The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Greenbrier

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte September 11, 2019 08:42

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Greenbrier

Is there any offseason more ridiculous than what takes place with the PGA schedule each year? Having just enjoyed the first NFL Sunday of the season after not having it around for seven months, the swell of excitement for the games grows by the year. The down time is enough so that you start to miss it after a few months and then, by July, you begin to count down the weeks until its arrival. Golf is really the only one where you blink and it has passed you by and the new season is off and running again.

This season does mark a noted change to the schedule after a truncated schedule to start this year in order to wrap up the FedEx Cup by the end of August. Typically, we get seven events in the fall beginning in October each year. This year, for the first time, we have eleven events on the fall schedule that will take us all the way up to the Hero in December, which will be followed by the President’s Cup down in Australia. I am extremely interested in seeing how players will approach the fall this year. Normally, you would see the top players jump into the WGC event in China and perhaps one other event in the fall, but with ten events, that puts a lot of extra points out there this fall and every fall moving forward for those looking to get a jump on the playoff hunt.

My guess is that player participation will be sparse throughout September as most of the top names will want to enjoy some real time away from the tour, but by October, you will see a decent contingent making the trek over to Asia to play in Korea at the CJ Cup, the new Zozo Championship in Japan and the WGC-HSBC in China. At that point, most of the top players will shut it down until the Hero in December. The other consideration is that the European Tour wraps up its own playoffs with the Race to Dubai during the first three weeks of November so all of the top European players will likely hit an event or two in Asia and then play in the three playoff events before shutting it down for the year.

My impression about the first five events is that we are going to see the softest fields of the year. It won’t quite be the Barbasol or the Puntacana, but these fields are not going to attract a lot of names, even if that was the original intention of tour officials. The texture of the field is enormously important for us in determining how to approach these events from a DFS perspective. We have had the best run of my life in cash games over the last four months where the worst that I did all summer was a slight loss during The Open Championship where I still made back most of what my entries were just due to the massively chalky nature of my team. Outside of that, it was smooth sailing as we got into a great groove and just let the process work for us.

While I wish that things could stay that easy, it is not going to be that way to start this season. Something I discuss often when breaking down the field is if we are getting any sort of pricing pressures. When the field is really strong, good players get pushed down and it becomes very easy to make teams full of high quality players. This is the case at many of the majors during the year. We have the opposite scenario in place this week where the field is so soft that we have a lot of pressure from below pushing average and middling players up much high than where we would normally see them. This makes things much trickier from the cash player’s perspective.

As cash players, we are looking for predictability from week to week. We do not always care so much about a player’s ability to finish near the top of the leaderboard, but we definitely need to find golfers that can make the cut consistently. We do not have much of that this week. The two types of players that are most predominant that we would consider this week are either players who have experienced a sudden burst of short term form, or those players with some solid history at the course. We do not really have any players in the value range that display both good short and long term form and some type of history at the course.

Given the nature of the field this week, I do not have much interest in building any cash game lineups. Why do we want to throw our money around playing double ups when we’re having to take stabs at hunches and hoping that small streaks of good play is enough to carry over into the fall? This is going to change in the weeks ahead. One of the main reasons that I do like to play fall DFS golf is that we get to see a whole new crop of young players coming onto the tour for the first time. Some of these guys are going to come out of the gates and have success immediately. What I am really looking to see is if the players that were in good form during the Korn Ferry finals continue their steady play now that they have their card. Right now, there are still a lot of unknowns about many of these players, but all it will take is for us to watch closely in these initial weeks to gain enough insight to be comfortable with these rookies and then cash games will be a more viable avenue for us again.

In looking at the course this week, Adam gave us a great rundown in his First Tee column so I am not going to repeat everything that he wrote up already. The Old White Course is a relatively easy golf course, plays as a Par 70 and is over 7,200 yards in length. In 2016, storms cancelled the tournament and tore up the course so it took a lot of work to get it back into playable condition for the following year and a lot of trees were removed which made scoring slightly easier overall. If you are consulting course history, 2017/2018 would be the two years that I would focus on this week due to the changes from the storm. It should play as somewhat of a bomber’s course as there are not a lot of hazards to deal with off the tee and the fairways are slightly wider than average in most of the landing zones. The greens are slightly smaller than the tour average and are played on slow, bentgrass greens with plenty of undulation, which tends to elevate good putters. There are plenty of bunkers around the greens which are a challenge to hit out of so long iron play and Par 4 Scoring are two areas to emphasize this week.

KEY STATS

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 30%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Birdie or Better %: 20%
Scrambling: 15%
Prox 175-200 yards: 10%
Driving Distance: 5%

 

PLAYER POOL

This is the type of week where we need to mix things up a little in order to give ourselves a better shot at hitting a GPP win. Typically, the player pool that I build will have a couple of players weighted around 40%, then the rest of my core is usually between 25-40% and it gently tapers down from there into the secondary, tertiary and sprinkle plays for the week. My confidence is usually higher during those weeks, but I also realize that in stronger fields, there are going to be a lot more players in those middle ranges that I feel have a good chance at winning that week so I do not want to be so overweight on a handful of golfers that if I do happen to hit the winner in my player pool, my weighting is too low to make a difference.

This week, I am going to be much more aggressive in overweighting my top players and the having more in the 5% and 10% range than usual. I have a very high level of confidence around my top four players this week, but it seems likely that I will not be alone in that sentiment. My guess is that my favorite four players near the top are also going to be the favorite of most other DFS owners. In order to give myself a better shot at capitalizing on owning them, I am going to be leveraged 2x to the field so that when they hit, I will actually gain some ground on the field rather than just holding with the other teams.

On the low end, there are a lot of players that are worth a look this week that I have been following over the years who are making the big leap to the PGA Tour this season. There are also a good number of old favorites who are returning to the tour after battling their way back over the last year or two. It is really tough to say which of those players are going to make a big move early and which are going to need a little time to get comfortable. Whatever the case may be, I want to own as many of them as I can so I can sprinkle them into lineups with my core players. My thought is that if one or two of my top four players hit this week, I want to have a lot of different combinations of players mixed around them hoping to hit just the right one. This whole approach is the way that I like to play when I feel much more confident in my high dollar plays, but not so much on my value picks.

 

CORE 

Viktor Hovland 10900
Sungjae Im 9800
Joaquin Niemann 9700
Byeong Hun An 9500
Harold Varner III 8700
Tom Lewis 7900
Bronson Burgoon 7800
Sepp Straka 7600

 

A part of me was dumb enough to think that maybe, just maybe Viktor Hovland would be below $10k this week. What a silly thought. The young Norwegian has been on a tear since the US Open and a week later when he officially made his professional debut where he finished 54th. Since then, he’s had six starts and finished no lower than 16th and his tee to green game is already at an elite level, ranking 1st in SGTG, SGOTT and SGAPP over the last 24 rounds among this field. His game reminds me a lot of Patrick Cantlay when he arrived on tour two years ago with the driver and iron play ready, but struggling around the green and just average to slightly below with the putter. In any case, the tools that he has at his disposal will put him in position for a lot of Top-25 finishes this year and if he plays the full fall schedule, he has a great chance at getting his first win.

Mr Prolific, Sungjae Im is here this week and you don’t even need to ask if he will be keeping busy this fall after making 35 starts last season. Im is a good tee to green player, though just okay with his irons. He really shined with his short game as the year wore on and the playoffs approached. Over the last 24 rounds, Im ranked 18th in SGATG and 6th in SGP which helped to lead him to eight finishes of 26th or better in his last ten starts. Im ranked 23rd in Par 4 Scoring last year and 6th in Birdie or Better Percentage so he seems like a great fit again this week.

For a while, it did not look like 20 year old, Joaquin Niemann was going to deliver on the promise of his 2018 campaign. He did not notch his second Top-25 finish of the season until near the end of June. However, once the easier course cam around and the fields softened up, he went on a great run to end the year which included five Top-25 finishes in his last eight starts. Niemann is an extremely good iron player and ranks 8th on tour in Par 4 Scoring. He has played here twice, finishing 29th and then 5th last year so it is the perfect spot for him to have a breakthrough week. He’s also a much better putter on bentgrass surfaces where he is nearly .3 strokes better per round than on other surfaces.

If you like Hovland this week, you should love Byeong Hun An for $1400 less. He has all the tools of Hovland plus he ranks 1st in SGATG over the last 24 rounds. Outside of a 3-4 event stretch last season where he battled injuries, An had a nice season, making 19/22 cuts and heating up near the end of the season to where he nearly won the Wyndham Championship.  He is a bomber off the tee, excellent from mid to long range with his approach play and 23rd in Par 4 Scoring. His putter is always awful, but he will be well positioned to score this week so if he can deliver just an average number, he can contend.

I am rarely, if ever, a Harold Varner III guy. He’s a big hitter with the ability to score, but he is also maddening inconsistent and not a golfer I can put a lot of trust into from week to week. His driver should get him into good position off the tee this week at an event where he’s been strong, finishing 29th and 5th the last two years. He looked dialed in at the Northern Trust Open where he finished 3rd before slipping back at the BMW. He’s played his best golf of his career during these easier stretches where the fields have been a little weaker so I am expecting him to step it up this week as he’s been playing better recently and ranks 21st in the field in SGTG over the last 24 rounds.

I am hoping that there will be a lot of owners who overlook the 61st ranked player in the world this week in Tom Lewis, though after winning the Korn Ferry Championship two weeks ago, that does not seem too likely. In any case, at $7900, Lewis is definitely underpriced given his credentials as he finished 11th at The Open Championship this past summer and 7th at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last fall. He won the Portugal Masters in 2018 as well. He’s missed just three cuts in 2019 and now joins the PGA Tour for the first time. Sometimes the adjustment takes a little time, but he’s been on far bigger stages and is much more talented than most of the other players in his price range.

Bronson Burgoon and Sepp Straka round out my core which is a little terrifying and should tell you all you need to know about this field. Burgoon seemed to find his game late in the year with a 5th place finish at the Barracuda Championship and then two straight Top-20 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 19th in this field in SGTG and 36th in SGTOT. The ball striking is good enough for him to play well at courses like this, but he’ll have to putt better than he usually does if he wants to have a shot at a Top-25. Straka feels a like a player on the rise this season. His tee to green game improved all season and by the end of the year, he had several notable finishes. In looking at his rolling numbers, he ranks 6th in SGTG over the last 24 rounds among the field and 5th in SGTOT. His mid range approach play is excellent, he ranked 23rd in Par 4 Scoring and 12th in Birdie or Better Percentage. This looks like a great spot for him to start the season.

 

SECONDARY 

Russell Henley 9400
Robert Streb 8500
Bud Cauley 7700
Sebastian Munoz 7600
Cameron Tringale 7300
Beau Hossler 7300
Mackenzie Hughes 7200
Scott Stallings 7000
J.J. Spaun 6900
Ryan Brehm 6800

 

TERTIARY 

Kramer Hickok 7700
David Hearn 7400
Harry Higgs 7200
Nate Lashley 6900
Sam Burns 6900
Roberto Castro 6900
Grayson Murray 6800
Roger Sloan 6500

 

SPRINKLE 

Brice Garnett 7100
Lanto Griffin 7100
Henrik Norlander 7100
Doc Redman 7000
Brendon Todd 6700
Shawn Stefani 6700
Doug Ghim 6600
Mark Hubbard 6600
Kristoffer Ventura 6300
Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte September 11, 2019 08:42

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