How to Qualify for the Fantasy Golf World Championship (FGWC)

Jeff Bergerson
By Jeff Bergerson June 3, 2016 09:48

How to Qualify for the Fantasy Golf World Championship (FGWC)

Recently, the 2016 Draftkings Fantasy Golf World Championship (FGWC) was announced and the winner will again win $200,000, but it has quite a different format than it had last year. I have to be honest, I am extremely disappointed that they are not offering a LIVE event as they did last year. I was fortunate enough to qualify for the LIVE event with two entries last year. The event was held at The Deutsche Bank Championship, which was part of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The hospitality was second to none from the hotel accommodations to the Draftkings suite on the 16th green, to the skybox overlooking the 18th green. Complimentary cocktails and food were available from morning until night. The best part of the trip however, was the comradery with the fellow competitors. Some of the best DFS Golf minds in the world were there (many who are Fantasy Golf Insider members) and it was a ton of fun to interact and just hang out with some really great guys. It was truly a remarkable experience and one that I hope Draftkings decides to hold once again in the future.

In that championship event my best team finished in sixth place, which is why this article is not titled, “How to win the Fantasy Golf World Championship”. Only Jarod Ludemann (Jludeobv) could write an article called that. Hopefully this year I can write a new article with that title. In addition to winning the qualifying tournaments to go to the FGWC, I have also won many large GPP tournaments throughout my career and want to share some of the strategies that went along with building winning teams. I will also share with you the two rosters that I won the FGWC qualifiers with. One of those rosters I also used multiple times to win several GPPs that same week, including one for $20,000. Fantasy Golf Insider has had many members win large GPPs including multiple SIX FIGURE winners last year.

Despite the fact that there is not a live event this year, there is still $200,000 up for grabs and the Title of Fantasy Golf World Champion. Does that title have your name on it?  In this article I will outline all of the strategies that I have used to win large tournaments. These are truly invaluable strategies, giving you a tremendous edge over most others playing DFS Golf and an opportunity to win life enhancing money.

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Key Concept #1 of this article: The goal is not always to maximize projected points in large field tournaments. I know, you just took a double take and asked, what in the world is he talking about, the goal is always to maximize points, isn’t it. Well in cash games, yes, we are always going to want to maximize value, but not necessarily in GPPs. We at Fantasy Golf Insider have a wonderful model and there are other good ones in the industry that help identify who the players are that project to score the most points and present the most value based upon their price. Those same players however are not always necessarily the golfers that are going to win you the large GPPs, because they will often be amongst the highest owned golfers.

One of the keys to winning GPPs, is Identifying Low Ownership Players. Let’s say for example that Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson are priced at the same amount, and according to projections, Fowler is projected to score 93.5 points and Stenson is projected to score 83 points. In cash games, value is king and we would select Fowler because he is presenting the most value, and we will ignore ownership rates. In GPPs however, ownership rates play a more important role. We will assume that because of the significant higher value, Fowler will have ownership of 40%, while Stenson only has 10%. If you choose Fowler and he out-produces his price and scores 100 points, you will have an edge over just 60% of the field and break even with that 40%. If however you choose Stenson and he scores 100 points, you would have the edge over 90% of the field. Just out-producing their price is one thing, but in golf, if a player happens to miss the cut, it essentially eliminates any lineup from contention. If Fowler happened to miss the cut in this example, you essentially have eliminated 40% of the field that has a chance to compete with you.

Winning Lineup-$600K FANTASY GOLF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER #7
Crowne Plaza Invitational

Name  Salary   Points   Ownership
George McNeill $7,700 96.5 5%
Kevin Kisner $9,100 99 5%
Scott Brown $7,300 74 5%
Chris Kirk $9,000 126 25%
Brendon Todd $9,100 62 8%
Shawn Stefani $7,800 81.5 43%
Totals $50,000 539

In the FGWC qualifier that I won for the Crowne Plaza Invitational, the Identifying Low Ownership Players concept was critical. This particular contest was a $1,000 buy-in contest and consisted of 40 teams, including many of the top DFS players. I was one of two people in the contest to own three different golfers (McNeill, Kisner, and Brown). In addition, Brendon Todd was only owned by three people in the contest. All the attention was on other players in this tournament, who I will talk about a little later.

You can see that not all of the players on this roster were low-owned. On this particular roster I had two of the highest owned players in the contest with Shawn Stefani who had the third highest ownership in the contest and Chris Kirk, who had the sixth highest ownership in the contest. This is an important point that I see inexperienced players make and that is to go too far to the under-owned extreme and ignore value completely. It is important to mix a combination of low-ownership and really great plays for value. That was my exact strategy coming into this contest- identify low ownership golfers that have a chance to play well, while capitalizing on a couple of players that looked like terrific values at their price. An important point to make in identifying low ownership players is we cannot just blindly chose any player that will be owned by 2% of the field without any rhyme or reason. Chances are very good that of the bottom tier of priced golfers every week, the vast majority will be owned by less than 5%. A few of them will play well, but most of them will offer results that reflect their low price. Just because nobody else owns Robert Allenby, doesn’t mean that it is a great opportunity for you. Make sure you have a catalyst in choosing your low ownership guys. There are some great strategies in this article that will help guide you in identification of them.

Two other factors are obvious but need to be mentioned, and those are having all six of your golfers make the cut and having the winner on your roster. Although the ladder certainly helps, it is not necessarily essential if you have all six guys through the cut in smaller field GPP contests. The ability to accumulate points through two additional rounds is the most important factor and will usually defeat other rosters who have a couple guys miss the cut even though they have the winner. The GPP fields with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of entrants are obviously different and not only will you need the winner, but you will most likely need all of your players to finish in the Top 10. In those contests it helps to identify the low owned players, but it is essential to be almost perfect. Picking the winner consistently is obviously impossible or else those who could do it would be on tropical islands sipping Pina Coladas. We do our best to identify the winner, sometimes it is just a fortunate bounce or a lucky break that determines winners. It is a difficult balance to have all of your golfers make the cut, because for GPPs we are mostly looking for high-upside golfers who are not necessarily the most consistent cut-makers.

Along the same lines as choosing low ownership players, another very effective strategy is Intentionally Fading the Highest Owned Players– Based on the massive amounts of information that you hear throughout the industry each week you can get a great idea of who some of the players that will be the highest owned. A great friend of ours, Pat Mayo is a great example of a voice in the industry that clearly moves the market. If Pat says that he really likes a player in a given week, chances are their ownership will be higher than normal. People respect his opinion and as well they should, as he is an extremely knowledgable golf mind and was one of the very first voices in the industry. We at Fantasy Golf Insider offer a wonderful tool where we estimate what we believe the ownership percentage of every player will be each week. This is truly an invaluable tool for anybody who competes in GPPs. We have written about intentionally fading the highest owned players in the field multiple times and during 2015 it paid off nearly every single week. Names like Kevin Chappell, Brandon De Jonge, Webb Simpson, and Will Wilcox were a few of the players who were the highest owned in contests and missed the cut.

One of the best examples of this strategy took place in the RBC Canadian Open last season. Kevin Chappell was incredibly underpriced and it was very obvious to a lot of people, including the experienced/successful players. This also serves as a great example of how ownership varies between the different dollar level buy-ins. In very large field/ low dollar events, the ownership distributions tends to be flatter than that in smaller field/higher dollar events. Chappell was owned by 18.6% of the field in the humongous $3 tournament on Draftkings. In the $300 tournament however, Chappell was owned by 35.4% of the field where there were 370 entries, nearly twice that of the $3. At the $1060 level, the number went even higher to a staggering 48.6% level. You can actually extrapolate this out from the $3 level up to the $1060 level and see it climb in a fairly linear fashion.  Why is there such a large difference between the low level buy-in and the higher level? Well, there tends to be a lot more experienced and successful players up in the higher dollar games that are monitoring and studying the game very closely. These players read the same information and talk to the same people each week. It’s high level groupthink. The problem with this strategy at the upper levels for players is that few of the professionals understand the true implications of their behavior. This Fade the Highest Ownership Players strategy is valuable at all levels, but as you increase the dollar buy-in, there tends to be much more clustering around the popular plays, making this an even more valuable strategy and a huge exploitable edge.

Coming into the Crowne Plaza Invitational, John Peterson stood out as having a really low price and looked to be a supreme value. My assumption was that he would be owned by more than half of the field in the FGWC qualifier because he appeared to be such a great value. When you step back and ask yourself the question however, could John Peterson miss the cut, the answer seems pretty obvious, YES. It is not always so obvious when you are talking about top tier players, but in this situation I thought if I fade John Peterson and he happens to miss the cut, I could separate myself from half of the field. I followed through with this strategy and it paid off as John Peterson missed the modified cut, and only played three rounds of golf, giving me a huge advantage. Another example from The Crowne Plaza Invitational Ryan Palmer was the talk of the industry. Colonial Country Club, the host course is actually his home course and he has an outstanding tournament history in this tournament with two Top 5s in the previous three years. Pat Mayo said that he was one of his favorite plays of the week and numerous other content providers had mentioned them as their favorite. We even mentioned him in our previews because he appeared to be such a great value. I actually owned quite a bit of Palmer in my cash game lineups that week. I knew that he would be very heavily owned and if he happened to falter, I could separate myself from a large percentage of the field in GPPs and in the FGWC Qualifier. Fortunately for me that move paid off as well as Palmer missed the cut completely and punished half of the players in the contest as he was owned by 53% of the field. Sometimes it is very difficult emotionally to fade a guy that you believe is a great value and that will perform well, but remember that the unpredictable happens all the time in sports and especially golf. Even the best players in the world are capable of missing the cut. In the 2015 season even the two top players like Jason Day missed the cut twice and Jordan Spieth missed four times.

Reverting to the mean. Often times we will see golfers go on an extended streak of poor play and we can use this as an opportunity to choose somebody that most will avoid due to current form. It is however extremely important to determine whether a golfer is simply on a cold streak or whether that player is not any good and will never be any good again. For example: If there is a golfer who has bounced between the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour over the past few years, is struggling to make cuts, and has never shown any type of consistency, he is not the player we want to target. However if a guy like Matt Kuchar or Zach Johnson goes through a month or two of underperforming it might be an opportunity for us to grab them as underpriced and under-owned. We expect golfers who have produced consistent results year after year after year to eventually come out of their slump and revert to the high quality play that they have in the past. This concept is very similar to baseball, in that when we see a great player, who has hit .300 for many years consistently, start the season off by hitting .200. We know that at some point that player is going to start hitting really well to make up for that cold start and revert to the mean. When I was playing fantasy baseball I took advantage of this concept big time with Albert Pujols. When he went on a cold streak, you could load up on him, because you knew that eventually he was going to bust out and in a big way, because he had done it for years. Every year in golf we see this happen multiple times, high quality golfers go through cold stretches and people avoid them like the plague. We can take advantage of this if we know that at some point we are going to see the results we have every other year from that golfer.

Winning Lineup-$600K FANTASY GOLF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER #16
The Open Championship

Name    Salary    Points   Ownership
Jim Furyk  $7,700 74 10%
Matt Kuchar $7,900 69.5 25%
Zach Johnson $7,400 114 3%
Adam Scott $10,700 88 25%
Francesco Molinari $7,500 67 13%
Martin Kaymer $8,800 78 10%
Totals $50,000 490.5

Do the opposite: The Open Championship is always an amazing event, but when it is played at The Old Course at St Andrews it is even more of a spectacle. With the biggest events, comes the most media coverage and thus the most scrutiny on every quote and factoid made available. During the build-up to The Open I took notes of several things I heard, but one was a quote from Zach Johnson from seven months prior that came to light in the buildup to the event. Johnson was asked before the Hyundai Tournament of Champions which events he was most looking forward to in 2015.

“The British. No, that’s my least favorite in the rotation. Yeah. I say that and I love that tournament and I still like St. Andrews. … I think St. Andrews is terrific and it’s my least favorite. … I feel like it’s one where you just gotta hit it left and you gotta hit it 290 in the air and it just doesn’t favor me.” As soon as I heard that quote, I knew that a lot of people would avoid Johnson, especially those that pay very close attention to every detail like I do. But, I wanted to look a little bit deeper as to why Johnson didn’t like playing The Open or St Andrews, because to me it didn’t seem like a bad fit. He is outstanding with his irons, which is critical on a links style course, he has proven that he plays well in difficult weather, which we could expect, he is mentally tough and has won a major before. I looked at his tournament history and he had two Top 10s in The Open Championship, and although didn’t play outstanding in The Open in 2010, the last time it was held at St Andrews, he did make the cut (finished 76th). Overall his tournament history in The Open Championship had not been great, but not a disaster either. I assumed the quote, which was broadcast on ESPN and all over Twitter, would negatively affect his ownership, and I was correct. To be exact, I was the only person in the entire contest to own him. That is correct, I was the only person in the contest who had selected Zach Johnson. Again, this was a 40 player contest featuring the best DFS players. Would I have bet my house on Zach Johnson winning The Open Championship? Of course not, but I knew that if his ownership level was low and he performed well, that I would have a chance to gain significant ground on the field. An important point needs to be made on the dollar buy-in of the contest. This contest was a $1,000 buy-in contest and generally the higher dollar buy-ins contain a greater amount of experienced and successful players than the lower dollar buy-ins. You can expect every detail looked at from players in these contests, which actually you can take advantage of in contests like this. As a side note, in lower dollar buy-ins for The Open, I saw Johnson’s ownership upwards of 15%, so the masses clearly went off of name value rather than paying attention to his quote. This speaks to the strategy of avoiding the popular/name value players in low-dollar buy in GPPs. You can guarantee the big names will be heavily owned in the millionaire maker contest with 100,000 + entrants even if those players are not playing well at all. On the same note, I have noticed that the highest priced couple of golfers each week have extremely low ownership in the large dollar GPPs. When those players are Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, who are in contention nearly every single week, it seems to be a good situation to get them at low ownership. A perfect example of that happened at the 2016 Hyundai Tournament of Champions where Jordan Spieth was the top-priced player at $12,500. I loaded up on Spieth in the higher dollar contests because I predicted his ownership would be lower. When I saw the ownership level, it was actually lower than I had even expected, 10%. Anytime I can get Jordan Spieth at 10%, I will take him. Not to mention he had great current form, tournament history, and statistically fit well for the course. I ended up taking 5th place in the $300 contest on Draftkings that week for $1,750, fueled in large part to Spieth racking up 166 points. Please note that this concept is quite different in low dollar buy-ins as their name value usually propels them into higher ownership.

Having Zach Johnson on my roster was a big part of the qualifier win, but not the only part as I still needed five others to make the cut and perform well. I actually used another strategy that we have talked about multiple times on Fantasygolfinsider.com, and that strategy is stacking a.m vs. p.m tee times. I only know one thing about the weather conditions at St. Andrews and that is nobody ever knows what the weather conditions are going to be like. I have watched so many tournaments where wind and rain start unexpectedly making conditions virtually unplayable. I used that unpredictability to my advantage. The original weather report stated that expectations were that it would be rainy and windy for the Thursday morning tee-times. However, as lineup lock approached I watched the weather carefully and saw that it was actually really calm. Nobody could guarantee what the afternoon would bring, but I knew that if I stacked all golfers that played in the morning that they would have good conditions, then if the winds came up in the afternoon, I would realize a big advantage. Fortunately for me the typical St Andrews conditions came up for the afternoon tee times after a very playable morning session and gave a bit of an advantage to the morning players. This was just enough to get all six of my players through the cut, which is absolutely critical. You will notice that I also chose to select pretty conservative, typical high percentage cut makers who have experience in The Open and at St Andrews. This team did not have nearly enough points to win a really large tournament of 100,000 entrants, but it was enough for to win a 40 person tournament. The winning lineup for the Millionaire Maker event actually scored 573.5 points. The larger the field is in the contest, the more perfect you have to be with your lineup and more points you have to score. Be sure to factor the contest size and buy-in amount into your strategy and decision making process.

Do not be afraid to finish last. Along with the approach of avoiding the masses, choosing players with low ownership, and not selecting the golfers who have the predicted highest value, comes the very real possibility that you will finish poorly the majority of the time. But if you expect to win large tournaments, especially those with the humongous grand prizes that are offered these days, you need to be able to handle this. This is why we stress that only 20% of your weekly bankroll be invested into tournaments. You simply will not be profitable the majority of the time on them. However the reason we do advise that you do play them, is because of the tremendous upside when you do happen to breakthrough. The Millionaire Maker and FGWC offer life enhancing money for the grand prize. In order to do so however you need to implement some strategies that are different and open yourself up to being really wrong. Ultimately, would you rather minimum cash in every single millionaire maker GPP you played in –or- take first place once and win $1,000,000, but take dead last in every other one you entered the rest of your life? Let’s put it this way, if you had ten entries in each major championship millionaire maker tournament, you would have to live to be 625 years old to make $1,000,000 minimum cashing all of your entries. If you are consistently minimum cashing, you are not taking enough chances in large GPPs and need to adjust your strategy. If anybody ever criticizes you for a bottom finish in GPPs don’t say anything, just know that it is one more person who doesn’t understand the true goal in winning large GPPs.

We at Fantasy Golf Insider are continuously experimenting and testing different strategies to stay ahead of the curve in order to provide our members the information and guidance needed to win playing Daily Fantasy Golf. We will continue to play and hopefully remain very successful and will continue to share with you the strategies that we are using. Best of luck to you in your GPPs and good luck in your quest to be name Fantasy Golf World Champion!!!

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Jeff Bergerson is a co-founder of Fantasy Golf Insider.com, fantasy golf expert and has been studying and writing about fantasy golf for over five years. He is a member of multiple season long fantasy golf leagues as well as a recognized name in the daily fantasy golf industry.  He has helped thousands of people become more educated and profitable playing fantasy golf.  He is a member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) and Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA).  Jeff is a regular guest on the Pat Mayo hour on The Fantasy Sports Network, Scout Fantasy Radio with Dr. Roto on Sirius/XM Radio Fantasy Sports, and writes featured fantasy golf columns for ESPN.com. He won The 2015 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year Award . One of the most successful players in fantasy golf today, yet he is always willing to share his expertise with others. You can reach Jeff through his website: fantasygolfinsider.com, where you can become a member –or- via email jeff@fantasygolfinsider.com.

Jeff Bergerson
By Jeff Bergerson June 3, 2016 09:48

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