The First Tee – Waste Management Open by Adam Daly

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff January 29, 2018 23:54

The First Tee – Waste Management Open by Adam Daly

After a made cut from Tiger and another “Pro-Am WD/Win anyway” from Jason Day, the Tour goes to Arizona for the most fun event of the year from a fan perspective, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The 16th is the most famous hole, with the drunks filling the stadium seats around the par-3, and our own Pari (@HitTheHighDraw) should be among them. As a housekeeping note, this event is only 132 golfers as opposed to a full-field 156.

THE COURSE

The WMPO takes place at TPC Scottsdale, a par-71 with three scoreable par-5s (30 eagles on the three combined holes last year) that all sit between 550-560 yards. The length of the total course is 7266 yards, neither a bomber’s paradise nor a Pete Dye “short and accurate” distance. Three of the four par-3s are short, with the 163-yard 16th and 183-yard 3rd both playing below par and ranking in the easier half of TPC Scottsdale. The other two par-3s (192- and 215-yards) both averaged over par, so being able to avoid big numbers on those holes will be important.

With the cut typically coming at par or worse, and the winning score typically in the mid-teens (the course was renovated after 2013), avoiding doubles will go a long way to staying in good position. The way the course is laid out – very wide fairways for short knockers, average-to-above-average for longer hitters – the numbers can creep up very quickly, because on the other side of those fairways is typical Arizona desert vegetation. Going off the mark from the tee can put golfers in very tenuous positions, with hedges, catci, trees, and even water hazards can all cause real setbacks.

The smart play for longer hitters would be to keep the driver in the bag and let the irons do the work, given how quickly the fairways narrow, but that would leave a lot of long iron work on approach. Most golfers will still pull driver out of the bag – in fact this is one of the more driver-heavy courses on tour – so accuracy will be important. One of the factors that makes driver a relatively safe play is that as long as the ball doesn’t end up in one of the aforementioned trouble areas, the lines of approach to the greens are all pretty simplistic, and the greens hold balls very well with short irons.

The greens themselves are of average size, and are Bermuda over-seeded with rye. They’re speedy, about the same as what golfers saw at Torrey last week, at least in terms of speed. Most golfers that have had success here have talked about how easy they find the greens, so looking at tournament history is maybe more of a factor than it normally would be; Hideki Matsuyama won back-to-backs here, and J.B. Holmes and Phil Mickelson are also two-time champs.

STATS

The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):

  • Approach
  • Off-the-Tee
  • Putting
  • Around the Green

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Birdie or Better %
  • Driving Distance
  • Approach Shots: 50-150 Yards
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Par-4 Scoring

The Golfers

Rickie Fowler ($10400): The hope with Rickie this week is that DFS players will look at the players around him and struggle to fit him in or feel worried about his missed cut last week, because he flashes tons of upside for this course. Rickie also has the history here, finishing T4 and solo 2nd the past two years (-15 and -14 respectively), losing in a playoff to Hideki in 2016. He also had some strong finishes pre-renovation, but those can be safely discarded.

Rickie’s struggled by the numbers this year, but those numbers are coming from only six rounds of golf; his 2nd at Mayakoba and win at the Hero World Challenge (with an amazing Sunday 61) don’t count towards his SG numbers as they didn’t come on ShotLink courses. Going back to 2017 then, these are some highlights of Rickie’s season:

  • 16th in SG: Tee to Green
  • 36th in SG: Off the Tee (41st in Distance, 52nd in Accuracy)
  • 4th in Birdie Average and Birdie or Better %
  • 6th in Par-4 Scoring, 11th in Par-4 BoB%
  • 18th in Approach Shots 50-125, leaving 17’6” to the pin on average over 149 attempts

Ignore Rickie’s random missed cut from an event he has a ton of obligations at, and hope for low ownership on a golfer that has all the tools to win this going away.

Alternate top-tier options:

J.B. Holmes ($8700): Everyone may hate J.B. right now for icing Alex Noren on 18 this past Sunday, but J.B. has played reasonably well here – even after the renovation. Throwing out his two wins which sadly came pre-reno, Holmes’ last two efforts here came up with matching -9 scores and finishes of T24 and T6. Holmes is still a long hitter that gains strokes off the tee, has a middling short iron game, but scores well on par-4s and can typically be trusted on the courses he plays well at. Even though he got extremely hot on Saturday, he should be somewhat low-owned given the four golfers around him (Finau, Woody, last year’s runner-up in Webb Simpson, and Lefty).

Value:

Si Woo Kim ($6900) – Although his course history here isn’t the most exciting – one missed cut and a T67 in 2016 that included a blowup round of 78 on Sunday – and his 2017 statistics are horrific to look at after his year with a back injuries and WDs…and somehow a win at the PLAYERS. Looking further back to when Kim was healthy, he’s long off the tee and is fairly strong on both par-4s and short approaches (combined -85 under par).

This season, Si WOOOO has only missed the one cut (at the RSM Classic) and has picked up a third at Mayakoba and 10th at the Tournament of Champions. His putting has cost him dearly early in the year, but he gained strokes on the greens here in 2017, and putting is so variable from week-to-week that at only $6900 he’s more than worth a shot.

Other valuesBud Cauley ($7300): never missed a cut here, nails on short approach, middle-of-the-pack off the tee. Strongest on par-4s than -3s and -5s, average BoB%. Worth a shot at this price point.

Emiliano Grillo ($7200): Tee to green stud that popped last week, but couldn’t find a way to get a putt down over four days. Better with longer irons than short, made the cut here the past two years in his only two attempts.

Good luck this week! You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey if you have any questions, and my DMs are always open.

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff January 29, 2018 23:54

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