PGA DFS Report: Career Builder Challenge Lineup Picks & Course Breakdown

Written By Jimmie on January 16, 2018

Career Builder Challenge DraftKings Fantasy Golf Picks & Plays

To give an introduction to this article series, each week, I (@DFSJimmie) will give a concise course breakdown and key stats, followed by several players I like in the various pricing tiers. The goal is for DFS Report to be your first and last stop for an all-around PGA news source each week … and for free!

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The Course: 

The three courses in play this week are The Stadium, La Quinta CC, and The Nicklaus Tournament Course. The first three rounds will be played across all three courses. The Stadium hosts the final round, which means a 54-hole cut. The three courses are similar: par 72, reachable par 5’s and short-to-medium par 4’s dominate the landscape this week. The courses are relatively easy, and scoring is abundant. The Stadium weighs in as the most difficult (and only marginally so by tour standards). For a more in-depth look at the courses and the breakdown, find them all posted here on my Twitter account.

For those who don’t want to dig too deep, I have broken down the scoring by distance this week to give you a better idea which hole groupings provide the most DraftKings scoring potential.

As you can see above, focus on the short par 5’s and the short-to-medium par 4’s for our DK scoring models.

In general, these courses are flat, this being California desert. The over-seeded rough can be sticky and yield some really tough lies that lead to bogeys. On average, missing the fairway results in -0.26 strokes per hole at this event. That means if you were to hit 10 of 14 fairways per round this week (71 percent success, six percent higher than tour average), you would lose -1.04 strokes per round (-4.16 strokes per tournament).

Those are significant numbers when looking for guys who will finish in the top 20 at worst. They certainly can’t be losing four strokes an event off the tee. Based on these averages, you will see guys club down a bit more often this week to ensure hitting the fairway, especially if the conditions are firm and the fairways are running. As far as putting goes, it’s technically the same surface as the previous two weeks (Bermuda), but it is over-seeded with Rye this week.

What does that mean for our golfers? Not a ton, but the ball will be slicker off the putter face, less bouncy, will roll quicker and will react a bit more like the Bent grasses of the East Coast.

NOTE: These courses and this tournament attract a weaker field and, thus, lend themselves to first-time winners. Don’t be afraid to play with a little more risk this week (in GPP).

Key Stats:

  1. Birdie or Better/DK Points

2. SG: APP (Strokes Gained: Approach)

3. Equal weight Par 4 scoring from 0-400 yards and from 400-450 yards

4. Par 5 Scoring from 500-550 yards

5. SG: P (Strokes Gained: Putting) Really, you can use any kind of putting metric you want here. But, in general, look for players who have been good and/or great with the putter lately.


PGA DFS Players:

Top Tier: $11.8K – $9K

Jon Rahm ($11.8K) – Not that Jon Rahm needs any help “building his career,” he will likely hoist the trophy on Sunday. Even if he doesn’t put away this weak field, he still has a DK point floor of close to 100. All the guy does is score, and on these gettable courses, expect Rahm to find his share of eagles and birdies, early and often. I am keeping this one simple at the top; it is Rahm, and it’s not close.

Brian Harman ($11.5K) – Brian Harman just keeps knocking out top five finishes (in way tougher fields than this one). Obviously dialed in with his approach game and playing more accuracy-dependent courses the previous two weeks, I expect Harman to continue his dominant play. On the narrative side, Harman earned his PGA Tour spot on these courses during his Q School finals. Harman could be looking to peak with a win, back where it all started for him. While he is clearly overpriced, this may also be exactly what makes him a good GPP play with some lower ownership. The masses will flock to Rahm just above him.

Phil Mickelson ($10K) – Phil Mickelson is making his 2018 debut this week and doing so on a course that has been good to him over the years. Mickelson picked up 28.15 strokes over the field in his last five tournaments at La Quinta. A lot like Rahm, even if Phil can’t hold his place in the top 15 this week, his scoring ability makes up for some of the big numbers he is prone to putting up. The veteran checks in at fourth overall in my model and fourth in DK points scored. Lock Phil is for solid top-end value this week.

Other to consider: You know how I feel about Webb Simpson if you read last week. He is in play again this week, but at high ownership, I won’t be playing much if any of him.

Mid Tier: $8.9K – $7.5K

Bill Haas (8.6K) – Bill Haas is all risk versus reward this week. He basically owns this event (two wins and lots of top 10s) but has missed his last two cuts at weak-field events. Haas carries lots of upside if he can turn it around here but not much of a floor if his game is in the gutter. Tread lightly here. Haas needs a high finish to pay off since he tends to make a few too many pars and not enough birdies.

Bud Cauley ($8.4K) – The forgotten member of the Spieth/Thomas/Fowler graduating class, Bud Cauley looks to keep his comeback going stronger into 2018. He finished eighth recently at the RSM and is a good course fit having made three of his four cuts here. Cauley improved each time around La Quinta, posting a top 15 and a top five finish last year. Cauley is certainly due for his first win after being in contention a couple of times last year.

J.J. Spaun ($7.9K)  J.J. Spaun is currently in great form. He boasts lots of scoring upside and is coming back to California where his putter tends to heat up on familiar surfaces. Spaun is picking up 30+ strokes on the field over his last five events and also finds himself ranked seventh in my model. Stats like that make it really difficult to get away from Spaun this week in a tournament known for first-time winners.

David Lingmerth ($7.8K)  The diminutive Swede makes his state-side debut for 2018 at a place where he finished second twice. Twice! He’s also made five of his last five cuts at this event, picking up 34.75 strokes around La Quinta. Obviously, Lingmerth likes this course, but in his last event he posted a 17th place at the RSM. All signs point to Lingmerth’s straight and steady style of play going well again here at the Career Builder this week. This could finally be the week he converts the win.

Others to consider: Brandt Snedeker, Peter Uihlein, Luke List, Charles Howell III


Value Tier: $7.4K and Lower

Ryan Armour ($7.4K) – Ryan Armour has been Mr. Consistent lately, making his last three cuts and ranking first overall in my model this week. Put him comfortably at the top of my value picks. His overall high ranking is largely due to his solid off-the-tee game and best-in-field approach game over his last 24 rounds. His game matches up well with the trio of courses this week, straight and steady with a putter that can get hot. His only previous win came at a similar style course and birdie-fest environment. Lock Armour in for solid value this week.

Martin Laird ($7.4K) – This Martin Laird play is based on his sparkling course history at this event and not so much his recent form. Recently, Laird played just once, five weeks ago and missed the cut. Not so hot, but Laird loves it at La Quinta. He made all five of his last five cuts here, including a top 10 finish last year. I am willing to overlook his one and only missed cut five weeks ago for his spectacular course history this week.

Ryan Palmer ($7.1K) – After battling through some off-the-course issues last season, Ryan Palmer is poised for a resurgence in 2018. He showed a bit of old form last week early on before fading throughout the weekend. I am encouraged by his early results though. Palmer has really enjoyed his time at La Quinta in the past. He made four of five cuts and all inside the top 20 (mc/17/10/6/2). Palmer’s solid course history and the little spark I saw from him last week are enough for me to want some exposure this week.

Others to consider: Dominic Bozzelli, Scott Stallings, Tyler Duncan, C.T. Pan

That does it for the Career Builder Challenge breakdown. Good luck this week, and I’ll see you next for The Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (South), along with Tiger Woods as he launches into his first full-cut tournament of the 2018 comeback season.

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James AKA @DFSJimmie has been grinding PGA & NFL DFS for the past three years, having gotten his start from The Fantasy Golf Degenerates. Previous PGA DFS columns include, "The Daily Contrarian" and "The Tee 2 Green" course breakdown series. In his spare time, he's built several of his own PGA analytical tools and can be found on the Bogey Free podcast frequently, and occasionally on The Pat Mayo Experience. In general, he just loves analyzing and talking about golf, and is excited to provide some tips to help you win at DFS PGA.

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