The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – FedEx St Jude Classic

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 8, 2016 10:29

Our stat guy was more than a little excited on Sunday as his favorite player, William ‘Dirt’ McGirt won his first tour event at the ripe age of 36. It was a great milestone for a player that has really elevated his game to a new level this season. Week after week I would look at his tee to green and putting numbers in disbelief as he kept showing up higher than I would have expected in our model and yet he kept making cuts more often than not and had a couple of nice finishes along the way. By no means did I anticipate a victory for McGirt last weekend, but I sure was happy that he made my secondary list of players and that I had recommended him as a 20% buy for the week. It is nice to pick a winner, but even better when that player is not complete chalk across the board. The price made him attractive as a salary filler with a high potential of making the cut and he delivered in a big way.

We had a really nice week overall with the picks for The Memorial. I know that it was an invitational and that 75 golfers out of 120 made the cut, but when you get 23 of your 25 picks through the cut, you get to pat yourself on the back a little bit. Of course, the big miss was Hideki Matsuyama who looked completely lost on a course he had dominated in his previous two appearances. It continued the bizarre phenomenon of an incredibly highly owned player missing the cut in an inexplicable manner. Hideki entered the week on a tear with four straight Top 11 finishes so it was all the more baffling to see him flounder and miss the cut. Our other miss was a little more gut wrenching with Johnson Wagner finding a double bogey on the 16th hole on Friday afternoon to miss the cut by one stroke. While Wagner was only a 15% buy for us, he was the lone player to miss the cut on one of my $300 lineups costing my hundreds of dollars as it proved to be a tough task to cash even with two other six of six teams.

The rest of the picks did reasonably well. The core picks were a bit mixed for us with Jason Day falling back on the back nine on Sunday, Kevin Chappell underperformed a bit and Charles Howell III, although finishing 48th, actually racked up 82 DraftKings points to outperform his price. Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland were all strong contributors for us and David Hearn, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner, Adam Hadwin and Tony Finau all played well. I was really pleased with the picks overall, but wish I could have hit the core a little better as we would have had a huge week with just slightly different weightings.

Normally, this would be the point where I would spout off something cliche like, ‘let’s keep the momentum going this week’, but I am going to stop myself considering the circumstances this week. The St Jude Classic faces the same challenge each season in serving as a pseudo opening act for the US Open next week. Most of the top players in the world skip it completely while many others end up withdrawing before the event starts once they have qualified for the US Open in one of the qualifiers that are held on Monday and Tuesday around the country. I have already had to change my writeup about four different times due to discovering yet another player had withdrawn this week. The trouble we tend to run into at an event like this is that the players at the top often turn this into a quick tune up event, or worse, get off to a poor start and the feign an illness and withdraw during the opening round as Dustin Johnson did a year ago.

So where does this leave us in terms of strategy for the week? For me, it means that I will be reigning myself in with my bankroll for the week and playing a little lighter than normal. I think I still have a great grasp on the players this week, but with so many dropping by the wayside to kick off the week in an already limited field, it is going to be extremely tough to find those hidden gems this week as ownership will be highly clustered around a smaller group of players leaving us with less maneuverability overall. There are a handful of players to keep an eye on this week as several former college stars will make their professional debut and the top player on the Web.com Tour will come over for a crack at the big time. Following these types of players during their early appearances can help you to gain an edge as they mature and gain experience throughout the summer. I will profile a few of these players in the picks section below.

Despite the weaker field this week, TPC Southwind tends to be one of the more challenging courses on tour each year. The fairways are narrow and there are plenty of bunkers and water hazards to penalize players who cannot keep themselves out of trouble. Ball strikers should do well here, but we want to emphasize accuracy more this week which is a bit of an issue considering that few of the top priced players are ranked well in that category and will have to make up for it with their approach game from the key distances. In looking at the key stats this week, our friends over at Fantasy Golf Metrics provided us with the following:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 25%
Driving Accuracy: 10%
Proximity: 15% (particularly from 150-200 yards)

Take it easy this week. The salaries for the US Open arrived today on DraftKings so it is a great time to start off your research and we are already busy getting materials ready for next week when we will get Round 2 of the 2016 Millionaire Makers. If you have questions, please touch base with us anytime. We are always happy to share some insight with you and will work with you to get through those tough stretches that can be frustrating. Also, please let us know if you are making a run for a big payday this week as it always makes the events a little more exciting if we have a Team FGI member to cheer on to victory. Finally, I will be out in San Diego this weekend if any fellow FGI folks are out in the area. Shoot me a note and I will let you know where my crew ends up throughout the weekend for drinks.

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The optimal lineups did well last week with two of the three getting into the money. The second one was right on the edge so hopefully if you used it, it worked out for you. This week, I am hesitant to give out the normal three lineups as my advice is to go easy on your cash games for the week, but I know we have a lot of cash game specialists out there so I will do my best to pull together another winning week for us here. When I saw the lineup that the model kicked out this week, my first impression was that we have a really…hmmmm….’interesting’ team on our hands this week. However, upon further thought, I like the team and think it could actually work for either a cash game or GPP event this week.

Brooks Koepka – $11,100
David Hearn – $8,400
Tom Hoge – $7,900
Chad Campbell – $7,800
Ben Martin – $7,600
Tim Wilkinson – $7,200

Phil Mickelson – $11,300
Charles Howell III – $9,400
Retief Goosen – $7,600
David Toms – $7,600
Tim Wilkinson – $7,200
Camilo Villegas – $6,900

Phil Mickelson – $11,300
David Hearn – $8,400
Boo Weekley – $8,000
Retief Goosen – $7,600
Ben Martin – $7,600
Camilo Villegas – $6,900

I think that teams with five of six golfers through the cut will be winners in cash games and in some cases, four of six if you have the right four players get through to the weekend. The optimal lineup grabbed Brooks and I added Phil into the other two lineups to give us a little stability and upside potential. Tim Wilkinson was a standout value in the model so he made two of the teams along with David Hearn and Retief Goosen. Camilo Villegas has awful stats, but dominates this course so he will get the benefit of the doubt as a cut maker with tremendous upside given his excellent history at TPC Southwind. These will be some of the uglier teams to fall into the optimal category, but everyone is facing the same dilemma this week so we just have to trust the fact that our research will be a little better than most others.

CORE

Phil Mickelson – 60% ($11,300)
David Hearn – 60% ($8,400)
Tom Hoge – 60% ($7,900)
Tim Wilkinson – 60% ($7,200)
Camilo Villegas – 60% ($6,900)

It was really tough to build my core group this week. A few of the names were immediately obvious, but each time I thought I was finished, I would read about another player withdrawing and had to go back to rework my numbers about four different times. I feel like we have a good mix this week between solid veteran players and also guys entering the event in good form. It will not be the sexiest group of core players this year, but after a lot of tinkering, I feel good about the group and its potential.

I always like Phil Mickelson at courses where he plays well regularly, especially where his game seems to be in a healthy state overall. Considering that Phil has finished in the Top 3 in two of his last three starts at TPC Southwind, I feel like this is a course he is now very comfortable with. On the season, Phil has been very good statistically and his tee to green game and putting have been outstanding leading to a lot of scoring opportunities. I know that Phil is probably thinking about Oakmont next week, but he is the type of player that usually does not trail off the week prior to a big event so I am not worried about a big letdown.

As we have discussed in previous weeks, it took David Hearn some time to adjust to the short putter this year, but after some work, he looks like he is starting to get comfortable and the results show that as he has made five of his last six cuts and seven of his last nine overall. He is one of the better players available to us this week statistically and although he is not one of the top putters or scorers, neither of those areas present a glaring weakness either. Hearn has made five of six cuts at TPC Southwind and I expect his success to continue this week.

Tom Hoge is the core player that I expect to be a little lower owned than the rest this week. Hoge can putt and is able to handle the key approach distances well here. He is a boom or bust type of play so realize that I am being particularly aggressive in using him in my core group. If you want to be more conservative, you can drop down to the secondary group and grab a player to substitute for Hoge, but I am going to play off of ownership trends and guess that he will not be quite as popular as others in this range so that if he does happen to have a big week, I will maximize the value of owning him at such a high clip. Hoge did finish 12th here a year ago so we know the upside potential is there.

Tim Wilkinson is my favorite play of the week. His price is way too low for a golfer that has made six straight cuts and eleven of thirteen on the season. Wilkinson seems to be improving with each start that he makes and his stats compare favorably to even the elite players in the field this week. Only two other players in the field have better putting numbers than Wilkinson and he is the best player in the field from the key approach distances. He just qualified for the US Open so be sure to check to make sure he does not withdraw today, but for a player who has put together the numbers and the results that Wilkinson has, we are getting a great price this week.

Camilo Villegas is the anti-Wilkinson in terms of statistics. In fact, he is the worst player that I will roster this week in terms of his numbers. Overall, outside of his putting, the rest of his game is really sloppy. However, much like last week, this is a course where Camilo tends to show up in a big way. In ten starts here, he has missed just one cut while piling up seven Top 20 finishes. While I am not one that typically follows the tenants of ‘course history above all else’, in the case of Camilo, I hold my nose and dive in. He is priced well for us and this gives us room to maneuver for the rest of our players this week so I am hopeful that his love affair with TPC Southwind will continue undisturbed this week.

SECONDARY

Brooks Koepka – 25% ($11,100)
Daniel Berger – 25% ($10,100)
Boo Weekley – 25% ($8,000)
Retief Goosen – 25% ($7,600)
David Toms – 25% ($7,600)
Ben Martin – 25% ($7,600)
Jason Bohn – 25% ($7,300)
Freddie Jacobson – 25% ($7,000)

Our secondary group this week is a mix of players, most of whom have a good amount of experience with this event. The veterans really stood out this week not just due to their experience at the course, but also due to their strong performances throughout the season. I typically do not buy many aging veterans from week to week, but this week will be a notable exception as about half of our secondary group is over the age of 40.

Brooks Koepka looked to be on the brink of his second career win at the Byron Nelson just a few short weeks ago before melting over the last few holes and losing in a playoff to Sergio Garcia. Even with the disappointing finish, it was still a nice result for Brooks who is looking to regain the form he had a year ago when he was one of the top DraftKings point scorers almost every week. His tee to green game and putter are both solid although not quite what they were last season, but he is still elite when it comes to birdie or better percentage and he is excellent from the key approach ranges. Brooks finished 3rd here a year ago and should be in contention again this weekend.

Daniel Berger is making his debut at TPC Southwind this week, but enters the event playing really well having made seven straight cuts and finished in the Top 10 three times this season. Berger has a well balanced game and is good from tee to green and with his putter. Last year, he struggled at this point of year and seemed worn down, but looks to have matured a great deal since his rookie season and should be able to keep the momentum going this week, especially against a weaker field.

Boo Weekley burned us two weeks ago in missing the cut at the Dean & Deluca, but his performances over the last couple of months have been improving since a terrible start to 2016 that saw him miss six of seven cuts during one stretch which distorted the stats for the typically talented ball striker. He has since rallied to make six of his last eight cuts. Boo has made six straight cuts at TPC Southwind with two Top 10 finishes in his career.

Retief Goosen has made the cut in ten consecutive starts. I am hoping that I have not now jinxed him into a collapse this week. His tee to green game is still a little above average and he is ranked 25th in strokes gained putting this season. He has made the cut at this event in five of his last seven starts and finished no lower than 32nd in that stretch.

David Toms is playing in this tournament for the 25th time in his career and although the last few years have not produced spectacular results, his game seems to be in a little better place this year than it has in recent seasons. He has made nine cuts in thirteen starts this season and his stats compare favorably with the field as he is ranked 54th in strokes gained tee to green and 56th in strokes gained putting. Toms is accurate off the tee and should be able to keep himself out of trouble. He probably will not put up a lot of DraftKings points for us, but if he can make it through the cut he can be a solid contributor for his price point.

Ben Martin was enormously underpriced last week and that alone made him worth rostering. This week he is back about where I would expect him to be and we will use him again with such a weak field in play. Martin is not an elite player in any area, but has had a nice scoring touch this season where he leads the tour in eagle percentage. He putts well and finished in 13th place here two years ago so while there is not a lot that I love about his game, he is one of our better options available this week.

Jason Bohn was one of my favorite players last season when his accuracy off the tee and ability to drill one green after another helped him to record eleven Top 25 finishes. He started this season strong, but then suffered a heart attack after making the cut at The Honda Classic and was forced to withdraw and immediately went into surgery. It has taken Bohn some time to recover, but after making the cut in his last two starts, it looks like he has regained his footing. I like Bohn’s accuracy off the tee this week as well as his solid approach game. He has finished in the Top 25 here in his last three starts and I am hoping that we are starting to see the 2015 version of Bohn again.

You know the field is incredibly weak when Freddie Jacobson makes my column as a recommendation. I am many things, but a Freddie Jacobson fan I am not. He sprays the ball all over the place, his approach game is a little sloppy, but he can scramble and putt really well and it usually keeps him just above the cut line most weeks and he has made fifteen of twenty cuts on the season. In his last eleven starts at TPC Southwind, he has missed only two cuts. As I said before, Freddie can putt and this will help him to knock down a few extra birdies this week. With only two Par 5’s on the course, Freddie will not be at his usual disadvantage and is ranked 14th in Par 3 scoring so he should have an edge over much of the field. Although his approach game as a whole is lousy, he is very good from our key ranges this week. I am not excited to roster Freddie, but every once in a while, he is a nice option.

Tertiary

Ryan Palmer – 15% ($10,800)
Gary Woodland – 15% ($10,400)
Chad Campbell – 15% ($7,800)
Hudson Swafford – 15% ($7,400)
Graeme McDowell – 10% ($8,200)
Ben Crane – 10% ($7,000)
Wesley Bryan – 5% ($9,000)
Lee McCoy – 5% ($6,700)
Robby Shelton – 5% ($6,700)
Mark Hubbard – 5% ($5,900)

Ryan Palmer – Missed only two cuts in 15 starts this season, excellent from tee to green and in birdie or better percentage, good from the key approach distances, made his last four cuts here with two Top 10 finishes

Gary Woodland – missed only one cut in 15 starts this season, coming in off of a 4th place finish at The Memorial, finished 18th here in his last start, excellent tee to green and good at converting scoring chances, playing some of the most consistent golf on tour this year

Chad Campbell – 27th in tee to green play this season, 36th in driving accuracy and solid from the approach distances, struggles with his putter, but has made his last three cuts with two finishes in the Top 12, has made his last six cuts at TPC Southwind including two Top 10 finishes

Hudson Swafford – after a slump has made four straight cuts, not a great tee to green game, but above average in all other key statistical categories this week, finished 29th here a year ago

Graeme McDowell – a boom or bust type of play with two Top 25 finishes here and two missed cuts, good tee to green and very accurate off the tee, struggles with his putter, but has made three straight cuts including a 9th place finish at The Players Championship, should be overlooked

Ben Crane – a course history specialist, he has missed only one cut here in his career while winning the event in 2014 and finishing in the Top 20 four times, very good putter and reasonably accurate off the tee, tends to finish well when making the cut and has seven Top 30 finishes on the season

Wesley Bryan – surprisingly high price this week for a player making his PGA debut this season, ranked #1 on the Web.com Tour, has made eight of nine cuts there with six Top 25 finishes, four Top 10 finishes and two wins, mediocre ball striker, Bryan is the top putter on the Web.com tour which has been the reason for his success, at $9000, people will balk at the price, we will own a small share just to have some exposure if breaks out in a big way this week

Lee McCoy – making his first start as a professional, two time All-American out of the University of Georgia, set the record in the program for career stroke average, finished in 4th place this year at the Valspar and missed the cut last summer at Chambers Bay in the US Open, will be a solid player on tour, not expecting much this week, but he has shown potential before

Robby Shelton – making his first start as a professional, three time All-American out of the University of Alabama, won seven tournaments there and finished with the school record for scoring average, finished 3rd at the Barbasol Championship last year, another lesser known name we will own a small share of in hopes of a big debut performance

Mark Hubbard – a pure cut making play with limited upside, but affordably priced to help us maximize our exposure to as many top level players as possible this week, better than average putter, accurate off the tee and better than average from the key approach distances, finished 45th here last year in his lone start at TPC Southwind

Good Luck,

-myz
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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 8, 2016 10:29

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