The Bullseye – DraftKings European Tour GPP Preview – NBO Oman Open

Ryan Baroff
By Ryan Baroff February 13, 2018 00:17

The Bullseye – DraftKings European Tour GPP Preview – NBO Oman Open

Welcome to the first installment of “The Bullseye,” a GPP-centric column focusing on the European Tour. Hopefully we can keep generating interest so that the prize pools for European Tour DFS contests grow, but right now we’ll just have to keep plugging away. For those of you who don’t know my background, I’m a former Class-A PGA Professional who has jumped head-first into fantasy golf. I have a unique perspective coming from that industry, and having insight into how players approach certain weeks, certain courses, and how to breakdown the characteristics of a golf course. My words are not the gospel by any means, but hopefully you all can take away a few nuggets of information that you didn’t already know. You can also can catch me weekly on the Golflandia podcast with my friend Matthew Wiley.

This is a tough week for a first column, because we have a fairly obscure event on the European Tour. Many of the biggest names on Tour are in the States to play the Genesis Open (Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, etc.), so we have a fairly weak field overall. That also offers opportunity, because we know more about these relatively unknown players than the average person.

The venue this week is Al Mouj Golf, in Oman. From the tips, it can stretch to about 7,342 yards, and plays as a standard par-72 (four par 5s and four par 3s). Although this is a resort golf course, it’s also a Greg Norman design. Norman is notorious for making difficult golf courses to challenge the players, so I don’t anticipate seeing any really low scores this week. Sitting right on the Sea of Oman, this course runs horizontally along the coast, meaning winds will wreak havoc. There is water in play on nearly half the holes, and Norman made sure to add plenty of bunkering and sand dunes to catch errant tee shots. The characteristics of Al Mouj are similar to links-style golf, so that’s another element for us to consider. However, the greens are bermuda grass, so there won’t be the typical bump-and-run shots that we see on more standard links-courses in Europe. Considering the number of hazards in play and the windy conditions, I’ll be leaning very heavily on ball-strikers and driving accuracy specialists. I see some big numbers lurking on the course this weekend, so we need guys who can keep it on the short grass.

The most difficult part of this week is that we have minimal course history to draw upon. The European Tour has never played an event here, but the European Challenge Tour has. That means only 25-30% of the field has even seen this course before, making it very difficult for us to gauge how it will play. In any event, that has to be an advantage, so there’s a couple Challenge Tour alumni I will talk about later in this piece.

European Tour stats are notoriously unreliable, making it difficult to really pinpoint the type of players to target. There are also an influx of Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour players this week, making the statistical analysis doubly difficult. But here’s where I’m going to focus:

 

  • Driving Accuracy
  • Stroke Average
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Scrambling

 

And now on to the picks! With the aforementioned lack of course history, I’m going to lean heavily on pedigree and recent form. There are some Challenge Tour alumni who have seen this track in Oman in years past, so that may be a helpful indicator as well.

 

The Favourites:

Jeung-Hun Wang ($9,700) – With most people paying up for Alexander Levy and Andy Sullivan this week, Jeung-Hun Wang makes the perfect pivot. He has no course history, and his recent form isn’t flashy, so I expect ownership under 12%. But what I do love about Wang is his success in this part of the world. One of his European Tour wins – The Mauritius Open – came on a similar venue to Al Mouj (links-style, windy, coastal). .He finished 2nd in an Asian Tour event in Dubai, 6th in this year’s Dubai Desert Classic, and has posted 11th and 15th place finishes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Champions.

Matthieu Pavon ($9,200) – Pavon is in my top-3 this week, and I think he has a fantastic shot to take home a trophy. He’s played consistent golf of late, including two top-10s and an 11th place finish in the recent Maybank Malaysian Open. The Frenchman, not to be confused with the Italian Pavan I’ll mention later, is a Challenge Tour graduate who finished 3rd here in 2016. Those positive memories should serve him well this week. Pavon is a prolific birdie-maker, and a great GPP play that I expect to come in around 10% owned.

Alexander Bjork ($9,100) – Bjork has gained popularity over the past six months, but he’s gotten a bit price increase after missing two of his last three cuts. What I like, however, is the 6th place finish in Dubai in between those MCs. Bjork is a fantastic ball-striker, birdie-maker, and wind player, and his game should suit this course very well. He’s also played here three times on the Challenge Tour, culminating with a 7th place finish his last attempt. I’m a big Alexander Bjork fan, and I won’t be missing out on his first career win that’s bound to come soon. Expected ownership on Bjork is around 15% in GPPs.

 

The Next Rung:

Sean Crocker ($8,700) – Sean Crocker is another player who has burst onto the scene recently. Between the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour, and European Tour co-sanctioned events, he’s posted 5 top-10 finishes in his last nine worldwide starts. He lost in the quarterfinals of last week’s ISPS Handa Perth Super 6 event to Kiradech Aphibarnrat, but he did finish 2nd in the stroke play portion. What I liked about Crocker was his length off-the-tee. He was hitting almost every par-5 in two strokes, driving par-4s, and making bundles of birdies. I’m a huge fan this week, and he’s still a relatively unknown player.

Sam Horsfield ($7,700) – Horsfield is one of my favorite leverage plays of the week, as an excellent pivot off the chalk in this range – Andrew Johnston. Horsfield burst onto the scene last season when he torched the field to win the European Tour Q-School. The British native has been a little inconsistent this season, but has immense upside (he’s even made a couple PGA Tour cuts recently). Horsfield quietly finished 4th at last week’s ISPS Handa Perth Super 6 event, so his recent form is turning around.

Aaron Rai ($7,500) – Like Horsfield, Rai is a great pivot off Andrew Johnston this week. I do think he’ll start to gain popularity as Thursday draws near, but I’m still heavily invested. Rai is a very talented player who won on Tour last season after showing signs on the Challenge Tour. Rai’s victory came in this part of the world: Kenya. That, plus the fact that his mother is Kenyan, should provide Rai with some positive vibes this week in Oman. In two appearances at this venue, Rai finished 14th and 34th.

 

The Deep Darts:

Ricardo Gouveia ($7,300) – Gouveia is another Challenge Tour graduate with a couple of trips around Al Mouj. More impressively, he won here in 2015 and finished 9th in 2014. Although his recent form hasn’t been very good, you can’t overlook that track record, since most of the field has never seen this course. The Portugal native has shown an ability to play tricky, wind-swept courses well in the past. Gouveia is a darkhorse for a top-10 this week.

Marcus Kinhult ($7,300) – One of my absolute favorite sleepers of the week is Marcus Kinhult. I managed to nail him a few weeks ago when he was 1% owned and finished 12th. He’s another player who graduated from the Challenge Tour and has seen this venue. Even better, he finished runner-up last year in the Road to Oman finale. The Swede is an excellent ball-striker who plays well in the wind, much like countrymen Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, and Alexander Bjork. For a sub-5% ownership, I’m very happy adding Kinhult to my squad.

Andrea Pavan ($6,900) – I had a deep punt on Pavan last week at the ISPS Handa Perth Super 6, where he advanced to the match play portion. After winning his first match, he had a four-foot putt to advance again, but left it short and lost in a playoff. That was demoralizing, but I loved what I saw from the young Italian. Pavan has been playing great recently, with a handful of top-10s on the Challenge Tour, including a win, and several top-20 finishes on the main Tour. If he can stay motivated this week after last week’s letdown, I could see Pavan contending again. He’s another Challenge Tour alum who has seen this track.

 

My NBO Oman Open core:

Alexander Levy ($11,700)

Shubankar Sharma ($11,300)

Andy Sullivan ($11,000)

Jeung-Hun Wang ($9,700)

Matthieu Pavon ($9,200)

Alexander Bjork ($9,100)

Jorge Campillo ($8,800)

Sean Crocker ($8,700)

Lucas Herbert ($8,200)

Sam Horsfield ($7,700)

Andrew Johnston ($7,600)

Aaron Rai ($7,500)

Marcus Kinhult ($7,300)

Chris Hanson ($7,300)

Ricardo Gouveia ($7,300)

 

Good luck this week!

Ryan Baroff
By Ryan Baroff February 13, 2018 00:17

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