2019 Wyndham Championship picks, sleepers and expert predictions: Can Viktor Hovland one up his young counterparts this week?
It's do-or-die time this week at the Wyndham Championship, where many FedEx Cup bubble boys have one last shot at cracking the top 125 in the standings, thus earning a spot in the playoffs. The PGA Tour's regular-season finale, held at the Donald Ross-designed Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., always provides high drama, and not just at the top of the leader board.
In keeping with that "do-or-die" spirit, it's also one of the last chances for all you golf-betting degenerates out there to make some real cash before football season. Well, there are also three playoff events, and then the season starts again in September, so there really isn't an off-season for those who bet on golf.
Our experts are back with more picks this week, which just like every week, includes a PGA Tour caddie offering insight from the range and putting green at Sedgefield Country Club, thanks to our partnership with The Caddie Network; two of the most respected experts in the daily-fantasy community, Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf.
Again this week, we also have insights on DFS ownership and sentiment from FanShare Sports' premium content, a website that curates all DFS content on the web to offer trends and data as to where to find your edge in building your lineups. We're excited about teaming up with them—and you should be, too.
Read on for this week's picks.
2019 Wyndham Championship Picks To Win (Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie Guest Picker of the Week: Scott Piercy (60-1) — He’s been knocking on the door all year long (six top 10s, T-2 at Byron Nelson). Sedgefield is a ball striker’s course. You’ve got to be accurate off the tee and with your approaches into those greens. That suits Piercy well.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Patrick Reed (22-1) — Only two of the past eight winners have finished outside the top 15 in driving accuracy for the week, terrible news for Patrick Reed. Luckily, he’s one of the two Wyndham champs, along with Brandt Snedeker last year, who was able to win despite spraying it off the tee. It helps that Reed’s an excellent player out of the rough. Also of assistance, how burning, HOT FIYA he’s been playing the past few months. Reed comes Greensboro with top-12 finishes in three of his past four events and none worse than T-32 in his past six starts; gaining an average of more than four strokes on approach in that span, per www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire editor: Viktor Hovland (25-1) — Hovland’s PGA Tour sample size is small, but we know what he does well: strike the ball. It’s a lot easier to buy into great off-the-tee and approach numbers than it is short-game data when looking at just 32 rounds. Compared to the rest of the field’s past 75 rounds, Hovland ranks 20th in fairways gained and top-12 in both strokes gained/off the tee and strokes gained/approach, per FantasyNational.com.
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University: Webb Simpson (11-1) — There's a reason he's the odds-on favorite and ranks No. 1 to win on my model. He earned his first victory as a pro at the Wyndham, and loved the place so much he named his daughter Wyndham. He's played well here since that win in 2011, and is hot of late (solo second at St. Jude). If any favorite is worth the price this week, it's Simpson.
Golf Digest editors: Lucas Glover (40-1) — It's sort of unbelievable Glover hasn't picked off a win since 2011 at Wells Fargo, but here he is, pushing a decade-long win drought. I think no matter what his resurgent year continues this week, be that in the form of a seventh top 10 or his first top five. What better way to end his best season since 2009 (money wise) than with a victory in the final regular-season event? Wyndham presents a great opportunity for that, as Glover has finished T-28 or better in his last three trips to Greensboro (he also finished in solo seventh in 2010).
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports golf expert: Chez Reavie (45-1) — With only 50 percent of shots from the rough finding the green here at Sedgefield, there is a big emphasis on finding fairways this week. Reavie ranks first in the field this week for fairways gained over the last two months. That's enough for me to like him to notch his second win of the year at this price.
(Results on the season: We’ve correctly predicted seven of the season’s 33 events—Brandon Gdula hit Rory McIlroy (9-1) at the Canadian Open, and our Golf Digest Editors predicted Patrick Cantlay (16-1) the previous week at the Memorial. Pat Mayo has correctly picked Bryson DeChambeau (12-1, Shriners); Matt Kuchar (60-1 at the OHL Classic) and Phil Mickelson (25-1 at Pebble Beach). Lou Riccio called Rickie Fowler's win (16-1) in Phoenix and had a runner-up (Dustin Johnson) at the PGA. And our Golf Digest editors also correctly picked Kevin Tway (55-1, Safeway Open) earlier in the season.)
Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win the 2019 Wyndham Championship (Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie: John Chin (320-1) — Last week’s T-3 at the Barracuda was huge for John. Now, he’s safely inside the top 200 (184) in the FedEx standings, which means he can go to the Korn Ferry Finals. I think that will probably free him up to play loose this week.
Mayo: Kyle Stanley (70-1) — 2019 hasn’t been great for Kyle Stanley. Gone is the elevated world ranking and automatic major and WGC appearances. He’s back to being a tour grinder. However, since the Memorial, his ball striking game has reemerged. Per www.fantasynational.com, Stanley rates fourth in the field in fairways gained over the past 24 rounds, sixth in par 5s gained and eighth in approach. If he can not putt himself out of contention, he’ll have a shot in a birdie-fest.
Gdula: Vaughn Taylor (80-1) — Taylor ranks 13th in fairways gained and 14th in birdie or better rate over the past 75 rounds, and he’s really just a golfer who excels on approach shots. Approach shots and putting account for a lot of success at Sedgefield.
Riccio: Sam Ryder (120-1) — At 98th in the FedEx Cup Standings, Ryder is safely in the playoffs, but a victory would solidify a spot in his very first Tour Championship and do wonders for his career. With two top 10s, including a third-place finish, Ryder has put together a sneaky good year. In my model, he has the second best chance to win behind only Simpson.
GD Editors: Johnson Wagner (210-1) — Wagner has missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs by eight and 15 spots in the last two seasons, but each time made a push at the Wyndham Championship (T-33 in 2018, T-24 in 2017). We expect a similar, last-ditch effort this week, though it'll take more than a top 30 as he sits at 157th in the standings. Three years ago, with just two starts remaining, he sat at 125th, then went T-5 at John Deere and T-5 at Wyndham, enough to get him in two playoff events. Back against the wall is when Wagner thrives.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Chase Wright (260-1) — The PGA Tour rookie’s start to tour life got off to a very rocky start, as he missed 10 of his first 15 cuts. However, things have picked up for him recently. He's made four of his last five cuts, recording notable finishes of 29th, 23rd and 18th in that time. The FanShare Pro Research Tool provides us with a big clue that Sedgefield CC should suit the rookie’s game. On the 3 occasions that he has played par 70, Bermuda greened courses on the PGA Tour, he has averaged 17 birdies per event.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
PGA Tour Caddie: Zach Johnson (100-1) — It’s been a horrific year by Zach’s standards. I don’t see this course setting up for his game, in particular, to snap out of the funk.
Mayo: Alex Noren (50-1) — Maybe the game has completely swung after back-to-back T-11, T-12 results at The Open and last week’s WGC, but it’s tough to keep up with the leaders at Sedgefield when the irons aren’t clicking and you're simply relying on the putter. It’s going to take both this week, and that’s going to be difficult for the Swede who’s only gained on approaches in one start since the Heritage.
Gdula: Collin Morikawa (16-1) — Nothing against Morikawa aside from the price. He just won last week and is in the same range as Hideki Matsuyama (14-1), Jordan Spieth (16-1), and Patrick Reed (18-1). There are better value plays even though his stats are elite.
Riccio: Patrick Reed (23-1) Reed's been hot, for sure, but he's not even among my top 20 players to win this week. Even as a former champ, I'd stay away at 23-1.
GD Editors: Hideki Matsuyama (13-1) — A few of us "experts" were all in on Hideki last week, and after getting off to a great start, he fizzled out in a big way on the weekend. It's been a solid season for the former World No. 2 (five top 10s, 13 top 25s), but he just hasn't been able to close the deal. We don't expect that to change this week.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jordan Spieth (19-1) — Spieth’s ability to hit fairways of late is going to cause issues at Sedgefield. In what is likely to be a birdie fest this week, the three-time major champ may struggle to keep up, especially if the double bogeys and worse continue.
2019 Wyndham Championship picks: Matchups
PGA Tour Caddie: Sungjae Im (-110) over Abraham Ancer (Sportbook) — It’s only a matter of time for Sungjae. He’ll be the next Korean winner on Tour before long.
Mayo: Doc Redman (+105) over Denny McCarthy (Sportbook) — McCarthy’s ball-striking has been so bad that he's still missed four of his last six cuts despite being one of the best putters on the planet this year. Maybe he can get the putter to carry him to beat Redman, but Kid Doc, who already posted a T-2 at a Donald Ross design a month ago, is just a superior player across the board. And, you’re getting plus money to take him.
Gdula: Chez Reavie (+108) over Billy Horschel (FanDuel) — Reavie’s name has value on it, as he is sixth in the field in adjusted stroke average in 2019, and he leads the field in fairways gained and proximity gained from 150 to 175 yards, via FantasyNational, over the past 75 rounds. Horschel’s accuracy could cause him a bit more trouble than Reavie sees.
Riccio: Cameron Smith (-120) over Russell Knox (DraftKings) — Three straight finishes of T-29 or better for Smith, including a T-12 at TPC Southwind. Knox has been in good form as well, but he's not even in the top 20 of my model, while I have Smith at 12th in my model.
GD Editors: Daniel Berger (-106) over Alex Noren (DraftKings) — Both players are in need of a big week (Berger 131st in the standings, Noren 125th), I just like Berger's chances at having a bigger one.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa over Jordan Spieth — The most recent PGA Tour winner ranks second in the field this week for strokes-gained: tee-to-green over the last two months and fifth for opportunities gained. Spieth on the other hand ranks 67th and 114th.
(Matchup results last week: PGA Tour Caddie: 1 for 1 (Tony Finau (+125) over Hideki Matsuyama); Everyone else: 0 for 1)
(Matchup results for the year: GD Editors: 16 wins, 11 losses, two pushes; Riccio: 13-13; PGA Tour Caddie: 16-13; FanShare Sports guest picker: 2 for 3; Mayo: 11-14-2; Gdula: 10-16-2)
Top 10 picks (Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie: Shawn Stefani (+1200) — Stefani's back is against the wall, which is a position he’s been in before and managed to pull through. He starts the week at 134 in the FedEx standings, just outside the top 125 to get into the playoffs. He needs a big week. Shawn can be a streaky player – he’s missed the cut in 10 of his 24 starts this season – but I like the fact that he’s starting this week with his longest cuts made streak of the season (five in a row).
Mayo: Viktor Hovland (+350) — Wolff: Win. Morikawa: Win. Redman: Runner Up. Seems like Hovland, who’s been labeled the best of the recently turned pros, should be pretty close to his breakthrough. The Norwegian ranks 10th in the field in fairways gained over the past 50 rounds per Fantasy National. And the ball striking is elite. Hovland’s gained off the tee box and with this irons in every single start as a pro, and hasn’t finished worse than T-16 in any of his past three starts. If his putter finally will cooperate, he’ll at least notch the first Top 10 of career. Maybe more.
Gdula: Kevin Streelman (+750) — Streelman grades out 10th in this field in adjusted stroke average in 2019. Further, he ranks top 25 in both strokes-gained: off-the-tee and strokes-gained: approach over the past 75 rounds on the PGA Tour, and he’s 16th in fairways gained, via FantasyNational.com.
Riccio: Joaquin Niemann (+550) — The young Chilean ranks fifth on my model, and, prior to a missed cut at the Open, had gone T-5, T-5, T-23 and T-10. One more top 10 gives him five on the year, which would eclipse his total from his surprisingly good 2017-'18 season as a 19-year-old.
GD Editors: Webb Simpson (+150) — We never do sure things in golf because A. sure things don't exist in any sport and B. sure things REALLY don't exist in golf. That said, Webb finishing top 10 at the Wyndham is a sure thing.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brian Harman (+800) — Harman has made six of his last eight cuts, registering two top 30s and two top 10s in that stretch. He's one of only five players this week that ranks in the top 35 for all my key metrics. This means he is ticking the box for both course suitability and current form. The two-time PGA Tour winner ranks 11th in the field this week for opportunities gained over the last two months. That will prove very important as the winning score this week is likely to be above 16 under. He also finished third here at Sedgefield CC in 2013.
(Top 10 results last week: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Billy Horschel at +500); Everyone else: 0 for 1)
(Top-10 results for the year: Mayo: 8 for 27; GD Editors: 7 for 26; Gdula: 6 for 25; Riccio: 5 for 26; PGA Tour Caddie: 6 for 27; FanShare: 0 for 3)
Mayo: Pass on that elite pricing tier on DraftKings and load up on the $9,000 area. It seems implausible Chez Reavie would win twice in a year after going a decade without a victory, but, fortunately, at his $9,300, he doesn’t need to win to return value. When it comes to approach, fairways, and scoring on shorter par 4s, no one in the field has been better than Reavie all season. He ranks inside the top 10 of all three categories over the past 24 rounds.
Now we need to save some cash if we’re triple stacking the 9K range. Maker of 13 of his past 14 cuts, per www.fantasynational.com, Peter Malnati has gained with his irons in six of past seven starts and has lost on the greens only once early February. While putting is a high-variance skill year-over-year, Malnati has been one of the few to sustain consistent roll over the years. Digging back into his course form, he’s never missed the weekend at Sedgefield and was top 10 in the field in strokes-gained: approach-the-green a year ago, but a poor week off the tee capped his upside at a T-24. However, this is the best he’s played entering the Wyndham in his career, sitting seventh in the field in sg: approach over the past 24 rounds and ranks out 24th in par 4s 400-450 yards, 27th tee-to-green, and 25th in proximity gained from 150-175 yards, where the plurality of iron shots come from this week.
Patrick Reed ($9,700); Viktor Hovland ($9,500); Chez Reavie ($9,300); Kyle Stanley ($7,700); Peter Malnati ($7,100)
Riccio: All six of these guys are among my top 20 to win this week, including favorites like Webb Simpson and Billy Horschel, as well as some real, deep sleepers like Denny McCarthy and J.J. Spaun. Even with Horschel and Simpson leading the way, this lineup gets you in right under the salary cap and is loaded with cut-making machines, all of whom have shown the potential to have a special week.
Webb Simpson ($11,200); Billy Horschel ($9,600); Aaron Wise ($7,900); Denny McCarthy ($7,400); J.J. Spaun ($7,000); Sam Ryder ($6,900)
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: On any week that looks like it will be a birdie fest, I’m a big fan of the stars and scrubs approach. I’ll therefore be loading up on my two favorite plays this week – Matsuyama and Reavie. I’ll then sprinkle in 3 hopefully low owned mid plays and look to finish it off with a very low owned scrub in Chase Wright.
Hideki Matsuyama ($10,900); Chez Reavie ($9,300); Russell Henley ($7,800); Brian Harman ($7,600); Russell Knox ($7,500); Chase Wright ($6,300)
FanShare Sports' Under The Radar DFS Pick of the Week — Russell Henley ($7,800)
Henley ranks fourth in our course suitability metric this week where he actually gains a shot per round on the field on these style courses. He also ranks 13th in the field for opportunities gained over the last two months. This explains why the World No. 140 has posted a second and a 15th place finish in his last two outings. This could be the exact type of course that enables him to record his fourth PGA Tour win. So far this week he has only received 4 FanShare Tags, meaning he ranks as just the 41st most tagged play this week.
Gdula: With some cheap options in play (Jason Kokrak ($9,400), Kevin Streelman ($9,300), Vaughn Taylor ($8,700), Corey Conners ($8,300), and Joel Dahmen ($7,500)), we can build a top- and bottom-heavy lineup this week, allowing you to play your studs of preference, whomever that may be. I’m mostly going to be overlooking the $9,500 to $10,500 range this week, and Webb Simpson ($11,900) is looking like the safest DFS play on the board.
About our experts
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia's Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA's handicap research team for three decades. His predictive analysis and modeling helps him make expert picks for our column.
Pat Mayo is known as one of the pre-eminent experts in daily-fantasy sports and golf handicapping specifically. Mayo is a 17-time fantasy sports-writers association finalist, the most of any writer this decade, and Mayo won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com. Here’s a link to watch his complete DraftKings preview of the 2019 Wyndham Championship.
Brandon Gdula, a senior editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year (congrats, Brandon!). Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a UK based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.