Wallace 

Si Woo Kim

Check out the videos below to see me and one of our forum members put Jaws MD5 to the test!

 

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