As part of ESPN Fantasy’s efforts to give daily gamers intel on whom to target in DFS, our fantasy golf experts are here to share the players they view as building blocks for this weekend’s event. The panel for the Shell Houston Open features ESPN.com’s Jason Sobel, Bob Harig and Michael Collins, and FantasyGolfInsider‘s Roger Casey, Jeff Bergerson and Zach Turcotte, as well as Dailyfantasybootcamp.com‘s Alvin Zeidenfeld and David Jayne.
Note: Golfer salaries listed are for DraftKings.
Jason Sobel — Tony Finau ($8,100)
Too often players win a tournament and can’t keep up the success immediately afterward, for so many different reasons. (Jason Day and Adam Scott not included.) Following his first PGA Tour victory in Puerto Rico this past weekend, though, Finau should be especially motivated to keep the gas pedal down. His win didn’t get him into the Masters, but Houston offers a big ballpark that should suit his game. Don’t be surprised if he pulls a Day or Scott and goes back-to-back.
Bob Harig — Charl Schwartzel ($9,500)
Only one PGA Tour winner in 2016 was not already in the Masters, and so the streak of already-qualified winners continues here. Schwartzel has played well all year, with victories in South Africa and on the PGA Tour three weeks ago at the Valspar Championship. The 2011 Masters winner becomes another two-time winner this season headed to Augusta with momentum.
Michael Collins — Vaughn Taylor ($5,700)
It might be tough for you to understand how I’d pick a guy who’s missed his past three cuts in a row. He’s the right pick because it’s been four years since he’s been able to play in this event and he’s got a solid track record here. Plus, now that the Masters is so close, he won’t put any pressure on himself to play great this week, which is a big thing for Taylor.
Jeff Bergerson — Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($8,500)
In case you haven’t noticed, this guy is on fire. His resume over his past few events includes a third-place finish last week at the WGC-Match Play, T-11 at the WGC-Cadillac, and T-35 and two runner-up finishes on the European Tour. One of the key statistics this week that I will be focusing on is greens in regulation, where Cabrera-Bello ranks fifth on the European Tour. The fact that he does not have any tournament history helps keep his price at a reasonable $8,500 on DraftKings. Although I do not think he will be ignored, I also do not expect his ownership levels to be high, thus I will have him as a staple on many of my rosters.
Zach Turcotte — Phil Mickelson ($10,500)
With the Masters only one week out, Mickelson will be fine tuning his game in Houston to be ready to make a run at another green jacket. The worry with using some of the more expensive players the week before a major is that they may not be terribly focused on the event at hand, as was the case a year ago with Dustin Johnson at the St. Jude Classic. DJ started poorly on the first nine holes and then opted to withdraw to get focused on the U.S. Open the following week. That should not be a worry with Phil, who has made seven of eight cuts here and finished in the top 20 in each of his last five appearances, including a win in 2011. Phil looks locked in so far in 2016 and has four top-11 finishes in six starts, so I am expecting him to finish this last event strong before heading off to Augusta next week.
Roger Casey — Rickie Fowler ($11,000)
While I’m not very keen on paying way up for Jordan Spieth, I feel perfectly content paying $1,900 less for Fowler, who has been every bit as good as Spieth for the vast majority of this season. Fowler has been steadily contending in almost every event in which he has played, which explains why he’s in the top-ten in nearly every relevant statistical category. Though his history at the SHO has not been great, his form is so outstanding right now that we can only hope his course history causes others to fade him and keep his ownership relatively low.
Alvin Zeidenfeld — Cameron Tringale ($8,000)
Straying from my typical norm of picking a high priced golfer for this column, I’m sure my choice of Tringale will raise eyebrows. Tringale has struggled to find consistency so far in 2016 and is missing cuts at a somewhat random rate. What’s not random is his course history here at the Shell Houston Open, with five straight made cuts in the past five years, finishing in the top 16 each of the past four and posting a top-5 finish in 2014 and 2015. His skills set up perfectly for this tournament, so I’m happy going out on a limb and having a low owned player in my tournament lineups as my horse for this course.
David Jayne — Phil Mickelson ($10,500)
In daily fantasy golf we want birdie makers, and there is no one more aggressive at taking on pins on tour than Mickelson. He’s made it known that this is a course where he can make birdies, and that he tries to make as many as possible leading up to Augusta. Last year, although he finished 17th, he led the field with 23 birdies. Don’t be alarmed if you hear that he flew in the night before the event, as he did the same last year in order to spend three days practicing at home on his short game for Augusta. The 45-year old Mickelson has shown the ability to contend this year after making swing changes in the offseason, and I expect a strong fantasy performance from him this week.