The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – SBS Tournament of Champions

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 4, 2017 10:45

Welcome back after a nice long offseason of about three weeks. With the world of PGA and European Tour golf, there is scarcely a moment throughout the year where we are not contemplating the next event that is right around the corner. What is nice about the start of the new year is that slowly, but surely, golf begins to get more and more attention as the NFL season winds down and new DFS players start to look for a new way to fill up their weekends. Although these next two weekends are still big football weekends with the NFL playoffs squarely occupying most people’s interests on both Saturday and Sunday, we are fortunate enough to start the PGA year out in Hawaii where the tournaments will take place later in the day for us mainland folks giving us a viewing experience that will last later into the evening.

Before I dive in too deep to the event this week, I want to take a moment to share some of what Jeff, myself and our amazing staff have been working on over the last month to help to improve our site in the year ahead. As many of you are now well aware, Geoff Fienberg has joined our team this year after his departure from the FNTSY Sports Network. As my schedule grew busier last year, I did not always get the opportunity to listen to all of the many golf podcasts that are around for consumption these days. However, regardless of my schedule, I always started my week listening to Geoff and Pat Mayo discuss the betting guide for each event. Geoff has a big personality and very sharp eye for handicapping PGA events. As most of you are by now well aware, Geoff put everyone onto Danny Willett in February last year for The Masters when his odds were in the 150-1 range on some sites. What people forget is that Geoff actually had at least eleven other documented winners throughout 2016. When we heard that Geoff was a free agent, we knew we had an amazing opportunity to make him a part of our team. While my hosting skills are but a mere shadow of Pat Mayo’s, I will do my best to replicate the magic that Pat and Geoff created over the last couple of years. If you did not get a chance to check out our first show, we posted it last night as we will every week throughout the year.

Speaking of podcasts, Jeff and I are stepping into new territory this year by running podcasts in addition to our ‘hit’ webcast. What we noticed with the webcast schedule is that our audience size tends to ebb and flow based upon the time of year and the popularity of certain events. While we will still be doing webcasts for many events, we chose to cut back slightly to around 25 webcasts for the year. However, we still want to be able to reach our followers as often as possible so on weeks where there is not a webcast, we will still be bringing you a podcast for every event. It is an easy way for us to reach people and will also allow us to bring on the occasional guest to spice up the show. Although Jeff and I are a little slow to embrace different types of technology, we know that once we get comfortable, this will be a great new resource to add to the site. Our plan is to also start to do an additional shorter podcast midweek before each event tees off. Obviously, it is important for us to get information out to you as soon as possible which means we will continue to do our initial webcast/podcast on Monday nights, but with weather playing a big role, tee times being announced and certain players withdrawing from the field, it is vital to do an update before lineup lock. We will let you know when these start up, but look forward to connecting with our audience even more often than the last two years.

Too often, in an operation like ours, people do not always get a chance to really see how important it is to have a great team working with us. Jeff and I have been incredibly fortunate to assemble a really talented group of people around us to bring you the content that we have available every week. I want to give a quick rundown of our staff writers this year and what they will be writing about throughout the season. While The Daily Spin and Jeff’s Hardcore Core will remain fixtures on the site, here are some of the writers who will be providing content for us in 2017.

Taras ‘Pari’ Pitra is first out of the gates each week with a preview column on both the PGA and European Tour. He provides the first look for us each week and covers both cash game and GPP strategy along with a short preview of each course. Pari was an early fan of our site when we launched and then got into providing content in the spring of 2015 for another site. When the timing worked out right, we jumped at the opportunity to bring him onto our staff and he has been incredibly dependable to work with and provides sharp analysis each week. You’ll catch him from time to time on our webcasts and podcasts as well.

Jason Rouslin writes a weekly column that usually appears late Monday night or early Tuesday morning called, The First Tee. Jason had some great early season success last year and we connected and began to discuss having him write a weekly column. We had the idea that Jason would provide coverage of how the ‘pros’ were constructing their lineups each week and what techniques they were using to be successful. The column has been a great addition to our coverage and Jason has been wonderful to work with as a team member. He also provides a weekly periscope session on Tuesday nights, usually around 9 or 10pm EST giving folks a chance to interact directly and ask questions.

Keagan Scott covers the Web.com Tour for us each week during its season. One of the things that is important during the middle of the year and especially in the fall is to know which players are dominating over on the Web.com Tour. Inevitably, these players are going to make their way over to the PGA Tour and most will go overlooked at least initially. This provides us with a great chance to get in on them before the rest of the field realizes the opportunity at hand. Do not overlook this column during the year as just a few extra minutes of studying here could yield some nice results later on.

Finally, we are also pleased to be providing PGA content for Fantasy Guru Elite this year. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Tommy G and Kevin Adams teamed up this fall to start a new site which is bringing together the best minds for every DFS sport all under one site. While FGI will remain independent, we will be providing them golf content on a weekly basis and Jeff will be appearing each week on Tommy’s radio show on SiriusXM Channel 87 on Wednesday afternoons. It is a great opportunity for us to expand our audience and to work with some of the best people in the industry. As a subscriber, you will benefit here as we will be able to offer you discounts and other cross promotional opportunities for all of the other sports that they offer during the year. Stay tuned for further details, but it should be a great partnership for us, for FGE and for you, the subscriber.

Anyone want to talk a little golf today? I thought that might be the case so I went ahead and did a little research this week on the SBS Tournament of Champions. While I am excited that golf is back for the year, I will temper that with the fact that this event has only 32 players and does not have a cut. This should play out a lot like the HERO World Challenge where there was an 18 player field. The difference between the two events is that the HERO had 18 of the top players in the world. The TOC, while having some top players, also has a lot of, well…not so top players. In 2016, in addition to a lot of great musicians passing away, also produced a lot of PGA tournament winners that seemingly came out of nowhere. The result is a TOC filled with some very familiar names and some surprises. Given the makeup of the field and its small size, the TOC is a fun event, but one where it will be tough to gain a big edge over other fantasy owners as differentiation among lineups will be a challenge. There will be one or two inexpensive players that will shine this week, but knowing who that will be and hoping to be among the few who own them will be a challenge.

The tournament takes place at Kapalua on the Plantation Course, one of the most beautiful and scenic courses on tour, although also the easiest as well. The Par 73 course plays at over 7,400 yards and has some of the widest fairways of any course with some almost as wide as a football field. It should make for some easy scoring so long as the winds stay under control, which as of now looks very likely. The greens are huge and undulating and could be compared to Augusta except for the fact that they are not going to play anywhere near as fast. The list of winners here from over the years in diverse, but there does seem to be a few things that connect them together. With the wide fairways, even wild hitters off the tee are not penalized as much as they would normally be. Players like Jimmy Walker can get away with pounding the ball long, but then not having to worry about being out of bounds or in a mess off the fairway. The real play at this course starts with approach play, scrambling and avoiding big mistakes.

We do not necessarily need bombers at Kapalua. Although the course is over 7,400 yards, many of the holes play downhill so even players that would normally only hit the ball around 270 yards will now get a lot of extra carry and be over 300 yards, cutting down the distance of the course tremendously and giving the shorter hitters plenty of opportunities to capitalize on scoring opportunities. The one thing that you cannot do at Kapalua if you want to be competitive is to post many bogeys. This event could very well be won by a player that shoots -25 this week so one or two blowup holes could end most players chances in a hurry. The key is to keep hitting greens and to try to convert as many scoring chances as possible. This sounds like most other weeks, but when scores go this low, a birdie is the new par.

Our friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics have provided us with these key stats for the week:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 30%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Par 5 Scoring: 20%
Bogey Avoidance: 15%
Scrambling Prox: 10%
Prox 175-200: 5%

Good luck this week. With this being such a small event, there is no need to go crazy with your bankroll, but it is a good tuneup for the weeks ahead when full fields return with a cut. If you have been away from golf for a while, welcome back! We have missed you, but knew you’d be joining us again before long. For those of you who have been with us for the last couple of years, thank you for your amazing loyalty. As always, please feel free to send us an e-mail with any of your questions this week. I will be on Periscope each Wednesday night talking about the tournaments all season long so please come and join me there each week as well. We had a lot of fun with Periscope last year and users really enjoyed it so we will continue to utilize it again this year.

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My plan for the first week is to keep the strategy piece pretty simple. For the most part, all of the players that I write about this week are in play for both cash game and GPP purposes. With no cut and a small field, your real goal is straightforward: you need a handful of your players to finish near the top and you’re trying to avoid owning the players who finish at the bottom. To win a GPP this week, you will need to have the winning golfer on your roster as well four to five other players in the Top-10. Like Kapalua, mistake avoidance is going to be the key as one bottom dweller on a GPP roster will probably take your team out of contention.

For the strategy portion of my column this year, I am going to do things a little bit differently than last year. For full events, I will still give a full breakdown of my weightings for all of my GPP plays each week as I think it is useful not just to see the players that I am using, but also how much I am using them throughout my lineups. With our lineup generator up and running now, it is easier than ever before for you to be able to use weightings for players and build as many lineups as you want each week without all of the time it takes to do them manually. As the year progresses, we will slowly be adding in additional features to try to merge our model and lineup builder into one cohesive unit.

One of the things that I will change up a bit is that my cash game write up will be based around a pool of players rather than just specific lineups. DraftKings has pushed providers away from giving out lineups and even for sites that have optimal lineup builders they are trying to enforce stricter measures. To stay out of the crosshairs, I will use a pool of 10-12 players that I like specifically for cash games and then also detail the players that model rates well in particular beyond just the obvious names at the top. It should still be very easy to make two to three lineups from the names I share so it should be a very small change overall.

CORE PLAYS

Jordan Spieth – $11,500
Hideki Matsuyama – $11,000
Patrick Reed – $9,500
Russell Knox – $8,200
Jimmy Walker – $7,800

Our core group this week is led by two of the best players in the world in Matsuyama and Spieth. Hideki has now won four of his last five starts and finished 2nd in the other event. He is one of the premier ball strikers on tour and his approach game plays a huge role in his success. I find it humorous to watch Hideki play each week when he looks disgusted after hitting a shot from the fairway and then having it land twelve feet from the hole. Hideki is pinpoint accurate from mid range with his irons and that should lead to plenty of birdie opportunities. Although he has struggled at times with his putter, it has seen dramatic improvement in recent months and if he can be just average or mediocre with it, he is going to win a lot of golf tournaments in his career. He finished 3rd here in his lone appearance two years ago so I have a hard time seeing how he wouldn’t replicate that again this year.

Jordan Spieth arrives at the TOC a little more rested than last year. After a breakout season in 2015, where he played a very demanding schedule hat has him visibly worn out by the middle of the 2016 season, Spieth looks to have taken the advice of others in cutting back a bit moving forward. Since the Ryder Cup, he has played in just two events, winning the Australian Open for the second time and then finishing in 6th at the HERO World Challenge. In 2017, Spieth will need to get back to hitting his irons the way that he did two years ago when he tore through the season on his way to winning two majors and the FedEx Cup. His putting actually saved him last year from having an even tougher season as he improved on his numbers from 2015. Unfortunately, inaccuracy off the tee and an inability to hit greens limited his scoring opportunities which led to a lot of par saving putts rather than birdies. Fortunately, accuracy is not an issues at Kapalua, a course where Spieth posted a -30 last year in winning the event decisively. In his other start here, Spieth finished 2nd so clearly this course fits his game well.

Patrick Reed is the new darling of US golf after his amazing performance at the Ryder Cup with his match play win over Rory McIlroy cementing his status for years to come. He has not played that well since then, but after some time off, he will be ready for action this week at an event he has won and finished runner up in over the last two seasons. Reed has a little more distance to his game than he had when he first played here three years ago, but where he really shines is in his steady approach play, scrambling ability around the green and solid putting. Like some of the other players who have success here, accuracy is a weak point for Reed, but the size of the fairways will limit the damage for Reed this week and with winds not seeming to be a factor, Reed looks like a good value for his price.

Russell Knox had a breakout season last year with two wins to his credit, moving him up to a ranking of 18th in the world. We are getting a break on him this week as far as his price goes due to his poor showing here a season ago, but I think he will step it up this time around. He is not a long hitter, but he is accurate and hits a lot of greens. His putter is a little below average, but has improved a little over the last couple of seasons. I am a little leery of Knox after a shaky performance at the HERO last month, but for $8,200, we are getting a player that does not make a lot of mistakes and should at least be in position to have plenty of scoring opportunities this week.

Jimmy Walker looked mediocre for much of last season before coming out of nowhere to win the PGA Championship. He then reverted back to being his usual mid season self and largely crumbled for the remainder of the year. Fortunately, for fantasy owners, the calendar now says January which officially means that we are dealing with early season Jimmy Walker again where he usually has most of his success. Jimmy is a player that looks great in Hawaii and on the west coast and Texas swing of the tour each year. The wide fairways of Kapalua are perfect for Walker as his biggest problems usually occur off the tee where he ranked 183rd in driving accuracy last year which led to him struggling to hit greens on most of the tighter courses. Kapalua will be the cure for these issues as Walker has finished 2nd and 10th here in his last two starts. Walker is a big hitter off the tee with deceptively good short to mid range iron play. I love his price this week and will stick with him through these early months of 2017.

SECONDARY

Brandt Snedeker – $8,700 – solid scrambling and putting have always helped him to perform well here where he has three Top-10 finishes and an 11th in four starts
Si Woo Kim – $7,300 – Emerging young star out of South Korea that played very strong down the stretch, dealt with back issues in the fall, but appears healthy now, good value
Branden Grace – $7,200 – Seems underpriced for a player who is so good from mid to long range with his irons, his putting hurt him a lot last season
Pat Perez – $7,100 – After a year off due to injury, Perez roared back in the fall with a win and a 7th place finish, tends to play well during the early months of the season
Fabian Gomez – $6,600 – 6th here last year and won the Sony Open (also in Hawaii) a week later, stats are not impressive, but finished well and will be popular
Jhonattan Vegas – $6,500 – really improved his game last season and topped it off with a win, went from 146th in SGTG to 54th, should handle the Par 5’s well

Good Luck!

-myz

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 4, 2017 10:45

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