The Daily Spin – CIMB Classic

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte October 9, 2018 23:38

The Daily Spin – CIMB Classic

It was an interesting week to start the PGA season, but not terribly surprising. Kevin Tway broke through and came back to force a playoff and got the win over Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker last weekend to take down the Safeway Open, a nice win for him and yet another Crystal Ball winner for the season, which was another nice notch on the belt for Jeff. That marks the 9th winner this year from Jeff’s column which means that many of you have made a good amount of money if you have stuck with those players all year long for outright bets. While it is easy to say at the start of any year that the big names are going to come through, Jeff does a really deep dive each December and scours through not just the PGA Tour, but also the European Tour, the Web.com Tour and various amateurs and newcomers that catch his eye. The last couple of seasons have been pretty impressive in terms of the winners that have been produced so get excited as the next edition should be out in just over two months. I know that December may seem like one of the quieter months of the year for golf, but for us, we really try to look at that as an opportunity to produce content that goes well beyond just the picks of week and dig into the strategies that have made us successful over the years. Analyzing courses and player models is very important in becoming a winning player, but one of the areas where people struggle is in how to think about the game and developing a successful approach.

I am a little disappointed with the way things ended up working out last week. I had plenty of shares of Kevin Tway as a secondary player for my player pool and also had a good amount of shares of players like Luke List, Sam Ryder, Dylan Frittelli, Danny Lee and Sungjae Im among others. Unfortunately, the golfers that I paid up for at the top were all the wrong names for the week. Phil Mickelson ended up sliding back over the weekend which was not heartbreaking as there was no way I was going to pick him last week. Coming off of a poor Ryder Cup performance, travelling back to California from Paris and just his overall shaky form were all factors that pushed me away. He is a west coast guy and I did think that he would be lower owned due to all of the factors that I previously mentioned, but I felt like other options were better for an event that could not possibly mean that much to him at this stage of his career.

I am going to make a note for myself here not to get too excited about prospects in PGA DFS. I do think the Joaquin Niemann will end up being an elite player within the next few years, but I think I am getting ahead of things if I am going to be paying over $10k for him at this early stage of his career. Not only is he expensive at this early point, but he is also incredibly popular. Paying over $10k for what amounts to a rookie player that is owned by 25% of the field probably is not a good long term winning approach. That just reeks of bad chalk right there. He is going to have his ups and downs throughout the next year or two and we really want to focus on what that does to his price. If he struggles early on, his price will drop back, much the same way as it did for Bryson DeChambeau when he broke onto the tour in 2016 and then had trouble getting adjusted until midway through 2017. Let Niemann go through his growing pains without us being overweight on shares of him. Let’s try to set a target price of somewhere around $8k before we think of getting in too deep again. That may mean we miss out on a breakout performance, but more than likely, it will allow us to pick up shares of high quality players that may end up overlooked if his price remains high early in the season.

Moving on to the week at hand, I am actually writing my column early this week as the CIMB Classic tees off tomorrow night at 8pm EST. That means that I do not want to waste any time in getting article finished as I know most of you are probably already working on your lineups tonight in order to make sure you do not miss out on lineup lock tomorrow. This week kicks off the first event of a three week stretch where the tour heads over to Asia. The first stop is Malaysia, followed by Korea and then ending in China. We’ll have smaller fields of 70-80 golfers each week and none of the events have a cut which means that it makes things a little easier for viewing as we do not have to worry about 12 hour rounds where we only get a few hours of coverage each day.  The fields are generally competitive with the quality increasing each week and peaking with the WGC event in a couple of weeks.

The CIMB Classic is a birdie lover’s delight each season. The course is just over 7,000 yards and plays as a Par 72, which makes it one of the easiest courses that we will see all year. Three of the Par 5 holes are very easy for any player to reach in two shots and only one player over 600 yards which only means that eagle opportunities there are limited. The rest of the course is set up in a similar manner with five of the Par 4 holes coming in a 400 yards or less. Accuracy is important this week as the rough tends to be a little on the longer side, but I would not steer clear of the bigger hitters as players like Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland have had plenty of success here in recent years and neither is know for their accuracy. The grass has been replaced since last year and is no longer paspalum, but rather Bermuda so that is a big change, but might not be a big factor this year. With rains expected to hit over the next few days off and on, the extra speed that we might have expected on the greens may end up being largely negated by the moisture. This should actually make it easier on those golfers who struggle with the flat stick as conditions could end up being closer to what we have normally experienced over the years.

TPC Kuala Lumpur has hosted the CIMB Classic going back to 2013. For those of you out there that are course history truthers, this course definitely seems to be a spot where specific players excel year after year. Ryan Moore won here in back to back seasons followed by Justin Thomas winning in back to back seasons. What was even odder was that Gary Woodland finished runner up in each of the years that Moore won the event. The course also hosted the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2006 and from 2010-2015 which gives us a whole other list of tournaments to look over for player history. What you will notice about most of the players who have enjoyed success here over the years is that they are generally golfers who are really sharp from short to mid range with their irons and are excellent in their approach play in general. If you look at the list of the highest priced players this week, they all tend to share those common characteristics. The one trait that is not necessarily shared is putting ability. Very few of the players that have done well here over the years have been elite putters. Obviously, Justin Thomas tends to be solid, but most of the rest are average to below average: Keegan Bradley, Gary Woodland, Anirban Lahiri, Brendan Steele, Ryan Moore and James Hahn, just to name a few that have been consistently good here over the years. This course is all about putting yourself into position on a regular basis through all four rounds and being able to score enough on those easier holes to go low. I do not think conditions will make scoring particularly challenging this week so I am happy to focus on the strong tee to green players who are good on Par 5 holes and have a high overall birdie or better percentage.

Key Stats

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 30%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Proximity: 10%
Scrambling: 10%
Par 5 Scoring: 5%

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte October 9, 2018 23:38

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