The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Open

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte October 14, 2015 14:02

Did everyone enjoy the offseason? Two whole weeks! Were you all able to get away and relax and collect your thoughts? I know that I really enjoyed the act of sleeping on consecutive Tuesdays. I am now ready to kiss that luxury goodbye once again for the next five weeks until we get close to Thanksgiving. Fortunately, I love my work and I love our subscribers so I am ready to make the push required to make you winners for the 2015-2016 season.

To start this season, let’s take a look back at last year for a minute and talk about some of the principles that we learned to help us to prepare for the new season. In terms of bankroll management, knowing how much or how little to play each week can make a huge difference in how effective you will be when it comes to daily fantasy golf. Unlike most other sports where the field is fairly consistent most of the time, in golf there are new players coming and going throughout the year. Certain fields are incredibly tough while others have very few high caliber players. Obviously, every course is different as well with each having its own personality and interesting challenges making certain skill sets more valuable than others from week to week. What this means is that we need to have a good gameplan each week that fits the events we participate in.

For this week, we have a surprisingly strong field given the fact that this is typically the time of year when a lot of the upper level professionals choose to take some time off after a rigorous season and playoff schedule. What is unique this season, and for seasons going forward I would hypothesize, is that the top level players are getting younger each year. As more kids take up the game at an earlier age and facilities are in place to help them practice for many more hours than the youth of previous generations, the best players will continue to get younger. The strongest evidence of this comes from last season when Jordan Spieth, at the age of 21 (and later on, 22) dominated the tour enroute to wins at two majors and a FedEx Cup championship. While I do not expect to see Jordan Spieth much this fall, we are privileged to have Rory McIlroy in the field this week, among several younger notable pros. As these younger players look to gain experience and also have the energy to take on a year round schedule, I think what we are seeing with the field at the Frys will continue this year and in the future.

It is going to be tempting for you to put a nice chunk of your bankroll in play this week after being away from golf over the last couple of weeks. I want you to avoid this temptation and to take your time in working your way back up to your normal levels over a two to three week period. Jeff and I have given you a little bit of an edge in putting together a special preview on sleepers this season, which we compiled from standouts from the Tour that will be on the PGA Tour this year, but before you start going all in on these players, I really want you to observe them closely over the first few events this fall. Will they rise to the occasion once they make the move to the top level or will the pressure be too much to handle. While there are success stories of players the emerge from the lower tours, there are many more that struggle and do not amount to much. When you use these players, weight those with some tour experience a little more heavily than others who are making their way onto the tour for the first time. There are some veterans with decent pedigrees who have improved their play over the last couple of months and at this very early stage, I would be a little more comfortable putting them into lineups.

In terms of the mix of games that I am going to play this week, I am mostly focused on accumulation during the fall season. I am looking to exploit the lack of knowledge of certain players to my advantage and to build up my bankroll for 2016 when football season ends and a whole new group of unseasoned players discover daily fantasy golf for the first time. The fall does provide some opportunity to build your bankroll, but I want to see how many players are actually involved in contests now that football is here. While golf can be very profitable if there are a lot of novices involved, let’s make sure that this is the case before diving in too deep.

Currently, with the late release of prices this week, it looks like some of the contests are going to have trouble filling up. This signals to me that some daily fantasy sports players are more focused on football right now. If you can find Double Ups with guaranteed prize pools, watch them closely as getting an overlay in these types of contests gives you a nice edge even if competition is tougher. Obviously, an early morning wakeup is also important tomorrow in scouting out how the GPPs are filling up for the week. Get your core lineups entered today, but go ahead and build a few extra lineups to have ready in case the opportunity arises for a big overlay. I like to hold off until the last 10-15 minutes before lineup lock before entering these extra teams to make sure that there really is going to be a reasonable overlay.

Also, make sure that you understand the difference between an overlay and a contest that is merely not filled up. A quick example: This week, DraftKings is running a $100 entry GPP with 444 entries available and a guaranteed prize pool of $40,000. If there are less than 400 entries, then we have ourselves an overlay and DK will have to ante up the extra money to fill the guarantee. If there are over 400 entries, but less than 444, the contest is not full, but there is not an overlay. People get this confused all the time so please run the numbers. Take the guaranteed prize amount and divide it by the entry amount and that will give you the magic number where if there are less entries than that, there is an overlay. Do not empty your bankroll chasing overlays. If the contest is only a couple percent below filling to the guarantee, it really is not worth getting too excited about. When I am looking for overlay opportunities, I’m focusing on finding contest that are below 90% of the way to the guarantee and preferably below 80% before I start to really load up extra entries.

In terms of the event itself, the Open is held at held at the Silverado Country Club in Napa, California on the North Course. The Par 72, 7200 yard course hosted the event for the first time last year. As a conventional Par 72 course, there are four Par 3 and Par 5 holes. Obviously, we are going to focus on last year for course history, but given that there is only one year of results, be a little wary of putting too much emphasis on one solid showing. Focus on those players that have been playing well and have the skill sets to excel. There is nothing terribly daunting about this course as the Par 4 holes are on the shorter side and most of the Par 5 holes are reachable in two shots, particularly for the bigger hitters. The key statistics that I am focusing on this week are: Birdie or Better percentage, Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Par 4 Scoring, Par 5 Scoring, Greens In Regulation and Strokes Gained Putting. This should be a course built for scorers as was evidenced by the success of those types of players last season.

We have a lot of big things coming this season for our site and it is going to be an amazing season. If there are things that you like or do not like, please get in touch with us and let us know your thoughts. We are working on four or five different projects right now and will be looking for your feedback to see what is useful and what needs to be improved. Finally, please let us know how you are doing in your contests this week. Let us know about any overlays that you were a part of or what your impressions were of the types of people that were playing this week. The more intel that we can gather together, the better prepared we will be over the next six weeks to maximize our profits this fall.

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Before we jump into player recommendations this week, I want to swing back to some of the bigger GPP events this week to give you some idea of what current participation looks like.

Drive The Green $3 – $400,000 Guarantee – 65k/153k – 42.5% Full – 48.9% of guarantee
Fairway $27 – $225,000 Gurantee – 1900/9507 – 20% – 22.8% of guarantee
3-Wood $300 – $100,000 Guarantee – 119/370 – 32.2% – 35.7% of guarantee
Back 9 $9 – $45,000 Guarantee – 1350/5742 – 23.5% – 27% of guarantee
Giant $50 Double Up – $25,000 Guarantee – 163/555 – 29.4% – 32.6% of guarantee

These are just a few of the more noteworthy contests that I have been watching over the last couple of days. This could be a real opportunity this week and this week only. If there are any large overlays this week, DraftKings will more than likely scale back its contests this fall in order to try to better meet the actual demand from players for golf during the fall. Last season, the contests were scaled back quite far, but I am not anticipating such a drop off this fall as the number of folks who really enjoy the game has grown. However, it would not surprise me to see the number of entries scaled back in the weeks ahead by 10-20% in order to avoid these types of situations. This was the case with the Millionaire Maker for the NFL as Week 1 failed to live up to expectations and the overlay was pretty massive, close to $1 million if I remember correctly. So there will be adjustments made to compensate for any drop in play, which means that if this is out big opportunity this week, we need to be ready for it.

Now we move onto our picks for the week. I have to say, I am really pleased with the field that we have to work with this week. As this is the first event of the season and only a week after the Presidents Cup, I had fairly low expectations for the field, but have been pleasantly surprised by the caliber of player that has entered this week. There are even four players that made the trip back from South Korea from the Presidents Cup that will be in the field this week. Is it the caliber of one of the bigger events? Certainly not. However, the field that we have here is plenty strong and there is enough for us to work with in both cash games and GPPs this week.


Rory McIlroy ($12,800) – I did a double take when I saw that McIlroy was in the field this week. This is not your typical Rory tournament. Coming off of an injury last season that helped to push him down out of his #1 ranking in the world, this appears to me like Rory is a man on a mission this season and is actively looking to regain the top spot. His price is on the high side, but it is a great week to own him. Typically, Rory plays in only the stronger fields, making it very tough to win against such stiff competition. This week, there are not so many top names so Rory should certainly be among the names at the top. It is going to be all about the putter for Rory this week as he struggled with it down the stretch.

Birdie or Better %- NA
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- NA
Par 4 Scoring- NA
Par 5 Scoring – NA
Greens in Regulation- NA
Strokes Gained Putting- NA

Justin Rose ($12,000) – Another surprising entry to the field, Justin Rose was one of the hottest players on tour from The Masters until the end of the year, notching nine Top 10s on the season and a win. He is a strong fit for the course and I would expect him to excel in his debut here.

Birdie or Better %- 3rd
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 6th
Par 4 Scoring- 18th
Par 5 Scoring – 4th
Greens in Regulation- 9th
Strokes Gained Putting- 101st

Hideki Matsuyama ($10,800) – Hideki comes to Napa on short rest this week after playing in the Presidents Cup last weekend. However, he comes into the event having finished in 3rd place here last season, which should offset a little bit of any tiredness he might experience. Hideki typically excels in these weaker field events for the most part so I like his chances to make a good showing this weekend. Outside of his putting, the rest of his game lines up really well for the course.

Birdie or Better %- 8th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 8th
Par 4 Scoring- 3rd
Par 5 Scoring – 24th
Greens in Regulation- 21st
Strokes Gained Putting- 85th

Brooks Koepka ($10,600) – Brooks is back and I think he is ready to put the end of last season behind him. He had a nice showing at the Alfred Dunhill two weeks ago with a 2nd place finish and returns to familiar territory in Napa where he finished in 8th place a year ago. Statistically, he is the strongest player of the Blue Chip group as his putting numbers are better than the other three players. The key for Koepka this week is to keep his composure and to find a way to keep the meltdowns out of his game this season. I caution that Koepka tends to be among the higher owned players each week and even with his salary being a bit higher than normal, I anticipate that he will still have high ownership levels this week.

Birdie or Better %- 27th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 36th
Par 4 Scoring- 10th
Par 5 Scoring – 7th
Greens in Regulation- 17th
Strokes Gained Putting- 17th


Justin Thomas ($9,300) – Thomas endured some ups and downs last season, but largely, he had a very successful rookie campaign with seven Top 10 finishes. Thomas is another solid tee to green player that scores often and should be able to take advantage of the Par 5 holes this week. He has not been a very reliable player down the stretch in most tournaments, but I think he will get it together this year and push through for a win at some point. He did miss the cut here last season, but that was at the beginning of his first season so I am not going to hold it against him.

Birdie or Better %- 6th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 17th
Par 4 Scoring- 26th
Par 5 Scoring – 2nd
Greens in Regulation- 27th
Strokes Gained Putting- 95th

Robert Streb ($9,200) – One the best stories from the fall season last year was the rise of Robert Streb. Coming into last season, he was a virtual unknown before reeling off a number of strong performances capped off with a win. Outside of a short stretch in the spring, Streb proved to be a very consistent player last season with nine Top 10 finishes. He started his year with a 31st place finish at Silverado last year and will look to improve upon that this year.

Birdie or Better %- 19th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 27th
Par 4 Scoring- 18th
Par 5 Scoring – 61st
Greens in Regulation- 23rd
Strokes Gained Putting- 24th

Tony Finau ($9,200) – Continuing right along, we find another great young player near the top of the salary structure this week in Tony Finau. He is another player that started off well in the fall last season, finishing in 12th here, which helped him on his way to having a very good rookie year. With 16 Top 25 finishes and five Top 10s in 31 starts, Finau became a very consistent player for owners during the summer months last year. If he can improve his putting in any meaningful manner, he will contend in most tournaments he enters this season.

Birdie or Better %- 7th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 34th
Par 4 Scoring- 26th
Par 5 Scoring – 40th
Greens in Regulation- 57th
Strokes Gained Putting- 109th

Steven Bowditch ($8,200) – Bowditch makes for a nice GPP play this week. He is a bit too erratic for me to put into a cash game lineup, but he is talented enough to win an event like this and did in fact take 2nd here last season. He got off to a bit of a slow start in 2015, where he has a stretch of seven missed cuts in eight starts, but rallied back the rest of the way and finished with a win and 10 Top 25 finishes to his credit. He has the distance off the tee to do well here and though he is not a great GIR player, his scrambling and sand save ability keep him out of trouble for the most part.

Birdie or Better %- 67th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 76th
Par 4 Scoring- 26th
Par 5 Scoring – 61st
Greens in Regulation- 158th
Strokes Gained Putting- 66th

Russell Henley ($8,100) – A pretty consistent cut maker last year, Russell Henley is another young player with a lot of potential. He plays well off the tee and is long and reasonably accurate. He is also one of the better putters on tour. His iron play is what held him back a bit last season as his tee to green game is still a work in progress. However, I think that a course like this favors his game well and I think his price makes him a solid value for both cash and GPP play this week.

Birdie or Better %- 27th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 120th
Par 4 Scoring- 50th
Par 5 Scoring – 61st
Greens in Regulation- 69th
Strokes Gained Putting- 8th

Jamie Lovemark ($7,500) – A bit of a sleeper, but priced in the value tier, Lovemark returns to the PGA tour after sharpening his game up last season on the Tour where he enjoyed a great deal of success making 18 of 22 cuts with seven Top 10s and 13 Top 25s. He also played well in his two appearances on the PGA Tour last season with an 18th place finish at The US Open and a 31st place finish at The Honda Classic. I think this will finally be the breakout year that people have been expecting for a few years from Lovemark.

Will Wilcox ($7500) – Wilcox is a stat monster. Hopefully, he can be a results monster this year as well. Wilcox will certainly attract attention at this price and in this field and I fully expect him to be one of the higher owned players this week. The numbers look great, but I am not going to own a lot of shares of Wilcox this week. He will be highly owned in GPPs and he does have some risk of missing the cut as he usually hovers right around the cut line each Friday. That said, I think he makes for a reasonable cash game play and will offer a bit of salary cap relief.

Birdie or Better %- 24th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 20th
Par 4 Scoring- 3rd
Par 5 Scoring – 78th
Greens in Regulation- 4th
Strokes Gained Putting- 32nd

Shawn Stefani ($7,100) – The playoffs were not a great finish to the season for Stefani after a season that overall was pretty solid. With ten Top 25 finishes on the season, Stefani took advantage of a lot of weaker fields to pick up quality finishes. Now that he is back in a field where he is not quite such a small fish among the sharks, I think he will flourish again. His stats fit this course really well and his price make him a great value this week.

Birdie or Better %- 21st
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 43rd
Par 4 Scoring- 26th
Par 5 Scoring – 24th
Greens in Regulation- 32nd
Strokes Gained Putting- 88th


Hudson Swafford ($6,900) – Swafford started last season slow, but gradually emerged over the year as a fairly reliable player down the stretch. He finished in 8th place last season here and with his distance off the tee and solid putting game, Swafford is well positioned to capitalize off of the momentum he built towards the end of last season. At his price, he offers a nice amount of upside for GPP play.

Birdie or Better %- 24th
Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green- 113th
Par 4 Scoring- 50th
Par 5 Scoring – 28th
Greens in Regulation- 39th
Strokes Gained Putting- 26th

Ollie Schniederjans ($6,800) – In limited action last season, I liked what I saw from Ollie. He has a great tee to green game and seems pretty steady with his putter. He also has a good deal of upside as when he made the cut, he tended to finish well in the events he took part in. I think he will be owned by a fare number of players this week so I am a little cautious, but I think Ollie is going to have a season much like Justin Thomas or Tony Fianu had last season.

Hiroshi Iwata ($6,300) – I actually had a chance to watch Iwata’s amazing second round at The PGA Championship event this summer and caught a glimpse of the talent that is there. He finished in 21st place there and also had a 3rd place finish last season at the WGC HSBC so he has competed well at elite levels. He had a reasonable run in the playoffs and enters this event off the radar. I think he is great GPP play as his ownership levels will be next to nothing and the potential is there for a high finish.

Si Woo Kim ($5,700) – Digging a little deeper, we find Si Woo Kim. When we get down into this range, we want to find players that few if any other owners are contemplating. Kim fits that bill. The 20 year-old Korean made 18 of 25 cuts on the Tour last year and is ready to emerge in the coming years as another top level Asian player on tour. He is strictly a GPP play this week, but has a well balanced game that should give him a shot at being a cut maker for us this week.



Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte October 14, 2015 14:02

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