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DraftKings Fantasy Preview: The Players Championship

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It’s Players Championship time!

This is a big event with a fantastic field, and DraftKings has taken notice.

In addition to the usual $100,000 prize pool contest (first place receiving $10,000) at a $3 entry fee, DraftKings has on tap a $20 entry fee game with a $150,000 prize pool and a $20,000 first prize along with a $300,000 prize pool and $50,000 first price if you submit $100.

Enter here to win $100,000.

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Big potential for sure, but if you’re still only comfortable splurging that $3 buy-in, that still leaves you open to a potentially large payout with the top 7,850 positions all earning cash. And remember, if you enter the $3 contest through the link below and beat my top lineup’s score, you get your money back!

Anyway, onto my analysis…

The Course

This Pete Dye track makes a player think, with numerous tee shots that portend trouble if the ball wobbles too far offline. There’s no reprieve on the approach game either, as misses in the wrong spots can drastically increase the chances of bogey.

Photo Credit: PGA Tour Experiences

TPC Sawgrass’ reputation speaks to that of a worthy champion. Most people, including Rory, have claimed that the layout doesn’t suit anyone’s game in particular, an argument for an all-around player. But a few have given Sawgrass the “ball-striker’s paradise” moniker as well.

As the tee shot danger would imply, driving accuracy has also garnered much value when analysts, like Brandel Chamblee, break down TPC Sawgrass.

Did my recent five-year sample of the top-10 finishers at the Players concur with all this?

For maybe the second time since I started doing this feature, yes, the assumptions were mainly correct.

Harking back to the more popular, Rory-backed theory, that vision of Sawgrass has plenty of traction. In my five-year sample, there was a very small disparity between driving, approach play, short game and putting. All proved important to competing well at TPC Sawgrass at very similar levels.

Still, there was a tiny separation. Driving was paramount, with approach play a close second, short game a close third and putting a close last. Therefore, the player that profiles best in this aspect is most important of the all-around sort, and to a lesser extent one that tends to be strongest in ball-striking.

Length nor ball flight came out too significant from this group, although longer, high-ball hitters are slightly more advantaged than the norm. Driving accuracy held significant sway in facilitating a top-10, but I do think it is overrated at TPC Sawgrass.

In the five-year set, I found 12 contenders that would be classified as wild drivers. I would definitely still lean toward a precise golfer off the tee, but don’t go all in on that front.

Six-Man Roster (Last time: 343.5 points, 28422nd of 36800)DraftKingsSmall

  • Justin Rose, $10,500
  • Bubba Watson, $9,200
  • Lee Westwood, $8,400
  • Charley Hoffman, $7,400
  • Chris Kirk, $6,700
  • Kevin Chappell, $6,400

Rose has just played too well of late and has too sound a game for this course (excellent all-around player especially in ball-striking categories) for me to avoid him. He finished T4 last year at Sawgrass as well.

BubbaWatsonPlayers

I think Watson is a huge steal this week, and it’s sort of confusing why exactly he’s this low. He’s played just one bad tournament (the Masters) the whole year and while his record at Sawgrass isn’t great, it’s not a nightmare by any means. It also seems like Bubba gets a reputation for being wild, which doesn’t bode well at a position golf course like Sawgrass. Yet, Augusta is a position layout too and Watson has thrived there. And Bubba, far from wild, actually has pretty good accuracy for the distance he hits it and is a great iron player. His putting has come around as well, which really puts him closer to that all-around mold. I think this is the week Watson finally sees some prosperity in Jacksonville.

As for the rest, Westwood has been in sneaky good form this year and seems on the verge of a big performance (a win in Indonesia doesn’t count). His last two trips to the Players have netted top-10s, and his game has been far better on and around the greens in recent years.

CharleyHoffman

Hoffman’s play was scorching about a month ago, and he really is the best fit among this group. His strength is in ball-striking, but he’s tended to be above average in all facets.

Kirk remains way underrated, his Deutsche Bank win was not as surprising as the media made it out to be (or at all, really). He has yet to put a season together where all parts of his game are clicking, but his ability in driving, approach play, short game and putting have all been apparent at times.

Chappell burned me in New Orleans, but I’m not backing off because he can jump out at any moment and this is a good course for him.

Ultimate Sleeper RosterDraftKingsSmall

  • Brendon de Jonge, $6,500
  • Kevin Chappell, $6,400
  • Shawn Stefani, $6,400
  • Sang-Moon Bae, $6,400
  • Graeme McDowell, $6,300
  • Carl Pettersson, $5,700

Really watch out for de Jonge. He has been on a severe hot streak lately, which three consecutive top-25s actually understates. He’s known as a ball-striker and is accurate off the tee, but he’s an adequate-to-solid putter and short game player as well.

As for Stefani, his game was subtly in a really good groove with four straight top-26s through Houston.

Bae hit a rough patch for a bit, but I think is finding his way back and he’s developed a solid all-around game.

GraemeMcDowell

A rough season so far for McDowell, but he is healthy again after a lower left leg issue in March, he possesses the all-around game for this course and was closer at Hilton Head than T26 implies.

Petterson’s probably less accurate off the tee than you think, but he’s also in this all-around realm and has flashed some good play of late.

Alternate Six-Man Roster (Last time: 456.5 points, 9219th of 36800)DraftKingsSmall

  • Jordan Spieth, $12,800
  • Henrik Stenson, $10,400
  • Ian Poulter, $7,200
  • Harris English, $7,000
  • Brendon de Jonge, $6,500
  • Carl Pettersson, $5,700

Let’s see: a position golf course that rewards an all-around game? Yeah, that’s Spieth’s dream to a T. I would be shocked if he finishes worse than top 5.

JordanSPieth

Stenson’s history at Sawgrass isn’t as robust as you might think (one top-10 since win in 2009), but he appears healthy again and when he’s been 100 percent this year, his results have been dominant.

Poulter has played well of late and he’s a better ball-striker than he gets credit for. No discernible record here since his runner-up in 2009… just remember the form he’s in.

And finally we have English, who is my biggest wildcard. He’s a pretty well rounded player who could acquire a huge win any week now. And hey, what do you know, he was in the final group at the Players on Saturday just three years ago.

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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

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. TJS

    May 6, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Yep Nick, only US & Canada for most all the Fantasy sites.

    Kevin, Augusta National and The Stadium Course are two vastly different courses. Bubba doesn’t exactly like this course by his own admission…he’s priced that way because of his odds to win (set by very smart people). Lastly, why the ultimate sleeper line-up? It’s a donation…sleepers are meant to be mixed in with the chalk, not paired together in a ridiculous entry.

    • Kevin Casey

      May 6, 2015 at 2:21 am

      Hey TJS, appreciate the comment!

      You bring up some good points, here are my clarifications:

      1. If it came across that I was trying to imply that Augusta and Sawgrass are basically the same, I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant that their similar in the positioning aspect, a characteristic that I think some people would point to as kryptonite for Watson, which his success at Augusta proves wrong. They are definitely significantly different courses, but they have a similarity in making you really strategize and hit to certain positions in order to avoid danger.

      2. My bad on that, I should’ve mentioned Watson’s public words last year about Sawgrass not fitting his eye. That being said, his thoughts there didn’t really take me aback much when I was making the pick. If Watson had said that amidst three straight missed cuts at the Players, then yeah we could see that the course was having a massive negative effect on his game that wasn’t showing signs of dissipating. But his last three finishes, while underwhelming, have all been made cuts and top-50s and he was in a decent position for a top-10 (or at least a top-20) last year before a semi-implosion in the final round. So while the course is having a negative effect on him from a visual perspective, it’s not very drastic. And I think he’s helped by a few aspects of his game boding well for the course. It also seems we are seeing more and more progress with him at TPC Sawgrass from results rather than comments. Overall, I think this course is a better fit for him than his comments suggest and he appears to be not far off from finding a groove here considering his recent results at the event.

      3. My rationale behind the ultimate sleeper line-up is just to give a full list of options for players that could be useful when gamers are down to their final picks with limited money. It’s not supposed to function as an actual roster. I have been toying with changing that section, though, so we’ll see how much longer it remains…

  2. Nick Tweed

    May 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Can this only be entered if you live in the US? I’m from England…only gives the options of US or Canadian address.

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Equipment

American Express, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship Tour Truck Report: BK to Srixon? MCA has a ton of new shafts, Rickie goes graphite

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TaylorMade

Most of the big action for Team TaylorMade is taking place in Abu Dhabi with Rory and Tommy in the field. After extensive weeks of testing, this is what they have in the bag this week

Tommy Fleetwood WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX (tipped 1 inch, 44.75 inches)

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Rocket 3 (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX (42.5 inches)

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees @18.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 80 TX (41.25 inches)

Irons: TaylorMade P7TF (4-PW) 
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Wedges: Callaway MD5 Jaws Raw (52-10S, [email protected], 60-08T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue  S400

Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro 3
Grip: SuperStroke Mid Slim 2.0

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (D, 3W, 5W, 7W, and wedges), Iomic Sticky @12:30 (irons)

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x ’21 Proto

Rory McIlroy WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (10.5 degrees @8.5)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (45.5 inches, 59.25 lie, D4)

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (15 degrees @13.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80 TX (43.25 inches, 58 lie, D4)

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 (19 degrees @ 18.25)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 90 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7MB (4-PW)
Shaft: Project X Rifle 7.0 (6.5 in PW)

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52-09SB, 56-12SB, 60-08LB)
Shaft: Project X Rifle 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper (34.25 inches, 2.5 loft, 70 lie)

Ball: 2021 TaylorMade TP5x (#22)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord (58R 1+1, logo down)

Matthew Wolff WITB

Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (10.5 degrees @9)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 7 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 8 X

Irons: TaylorMade P7MC (3-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (50-09SB, 56-12SB, 60-09LB)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Grips: Golf Pride ZGrip Cord (+3 double-sided tape)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Proto (33 inches, lie at 70, 3.5 loft, D4)
Grip: TaylorMade Red/Black

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ’21 PIX

Other TM news 

Doc Redman put the new Aldila Ascent Red 70 TX in his SIM2 (60 TX pictured below).

Sepp Straka put the new MCA Kaili White 60 TX in his SIM2.

Titleist

The Fujikura Ventus Red trend continues with Russell Henley moving from his KBS TD to Ventus Red 7 X in a TSi4.

Tyler Duncan was testing a custom K Grind lob wedge. He was inspired by Kevin Na’s win and looking at Aaron Dill’s pics on IG. Can you blame him?

Justin Thomas (Abu Dhabi) moved out of Ventus Red 6 TX (tipped 1 inch) in his TSi3 (9 degrees) into a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 X. According to my source, JT was looking for a specific feel with the driver and also one that dialed in the launch windows on a little cutter he has been working on. We will keep you updated if it sticks or if any of the info changes.

Callaway

Akshay Bhatia put the new Apex Utility Prototype in play with a KBS Tour Hybrid Prototype 105 X shaft. Shay also put the new Epic Max LS driver (9 degrees @8.5) with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green “Hulk” 75G 6.5 TX.

Kevin Na tested Callaway’s Epic Max LS (9 degrees) with a Graphite Design Tour AD GP 6 X. No need to panic, that original Epic gamer ain’t goin’ anywhere till it keels over and dies.

Phil Mickelson was spotted testing a Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X shaft in a Mavrik Sub Zero. Not confirmed if it will indeed go in play.

Ping

Scott Stallings (non-staff) put a Ping G425 LST (10.5 degrees @11) driver in play with an MCA Kaili White 60 TX (tipped 1 inch @45.25).

Abraham Ancer (non-staff) also converted to the Ping G425 LST (9 degrees @7.75) with an MCA Tensei AV Raw Blue 65 TX (tipped 1 inch @45).

Cameron Champ lost his clubs en route to Palm Desert and the Ping Tour squad had to build a brand new set of sticks from scratch, top to bottom. Thankfully the gamers showed up and Cam was left with a fresh new backup set.

Srixon

Rumor has it that former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka has inked a deal with Cleveland/Srixon to play its Z-Star XV ball, ZX7 irons and Cleveland Zip Core Wedges. Koepka showed up to Palm Desert with a new set of irons with Tour Issue X100 shafts, a Srixon utility, and his trusty Nike Vapor Pro 3-iron and TaylorMade M5 driver with an MCA Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX shaft. We will continue to update to confirm or deny the rumors. Awesome news for Srixon and BK if true.

Cobra

Rickie Fowler made some significant changes to his bag coming into Palm Desert. The Cobra staffer put the REV33 MB’s back in the bag this time with a fresh set of Mitsubishi Chemical MMT 125 TX graphite shafts. Fowler, who has tested quite a few different shafts over the years, going from KBS C-Taper S+ to Tour Issue X100, loved the integrity of the MMT’s.

In testing, they tried a set that was soft stepped as well as the current set that is straight in. The overall takeaway was integrity on mis-hits and hitting a very specific flight window all while keeping spin the same. Fowler also had the new Cobra RadSpeed Driver in the bag with a Mitsubishi Tensei Orange 60 TX shaft.

Jason Dufner put the new Aldila Tour Concept 60 TX in his Rad Speed Driver (70 TX pictured below).

Free Agents

Scottie Scheffler finally swapped out his TaylorMade P730’s for a brand new set of P7TW’s (5-PW). Like his older set, they come fully loaded with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts. Scottie did keep his Srixon Utility 3-iron and Z785 4-iron in the bag, however.

Newly minted free agent Ryan Moore showed up to the Desert with a bag only a true gear junkie could love. The six-company bag featured a TaylorMade SIM Driver, TSi2 3-wood, Srixon hybrids, Mizuno MP-18 irons, and Cleveland Zip Core wedges.

Paul Casey put the Titleist TSi3 driver in the bag with a Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Limited 70 TX shaft.

KBS seeded out a new Proto graphite shaft. The yet-to-be-named new edition to the TD line has a higher modulus material on the bottom third to increase stability and lower torque. The feedback with the original TD from players with fast speeds: it needed to be stiffer. This “newer version,” which will probably only come in the category 4 and 5, is very firm.

Patrick Reed went back to his Ping G400 LST driver—that’s all on that.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2021 American Express

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GolfWRX is live at The 2020 American Express as the tour returns to the mainland United States following its Hawaii Swing.

Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, and of course the tournament’s host, Phil Mickelson, will all tee it up in La Quinta, California, this week.

We have an abundance of special galleries as new gear floods the tour as players return to the continental U.S. for the first time in 2021, as well as general galleries for your perusal.

Special galleries

General galleries

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums. 

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News

New troops: PXG announces additions to tour staff for 2021

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Earlier this week, it was the Brooklyn Nets making big news in the NBA with player acquisitions. Now in the golf world, it’s PXG, who is also adding to its roster with a number of new players on both the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour.

The newest members of the PXG roster, which they like to call “troops” are

  • Jim Herman
  • Sung Kang
  • Danny Lee
  • Luke List
  • Henrik Norlander
  • Adam Schenk
  • Kyle Stanley
  • Hudson Swafford

Speaking to the switch, Sung Kang said

“PXG makes some of the best performing equipment in golf. I know, with the support of Bob Parsons, his team, and PXG clubs, that I am going to be able to take my game to the next level!”

The professionals from the Korn Ferry Tour joining current PXG staffers Scott Langley and Grant Hirschman include

  • Kevin Dougherty
  • Nicolas Echavarria
  • KK Limbhaust
  • Justin Lower
  • Seth Reeves
  • Charlie Saxon

“Between grit and their love of the game, every one of these new players brings something special to the course. We are proud to welcome them all to the PXG Troops and honored that they have chosen to put PXG in play.” -PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons.

These players join a long list of PXG staff players, which also includes LPGA Tour players Lydia Ko, Katherine Kirk, Austin Ernst, Christia Kim, Brittany Lang, Haley Moore, Celine Boutie, Ryann O’Toole, Gerina Piller, Jennifer Song, Linnea Ström, and Mina Harigae.

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