The Daily Spin – Arnold Palmer Invitational

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte March 3, 2015 01:38

Welcome to the Daily Spin for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. We are excited to be getting to the heart of the golf season as we build towards The Masters next month at Augusta. Interestingly enough, as we write our weekly missive, Draft Kings chose to reveal its pricing for the Millionaire Maker event next month. We are excited to announce that this development will allow for us to have much more extensive coverage for the tournament than we had originally anticipated.

While the opening round is still over three weeks away, we want to start thinking about lineup strategies today. If you are serious about taking a shot at winning this massive tournament, you need to start thinking about the number of lineups you are going to enter and start taking note of which players you want to use as your core players. The pricing at first glance appears to be very soft. The first few teams we put together are chalk full of studs. In order to win the Millionaire Maker, your strategy is going to have to be much more aggressive than normal. Getting six players through the cut is nice, but if that is all you bring to the table, you will be lucky to be relevant. Think of a game of Razz and that is the mentality that you will need to win if there end up being 100,000 entrants. You are going to need six players to make the cut and certainly six players in the Top 10 to win the million dollar first prize. As the weeks go on, check in with us and throw out lineup questions and concerns. We want to bring home the big prize to one of our subscribers, fans or followers. Let’s get focused over the next few weeks and bring home a title that is going to make someone a legend as the first fantasy sports player to win $1 million on a golf tournament.

Now, we take a quick look back at Valspar to review our picks for the previous week. One of the things that we can’t help but to notice about a handful of our competitors is that they do not really give a lot of follow up on how their top picks perform week to week. We hear a lot about the successes, but little of the struggles. From week to week, a lot of sites will tout their expertise, but here at The Daily Spin, we put ourselves out there on the chopping block every week. We play in the biggest tournaments every week and so when we make our picks here, you are going to see the results firsthand. There is no hiding behind making one or two good picks and floating that as a successful week. You are going to see what we are doing each week and what our members achieve in using our advice and analytics.

That said, Valspar proved to be a tough week for us here at The Daily Spin. In terms of cash games, our picks were relatively successful as the vast majority of our players were able to make it through the cut and play into the weekend. What frustrated us in our GPPs was the inability for our picks to sustain the runs that they made up the leaderboard. At one point on Day 2, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Shawn Stefani and Will MacKenzie looked like they had a chance to lead one of our teams to glory. Then over the next couple of days, each player struggled and slipped down the ranks and into the middle of the pack.

In looking at our blue chips for last week, we had all four of our picks make the cut with Furyk, Donald, Westwood and Kuchar. At different points, each of these players made an advance towards the top of the leaderboard. However, each hit a point where they then fell back which proved to be incredibly frustrating. Matt Kuchar in particular, proved frustrating as he was in contention to win the tournament on Sunday before unraveling and losing five strokes down the stretch. Overall, we were pleased not to have any players collapse and miss the cut, but disappointed that none of our favorites were able to sustain any momentum for us when we needed some help.

Our value picks were relatively successful for us as well with four of five players making the cut. Daniel Berger proved to be our lone miss and he fell just one stroke short of making it through to the weekend. Russell Knox finished 33rd after hovering around the Top 10 for Saturday and part of Sunday before falling back. Francisco Molinari finished in 40th after falling back a couple of strokes over the weekend. Sang Moon-Bae made the cut, but then played poorly the rest of the weekend. Shawn Stefani proved to be our best pick of the week in the value tier, finishing in 17th place and continuing a nice run of play stretching out over the whole season. Overall, these value players were successful in getting you through your cash games, but without having anyone step up to make a deep run, these players proved to be lacking in helping out your tournament rosters.

Finally, we look at our sleepers where we had two make the cut, and two miss the cut. John Peterson continued his strong opening round play and maneuvered his way into the Top 10 on Day 1. However, after that, he continued to struggle with his putter and lost 8 strokes over the last 3 rounds. Scott Langley was up and down over the weekend as well. He looked down and out early and was up to +4 in the first round before rallying back to even for the day. He managed to sneak through the cut, but was ineffective on the last two days and did not make a major contribution down the stretch. Jonathan Byrd missed the cut by one stroke despite hitting an ace on Day 2. Emiliano Grillo was the one player who could not get on track and missed the cut by several strokes.

All in all, our picks played pretty well with only 3 of 13 players missing the cut. Unfortunately, the 10 we were left with did not do enough to push us onto success in many tournament fields. We are thrilled with the feedback that we received about your success last week, but want to work harder to make sure that we are winning in all formats each week. With that, we move onto the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

A quick look at the course reveals that we are dealing with another long and difficult course, which tends to be the theme for the courses on tour down in Florida. Bay Hill is a Par 72 course and measures around 7400 yards depending on the exact layout. With over 100 bunkers spread throughout the course, you better be prepared to scramble and get yourself out of trouble. Length off the tee is a bonus, but not essential to winning the tournament. We’ll take a close look at ball striking, greens in regulation and par 5 scoring as important stats. We also want to look at players that are going to make a lot of birdies for our lineups. As most scoring systems favor erratic play, we would rather have players that play birdie/bogey golf than those that play par hole after hole. Of particular importance, we will once again look for players who dominate in the strokes gained tee to green category. These players typically have had great success at Bay Hill and can cut up these longer courses much more efficiently than their competitors.

Due to popular demand, we are bringing back the hatred this week as there are some great targets to throw some pies at this week. After watching a few players struggle to get moving in the right direction, we want to point them out to vent a little bit of our frustration.


Adam Scott – Okay, we don’t really hate Adam Scott that much. All parts of his game are looking really solid except for one little area….putting. Scott blew the cut last weekend and appears to be struggling with the switch in putters. Look, he is one of the best players in the world and he is going to get this figured out in due time. I am just not going to pay up for him when this field is so deep in value this week. Watch him close and as he gets comfortable, he will find his way back into our loving arms again soon.

Rory McIlroy – I hate his price this week. I will avoid him in this field. Yes, he could be a great contrarian play as we do not think he will be widely owned. However, with no experience on this course and the fact that he is not playing great golf make him unattractive at his current price. Without a Top 3 finish, which is easier said than done, he is overpriced this week and should be avoided. The worst part is that even if you do roster him and he performs well, you are going to need to rely on a couple of less than stellar players to contribute in order for you to make a successful run. Do not own him in cash games. I give you permission to use him on one tournament team if you insist on it, but my guess is that the team you end up assembling will not be particularly strong with Rory as the centerpiece.

Billy Horschel – Since winning the FedEx Cup at the end of last season, Billy has struggled to live up to the title. It appears to us that Billy simply got hot at the right time and rode that momentum to a title last year. In two starts here, his bet finish is 45th and his stats show why. He ranks 100th in Par 5 scoring and 148th in strokes gained tee to green. He is a good ball striker, but his putting is not helping him either and he ranks 100th in strokes gained putting. We hate Billy at his price this week as we would rather own literally any other player in his price range over him. Do not own him in any format this week.

Gary Woodland – There is so much to love about Woodland’s game. He really should be set up well to make the love list this week, but his putting has been so miserable that we cannot possibly give him the nod until he fixes this part of his game. Right now, Vijay Singh could give Woodland a putting lesson and he would improve…it is that bad. This has led to a very low birdie output, even through he has had ample opportunities this year due to solid ball striking ability. This is a shame as Woodland is 24th in strokes gained tee to green, but the fact that he is -.68 in strokes gained putting almost completely offset the rest of his game. Woodland has been in the Top 30 the last two years, but right now, week to week, we cannot even predict whether or not he will make the cut. If he gets on a roll early, he could be an interesting contrarian play for tournament lineups, but we are not willing to take that risk this week.


Blue Chips

Henrik Stenson – Even at his high price this week, we anticipate very high levels of ownership for Stenson this week. Stenson was the best ball striker on tour last season and consistently is one of the leaders in strokes gained tee to green. He does struggle a bit with his putter, but is always in position for birdie attempts so even with a negative number for strokes gained putting last year, he still managed to rank 7th in birdie average, a key metric for building a winning lineup each week. He is going to be owned by close to 35% of the field, but it is tough to see him having an off week at Bay Hill. He has been in the Top 15 here in his last three starts and in the Top 10 the last two years. He is a very strong play in cash games and even with high levels of ownership, we will have a hard time not building many of our tournament rosters around Stenson.

Bubba Watson – He has been a little boom and bust at Bay Hill, but we are going to allow his excuse of allergies to slide this time in the hopes that last year was but a blip on the radar. Bubba’s form right now is as good as we have ever seen it. He is leading the tour in strokes gained total right now and his putting has been a strength for him. He has great length off the tee and although he finds his way off the beaten path more often than most, he is currently ranked 3rd in scrambling and is consistently able to bail himself out of trouble. He is #1 in Par 5 scoring and did have three Top 25 finishes in the three years before last year. He also leads the tour in eagles which is huge in generating extra points each week. The way Bubba is playing, we like him a lot this week as it looks like he is focused this season and playing consistently week in and week out. UPDATE – Bubba Watson has withdrawn from the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week due to the unexpected death of a close friend

Jason Day – His pricing seems to be incorporating his tournament history a little too much this week. He missed the cut at age 21 and 22 before later finishing 25th in 2010 and 45th in 2013. However, Day’s game has improved dramatically in the last two years. He is big off the tee and near the top in greens in regulation. Like Bubba, he is not the most accurate of drivers, but another great scrambler who finds his way out of trouble. Although this season he is not near the top in Par 5 scoring, typically this is an area where he excels as he was ranked 15th last year. He ranks #1 in birdie average which makes him one of the highest point scorers in most tournaments he enters. Day is playing really well and his price is lower than normal this week. Day should see 15-20% ownership, but remains a strong play in all formats this week.

With where these three are priced, you can actually build some interesting stars and scrubs rosters utilizing all three of these players. As you will read further on, there are some compelling plays in the sleeper area that make for some fun combinations this week.

Value Plays

We see a lot of value in the middle ranges this week. We really like some of the top tier players and then we nearly skipped over that upper middle tier for the pure value range players. You could conceivably construct some pretty strong tournament teams from strictly picking a team in this range, although we wouldn’t quite go to that extreme.

Brendan Steele – Here is a guy who remains under most fantasy player’s radars even though he has enjoyed great success this season. He is 9 for 9 in making the cut with 4 Top 25 finishes so far. He hits it long off the tee and is a good ball striker, good in greens in regulation and currently ranked 14th in strokes gained tee to green. His putting could be better, but again, he puts himself into position often enough so that he is ranked 19th in birdie average. His tournament history is checkered as he missed the cut in 2012 and 2013 before finishing 20th last year, but his game is peaking and at his price and for the way he scores points, we think Steele is a steal this week. Yeah, that was terrible, but you’re going to deal with it. Steele will be owned by around 15% of the field this week.

JB Holmes – His price still has not caught up to his play which keeps him in the value range for our purposes this week. He is a bomber off the tee, and one of the leaders in strokes gained tee to green. However, he has struggled with his putting and it cost him at Doral. He scores a lot of points with birdies and eagles and being in the Top 10 in 3 of the last 4 weeks has helped him to earn a lot of extra bonus points. He has a reasonable tournament here and finished 10th last season. His form is enough right now to make him a compelling play this week.

Shawn Stefani – Here is another player whose lack of tournament history here helps to keep his price lower than what we would expect. Stefani proved to be our best value pick last week and we kept him on our list this week as the statistics make him one of our favorite plays this week. He hits it around 295 yards off the tee which is better than average. Where his game really shines is that he is ranked 7th in greens in regulation, 4th in ball striking, 9th in Par 5 scoring and 15th in birdie average. The numbers line up really well for Stefani to make a run this week and we love him at this price. He missed the cut at The Honda Classic a couple of weeks back, but outside of that, he has been really good this season making 9 of 11 cuts with five Top 25 finishes and two Top 10 finishes. We think he will be owned by around 10-15% of the field.

Daniel Berger – We are hoping that other owners will be avoiding Berger after he missed the cut by one stroke last week. His price took a nice dip which puts him back squarely into the value range again this week and we are poised to take advantage of this opportunity. Berger is long off the tee, ranked 25th in greens in regulation, and 9th in ball striking. He also scores well and ranks 15th in birdie average which is helped by his solid Par 5 play and 25th rank in strokes gained tee to green. His game is really well balanced and we anticipate a strong debut at Bay Hill for Berger. We look for an ownership level of roughly 10% for the week.

Kevin Streelman – Streelman is priced right this week to be in our cutmaker role. Typically, this is where we would be writing about Charles Howell III, but CHIII has seen his price gradually climb over the last few weeks as he makes cut after cut. Unfortunately, with where he is priced at now, he needs to do a little more besides just making a cut. To counteract that, we looked down the list and found Kevin Streelman waiting for us a great price point. He is not a glamorous player in most respects, but is a very good ball striker and ranked 28th in greens in regulation and 33rd in strokes gained tee to green. He’s not a great putter, but has reasonable history at Bay Hill making the cut in all four starts and does have one Top 10 finish. At his price, he does not need to do much more than make the cut, but he certainly does have the potential to finish higher in this field.


Vijay Singh – The old man just keeps on playing great from tee to green where is is currently ranked 18th this season. His putting is still awful to watch, but he is doing enough right now to not only keep himself playing into the weekend, but contending going into Sundays as he has been in the Top 15 in 2 of his last 3 starts. Singh is very familiar with Bay Hill to say the least and has made the cut in 20 of 21 starts. We just need him to get to 21 for us to be happy, but think he could score a few bonus points as he has found his way into the Top 25 in 2 of the last 3 years. Stick with Singh while he enjoys this momentum. Vijay will be a popular sleeper pick and we anticipate him being slightly above 10%.

Zac Blair He putt really well and scrambles really well which should help him to offset his lack of distance off the tee and mediocre iron play. We like Blair this week as a deeper sleeper option as his putting should keep him in contention to make the cut and his price is so low that he is very appealing for a stars and scrubs roster in tournament play. We’re not very excited about Blair, but will utilize him on one stars and scrubs tournament roster. Look for 5% ownership levels on Blair.

Alex Prugh – A very popular sleeper pick among experts just a few weeks ago, Prugh has fallen out of favor after missing the cut in two straight tournaments. We like him a lot for his price this week, however, as he ranks really well in most of the categories we chose to focus on this week. Prugh ranks 30th in driving distance and 12th in greens in regulation and 10th overall in ball striking. He is 57th in strokes gained tee to green and 4th in Par 5 scoring. He has not putted well, but his price point is really good and he could value beyond simply being a cutmaker if he gets off to a good start this week. Look for 5-8% ownership levels for Prugh this week.

Deep Sleeper

Brandon Hagy – We always like to find one play each week that will escape all, but 1-2% of the field and this week, that play is Brandon Hagy. The former Cal Bear has played well in limited action on the PGA Tour this season bouncing up and down between the Tour and gaining a few exemptions to play on in PGA events. In his PGA events, he has made the cut in 2 of 3 starts, missing the cut at the Humana by just one stroke. In his other two events, he finished in 34th at Pebble Beach and 16th in Puerto Rico so he has made improvements with each start. He is know for being both long and accurate off the tee which should help him at Bay Hill. He is also a very cerebral player and was awarded the prestigious Byron Nelson Award his senior year of college given to the college golfer who excels both on the golf course and in the classroom. He is cheap and will go unnoticed this week and he made one of our tournament rosters.

Whew, that’s a wrap, folks! We hope you have enjoyed the read again this week. We wish you luck this week and hope that the winning continues for all of our readers and followers alike. The time to buckle down and to sharpen your game has arrived. We are just a few weeks out from The Masters and the Millionaire Maker so start preparing now so that you are ready to take home the biggest title ever in fantasy golf history!

Good luck,


Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte March 3, 2015 01:38

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