After the U.S. Open Championship last week with an elite field on a difficult course, the PGA Tour heads to a much warmer climate for its annual stop in the Dominican Republic. The event began as a Korn Ferry Tour stop in 2016 and was an alternate field event opposite the WGC-Match Play Championship until this season. It was originally scheduled for May 2020 but moved to the final weekend in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The move also elevated the event to a full FedEx Cup point event for the first time it its history and ensures the winner an invite to The Masters next spring.
The field doesn’t have a lot of the top names in golf after all the superstars were in action at Winged Foot last week. Graeme McDowell ($7,800) will be back to defend his title and there are three more past champions on this course in the field with Brice Garnett ($7,900), Nate Lashley ($6,900) and Dominic Bozzelli ($6,200) all teeing it up. Henrik Stenson ($9,500) is another big name to check out, although the veteran Swede hasn’t played very much since the season restarted in June. Will Zalatoris ($10,900), the most expensive player in the field, will be playing on a sponsor exemption after an impressive T6 at the U.S. Open and comes in as the points leader on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The event will take place at the Corales Golf Club for the fifth straight year, so there is a little course history to go on for many of the players teeing it up this week who have played this event instead of the Match Play event in Texas. The course will definitely bring some tropical vibes and picturesque scenery, highlighted by the “Devil’s Elbow,” a fantastic three-hole finishing stretch culminating in the 18th hole which doglegs around a beautiful bay and often results in major swings since there is a wide range of results depending on how aggressive players decide to be. Winning scores have been -18 or lower in each of the previous four events, so get ready for players to go low, unlike last week at Winged Foot.
The course was designed by Tom Fazio, who updated Quail Hollow Club and designed Sea Island, where the Wells Fargo Championship and the RSM Classic are held each season, respectively. Players who have scored well there will hope for some correlation to this tournament as well. The course features 10 par 4s, which average 442 yards with four falling over 450 yards and four measuring between 400-to-450. The longest is that majestic finishing hole, which checks in at 501 yards on the scorecard.
Despite the low scoring overall, the course typically plays as one of the longest on the Tour. It is a par 72 compared to last week’s par 70 but plays about 200 yards longer overall. The fairways are fairly wide and while wind can make it tricky, the holes are fairly open off the tee. Players will have a chance to grip-and-rip, emphasizing distance over accuracy. Getting hot with the putter is also key since past winners have gained lots of shots on the green and top-shelf putters tend to finish well. Overall, we’re looking for long-hitters who can make birdies and typically putt pretty well.
Pretty much any golfer in this field would be a value consideration in an elite-field event but everyone’s salary is adjusted up due to the lack of star power in play. As a result, finding values can be a little tricky, but getting cheap players who make it to the weekend and post strong finishes is still key to coming out on top of your DFS contests. There are still some nice bargain plays to consider who are available at the cheap end of the salary structure. Below you can find my top four plays for under $7,500 on DraftKings.
Chris Kirk, $7,400
It has been a long road for Kirk, who has battled alcohol and depression issues but has recently been seeing his game round into form after the restart. Kirk got a win on the Korn Ferry Tour at the King & Bear Classic, where he won on a course that sets up similarly to Corales at 7,279 yards as a course emphasizing driving. He made the cut in three of his four events on Tour since the start of July, highlighted by a top-25 finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Kirk started out hot in his most recent tournament with a 67-68 start to the Korn Ferry Tour Championship but faded on the weekend with a 75-77 to finish T64.
Kirk comes in with a very solid resume from before he had to step away for a while with four PGA Tour victories to his credit. One of those wins came at Sea Island on another Tom Fazio-designed course. He has a win and two other top-five finishes at that track and will hope he can find similar success in his first trip to Punta Cana. Kirk also made the cut in each of his past three trips to Quail Hollow, but that was several years ago. He’s obviously a risky play due to his inconsistent recent form, but he has a rare pedigree for a player in this price range and he fits the style of player who typically excels at this venue.
Beau Hossler, $7,200
Whenever the course calls for driving distance and putting, Hossler is in play as a bargain option. He ranked 26th in driving distance in the 2020 season and 24th in shots gained putting. He showed off a hot putter in his first start of the 2021 season as well, gaining an impressive 1.630 shots with the flat stick at the Safeway Open, where he finished a solid T23 after closing with a -5 Final Round in which he was bogey-free.
Hossler will be making his first trip to this event but his game should fit the venue. He made the cut in 13-of-22 starts in the 2020 PGA TOUR season, but only posted one top 10 with a T9 at the Farmers Open. Hossler surged to the finish of the 2020 season, though, and was able to make the postseason before being eliminated after THE NORTHERN TRUST. He has gained over .740 strokes on the green in three straight tournaments and has averaged over 300 yards off the tee in eight straight events.
Akshay Bhatia, $6,900
If you’re looking to jump on a rising star at a cheap price, don’t miss Bhatia, who is much better than his initial stats and results from last season indicate since he played seven tournaments on sponsor exemptions and failed to make the cut. The 18-year-old phenom looked much better recently at the Safeway Open, where he finished T9. That top-10 finish made Bhatia the youngest player to post a top 10 on Tour since Justin Rose posted a T4 at the 1998 Open Championship.
In that strong showing, Bhatia showed off a complete game gaining .346 shots off the tee and .738 shots putting. He gained over 5 1⁄2 shots total on the field in the event and posted 21 birdies in his four rounds at Silverado Resort and Spa, finishing with three rounds under 70 including his sizzling 66 to start the week.
Bhatia was a standout as a junior golfer and skipped college to go straight to the pros. The lanky lefty needs a strong run of results on sponsor exemptions this season to be able to keep playing on the Tour into the new season, so he should continue to do all he can to post great finishes in these events with weaker fields.
Ryan Brehm, $6,800
If you’re looking for someone who can straight up maul it off the tee, check out this 6-foot-4 Michigan State Spartan who ranked third on Tour in driving last season behind just Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Champ and just ahead of Rory McIlroy. None of those players are in the field this week, but Brehm is very affordable under $7K.
Brehm made the cut in nine of his 17 events on the PGA TOUR last season but started off this year with a missed cut at the Safeway Open. He shot a 67 in Round 2 but that wasn’t enough to make up for his 74 to start the week as he missed the cut by two strokes. Before playing the Safeway, Brehm had been playing on the Korn Ferry Tour where he notched three straight made cuts, highlighted by a top-20 finish at the Utah Championship. Brehm has played Corales Golf Course well in the past, finishing T35 in 2018 and T41 in 2016 when it was on the Korn Ferry Tour. Brehm is a flier, to be sure, but he should have the game it takes to make the cut off the tee and just needs to get some putts to fall to take his game to the next level.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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