The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – HERO World Challenge

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 28, 2018 06:28

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – HERO World Challenge

Welcome to the holiday edition of the Daily Spin. For those of you that follow me for football as well, it’s been a great last few weeks for us on the cash game side of things as we’ve been on a nice roll of late after a mixed first few weeks of the season. For those of you finishing up your first year of following the PGA Tour closely, the HERO World Challenge marks the final event to close the year and though it is not an official PGA event, there is still plenty of prestige for those who are involved each year as Tiger is the host of this charity event and when you get the call from Tiger, generally you come to pay your respects to the king.

Before I dive into the HERO, which will be brief this week, I do want to touch on ‘The Match’ from last weekend. I hope that those of you who purchased the event enjoyed the experience. On a Black Friday where the college football games were a little lacking and you needed a desperate escape from your wife and holiday shopping, it provided a nice respite from the oncoming rush of the early Christmas season. All told, it had its moments from what I read about later on with Tiger chipping in on 17 to tie the match and of course, the match going to an all too perfect playoff to decide who would win the $9 million.

Unfortunately, for me, I just could not get that excited about the match, even though I did not have anything better to do while doing my NFL research for the weekend. I think that in theory, the idea of a match like this is interesting. What those who put it together failed to realize however, is that golf as a sport is best experienced for the audience in watching the rounds of many players unfolding throughout the day with dozens of little story lines to follow to capture our attention while the favorites traverse the course between key shots.

One of the most common complaints that I saw on Twitter was in listening to the players panting and out of breath as they walked the course between shots. Part of the problem with the setup is that as an audience, you want to be a part of all of the type of fun that we saw from players when they embarked on SB2K16 with Jordan, Rickie, JT and Smylie, but at the same time, you want to see exceptional golf and the rekindling of a decades old rivalry. It’s easy to banter back and forth when you are kicking around $5k bets on hitting the next putt or getting closest to the pin, but it is entirely different when there is $9 million on the line.

My biggest issue with the event was that it felt like a bit of a money grab from a couple of aging veterans. Much like I skipped out on Chuck vs Tito III on Saturday night, this rivalry has lost most of its steam as the years have past. Now that each is starting to near the end of their exceptional careers and realizes the value that the other brought to them professionally, there just is not the same sort of intensity that we would have seen 15 years ago. Even among the fans, the score seems pretty well settled. After all, in any single round of golf, can we really expect that anything will be definitively decided? If that we the case, we could crown Conor McGregor the king of boxing after taking the first round off of Floyd Mayweather last year.

Finally, and I will wrap up my curmudgeonly take with this, what the fans really want to see out of the top players in the world is this: How do the best players in the world fare when they have real skin in the game? We always hear rumors of big bets on the course and in the clubhouse. We know that Phil Mickelson is rather famous for being a rumored degenerate gambler, but like the kids at school who are not a part of the inner circle, we never get the real details, just hints about the great stories that we know exist. That is what we wanted to see on display in a match like this, how does someone play when the money is theirs to win or lose and the world is watching.

Many years ago, billionaire banker, Andy Beal went to Las Vegas and put the greatest poker players in the world to the test of playing for stakes that tested their resolve. Go out and check out Mark Craig’s book, The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time if you are looking for a fascinating read. Beal, a genius banker and self taught mathematician, picked up poker in college, but really started to pursue the game heavily in the early 2000s when he had already established himself as one of the richest men in the world and began playing a series of high stakes heads up matches with a group of well known poker players. His goal was to try to raise the stakes to such a level that it would alter his opponent’s ability to keep their wits about them, thus tilted the advantage to him. Unfortunately, he ran into Phil Ivey, the Tiger Woods of poker (some would say Tiger Woods is the Phil Ivey of Golf), and he finally found someone cold blooded enough to battle him down to the point where Beal quit the game loser and vowed to give up the game (he still pops up every few years and drops a few million here and there).

My point in telling this story is that I want to see two of the best players in the game go head to head when the loser pays the winner the prize pool. It’s easy for Tiger to shrug and then head off to the Bahamas this week for his tournament and truth be told, even losing $9 million of his own money would not send him to poverty, but I guarantee the emotions, the focus and the intensity would be a whole lot different if the trophy ceremony at the end of the event included the loser writing out a fat check to the winner for $9 million. I would tune in to see that. They could even make it a best 2 of 3 or 3 of 5 to add additional rounds and travel to a different course for each match. But the end has to include real money coming out of the loser’s pocket, otherwise it is all just a big money grab and it does not shed any new light on that other shadowy part of the game that we all know exists and are dying to hear about and watch, but have been denied access to since gambling has always been a dirty little secret of the golf world that the PGA does everything in its power to keep hidden from public view.

Back to the business at had this week, let’s turn our attention to the HERO World Challenge. It is a small field event with only 18 players, but a tremendous field of many of the best players in the world and one that is always a lot of fun to watch. The nice part of having a small field like that is that it makes the event very easy to watch since each round only lasts around 5 hours or so in getting 18 players through the course instead of the full 10-12 that the opening rounds of a normal tournament take to complete. There are five Par 5 holes, wide fairways and plenty of scoring opportunities which allows for casual fans to have an enjoyable viewing experience. As long as the winds do not pick up, this is a resort course so it is meant to be easy on the tourists who are looking to enjoy the scenery around the course as much as the playing experience.

The course is over 7,300 yards and sits on the coast so as mentioned above, winds can play a factor. In glancing at the weather for the weekend, it looks mild on Thursday and Friday, but possible storms and winds around 20mph could come into play on Saturday. If that is the only day when things get testy, I am not going to factor it into my player rankings all that much. The fairways are wide, but the greens are on the smaller side which means that approach play is more important than usual especially since play around the greens tends to be on the tricky side. As Jeff and I discussed on the podcast on Monday, we see some comparison courses that are worth looking at this week. We both feel that Augusta and Kapalua are courses that favor certain types of players although Kapalua clearly offers a much easier experience overall. Both have wide fairways that are easy to hit and each are courses where players must be able to take advantage of the easier scoring conditions on the Par 5 holes. Augusta is also similar in that strong approach player is key as around the green work can be difficult at both courses. Obviously, Albany is similar to Kapalua in that the scoring conditions are very easy and it is also a coastal course where the winds tend to be the primary defense for each course.

I am going to keep my exposure minimal for the week. Generally, in smaller fields, I stick with GPP events, but in this case, the field is just so small that it is difficult to build a lot of differentiated lineups this week and since tying with 50-100 other players would not excite me all that much, I am just going to play for a few hundred dollars in some smaller field double up events. When there is not a lot of extra upside to GPP events, I am happy just to jump into a few cash games to give me a little extra rooting interest. If you do elect to get into the GPP contests this week, do try to leave extra dollars behind to help in creating unique lineups. I would say you could leave between $500-1000 behind on your lineups and not feel that nervous about being locked out of the potential winning lineup. The winner could definitely come from any of the salary tiers this week so it’s easier to set extra aside than in weeks where it seems assured that the winner will come from the elite tier.

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 28, 2018 06:28

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