The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – AT&T Byron Nelson

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte May 17, 2017 13:04

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – AT&T Byron Nelson

I am not sure I can remember there ever being a more unlikely leaderboard than what we witnessed last Sunday at The Players Championship. Each day, I kept thinking to myself, this is going to flip around at some point and the stars are slowly going to begin to rise to the top, and yet, for the most part, it did not happen. DJ ended up finishing in 12th place, but that was really on due to the fact that he played reasonably well and finished early while those later on in the afternoon took turns racing to depart the Top-20. Sergio Garcia looked like a potential favorite headed to the final round after posting one of the best third round scores in the field. However, by the end of the tournament, he had fallen all the way to 30th place.

The cast of characters that crumbled last week was nothing less than extraordinary – Jordan Spieth missed the cut for the third straight year. Jon Rahm got in touch with his inner Keegan Bradley to fire an 82 on Saturday and go from contender to MDF status in one round. Matt Kuchar and Justin Thomas joined Rahm in  shooting and 81 and 79 respectively in the third round. For those that did not melt on Saturday, Sunday proved to be just as painful for top players and chalk plays alike with Martin Kaymer joining the 80 club, JB Holmes going from leader to outside the Top-40 and even Jason Day and Justin Rose allowing the wheels to come all the way off. There are so many others that I could mention, but you were there, you witnessed it and a few of you even thrived in that massacre.

Unfortunately, The Players Championship remains an event shrouded in mystery for me. Each season, I know that it is going to be one of the least correlated events to any statistical model available and yet, there I was last Wednesday night, slowly allowing myself to believe that it would be different this year. Like Charlie Brown racing towards Lucy holding the football, I just knew that this was going to be the moment when I finally nailed it. I actually felt fine until Saturday when much like last year, players began to post some jaw dropping scores, but not in a good way at all.

TPC Sawgrass just is not a course that anyone figures out and then masters year after year. Certain players get hot, manage to avoid the big blowup holes and then emerge over the weekend, but usually it happens with one of the top players in the world like Jason Day or Rickie Fowler. Si Woo Kim was certainly one of the more unlikely champions to win this event and the fact that the only close name player of the week was Adam Scott (made a late charge to finish 5th) speaks to the level of befuddlement that overtook much of the field over the weekend. When you have a course that is designed as a mine field, this should not be terribly surprising. There are mistakes to be made on just about every single hole on the course, not just the island green 17th. The new, short, Par 4, 12th hole ended up being a big letdown in its first year. Very few players were able to drive the green and most of the tee shots ended up in such a tricky spot that not only did we not see many eagles, it was not even that easy for most players to make a birdie. I thought this hole would add a nice scoring opportunity for some of the bigger hitters and give some of the top players an extra boost, but that just was not the case and it was largely a non-event for the tournament.

Moving on to the next event, we head back to Irving, Texas, near Dallas for the home of the AT&T Byron Nelson which is currently played at TPC Las Colinas, where it will be held until 2019 when it moves to Trinity Forest Golf Course which currently under construction in Dallas. For many years, this event used a two course format where two rounds were played at Las Colinas and two rounds were played at Cottonwood Valley, but since 2008, the entire event has been played just on the TPC course. Over the years, this event has seen its share of ‘interesting’ winners from top players like Sergio Garcia (twice), Jason Day and Adam Scott, to solid ball strikers like Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley. It has also had recent winners like Steven Bowditch (lives in the area), Brendon Todd and Sang Moon Bae, each of whom came out of nowhere to win the tournament.

The course itself is one that fits into the moderate level of difficulty with the winning score usually finding its way into the mid teens. Weather tends to be a big factor at this tournament and that looks to be the case again this year as right now, the current forecast is calling for gusty winds to be in play all day on Thursday and probably Friday as well. Currently on the radar, there is a period of a few hours on Friday morning where the gusts are supposed to die down before picking up again, but my guess is that by Friday morning, the weather report will shift and the winds will be gusting for the entire day. You should definitely do a good weather check on Wednesday night to see how thing are looking as close to lineup lock as possible. There may thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday so scores seem like they will be on the lower end of the spectrum for the week.

In terms of overall play, TPC Las Colinas is a tricky course, with narrow fairways that again may force many of the bigger hitters to club down to help them to be in better position for their approach shot. That makes a lot of sense when you start to look at course history and you see a player like Jordan Spieth, who tends to make the cut, but never really contends. With his game off the tee being a little erratic, even his strong approach play is not quite enough to wipe away the damage all the time. From what I understand, Spieth continues to play in this event out of a sense of loyalty as he was granted exemptions on a few occasions as an amateur to play here as he is from the area and wants to show his gratitude for those early opportunities.

The course is a Par 70, 7,166 yard course with two Par 5 holes that are both very important scoring holes as they are each reachable in two shots for most players. However, with twelve Par 4 holes this week, it is hard to overlook the importance of Par 4 scoring. Most of the Par 4’s this week are mid range, around that 425-450 yard sweet spot with only one really long Par 4 that plays at 504 yards and one short hole that plays at around 325 yards. This is helpful in that we know that mid range iron play is going to be important for the week. Those were fairly intuitive from looking over the course, but I was surprised to see that driving distance, scrambling and approach play from 100-125 yards were also key stats that popped when the Fantasy Golf Metrics guys ran their regression model for the week. Once again, the emphasis overall is on the approach game and in a player’s ability to hit greens. Adam Daly did his usual masterful job of writing up the course this week so if you like to dig into the details as much as I do, be sure to check out The First Tee where he breaks down the specifics of the course as well as how correlated certain statistics are to the success of players year after year.

The Key Stats for the week are as follows:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 30%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 15%
Scrambling: 12.5%
Driving Distance: 10%
Prox 100-125 yards: 7.5%

Before you get too far in looking at the model, key stats and recent form, be sure to also take a look at the odds versus daily pricing page as once again, we have plenty to work with in terms players who look to be a little cheaper than we would expect. A few of the names that stood out from a quick glance:

Smylie Kaufman
Keegan Bradley
Nick Watney
Nick Taylor
Morgan Hoffman
Fabrizio Zanotti
Brandon Hagy
Kyle Reifers
Jonathan Randolph
Anirban Lahiri

I am not going to write up all of these golfers this week, but this is a great place to diversify your roster as these are not always names that are heavily owned, but by most expert’s standards, are underpriced for the week. It is easy to get drawn into the chalk each week with the obvious value plays. Make sure you are actively looking at ways to keep your total ownership levels from getting too far out of control. One or more of these players will have a big week so take advantage of the opportunity.

The other area to look at this week is that there are quite a few players besides Jordan Spieth with local connections. While some stops on the tour have limited narratives, Texas has enough to check out to make it a worthwhile look without being completely overwhelming. The full list of our Player Database is located here, but just as a quick reference, here are a handful of players with Texas connections:

Martin Flores
Cody Gribble
JJ Henry
Kelly Kraft
Danny Lee
Ryan Palmer
Ollie Schniederjans
Steven Bowditch
Patrick Reed
Rory Sabbatini
Tom Hoge
Bryson DeChambeau
Sung Kang – Not noted on the file, but lives in Irving, TX

These are not the only players with Texas ties, but these were the ones that stood out for having the closest connections to the Dallas/Ft Worth area except for Patrick Reed who is much closer to Houston. The other narrative that is always a bit interesting to me is how well Australians usually tend to play on Texas courses. Obviously, we have already discussed Bowdo, Scott and Day as former champions at this event, but we see it with others as well like Marc Leishman who has a nice track record here and Cam Smith who was in the mix at Valero. Even players like Cameron Percy and Rod Pampling have flashed form in this event over the years. Again, this does not qualify across the board as a universal truth, but something that I have noted over the last few years when looking at performance in events held in certain parts of the country. A quick list of some of the Aussies in the field:

Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Steven Bowditch
Matt Jones
Cameron Percy
Rod Pampling
Greg Chalmers
Danny Lee – New Zealand
Tim Wilkinson – New Zealand

Now, I am not saying to look at these three lists and start circling names offhand, but beyond what the stats, form and course history are telling you, there are a few other important details to take note of that could give you a little edge this week over your opponents. If you are looking to fill out your GPP player pool and need a few guys to fit into that 5-10% category behind your main core plays for the week, these are the types of names that I would suggest giving a second look at since many of them based on stats alone are not going to pop off the page. That said, I’ll still be fading Bowdo this week.

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte May 17, 2017 13:04

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