The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – RBC Heritage

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte April 17, 2019 12:09

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – RBC Heritage

As I watched the final round of The Masters on Sunday, it looked like Francesco Molinari was going to put Tiger down again the same way he had done at The Open Championship last July. He had barely faltered through the first three and a half rounds of play and Tiger was not scoring many birdies, merely hanging close, but unable to close ground. The second to last group had managed to keep things close initially, but then Brooks Koepka and Ian Poulter went for a swim in Rae’s Creek, each making double bogey. By the time the final group reached the 12th tee, a friend had texted Jeff and myself that it looked like his Koepka ticket was now worthless. I texted back that he was correct, but that it did not matter since nobody was going to catch Molinari anyway.

Of course, you know what happened on the 12th hole. I am still baffled by the decision that Molinari made on the hole in trying to play it in tight. The 12th hole is not a hole that anyone should be playing for a birdie unless they are behind and desperate and need to go for the pin. When he went into the water, I thought to myself, Tiger might actually win this today. When Finau followed Molinari into the water, I thought, Tiger IS going to win The Masters. Tiger wisely put his shot on 12 in the middle of the green, taking no risk and then made par. He followed that with a masterful performance the rest of the way by playing smart golf. He made birdies on the holes that he was supposed to score on, 13 and 15. He added a birdie on 16, where experience playing Sunday pin positions there for two decades helped him to hit a perfect tee shot that funneled back down to the pin for an easy birdie putt. He grinded out a par on 17 and then played cautiously on 18, managing his two stroke lead to ensure nothing worse than a tap in bogey to seal the deal.

It felt like I was watching the Red Sea part for Tiger on Sunday. While every other player on the course let the moment get to them, Tiger remained calm and kept playing steadily on the back nine. Xander, Cantlay, Brooks, DJ, Molinari, Finau, Webb….all of them had a chance to win on Sunday. Again and again the squandered opportunities. Perhaps all of them were thinking about Tiger in the back of their minds. Even Molinari jokingly discussed how he probably gained many new fans after his collapse on the 12th hole and then again with a second miserable double bogey on the reachable Par 5, 15th hole. It felt like destiny for Tiger.

I felt a mixture of joy and disappointment in seeing him win. The joy is obvious. Tiger’s redemption story is powerful. From 2014-2017, if you had asked me at any point if this was possible, I would have told you that he was done. The withdrawals, missed cuts, surgeries and personal struggles had piled up on him and this all took place as he moved into his 40’s, certainly not in his prime. When he returned in 2018 after having spinal fusion surgery, I thought, this is probably his last shot at a comeback. If things had not gone well or if his back had not held up, I think that would have been the end.

I was impressed with him at Torrey Pines to start the year. He struggled to make the cut, but then fought all weekend to make the Top-25. He whiffed at Riviera, but then the Florida stretch went really well for him at which point, I thought, it’s different this time. By the time he won at the end of the year at the Tour Championship, it was the cherry on top of a strong season where he has contended many times in big tournaments. I had little doubt that he would play well again in 2019.

The disappointment for me was that I did not own Tiger last week. His price had crept up a little too high for me. I felt good about his game going into Augusta. It is a very forgiving course off the tee, and with Tiger’s iron play being sharp and his knowledge of the greens, I figured he’d have a good week. Unfortunately, for me, I thought guys like Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose would be in contention and both had been great this year and at Augusta which forced my hand and kept me away from Tiger for the week. If I had the decision to make again, with the information that I had, I probably would not do it any differently. Everything I had seen this year pointed to them having a slight edge over Tiger. That is where DFS golf gets tough. You have to make bold moves. If you spread yourself too thin among too many players, it makes a mess of your player pool and lineups and turns your approach into a shotgun method with little rhyme or reason to your builds. Thus, I did not get to enjoy the Tiger win quite as much as I would have had I had a few shares to my name.

The rest of the week did not go according to plan for me either. I do not need to say much about Paul Casey that I did not already bring up on the podcast. He was miserable from the first shot, a shock after playing well for much of this season and for the four previous years at Augusta. Sure, players can slip a bit, but Casey was off the charts bad. He’s another pick that I do not have any regrets about. I can’t think of a reason why I would not have played him in both GPP and cash games last week. By the time Sergio Garcia missed the cut, it was just salt in the wounds for me in cash games. Garcia has been interesting to follow over the last year. He melted down at Augusta a year ago and had a terrible season. He got back on track at the start of the season, but has also had some bizarre moments on the course as well. He fell just a shot short of making the cut so it wasn’t as bad as Casey. With Sergio, his salary was really what drew me in for the week. I did have a little bit of nervousness about how he has shown blowup potential over the last year and perhaps I should have taken that more into consideration for cash games. In any case, it was a rough week for cash games so we’ll need to do our best to get back on track this week.

We are really lucky this week to have such a great event to follow up The Masters. It is a great course and the field is really loaded. It’s like having an incredible time at the club on Saturday night and then, instead of allowing the hangover to set in on Sunday, you get up and head to the party at the pool on Sunday and keep the energy going. The RBC Heritage has the distinction of being the tournament that follows The Masters each year, but incredibly, it never feels like a letdown. That is a real credit to the folks who run the event as it is one that is very popular among the players. Usually, after a big tournament, you end up with some pretty weak fields. It is nice to have RBC sponsor the event as well. With so many players being sponsored by RBC, there is always going to be a reasonable turnout of good players, but this week, it seems like it is even better than normal.

What makes this a fun event is in how much different of a course we have from last week. Where Augusta is a bomber’s paradise, Harbour Town is a masterpiece in its own way. The Pete Dye designed course has all the usual challenges of a Dye layout with narrow, tree lined fairways, difficult bunkers around the greens, and the greens themselves are the smallest on tour all season. It is a Par 71, 7100 yard course with three Par 5 holes that are fairly reachable. Beyond just being narrow, it is important to place your tee shot in the right part of the fairway in order to get a good look at the green. This is another less than driver course and positioning the ball in the right part of the fairway goes a long way towards having success here. Like all Dye courses, each shot requires careful consideration as a small mistake anywhere along the way can lead to trouble. As Jeff mentioned in his column, we had subscriber, Brent Savidge reach out to tell us about the course this week. I just want to share his key takeaways here as he’s played the course many times:

The thing I can’t stress enough is position within the fairway. While the fairways are small, they are made even smaller by the numerous overhanging trees. I honestly think each fairway plays at least 25% narrower than what you see on TV or online. After Hurricane Matthew in 2016 there was some talk about the course opening up because of the amount of trees we lost. I don’t think it plays much different. The overhanging trees tend to be Live Oak’s with deep root systems and they were largely unaffected and still obnoxiously in the way of second shots. 
Let’s talk about those deep root systems. The areas off the fairway are covered in roots, hard pan, pine straw, and sand. It’s absolutely terrible to hit from anywhere that is not a fairway. Most of the time it’s a bail out shot. Even if you have a window out there’s probably a massive tree up by the green further blocking your way.
Bunkers. The greenside bunkers are terrible to hit from. They look beautiful but the type of sand is very fine. It’s so easy to thin the ball out of them. Good bunker play is important if you are scrambling. 
I like a low ball flight here. I think that’s why you see guys like Kuchar, Ollie, Grace having some good years here. The course is more protected from wind then you think if you keep it below the dense tree line. Only holes 10, 16-18 have no wind protection. 
The last thing that I want to leave you with in discussing the course is that since it is right on the coast, weather can be a factor and that is certainly the case this week. Thursday does not look too bad. Winds are expected to be between 7-9 mph with gusts up to 13-14 mph and that is consistent throughout the day. Friday, things take a turn for the worse. Honestly, Friday looks so bad that I hope they just postpone play if it is anywhere near as bad as expected as it looks like something we would see at the toughest of Open Championships. Rain is expected in the morning until around 9am and then there are potential storms expected in the afternoon. Winds are going to be difficult all day at 20-25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph all day long. At this point, I do not even see an advantage to one tee time wave over the other. Conditions just look terrible on Friday all day for the winds so I will stack evenly on each side with 10% of my lineups and hope for the best. Overall, I love the tournament, but I would caution against going too big with your bankroll this week in these conditions. There are some players that can handle the winds better than others, but when it comes to 45 mph gusts, nobody is immune from having a bad day.
Key Stats
Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 15%
Proximity: 10%
Driving Accuracy: 10%
Par 4 Scoring: 10%
Scrambling: 10%
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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte April 17, 2019 12:09

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