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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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Tour News

Arnold Palmer Invitational Tour Truck Report: Rickie’s iron experiments continue, MMT train rolls on, Rose tests a ton

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The fleet of tour trucks arrived southwest of Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

It’s an appropriate place to be digging into the nuances of pro golfers’ gear, given the club building, tinkering, and general gear junkie-hood of the tournament’s namesake, Arnold Palmer, whose 10,000 club-filled workshop is gear nut’s cave of wonders.

Let’s dig into the tweaks and wholesale switches we’re hearing about at the King’s place.

Titleist

Byeong Hun An plugged a Mitsubishi MMT Utility 125 TX shaft in his Titleist U500 2-iron.

Bernd Wiesberger is testing a Graphite Design Tour AD DI9 TX shaft (tipped 1.5 inches) in his TSi2 3-wood as he searches for more of a consistent cut ball flight. His current gamer features a Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 8 TX shaft with the same tipping.

Denny McCarthy, Robert Streb, and Byeong Hun An are all testing new Project X EvenFlow RipTide shafts (which began tour seeding in late January).

And on a related note, while we haven’t heard specifics of anyone putting one in play, we spotted prototype Scotty Cameron 11.5 putters that feature an expanded range of sight lines (more photos here).

Vokey

The report from @vokeywedgerep: “Tons of fresh wedges this week anticipating firm and fast greens at Bay Hill as well as prep for The Players. Many players checked loft and lies, also.”

Bernd Wiesberger has a fresh set of wedges and Byeong Hun An added a 60T SM8.

Doug Ghim, who is usually in an SM8 60-08AD+, is going with a different grind/bounce profile this week: 60-06K.

Patton Kizzire switched to a 52M Proto. We imagine it’s Arnold, rather than Ryan, Palmer he’s honoring with the stamping.

JT Poston is switching to SM8 56-10S reducing some bounce on his wedge (from 56-14).

Jazz Janewattananond may have some of the most unique wedge stampings on tour. Gotta love the skateboard tricks (and the skateboarder stamped by AD) on the 60T!

 

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A post shared by Aaron Dill (@vokeywedgerep)

Callaway

Both Kevin Kisner and Matt Every have switched into Mitsubishi MMT iron shafts (125 TX) as the composite iron shaft surge continues (more on the MMT shafts here).

Francesco Molinari is testing a Callaway Epic Speed (Triple Diamond) driver.

Tyler McCumber has a fresh set of MMB irons.

Sam Burns is in an Epic Speed LS driver with a Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X shaft (and going down three swingweight points, D6 to D3)

Marc Leishman moved into an Epic Speed 4-wood with a Fujikura Ventus Black 8 X shaft.

Matt Wallace is putting an Epic Speed driver (9 degrees) in the bag with a Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X shaft.

Maverick McNealy is gaming “Proto Top Gun irons” (that we are eager to get a look at!) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts.

Ping

Tyrrell Hatton is testing a Fujikura Ventus Red 6 X (tipped 1.5 inch) shaft in his G425 driver. Compared to his gamer, Hatton saw an increase in ball speed, more consistent spin, and less curve to the right.

Cobra

Jason Dufner testing a prototype 3D-printed Cobra putter “Agera.” It seems to feature the same SIK Descending Loft Technology (DLT) as the King Supersport-35.

Rickie Fowler returned to his Rev33 irons—albeit with some fresh grinding to the soles of the sticks. Have we arrived at Rev34?

TaylorMade

Pretty quiet on the TM front—save for some superb limited AP headcovers.

 

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A post shared by Chris Trott (@trottiegolf)

Robert MacIntyre is taking the full SIM2 plunge: SIM2 Max driver, SIM2 Titanium 3-wood, SIM2 Rescue (19.5 degrees).

Tommy Fleetwood is gaming the 2021 TP5x ball.

PXG

Jim Herman is testing a PXG Gen4 driver with a Graphite Design Tour AD DI 6X (tipped 1 inch).

Zach Johnson was testing a Gen4 driver as well.

Scott Garrison/KBS

Jordan Spieth got a new SuperStroke Traxion Flatso 1.0 grip on his Scotty Cameron 009 putter.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GolfWRX (@golfwrx)

Bryson DeChambeau’s SIK Pro C got a loft and lie check.

Free agents

Justin Rose is looking at new blade-style prototype Axis1 Rose putter models—as well as both Mizuno MP-5 and MP-18 irons—in addition to Ping G425 5 and 7-woods (both LST and MAX) with Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Orange shafts.

A final note: If you’re wondering what 1990 champion Robert Gamez will be playing, here’s a look—Wilson D7 irons, Wilson Staff blades, multiple Cleveland RTX wedge varieties, and a T.P. Mills flatstick. Nice!

Check out all our photos from Bay Hill, here.

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Interesting photos from the Arnold Palmer Invitational (plus links to all photo galleries)

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This week, the PGA Tour is at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida, and GolfWRX was on-site Tuesday to spy some interesting things from the grounds and around the practice area as players were getting ready to battle for the $9.3 million purse at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Don’t forget you can check out all our image galleries in the GolfWRX Tour Equipment forum.

Justin Rose’s new Axis1 (Blade) proto

Justin has been using an Axis1 putter for years, but this is the first time we’ve spotted him with a blade-style prototype version.

Rickie continues to tinker

Rickie Fowler’s bag is always interesting, and this week the Rev33’s are in play.

John Augenstein’s WITB

The 2019 U.S. Am runner-up turned professional in late 2020 has quite the club setup.

Camilo Villegas with new Srixon ZX7 irons

Camilo always has a very interesting club set up based on his unique dynamics into the ball—lots of forward shaft lean and low dynamic loft. Thanks to their more aggressive VT sole the new Srixon ZX7’s seem to be a perfect fit for the Colombian.

Justin Rose continues to test

It was exactly a year ago at the 2020 API, Justin Rose started to tinker with his club setup, and this week in 2021 it appears that he is still working to get dialed in and testings drivers.

Speaking of drivers, Rose was as caught talking to Jason Dufner about his new Cobra RAD Speed, and might have ordered one to test.

A story in 4 parts – the assumed conversation

Rose– “Oh, I like the look of this Duff!”
Duff– “It’s my new one. I like it”
Rose– “Interesting, what’s it all about?”
Duff– “It has all this weight to make it stable, & you adjust it here.”
Rose (on phone )- “Hey cobra can I test one of those Rad drivers?”

 

Kisner with a unique putting drill

Keith Mitchell continues to use HZRDUS T1100 in his driver

With all the talk about players including Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen moving to longer and much more flexible driver shafts, Keith Mitchell continues to buck the trend with one of the stiffest shafts available – the ProjectX HZRDUS T1100.

Here’s a look at Louis with his stock Ping ALTA CB stiff shaft.

Alex Noren loaded up with golf balls

We know there is a lot of water around the course this week at Bay Hill, and it looks like Alex Noren is prepared like an 18 handicap headed out to play from the back tees with four dozen balls ready to go.

Dufner putting with his wedge

Jason Dufner was seen working on his putting using the popular bellied wedge drill which forces you to work on producing a level stroke and precise center contact.

Hideki Matsuyama’s bag must be heavy

Hideki is the ultimate tester, which is why we love him at GolfWRX.

Bryson potentially testing grips

It looks like Bryson was getting ready to test some new Jumbo-Max grips, or just had a fresh set installed this week.

Paging Ping – Harris English needs a new putter headcover

That ratty old thing must hold some sentimental value to Harris based on its condition.

Charl Schwartzel back to Miura irons

Charl has gone through a number of iron sets in recent memory and at the API it looks like he’s back to a set of Miura 001 blades.

Spieth testing new utility

Jordan Spieth had a few extra Titleist utility irons next to his bag on the putting green, and it could be that he is working on his gapping because of the long par 3’s at Bay Hill.

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WGC-Workday Championship Tour Truck Report: New putter for Rory, more AutoFlex experiments

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First and foremost, prayers and love to Tiger Woods and his family.

TaylorMade

Rory McIlroy is going back to an older model putter this week at Concession swapping his Spider X for a TP Juno.

Robert McIntyre AKA “Bobby Mack” put a new TaylorMade Rescue ’21 Hybrid ([email protected]) in the bag with a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black Hybrid 100 6.5 TX.

Matthew Wolff put a new TaylorMade (19) UDI in the bag with a Mitsubishi MMT 125TX.

Collin Morikawa was testing SIM2, SIM2 Max hybrids this week with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shafts.

Dustin Johnson alongside TaylorMade’s Keith Sbarboro was testing SIM2 drivers with Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X, Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661 and an LAGP Proto.

Callaway

Jon Rahm made adjustments to his Mavrik Sub Zero 5-wood to optimize launch. The 5-wood has 16.4 degrees of loft and a Black Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8X. The adjustments were to the lie of the club going from 59.8 to 58.9 and weight distribution from 12g Front/6g Back to 10G Front/6g Back. Dialed.

Min Woo Lee put a new Epic Speed ([email protected]) with a Fujikura Ventus Red 7X. Lee also debuted his new logo which is on fire.

Titleist 

Genesis Invitational champion Max Homa tested TSi2 5-woods to give him some options for some of the tee shots at Concession. It’s equipped with a Graphite Design Tour XC 8 TX.

Lanto Griffin swapped into a shorter driver going from 45 to 44.5 in his TSi3 (10). Griffin’s driver has a Project X HZURDUS Smoke Black 70 6.5TX

Justin Thomas put a TSI3 (9) in the bag this week. The new set up is powered by a Mitsubishi Diamana ZF TX

Ping

Cameron Champ switched back into a shorter length Ping G425 LST this week going from 45 to 44.25 inches. The shaft is a Project X HZRDUS Smoke Green 70 6.5 TX (@44.25 , Tip 1.5, D4 SW).

Louis Oosthuizen did something interesting. He had a Ping build him a G425 LST (10.5 @ 9.4, Small -) with the company’s lightweight Alta Slate CB 55 stiff shaft. The 2010 Open Champion was looking for a softer feel with the driver, which isn’t surprising, considering he was seen taking a hard look at Adam Scott’s TSi with an AutoFlex. The whippy lightweight plot thickens…

Ping released a bunch of new putters this week for seeding. Multiple staffers tested them and we will see on Thursday if any go in play.

Cobra

Cobra’s Ben Schomin (and king of the mullets) is doing something to Bryson’s driver—wanted to post this because of the respect for Ben’s hair. Hair aside, Bryson did put a new LAGP Axis Blue 6X in his driver and was also testing new Rad Speed 3 Woods.

Misc/Free Agents

Tommy Fleetwood swapped out his Callaway MD5 Jaws wedges for a set of Titleist Vokey’s (52M, 56M, and 60T) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts.

Adam Scott (Titleist staff) was testing long center shafted Odyssey Two Ball 10.

 

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