The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 11, 2015 06:26

Welcome back to North America, PGA. I am a little disheartened to be going back to early morning wake up times on Thursday mornings and losing out on live golf at midnight over the next few days. As a night owl, I love being able to flip on television, and to be able to watch extended coverage of my favorite fantasy sport. I do not get the chance to complain enough during the day so I enjoy having the opportunity to commiserate with all of you fine folks for a few quiet hours when my Twitter feed is not loaded up with DFS NBA commentary…even if our new stats guy is slowly dragging me into playing that as well.

The tournament overall was a lot of fun. Not so much for the lineups that I had going, but the event was pretty entertaining. My picks jumped out of the gate looking sharp with several players moving into contention in the early going. We managed to dodge the Hideki WD bullet in the 3rd round and had some opportunities on the final day to make a push. Unfortunately, too many of my picks forgot how to play the Par 5 holes along the way (I’m looking at you, Paul Casey, and you, Louis Oosthuizen…and of course you Patrick Reed for that one last kick to the groin).

Russell Knox ended up winning the event for his first victory on tour. This was bittersweet, as I have been a big fan of Knox throughout the season and wrote him up many times. His lack of putting ability took me off of him last week as I just did not see him being able to pour in birdie after birdie to win an event like that, but golf is funny game like that. By far, my best pick of the week and the best pick overall from each of our writers was Matthew Fitzpatrick. We knew the 21 year old was incredibly talented, but to rise up against this field and to be able to lock down a 5th place finish was a really nice result. In fact, Fitzpatrick was one of only three players (Ross Fisher and Russell Knox) to shoot below 70 in all four rounds to collect a key additional bonus.

The disappointment of the week was Kevin Na, who ran into a wall last weekend and never got his game on track. He had finished 20th there the year before and came into the event in amazing form. Perhaps the rigorous schedule finally caught up with Na a bit as he tends to play in a lot of events throughout the season. Justin Thomas looked like he would suffer a similar fate to Na, but after a rocky first round, recovered well to get to -9 for the tournament, but was still a bit disappointing. I also had really high hopes for Louis Oosthuizen who was on his way up the leaderboard going into the 18th hole on Friday, but then double bogeyed the final hole and stumbled his way through the last two rounds to a sloppy finish. Of my higher priced picks, Dustin Johnson shined for us as expected. The former champion waited until the last round to trip himself up, but still managed to put up a very respectable 5th place finish. Overall, not a bad week for the FGI team. Between the picks of myself, Roger Casey and Jeff Bergerson, Roger managed to win the $9 GPP for a $1500 win and Jeff placed 8th in the same event.

This brings me to the strategy portion of the weekly writeup. From time to time, I like to spell out how my process looks from start to finish as I do my research each week. It is certainly not precise, but if you follow the same process each week and tweak it just slightly over time, you are going to help to keep yourself on track for your goals each week.

1) Check on Friday afternoon after 4pm. The field is announced for the next event at that time and it gives you a chance to register your first impression of the field without being influenced by the final result on Sunday. Start highlighting the 30-40 names that you believe have the most potential at the event. Try to identify a few players that you think will fit into each salary range so you can start thinking about mock lineups in your head before pricing is released.

2) Take a look at tournament history. Yes, this is a pretty obvious step, but one that should not be overlooked. Your eyes are going to be attracted to the players with the best average finishes at the event. However, beware, these high averages may only be based on a single result. Try to find players with a long track record. If you can find players that have had success for four or more events, then typically you know they are solid picks for the course. Also, just because a player has a high average finish, not all results are worth weighing the same. Has the course undergone changes in the last few years? Was the event held at the same course in previous years? How long? Was there a year or two where the event was held somewhere else? Finally, when you check out the results, is the average high due to results from 2008 or some other distant year? If the player’s results have trailed off in the last few starts at the course, it may be best to avoid them.

3) After the results come in on Sunday, and we have had a few hours to make the proper updates on our site, go check out the Who’s Hot tool on the pulldown menu of the homepage. Start looking for the names of the folks who interested you at first glance and see which ones have been on there game over the last couple of months. Our rankings system includes the European Tour and select Asian Tour events so it is incredibly useful when players show up on the PGA Tour that have not played in recent events in the U.S.

4) Once the odds are posted by the sportsbooks, DraftKings runs its model and kicks out the salaries. Glance through the entire field to see where players are priced and note anyone that looks way out of place either at the top of the list or below. Crosscheck where your initial list of players came in on price and then take a look at the Odds vs Pricing tool to see if there are any big differences between DraftKings prices and the posted odds. I think this is especially important during the fall season when there are not enough stats to be truly reliable yet for many players.

5) Read each of the preview columns are they are released during the week, starting with Jeff’s column on Monday, Roger’s rundown on Tuesday and The Daily Spin Wednesday morning. Jeff’s column captures his strong initial impression and he has an incredible eye for players rounding into form that will play well at certain events, even if their course history is a little off. Roger has a fantastic analytical mind that digs beyond the obvious chalky picks and really looks to capture value off the beaten path. He understands how ownership levels play into creating winning lineups and how strategy changes based on the event and the specific field of players. Finally, read over the Daily Spin when it drops each Wednesday. My goal is to try to capture as much information throughout the week as possible so that by the time I write my column. I want to have a good feel for which players are drawing the most buzz and to see if our team may have missed anyone in our first impressions of the field. I focus on strategy and some of the ideas that go into playing well from week to week.

6) Check out our webcast and listen in to some of the other podcasts that are out there. Everyone has their own take from week to week and you want to try to leave no stone unturned. Once you have taken in all the information you can handle, come back to our site and start working your way through our ownership projection tool. For cash games, you are not necessarily that concerned with ownership, but for GPP play, it is essential to use this tool in order to help you gain a competitive edge. In December, I will actually be putting out a series of columns outlining the importance of knowing/predicting ownership percentages and how and why it effects how you construct your lineups.

7) Have a plan for the week. Do an honest assessment of your bankroll and take time to write down your plan for the week. If your bankroll is $2000, you’ll probably not want to play any more than $400. Of that amount, our recommendation would normally be to play $300 in cash games and $100 in GPPs. This will change a little for each event, and we always discuss an approach each week, but having this plan will keep you in check in the same way that folks who are diligent about keeping a food diary tend to do better with their diet.

8) Determine your core players for the week. Which players do you want to build most of your teams around? Who are the 5-6 core players you are going to build most of your lineups around? Who are 5-10 secondary players and 5-10 tertiary players you will use? Instead of just arbitrarily building a bunch of lineups, try to actually assign approximate weightings for each player. For the players that you favor the most, you will want a higher weighting than what you expect from other owners and vice versa.

9) Before you build your rosters, get a good check of the weather. This week, the expectation is rain and potential storms each day. Each Tuesday, the tee times are released so start looking for which groupings might have the best window in the first two rounds. A good rule of thumb is that if the weather looks good right away on the first day, to make a few all morning teams since that is when forecasts will be the most accurate just before tee off. You will still be using your core players, just organizing them in a way so that if the weather ends up becoming an issue, that you will already have put a contingency plan in place.

10) Before lineup lock, get online about one hour ahead of time. Check Twitter to see if there are any reports of withdrawals. The PGA twitter handle and PGA Media handle are both pretty good sources and typically, a few of the dfs handles will be buzzing if anything pops up in that last hour. Yes, it is usually very early in the morning, but if you want to be serious about it, this is essential. You do not want to have some of your teams eliminated immediately at the outset, so get used to doing a last minute check each week.

By no means is this list totally exhaustive and you will want to keep a good record of your play and results. However, if you start with these ideas and work them into how you do your research each week, your chances for long term success will be greatly improved. I cannot express enough disgust at the way our industry has chosen to advertise itself to consumers this fall with the rash of commercials about how easy it is to make money playing daily fantasy sports. It is not easy to make money in daily fantasy sports. Like anything else in like, it is a process that you have to implement and hone every week if you want to be successful.

The reason that we continue to achieve success here as a team with FGI is that we put the work in each week to make sure we are successful. It is a process that requires a high level of discipline and commitment, but is achievable if taken seriously. This is what separates us from the roulette wheel, the craps table, the slot machines and the ripoff scheme of state lotteries and scratch off tickets. Is there an element of chance in determining the outcome for us? Absolutely. This is the case in nearly anything that could be labeled as an investment. If you insert the term ‘day trader’ anywhere you see DFS written in the comments from New York’s Attorney General, you will start to understand my frustration with the way our industry is viewed. But I digress…it has been a trying day and I could write about my extreme disdain for politicians for many thousands of words if I let myself trail on for too long.

We must get back to the issue at hand and turn our attention south of the border to Mexico this week where the OHL Classic at Mayakoba takes place. It is one of the shorter courses that the tour hits this season coming in at just under 7,000 yards and plays as a Par 71 with three Par 5 holes. The winning players over the last few years have been very different in terms of their styles and strengths. Last year, Charlie Hoffman took home the title. Charlie is okay from tee to green player and okay greens, but is not a very good putter. The year prior, Harris English won the event with his very strong putting game. In 2012, John Huh won the event although he tends to be awful from tee to green, does not hit a lot of greens and is not a strong scorer. Finally, in 2011, Johnson Wagner won the tournament, though his tee to green game is also below average even though he is a strong playing in terms of GIR. Stylistically, a lot of different players can just up and contend this week so do not rule out anyone based on being strong or weak in any single category. Form should be weighted a little higher than normal this week.

With that said, I want you to stick to the basics this week: Strokes Gained Tee to Green, Birdie or Better Percentage, GIR, Par 4 Scoring, and Strokes Gained Putting. Give extra weighting to course history and form for how you rank the players this week. There are several players that play well here each year that are also in good form even though their stats might not look like they match up with the course.

In terms of money management for the week, keep your exposure small to an event like this. The field is particularly weak after a big event held in China last weekend and as a consequence, we are left with a field whose cut percentage on the whole is likely much lower than the average the rest of the season. For pricing, this means we are seeing a lot players with inflated salaries this week. Guys that are usually 7-8k are over 9k this week. Less trustworthy star players complicates your ability to reliably get six players through the cut so plan to buy in to smaller GPP events and build more lineups. There is enough value in this field to be profitable, but also enough variance to prevent me from getting overextended with my bankroll this week.

Okay, time to crank up the tunes, pour about three fingers of Lagavulin scotch (courtesy of my webcast guest, Moose Metzger) and crank out my recommendations for the week. As always, be sure to hit me with all of your lineup questions over the next couple of days and I will do my best to personally respond to all of you. Also, I will be up on Periscope tomorrow night at 9pm to take questions from all of your directly. It’s been a lot of fun the last few weeks so jump on Twitter and click the feed to check it out. Please also send us some pics for your shot of the week nominations. We’ve had a good time hearing from you the last few weeks on that and if you make us laugh, there is usually a free tee shirt to be had.

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Patton Kizzire ($10,700) – We knew coming into the fall swing that Kizzire would be good, but I do not think any of us anticipated just how well he would play. He gets good length off the tee, he is hitting greens and although it is only two events, he currently ranks 5th in Strokes Gained Putting, which means he is making a lot of birdies to go along with the rest of his game. He finished in 2nd place at the Shriners and 4th this past week at Sanderson Farms. It is disappointing to see his price climb so much, but I do believe he is one of the top players in the field and will continue his run of success this weekend.

Patrick Rodgers ($10,500) – If you lay Rodgers’ statistics next to Charlie Hoffman’s from last season, you would see a striking resemblance…sort of a double edged sword by any standard. Both have average tee to green games and each struggles with their putter, but both tend to play well on Par 4 holes and are above average in the birdie or better category. Rodgers finished in 37th last year here and comes into the tournament on the heels of a 20th place finish at Sanderson Farms, a 13th place finish at The Shriners and a 6th place finish at The Frys.

Jason Bohn ($10,300) – Another week and another course that Jason Bohn should be able to play really well. I always hate seeing Roger Casey write him up as he did this week as that means the market has hit a swarming frenzy around him and is preparing for the inevitable collapse, but in this case, I am going to take the bait and stick with my breakout star of 2015 and crab leg fame. The one area where Bohn tends to struggle is with length…not a problem this week. He checks all boxes with his tee to green play, putting, GIR, and BoB% stats. Not surprisingly, he has had a lot of success in Mayakoba where he has finished 7th, 3rd and 19th in his last three starts. His form has been really good this season so far as well with a 39th place finish at Sanderson Farms, a 2nd place finish at the Shriners and a 3rd place finish at The Frys. He will be highly owned, but I believe he is one of the safer plays this week.

Harris English ($10,200) – Usually, I would just use English as a mid level cut maker. However, with a field this weak, I do not mind paying up a little bit for English to gain a bit of security. English won here just two years ago so the required upside is there to make him a reasonable pick this week. In a week where there may be a lot of cut carnage, English does not necessarily need to finish at the top to justify his price. He brings an average tee to green game with him, but makes up for it by being one of the better putters on tour. He finished 23rd in at the WGC HSBC last week and 43rd at the CIMB, which, though not great finishes came against quality fields. This week, he should be able to take advantage of the weaker field and position himself to make a run by Saturday. Although, as impressive as his scoring is for rounds 1 and 2 each week, he is equally disappointing for how poorly he plays in the last two rounds.

Brendan Steele ($9,900) – A player who likes to toy with our emotions from time to time, Steele is just too talented from tee to green to leave off the roster this week. He finished 16th here in 2013 and 37th in 2014 and enters the tournament coming off of a 3rd place finish in Malaysia, a sloppy missed cut at the Shriners and a 17th place finish at The Frys. Of all the players in the field, he was the best in SGTG last season, ranking 15th. He hits greens, was 10th in Par 4 scoring last season and 14th in BoB%. He will inexplicably miss the occasional cut, but I like him this week and think he is reliable enough to pay a little extra.


Charles Howell III ($9,700) – The price for CHIII illustrates some of what I discussed earlier in the strategy section above. Normally, you can find CHIII in the mid 7k to low 8k range. This week…$9,700….gulp. However, it is hard to ignore what he has done at Mayakoba and in recent events. He crushed me last year when he missed the cut here, but the five finishes before that: 6th, 16th, 13th, 20th and 38th. In recent events, he finished in 10th in Malaysia, 70th at the Shriners and 17th at The Frys. He is good from tee to green and good at hitting greens. The rest can be a little messy from week to week. With his current form and course history converging so nicely, it is tough to avoid him this week. I think his higher price may actually make him a better play than if he were at his normal level. I think at $9,700, owners will be a little gun shy so there may be a little more value here than last year before the missed cut.

Chris Stroud ($9,300) – Course Horse and Chris Stroud just do not belong in the same sentence. He is inconsistent each year, but if you catch this falling knife during a hot stretch, he can create a lot of value for you, particularly in GPP contests. He finished in the Top 5 at Mayakoba for three straight years between 2011-2013 and finished a respectable 23rd in 2014. His form has been good so far as well with a 38th place finish at the Shriners and a 10th place finish at The Frys. $9,300 is a lot to pay for Stroud, but paying up is often a sneaky contrarian play in GPP situations.

Alex Cejka ($8,400) – Welcome to The Daily Spin, Alex. Hopefully, you will play well enough to stay on these pages throughout the season. When I saw Cejka’s ownership numbers at the CIMB Classic, I was dumbfounded. For Cejka to be owned by 23% of the field was pretty startling. However, he played well, finishing in 17th place to follow up his 2nd place finish at the Shriners. He managed a 16th place finish here last year and though he is not a statistical standout, his numbers were reasonable, and in two events so far this year, he is 2nd in BoB%.

Johnson Wagner ($8,400) – Yet another player that I never write up since he tends to be an ultra streaky type of player and he had a ridiculous moustache last season. Johnson won this event in 2011 and has two other quality finishes here (16th and 30th) wrapped around a missed cut in 2013. He hits greens and putts okay and that’s his whole game right there. He is in good form coming off of a 15th place finish at Sanderson Farms and 48th place finish at The Frys.

David Hearn ($8,400) – Hearn is usually used as a cutmaker with upside, but this week he is priced as a value play so he needs to contribute to a little more to make value for his salary. He is not a gifted tee to green player, but better than average with his putter (27th in 2015), GIR (47th) and very good with Par 4 holes (26th). In his last three starts at Mayakoba, he has finished 16th, 49th and 35th. He finished in 29th at the CIMB Classic and 25th at the Shriners. He does not have the upside of some of the other players in our value list, but is reliable in certain events like this one.

Smylie Kaufman ($7,900) – He jumped on to the tour and after a 10th place finish at The Frys, he won the Shriners a week later. So, while the secret is out on Kaufman, he appears to be the type of talent worth keeping an eye on this season. He has made the cut in all three events he has played this season and plays well tee to green. He should have plenty of scoring opportunities this week and so far he has shown the ability to convert them as he is ranked 25th in BoB%. While $7,900 is a little higher than I would like to see for this rookie, you are going to have to take some calculated risks this week and Kaufman has the upside potential to make the risk worthwhile.

Spencer Levin ($7,900) – Levin stands out as one of the top value plays this week when comparing his salary to the odds this week. He has finished in the Top 25 in four of his last six starts and has made five straight cuts in Mayakoba, including a 2nd place finish there in 2011. His 2016 stats through three events show how well Levin has been playing as of late. He ranks 22nd in SGTG, 56th in GIR and 41st in BoB%. He is very familiar with the course and is playing some of the best golf of his career so he represents one of the best values this week.

Brett Stegmaier ($7,800) – Stegmaier was not a standout last season on the Tour, making only 12 of 25 cuts, but when he did get through the cut, he did well with eight Top 25 finishes and four Top 10 finishes. So far this season, he has made the cut in all three events he has played in, highlighted by a 2nd place finish at the Shriners and a 15th place finished at Sanderson Farms. Through three events this year, he’s 36th in SGTG, 58th in SGP, 24th in Par 4 Scoring and 40th in BoB%. This is a riskier play so I would not trust him in a cash lineup, but he is still a reasonable GPP play given his potential to make a run up the leaderboard.

Carlos Ortiz ($7,500) – Ortiz started lat season strong with a 9th place finish in Mayakoba on his way to a fairly successful rookie season. He is still not the most consistent player, but will have his opportunities this season. He finished in 32nd place at The Frys to start the season and followed that up with a 47th place finish in Malaysia. He has good distance off the tee and is a decent putter. While a repeat of last year is probably not to be expected, he has the potential to become a solid cut maker this year.


Ben Crane ($6,900) – I like what I am seeing out of Ben Crane so far this season. He should be three for three in making the cut this year, but he chose to DQ himself after the second round of the Shriners, where he would have made the cut otherwise. Without a high profile finish this season and a strange DQ, Crane should still be off the radar this season for owners. At $6,900, the price is attractive and he is trending in the right direction.

John Huh ($6,800) – In sticking with the trends that I have already established, I am selecting another former champion as a pick this week. Huh was an unlikely champion and outside of his accuracy off the tee and his putting, he played mediocre golf during the 2015 season. Besides his win here in 2012, Huh has two other nice finishes with a 29th in 2014 and 23rd in 2013. He started this season slow with two missed cuts, but did bounce back last week to finish in 39th for Sanderson Farms. It is rare to get a former champion at such a low price so take advantage while you have the opportunity.

Kyle Reifers ($6,800) – This one is a bit of a hunch, but watching Reifers at The Frys where he took 6th place and down the stretch last year, it looks like this might be the season where he breaks through and starts to put up some consistent results. He finished 29th in Mayakoba last season, I see him as a dark horse to make some noise this season. For the season, he has finished in 6th at The Frys, missed the cut at the Shriners and placed 43rd in Malaysia. He has bounced back and forth between the Tour and the PGA, but looks ready to take a big step forward this season.

Tyler Aldridge ($6,000) – I was actually quite surprised at the bargain price we are getting for Aldridge this week. He is three for three making the cut this year and has improved upon his performance each week finished 55th at The Frys, 43rd at the Shriners and 12 at Sanderson Farms. His tee to green game and his putting have been excellent in the early going which has helped to compensate for his lack of both distance and accuracy off the tee. Fortunately, this is a shorter course so that variable is one less issue to worry about and typically, he has been a good ball striker on the Web.Com Tour. There is a nice gap between his price and the odds on him so we are not the only ones that think he will outperform his price this week.

Good Luck!



Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte November 11, 2015 06:26

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