The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – John Deere Classic

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte July 11, 2018 13:05

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – John Deere Classic

Greetings from Coronado, California this week where I am soaking up a bit of sunshine for a few days and enjoying the beach before the PGA Tour kicks into overdrive next week with The Open Championship and then hits its big stretch run which will include another WGC event, The PGA Championship and finally the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The is really the last of the sleepy weeks of the season as from here on in, there is going to be a lot more focus on collecting points and trying to move up in the standings for those near the top and the real fight among the players around the 125th position kicks into gear as players try desperately to hang on to their tour card without having to go back to battle on the Tour circuit in the fall or worse yet, to toil away for a full season next year.

Last weekend, the highs and lows of tour life were on full display as the travails of John Peterson played out on Sunday afternoon for all to see. He had declared long ago that if he did not accumulate enough points to gain status in the starts he had remaining on his medical exemption that he would retire from the tour and move on to a career in real estate. This past Sunday was his last shot to gain enough points to achieve conditional or full status for the rest of the season and he needed just over 55 FedEx Cup points to do it which was not even fully known until late in the day as the points system for the PGA always seems to be shrouded in mystery until 20 different people run the numbers and if you don’t believe me just ask Ian Poulter how life changing just a few fractions here and there can be.

I had really mixed feelings about Peterson as this whole process played out. On the one hand, he created quite a spectacle about the whole thing in making his intentions known ahead of time which seemed silly to me at his age. There is really no need to box yourself into a corner in a situation like this where you make an all or nothing decision at his age, although perhaps it was for the best as we finally saw some vintage John Peterson golf over the weekend as he fully realized the opportunity that he had in front of him slipping away. He ended up tied for 13th place which looked like it would be enough to gain him conditional status for the rest of the season, except at that point, he thought he needed to make around $60k, but the reality was that it was point driven, a detail he had overlooked and was told he needed 55.3 points in order to stay alive. Unfortunately, for Peterson, Keegan Bradley managed to knock in a 30 foot birdie putt on 18 and Bubba nailed a 10 footer on the final hole as well to create an 8 way tie for 13th and push him just a couple of points below what he needed as a 6 way tie would have gotten him across the line, but eight was too many to overcome.

I followed this story closely as it is one that rang true to experiences from my own life. Throughout Peterson’s story this past season, I often found myself wondering how and why he could give it all up an walk away. What would make someone want to quit such a cool job where ‘work’ was spending time out on a golf course where playing well like he did last week allowed him to make over $121k. Some cheered him on, others derided him and from my perspective, I was both hoping that he would make it, but also frustrated in seeing him not realize his full potential. Peterson was one of the first real sleepers that I followed closely in the Fall of 2014 as Jeff and I started FGI and someone that I was keeping a close eye on as the 2015 season got going. He was the NCAA Div I National Champion in 2011 so he seemed primed for big things, especially after a 4th place finish at the US Open in 2012.

He played really well in 2015, making 19 of 25 cuts with seven Top-25 finishes, but a wrist injury sustained late in the season took its toll in the fall as he was unable to play through the pain and he missed the remainder of the 2015-2016 season after surgery and rehab. He never quite regained his swagger after that and although he had some nice finishes, he never had the breakthrough performance that he needed to get over the hump to feel comfortable in his life as he got married and had a child. As fans, we tend to see the joys of being on tour, but not the grind, the travel and exhaustion of those battling away at the fringes every week. This is why when you see a player win for the first time, the emotions usually pour out so strongly on the course and in interviews. It is the ultimate make or break sport each year.

While I found myself frustrated that Peterson gave up, I cannot say that I do not understand his decision. As a 28 pilot in the Air Force, I faced a somewhat similar dilemma, albeit, without the immediate potential to make large sums of money immediately. I spent many years working through school to move up high enough in my class to get into the Air Force Academy. I toiled there for four years, forgoing the joys of a normal college experience to assure myself of a pilot training slot and then spent another two years of training to get fully qualified to fly missions around the world. I thought I was setting myself up for a lifetime of work as a pilot, probably through the military, but as time passed, my perspective and motivation changed. I knew that I had to find a new path and that I had to move on. The grind of being away and the thought that the mission would never change for the next 15 years….or longer, made it tough to keep pushing forward as I found myself unhappy.

This is why the Peterson story was one that I followed so closely these past couple of months. It’s one that I could relate to really well as I went through a similar situation in my own life. It’s one for everyone to think about as it relates to your own life. You are going to find yourself in this situation at some point, particularly if you are now in your early 20’s or finishing up with school. You will be in a situation where your career path is set and you can work away your life moving forward in that direction, but you will hit a point where you question yourself and what it is that you are doing. When you hit that crossroad, you are going to have different options available to you. You can continue onward with whatever it is that you are doing since it is a known entity and will usually provide the comfort of some stability for you. Conventional wisdom will tell you to play it safe and most people around you will tell you not to take any new risks. The other choices will provide a much needed change, but also many more unknowns and will usually involve some financial risks as well, which will be why so few pursue it.

You’ll hear criticism from people who are afraid to change direction or strike out on a new path. Let me help you with the translation of what they tell you. You are going to hear them say, ‘Why do you want to do X when you are already doing Y and it provides you with stability, a good payday and you can continue to do it for years to come?’ What they are really saying in many cases is, ‘I am too afraid to take this type of risk myself and feel better about my decision if others around me also do not take these types of risks.’ I am sure that Peterson is feeling conflicted right now and I don’t blame him. My initial analysis of him needing to care more about golf if he’s got any passion left for it remains true. If you want to make it on tour, it’s going to be impossible to do it halfway as very few have the talent to not commit themselves to it all out. However, if he’s unhappy and the grind is taking its toll on him, then I support whatever decision he makes moving forward to be happy about his life. Golf may look like a dream job to most of us on the outside, but if it’s not professionally and personally satisfying, then he is making the right decision in moving on in a new direction.

Okay, that was a lot of words spent on non-DFS related ramblings so let’s get back to the business at hand with the John Deer Classic. This marks the final week of what I am now calling The Doldrums of the season. These last three weeks have really been deprived of anything resembling an exciting field so it is nice to be getting back to being able to focus on bigger events soon. The pricing for The Open Championship is already posted and so we will very soon be having content posted for that in the days ahead to help you to get a jump on your research.

The John Deere Classic is always a fun event for the those who enjoy a lot of scoring. From my experience, there are two types of golf fans out there, the ones that want to see players pushed to their absolute breaking point (US Open) and those who enjoy a lot of scoring. It’s really not too much different than the NFL where some fans like an up and down the field shootout and others enjoy lockdown defense. The JDC currently serves as the one event on tour where the midwest gets to experience some PGA action. This will change next year with the addition of the 3M Classic in Minnesota (yeah!), but for now, it’s the only spot where fans in the area get to see the tour outside of a major or the Ryder Cup back in 2016.

TPC Deere Run is probably the easiest course on tour all season. The Par 71 course plays out at around 7,250 yards on bentgrass greens. The fairways are not normally too challenging to hit, but wild players can get into trouble as there are trees around them so the bombers can get into trouble, but it’s not easy to do. The winning score will probably be lower than -20 so making birdies is going to be very important this week. There are several short Par 4 holes below 400 yards and only a handful above 450 so the wedge and mid range iron specialists are going to be the ones to focus on this week. The three Par 5 holes are all on the easier side and not so long as to put them out of scoring range for most players. Bombers will have no advantage here and a quick scan of leaderboards tends to reveal that players who are accurate off the tee, have a solid approach game and can putt well enough to keep up with all of the scoring of others are the players who will have success. Recent winners include Steve Stricker (x3), Jordan Spieth (2x), Zach Johnson, Brian Harman, Ryan Moore and Bryson DeChambeau.

It’s interesting to look at this group as there are many commonalities that exist among them. All of these winners were really good putters when they won. Bryson would be the exception except for the fact that he was very good the week he won, his best putting week of the season. These players also possess very strong mid range iron play. While guys like Steve Stricker and Ryan Moore may struggle to win on a bomber track, their short to mid range iron play is always well above average. Another thing to note with this event is that unlike some weaker fields where it is a total toss up in terms of who can contend in a given year, the names mentioned above are all among the top tier of players when they compete in this event. This is a good thing to be conscious of in building your rosters for the week. There are weeks during the season where a balanced approach works best and there is a good chance that the stars will not pay off their price. Last week this was largely the case as many in the top tier did well, but fading those guys above $10k did not ruin your week by any stretch. You are not going to be able to get away with that this week as at least a few of the players who are price near the top are going to find their way into contention and more than likely one will find a way to win it. My honest estimation is that any of the top 6-7 names are all prime candidates to win this week. That is not to say that someone else can’t emerge, but if you look at the historical play from elite players here, there is very little red for missed cuts, and lots of oranges and blues for top finishes so do not overthink it in your approach.

Key Stats:

Strokes Gained Putting: 30%
Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Proximity: 10%
Scrambling: 10%
Driving Accuracy: 5%
Strokes Gained Off the Tee: 5%

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte July 11, 2018 13:05

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