We at DFI PGA are pleased to officially announce the release of the DFI PGA Guide tomorrow, January 12th. This guide features not just course and tournament breakdowns for every week of the PGA Tour season, but also gives in-depth advice on how to manage salaries, decide between certain types of players for specific types of weeks, and even extensive player rankings and recommendations for the 2017 season (meaning tournament-by-tournament picks based on history and course chemistry). With the help of this guide, DFI followers will be able to take a step ahead of normal DFS players in a special way, as we prepare you for each and every week to be set up for success on the DFS stage. Now, let’s get to the second part of the two-headed monster at DFI PGA we believe you need in order to be as ready as possible for DFS PGA – our weekly picks.
This week in PGA, we travel across the islands from Maui to Honolulu for the 2017 Sony Open. While some of the Premier Players featured in last week’s SBS Tournament of Champions return back home (Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler), some like Spieth decided to enjoy the warm weather for the second stint of the PGA Tour’s Hawaiian stop. Joining them are the plethora of other Tour players who are eager to start their 2017 in the right direction, as we return to a normal field this week.
Because the Tour is just now starting its week-after-week routine for the 2017 season, recent play is going to be an intangible that is hard to analyze. The Par 70 course is a few hundred yards less than last week’s Kapalua Plantation Course, so even the stats of those who played last week don’t give very concrete evidence on the state of their current form. There are a couple players, however, who come into Waialae with just the right kind of game to take down the tropical course…
Daniel Berger ($8,800) – With a short course like we will see at Waialae, only a player who can play par 4’s well has a chance at taking down the Sony Open – bring in Daniel Berger. Berger entered the Tour in 2013 after playing his college golf at Florida State. Not only did he spend his college years in Florida, but he also resides in Plantation, FL, meaning Berger is uniquely familiar to playing in tropical conditions like we’ll see this week.
That is hardly why we like Berger in Hawaii, though. Berger comes into the Sony Open after finishing 14th in last week’s Tournament of Champions, playing for the first time since finishing 2nd in the WGC-HSBC Champions last October. Berger has been on fire as of late, and this short course seems to be the place where a top-notch ball striker like Berger can continue that trend. Over his last 5 tournaments played, Berger has finished in the top-15 all but one time, and has proven himself as a strong contender week-in and week-out on Tour. To boot, Berger appeared at the Sony Open in both 2015 and 2016, finishing T13th and T42nd. In all 8 of those rounds played, Berger was under-par each time.
Proving the caliber of his game is the 2016 St. Jude Classic champion’s stats from last season, where he ranked in the top-60 on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approaches (23rd), Strokes Gained: Driving (42nd), Strokes Gained: Putting (60th), and Strokes Gained: Total (19th). What this shows is that Berger had nearly every facet of his game in top form all season compared to the rest of the PGA Tour. The only part of Berger’s game that needs to grow is his touch around the greens, but that did not stop the young Floridian from finishing 22nd in last year’s FedEx Cup Standings, improving from 46th the year before.
The one stat that jumps out the most, however, that leads us to believe that Berger is a Must-Have this week is his par 4 scoring, where he ranked 14th on Tour last year. On a Par 70 course that requires one’s complete game to be in tune, a player like Berger should be eagerly awaiting his return to Waialae.
Harris English ($7,500) – Only a few players this week have made the cut the past three years in Honolulu, and English is one of them. In 2014, English trailed by just a single stroke heading into Sunday, but a final round 67 led the Georgia Bulldog to finish alone in 4th. The very next year, English shot a 67 once again on Sunday, this time rising from 8th heading into the final round to T3rd by the end of the day. And then last year after starting the week 8-under heading into the weekend, English struggled to an even-par Saturday and Sunday to finish merely T56th.
For a course and tournament history as solid as that, we at DFI were baffled by his low price this week. This is largely due to his performance at his last two starts, where he failed to make the cut at both The RSM Classic and OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November. Upon closer analysis, however, you would see that Harris had made 13 consecutive cuts dating back to the Players Championship in May before these two missed cuts. English has not played in nearly two months, giving him a much needed break from Tour in order to improve whatever was lacking in his game over those past two bad appearances.
Now, English heads to Hawaii and a Par 70 course that he has proven that he can control, where he has shot 2 65’s, 3 66’s, 3 67’s, 1 68, 1 69, and a pair of 70’s in his last twelve rounds. For a price so low as English’s this week, that kind of consistent play year after year deems him a Must-Have for your lineup this week. Expect English to not only make the cut, but continue to climb the leaderboard throughout the weekend in Honolulu.