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

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 29, 2017 09:42

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

We’re back for one more week this fall season and then we can finally put 2017 in the books for the PGA Tour and enjoy a month of research before jumping right back in for 2018. It’s been a fun year with a lot of new, young players paving the way for the growth of the game in the years ahead with the incredible amount of success that they had this season. We had three new major winners this season and a host of others who are on the cusp of major stardom in the years ahead. What has been amazing about the tour over the last three seasons is that every time we think we have found the next Tiger Woods, the player who we think is going to dominate the game like no other for the foreseeable future, parity strikes again and makes those predictions look foolish. From Spieth to Day, to Rory to DJ, the baton has been passed around from one top player to the next, but with no single player being able to take over the game like the great Tiger Woods was able to do for so many years. And with that as the backdrop, it makes this week all the more compelling as Tiger returns to action in yet another comeback, perhaps the final true attempt we’ll see him make in trying to recapture even a shadow of what once made him so dominant and compelling, not just in golf, but in the world of all professional sports.

While most of you know the travails of Tiger and what he has gone through over the last few years, but the article that ESPN produced back in the spring of 2016 is about as good of a piece of journalism as you are ever going to read about a man going through the struggles of life trying to grapple with the loss of his father and also in trying to find his identity while caught up in a world of fame he was never prepared to handle. It’s an amazing read and puts a bright light on the man that has captivated so many of us over the years and shows you exactly how both the physical and emotional scars were accumulated when he was at his peak more than a decade ago.

Tiger’s return this week is an excited development for the season ahead. We have had remarkable growth in the game over the last couple of years with a new crop of young players that I believe is unrivaled in the history of the sport. We’re seeing the technological innovations of the last two decades begin to bear fruit as kids who took up the game earlier, received coaching in their formative years and were able to play virtual rounds to gain hours of practice that were previously unavailable to previous generations are now starting to win on tour much earlier than ever before. One of the first columns that I wrote for FGI three years ago focused on this shift. Where in decades past, golf was a game where players did not usually hit their prime until their 30’s, what we have witnessed in recent years is that the best players in the world are now younger than ever before. 2017 proved to be a further continuation of this trend with Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas winning a major and Xander Schauffele taking down the Tour Championship. Can Tiger keep up with the youth movement?

Since everything about this week is going to be focused on Tiger, we might as well talk about what to expect from the next four days as he tees it up for the first time since an ill advised trip to the middle east for a European event where he was forced to withdraw due to back pain after just one round. This is certainly not the first time that Tiger has returned from back issues in the past, but while it feels naive to use the phrase that things are ‘different this time’, it does feel like there are much more positive vibes around this return than there have been at other times over the last few years. If you want to look back at the complete timeline of Tiger’s injuries, here is a quick breakdown over the last decade. Much of these can be traced to over training, an aggressive swing and also all of the time he spent pounding his body going through the military style training outlined in the ESPN article above. After his last aborted comeback last winter, he elected to have surgery performed to remove a damaged disk in his lower back to try to alleviate the pain caused by compression that led to sciatica.

If you’ve never dealt with back pain in your life, consider yourself very lucky. For those of us who have had issues over the years, it is the type of problem that is almost always chronic. Once you have a good amount of compression between the vertebrae in your lower back, it’s not something that every really goes away and you need to manage the pain through physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications to keep it at bay. Surgery is a last resort and certainly the type of surgery that Tiger had is significant. It’s not a cure for his troubles and although he has experienced relief in the short term, if he’s not careful in his return and pushes too hard, he will find himself in pain again. This surgery is supposed to end the issues for him going forward, but we’ll have to wait to see if it proves to be the miracle it is advertised as, or just another disappointing letdown that forces Tiger into retirement from the game.

With all that said, if there was ever a week to play Tiger, this is probably an okay spot to do it. The four round event has no cut and the scoring is easy, so much so that Tiger led the field a year ago here in birdies on his way to a 15th place finish (of 18). If he was able to accomplish that while enduring the sort of pain he was in, there is little reason to believe that he’d be any worse off this year. The course is set up for scoring and Tiger has always been able to make birdies. While he may have a few blowup holes and missteps along the way, all the reports we are hearing this week are very positive about his swing and about his game in general. His price on DK and FD is depressed to near the minimum which is different than what we tend to see with Tiger where normally in recent years, he’s still been in the mid to high 7k range in the last few events which obviously makes him a far riskier play. Here, using Tiger can actually help make room at the top for another elite level player.

The other advantage with Tiger this week is psychological. He is coming to play this week with thought of wanting to do really well. Most of the other guys that are playing here are going to be tough to read between the ears. This is always an interesting time of year for making projections on how players will perform. The knock on some is that they have not played enough over the last two months. The knock on others is that they have played too much. The event is held down in the Bahamas so it is also a spot where guys could be looking at the tournament as a good spot to go hit some balls with other top players, but who may not view this event in the same competitive light as they would a bigger event later in the season. Tiger is going to play this event to win. He wants to show the world that he is back and that he’s finally able to play without pain. It would send a real message to the rest of the players on tour if he could find a way to contend in any meaningful manner this week and I do believe he will have a good showing.

This is not to say that I am in favor of chasing ownership of Tiger at future events. With just 18 golfers in the field this week, you can throw ownership projections right out the window and play whoever you want. Realize however, that come the end of January, when Tiger heads down to Torrey Pines for The Farmers, if he does anything at all this week to impress, the Tiger fans will be on him with a vengeance and we will see him heavily owned. On a course like Torrey Pines, and with high ownership in a cut event, the right play will probably be to follow a game theory approach and to fade him, at least initially. This week, given the size of the field, his relatively cheap price, and the fact that even in poor health a year ago he led the field in birdies, I am giving you permission to indulge in your guilty pleasures and own some shares of Tiger this week. If he were $8,300, he’d be a hard pass for me and I would not give it a second thought, but at $6,500 he could easily finish 12th overall and have the 7th most DK points which would be a net positive for his price.

The course this week is the Albany Course down in the Bahamas. It’s a coastal, links style course with wide, easy to hit fairways and sand dunes all over the course, which takes the place of the rough. It is a Par 72 course that is just over 7,300 yards in length and is peculiar in that there are five Par 5 holes and five Par 3 holes this week which really opens up the scoring. The only real defense that this course has each year is when the winds pick up. Big hitters off the tee will be rewarded this week as well as those who can put themselves into position to score a lot of birdies with quality approach play. In the two years that the event has been held at this venue, Bubba Watson was the winner two years ago and Hideki Matsuyama took it down last year so this also shows that you do not have to be the best putter to win here, you just have to keep finding ways to get into position to score throughout the weekend. Obviously, Par 5 scoring will be even more important than usual with the additional fifth Par 5 hole this week. The greens are bermuda and play fast, but as Adam Daly describes in his column, it should not be difficult to put yourself into good position to avoid some of the pitfalls that could arise.

Key Stats

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Proximity: 10%
Par 5 Scoring: 10%
Scrambling: 10%

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 29, 2017 09:42

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