2015 Fantasy GolfChris Garosi

Daily Fantasy Golf Strategy: Northern Trust Open

It was one of those weeks where fading Phil Mickelson hurt me. But, he choked away a playoff chance by missing a five footer on 18. Congrats to Vaughn Taylor for his first win in a decade and a two-year exemption on Tour.

This week, we end our stay on the West Coast with the Northern Trust Open at beautiful Riviera Country Club. It’s a course with a long history (Ben Hogan won his first U.S. Open here in 1948). And we get back to a normal tournament with a cut on Friday and no Chris Berman. Our friends at DraftKings continue to roll out some fantastic contests. And I’m here to help you win some dough.

It’s a great week to check out DraftKings as they have some top notch contests.

Come on over and take a look.

Tour Stop

It’s our final week in California for a while as the pros tee it up for the Northern Trust Open at historic Riviera Country Club. Riviera is a par-71 course which runs 7,349 yards and has been the host to a PGA Tour event since 1929. And it’s another course you can play. That is, if you know a member or if you have a couple extra hundred bucks to get an assistant club pro to go around with you. Sportscaster Al Michaels is a member there. O.J. Simpson was.

The weather looks like it should be perfect as it steadily gets warmer during the week with no rain and only the chance of the wind picking up a bit on Sunday. It looks like late Wednesday weather means that those with early tee times on Thursday should be able to attack pins at will before the course dries out. The tee times are here.

Scorecard breakdown: It’s a par 71, so we lose one of our par 5s. We have three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. One of the par 4s (number 10) is driveable. And one of the par 3s has a bunker in the middle of the green.


It’s a nice field at the top as we have Rory here for the first time in his career and we have Sergio making his stateside debut for 2016. The NTO usual starts the influx of European players into the States for the next few tournaments. So, we’ll also see Andy Sullivan’s debut here and Jamie Donaldson as well. Bernd Wiesberger makes his 2016 stateside debut as do Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel

The full field can be found here.

Also, thanks to GolfOdds.com for the odds this week. If you’d like to see a second set of odds, check out the Betting Zone’s odds here – just click on this week’s tournament on the left hand pane.

Past Tournament Results

This course has hosted PGA tourneys since 1929 and has hosted the NTO 54 times including every time since 1999. So, we have more than enough course history to go on again this week.

So, here is the top 20 for the last three years:


Statistical Review

Let’s get to it.

Ball Striking (BS) – combines Total Driving (which is the golfer’s rank in Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy) with the golfer’s rank in GIR.

Par 5 scoring Average (P5SA) – And with that length and accuracy, we need scorers, especially on par 5s.

Scrambling – If the golfer isn’t accurate, we need him to get out of trouble. And almost every golfer this week will get into some sort of trouble.

And each week, we’ll look at Strokes Gained: Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG:T2G).

DraftKings Expert Picks

Rory McIlroy | $13,200 – Rory and Spieth are the same price. How cute! Of the two, I prefer Jordan as he’s had some experience (and success at Riviera). But, with both McIlroy and Spieth at nearly $2,000 more than the third priced player, they both offer excellent GPP options as their ownership will likely be lower than normal. Rory makes his debut in the States for 2016 and his career debut at this tourney.

Jordan Spieth | $13,200 – See McIlroy, Rory but add in back to back top 15 finishes here the last two years. I prefer Jordan to Rory though both are playing pretty well.

Dustin Johnson | $11,300 – DJ disappointed many last week with his T41, but I’m not going to fade him this week. But, let’s ride again on the horse of course history! He’s finished second each of the last two years and has four top 5 finishes in his last six starts at the NTO. He missed the cut other two starts in that six start run.

Hideki Matsuyama | $11,100 – Flu alert! Hideki withdrew from the pro-am today with flu-like symptoms. Make sure to monitor the situation. He’s played the NTO twice and finished T23 and T4 (last year). His putter is always shaky and that could come into play this week in a star-studded field.

Justin Rose | $10,800 – Ok, so Rose is probably alright. He’s made eight of nine cuts with one top 10 (T9 in 2011) at the NTO. That’s not the best historical record, but his profile works here.

Jimmy Walker | $10,600 – Walker had a run of four top 20 finishes at Riviera end last year with a T41. He’s finished 13th or better in his last five starts on the PGA. History and current form have come together.

Bubba Watson | $10,400 – I know Bubba wasn’t very good last week. And I know you with you could wait until the turn on Thursday to see if Bubba is interested in playing in the tournament or just wants to go home. Watson won here two years ago and has three top 15 finishes in the last four years at Riviera so he’s hard to ignore.

Sergio Garcia | $10,100 – I really like Sergio this week. I know he won’t win, but e hasn’t missed a cut since the end of May 2015. He opened 2016 with a T7 at the Qatar Masters and hasn’t been outside of the top 11 in his last five starts. He’s finished inside the top 15 in his last three Riviera starts.

J.B. Holmes | $9,800 – Holmes had a run of five straight top 12 finishes at the NTO end in 2012 However, he’s struggled more recently at Riviera. But, his current form is stupid good (I think that’s the definition) and he’s shown he can go low here.

Charl Schwartzel | $9,600 – Charl is one of my favorite golfers, so always take my recommendations with a grain of salt. He’s coming in playing quite well with two wins in his last three starts. He’s started here the last three years and had back to back top five finishes and a T41 (last year).

Adam Scott | $9,500 – The Aussie Phil Mickelson. He’s almost an auto-fade for me, though he’s priced pretty attractively. He hasn’t played here since 2013 when he finished T10 and did win in 2005. He’s really volatile with the putter leading to much of that volatility.

Bill Haas | $9,200 – Haas comes in playing well having made 13 of his last 14 cuts on Tour, with his only missed cut three weeks ago at the Farmers. He comes in off a T8 last week at Pebble. Haas can’t putt, but the rest of his profile checks out. Haas missed the cut here last year, but had four straight top 25 finishes before that including a win in 2012.

Paul Casey | $8,900 – I may own a bit too much of Casey this week. His profile fits outside of his poor scrambling. He’s played Riviera four times over the last 10 years, made the cut three times and finished in the top 10 once (last year’s T2 where he lost in a playoff). His only start of 2016 ended with a missed cut (on the number) at the Farmers.

Matt Kuchar | $8,600 Kuch hasn’t had any real success here (made the cut in eight of nine trips, but no top 10s). His best finish was a T14 in 2008. His pedigree gives him the benefit of the doubt, but he’s not had a ton of success here.

Justin Thomas | $8,500 – Thomas debuted at the NTO last year and finished T41. But, that wasn’t his first time here. He faced off against Jordan Spieth in the NCAA Golf team championship and lost to Jordan 3 and 2. He’s got one of the better profiles this week and could end up being one of the higher owned players as people see top 10 upside.

Andy Sullivan | $8,400 – Sully! You can to consider Sullivan after his performance here in Dubai. He makes his debut here so I recommend him with some trepidation. But, he’s a top 30 golfer worldwide and finished T2 in his last tourney in Dubai. He’s a high risk; high reward option.

Brendan Steele | $8,300 – Steele has made the cut in his last four trips to the NTO including top 15 finishes the last two years. Steele’s 2016 has been solid with three made cuts in three events and his best finish at the Waste Management (T17). He has one of the better statistical profiles for this event.

Ryan Moore | $8,200 – Moore has four top 25s in his last five trips to the NTO. And he missed the cut last week so a few gamers will probably be licking their wounds from last week. He’s got an excellent profile and could be in for another top 20 finish.

Harris English | $8×100 – English had his best finish (solo third) in a year at the WMPO is his last time on Tour. English has played Riviera three times and made the cut each time with his best finish a T10 two years ago. He’s only missed one cut in his last 20 tournaments on Tour. Marry all of that with an excellent profile and English seems quite safe.

Kevin Na | $8,000 – He’s a great contrarian play as his recent work here at the NTO is bad (no finish better than T61 in his last four. He had some big success a little further in the past and he missed the cut last week. I imagine he may be the lowest owned of all of the players in this range.

Fredrik Jacobson | $7,900 – Freddie’s got back to back T4s which is nice. He didn’t play here last year and missed the cut the year before, but finished T13 in 2012 and T3 in 2013. That current form is hard to ignore.

Billy Horschel | $7900 – Amazingly, BillyHo hasn’t played the NTO previously. He’s put up back to back top 25 finishes on the Tour coming into this event. He’s not much of a scrambler, but the rest of the profile is just fine. He’ll probably be low-owned with no course history and an imperfect profile.

Jason Dufner | $7,800 – Dufner hasn’t shaken the hangover yet from his win at the CareerBuilder. And he’s never had any success here (one top 30 finish in five starts). The profile works relatively well, but ooooohhhh that putter.

Danny Lee | $7,800 – Great putter, but the rest of the profile isn’t great. He finished T69 last year in his second start at the NTO. He hasn’t missed a cut since the British Open (except for his withdrawal at the CIMB). He’s probably safe to make the cut, but I don’t see a lot of upside.

Keegan Bradley | $7,800 – Bradley’s made four straight cuts at the NTO with two top five finishes including last year. It’s all about course history here for a player’s whose profile has some holes.

Matt Jones | $7700 – Jones grades out statistically in the same neighborhood as Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and J.B. Holmes. So, that’s nice. He’ll be heavily owned as more and more people are familiar with him and his game. His current form is excellent and he finished T14 here last year.

Bernd Wiesberger | $7,700 – Another vacationer from Europe, Bernd has been playing well on the European Tour with back to back top 20s entering this week. He missed the cut at Riviera last year in his debut. It’s tough to know exactly what we’ll get here so I think he’s GPP-only.

Charles Howell III | $7,600 –CH3 won here in 2007 and the hasn’t finished better than T55 since. And he’s played here every year since then. No thanks. And say good bye to Chucky as we won’t likely recommend him the rest of the year since we’re done with the West Coast.

Hunter Mahan | $7,600 – Mahan has played here 10 times and made the cut in seven of those trips with just one top 10 (in 2013). He’s started off 2016 poorly. Also see DeLaet, Graham.

Gary Woodland | $7,600 – Woodland’s had no success here, but his current form makes him a viable option as his length (currently number one in 2016) means he can hit his way out of issues.

Luke Donald | $7500 – Donald had some success here in the past, but that’s true of Donald and just about every tournament he’s entered. He’s playing relatively well with two made cuts in three starts in 2016. I just don’t know what to make of Donald week in and week out.

Robert Streb | $7,500 – Streb’s never had any success here in his two trips. The profile looks like it should work, but it hasn’t in the past.

Graham DeLaet | $7400 – Never again.

Tony Finau | $7400 – Finau debuted with a T56 here last year. His profile works pretty well though he’s not a great scrambler. I like his length this week to make a difference.

John Huh | $7400 – Huh has made four straight cuts to open the 2016 calendar year and has back to back top 10s so he’s in fantastic form. He’s made only one of three cuts here and that was a T35 two years ago. He’s an excellent putter and scrambler, but it’s his current form that has me excited.

Smylie Kaufman | $7,400 – Kaufman’s length could give him a leg up and he showed on the Web.com Tour he could score just about anywhere. He missed the cut at the Waste Management – his first miss on the PGA Tour this season. He has the tools to do well this week.

Marc Leishman | $7,300 – It’s weird seeing a golfer of Leishman’s caliber down here, but his current form is awful. Terrible. Putrid. Yucky.

William McGirt | $7,300 – McGirt has finished in the top 20 each of the last two years at the NTO. His profile looks solid and it’s worked here the last couple of years. He’s got two top 25s in his four 2016 starts.

James Hahn | $7,300 – The defending champion has to be a consideration this week. He’s made all three cuts here in the last three years. He missed the cut last week after a run of seven straight made on Tour.

Will Wilcox | $7,300 – He’ll be heavily owned as he usually is. DFSers love them some Wilcox. And with good reason. He makes his debut here, but it seems like he’s locked in and could be ready to go on a run.

Patrick Rodgers | $7,300 – There are a lot of guys at $7,300 who make attractive options and Rodgers is another one. He finished last year at 44th in ball striking and 40th in par 5 scoring. He’s finished in the top 20 in six of his last nine tourneys. It’s his NTO debut, but he did finish T9 at the 2012 NCAA Championships at Riviera.

Bryce Molder | $7200 – Molder’s made four straight cuts at Riveria. He missed the cut inexplicably last week. No one will be on him.

Francesco Molinari | $7,200 – Molinari missed the cut here last year and finished T40 two years ago – his only two trips to Riviera. But, his profile looks like it should work here. I like him as a safe, cut-maker this week.

Jamie Lovemark | $7,200 – Lovemark bombed his way around the Web.com Tour and has done so in his first crack at full-time PGA playing. He’s shown he can put up big numbers on DraftKings so the upside is unparalleled down here in the low $7000s.

Patton Kizzire | $7,200 – Kizzire debuts here this week and he’s been up and down since going full time on the PGA Tour. His four 2016 starts have ended with a MC, T42, T8 and T60 (last time out). He’s an excellent scorer and is long enough off the tee to be useful this week.

K.J. Choi | $7,100 – Choi is 15 for 15 in cuts made at this event with four top 10s. Any questions?

Aaron Baddeley | $7,100 – Ok, maybe one more time with Badds. He won here in 2011 and has two top 20s and two missed cuts in his four starts here since. But, this is REALLY the last time we’re going to offer Badds as a potential start.

Si Woo Kim | $7,100 – Kim’s form is lagging a bit, but he’s still making cuts. And he’ll probably make the cut here too. He’s a solid player with a bit of upside in his debut.

Daniel Berger | $7,100 – Berger has one of the best statistical profiles in the field this week and he’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay down here. He makes his debut at the NTO, but did play here in 2012 at the NCAA Championship and finished T21. Berger’s form isn’t great in 2016 with a T42, MC and T58 in his three starts. Maybe the familiar confines of Riviera put him back into shape.

John Merrick | $7,000 – Former winner. Currently no interest in him, though he has done well in his last two Web.com starts. So, maybe he’s figured it out.

Jason Kokrak | $7000 – Kokrak’s profile works, but that putter could cause issues. He’s made the cut in three of four starts here with a top finish of T34.

Kevin Chappell | $7,000 – Chappell’s form is ugly and his made two of his last four cuts at Riviera with two top 25s. That current form is hard to get past.

Cameron Tringale | $7,000 – Tringale is five for five in cuts made here (all in the last five years) with four top 25 finishes. Last year’s T47 was his only finish outside of the top 25. Course history is our guide for Tringale.

Anirban Lahiri | $7,000 – Outside of an opening round 80 at the Farmers, Lahiri has played quite well in 2016. In fact, he’s probably one of the safer players below $7,500 and could be a cash game option. The Farmers was his only missed cut in his last 15 worldwide starts.

Hudson Swafford | $7,000 – Swafford missed the cut at the Waste Management and that hurt us. We took it personally. We want Hudson to succeed. He’s got a couple of things that should work in his favor here (putting, ball striking and scoring), but he’s missed the cut in his only two starts here.

It gets ugly quickly down below $7,000 (not that the $7,000s are that great).

Ernie Els | $6,900 – He says he’s cured the yips. I want more data.

Retief Goosen | $6,900 – Goosen tied for eight here last year in his early season renaissance. He’s made the cut five years in a row at Riviera. His first two 2016 starts have ended in a missed cut and T51.

Charley Hoffman | $6,900 – Hoffman’s made seven of nine cuts here with a top finish of T12 (2014). He was T30 last year and has a solid profile that could work here. At this point, you’re probably just looking for a guy with a reasonable shot to make the cut as you try to build a Rory or Jordan lineup.

Adam Hadwin | $6,900 – Hadwin is in good form with two top 20s in his last three Tour events. He also debuted with a T22 at the NTO last year. He’s currently third in SG:P on Tour in 2016 and that hot putter could come in handy.

Vijay Singh | $6,800 – Singh was T12 last year as he and Retief Goosen turned back time together. He seems to have lost the fountain of youth, but he’s made five straight cuts at the NTO. He missed the cut last week at Pebble.

Steve Stricker | $6,800 – A sneaky option as Stricker had some serious success here between 2008 and 2012 with a win, second place and T11. He likely won’t repeat those feast, but hey, what do you have to lose?

Vaughn Taylor | $6,800 – Operation: Fade the Winner from last week in full effect.

Blayne Barber | $6,800 – Barber finished T7 at the 2012 NCAAs held here at Riviera. He also finished T12 last year and T42 three years ago in his only two starts at the NTO. He’s an intriguing play down here in the mess that is the sub-$7k range.

Mark Hubbard | $6,800 – Hubbard makes his debut at the NTO this week and finished T26 last week at Pebble. He’s an excellent scrambler, but a lot of the rest of the profile doesn’t seem to fit.

Fred Couples | $6,700 – Couples plays here for the 34th time and he’s made the cut in 28 of his first 33 times here. But, he’s missed the cut in three of the last four years.

Seung-yul Noh | $6,700 – Course history says Noh can play here and that’s what you have to hang your hat on. He’s played here two of the last three years and finished T16 (debut) and T22 (last year).

Morgan Hoffmann | $6,700 – T22 last year in his second shot at the course. Missed back to back cuts on Tour coming into the NTO. He bombs the ball so if he can just stay on the fairway every once and a while, he could be dangerous.

Andrew Loupe | $6700 – Loupe has made three straight cuts to start 2016 and had two top 10s in late 2015 after graduating from the Web.Com Tour. He’s a fantastic putter and that can make up for some other deficiencies in his game.

Cameron Smith | $6,700 – Let’s never fight again. This is the type of course that Smith could handle. He’s a GPP option only and he’s T11 has been back on the Smith train.

Harold Varner III | $6,700 – Another Web.com bomber who has shown the ability to score and score in bunches. He actually played here two years ago and finished T70, so he’s seen the course before and he’s a much better player than he was then.

Justin Leonard | $6,600 – He’ll probably make the cut. He probably won’t be worth rostering.

Jason Gore | $6,600 – Eight cuts in a row made on Tour and back to back cuts made at the NTO. Not a ton of upside, but could see the weekend.

Bronson Burgoon | $6,600 – Debutant, but a solid Web.com profile means he could be alright on this track.

Jon Curran | $6,600 – 2016 results: MC, MC, T11, MC. Hmmmm….

Daniel Summerhays | $6,500 – Back to back to 30 finishes at the NTO, but his current form is trending in the wrong direction (T13, T42, T67, MC in his last four).

Matt Every | $6,500 – Has he withdrawn yet? Nope? Just wait.

Kyle Reifers | $6,500 – Reifers debuted with a T8 at the NTO last year. Reifers withdrew from his last PGA tournament, but that was likely because he wasn’t going to make the cut anyway.

Brendon Todd | $6,500 – Todd finished T14 here last year and has made two cuts in a row at the NTO. His current form is awful. Icky. Stinky.

Carlos Ortiz | $6,400 –Bombs it and scores on par 5s. That’s a combo that has a chance to be dangerous. He’s missed five of his last six cuts on Tour coming in, but did finish T20 here last yerar in his debut.

J.J. Spaun | $6,300 – Spaun finished T13 at the 2012 NCAA Golf Championships held at Riviera. He’s here on a sponsor’s exemption and played his college golf in California at San Diego State. He’s here on a sponsor’s exemption and was the 2015 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Player of the Year and Order of Merit winner. He probably doesn’t make the cut, but he’s an interesting choice

Luke List | $6,200 – Web.com Tour grad who bombs the ball (fourth last year on the Web.com). Makes an excellent GPP option.

Steven Bowditch | $6,100 – He’s coming…..that T41 is just the start of something good. Yes, I know he’s never made the cut here in four tries.

Derek Fathauer | $6,100 – Fired an opening round 66 last year to lead after one day. Ended the tourney in a tie for 61st.

J.J. Henry | $5900 – Cheaper of the two JJs in the tournament this week which isn’t good for him.

Charlie Beljan | $5,900 – Another bomber, but this one has had some success here. He’s played here three times and debut with a solo second in 2013 and backed that up with a T12 in 2014. He ended up T69 last year. His recent (and not so recent form) is awful.

Good luck this week! Head over to DraftKings to choose your squad for this week.

DraftKings Scoring

Roster size: 6 Golfers


Golfers on each team will accumulate points as follows:

  • Per Hole Scoring
    • Double Eagle (DBL EAG): +20 PTs
    • Eagle (EAG): +8 PTs
    • Birdie (BIR): +3 PTs
    • Par (PAR): +0.5 PTs
    • Bogey (BOG): -0.5 PTs
    • Double Bogey (DBL BOG): -1 PT
    • Worse than Double Bogey (WORSE DBL BOG): -1 PT
  • Tournament Finish Scoring
    • 1st: 30 PTs
    • 2nd: 20 PTs
    • 3rd: 18 PTs
    • 4th: 16 PTs
    • 5th: 14 PTs
    • 6th: 12 PTs
    • 7th: 10 PTs
    • 8th: 9 PTs
    • 9th: 8 PTs
    • 10th: 7 PTs
    • 11th–15th: 6 PTs
    • 16th–20th: 5 PTs
    • 21st–25th: 4 PTs
    • 26th–30th: 3 PTs
    • 31st–40th: 2 PTs
    • 41st-50th: 1 PTs
  • Streaks and Bonuses
    • Streak of 3 Birdies of Better (MAX 1 Per Round) (3+ BIR STRK): +3 PTs
    • Bogey Free Round (BOG FREE RD): +3 PTs
    • All 4 Rounds Under 70 Strokes (ALL 4 RDS UND 70): +5 PTs
    • Hole in One (HOLE IN ONE): +10 PTs

Scoring Notes: Ties for a finishing position will not reduce or average down points. For example, if 2 golfers tie for 3rd place, each will receive the 18 fantasy points for the 3rd place finish result. Playoff Holes will not count towards final scoring, with the exception of the “finishing position” scoring. For example, the golfer who wins the tournament will receive the sole award of 1st place points, but will not accrue points for their scoring result in the individual playoff holes.

Player Lock Notes: All golfers lock at the time the first golfer tees off on day 1 of an event.

Full rules are located here for DraftKings Daily Fantasy golf.

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