The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Sony Open

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 10, 2018 15:12

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Sony Open

Week one is in the books for the 2018 portion of this PGA season and we learned a few important things last week. First, Dustin Johnson looks like he is on a mission this season. He played so far beyond the rest of the field that it was absolutely a one man show on Sunday afternoon. It was the type of event that takes your breath away and makes you realize that when DJ is on his game, there is not another player in the world that comes close to being able to compete with him. Jon Rahm might close that gap over the next two years, but it’s really encouraging for DJ backers to see him come out and be so laser focused in an event that he easily could have used to get warmed up this season. When we last saw him at the Hero, he appeared to be in vacation mode coasting towards 2018, but he was all business last week from the first day forward. I always wonder what would have happened last year if instead of falling in Augusta and hurting his back, he had played that week and kept the form rolling that he’d had going all throughout the spring. I think it would have changed the course of the 2017 season, but we’ll never know.

The next lesson is one that I warned about going into the week which is that the TOC is an event where you should tread a little lightly to start the year. With only 34 players in the field and no cut to contend with, it’s a much different experience to deal with than the normal events we’ll see throughout the year with 120-150 player fields and a Friday afternoon cut. If the winner ends up being someone like DJ, and you did not play DJ, you had a very tough time not just in GPP events, but cash games as well. Normally, a guy like DJ is going to be 11.5-12k in a full field and you will not have to worry about seeing him on so many cash rosters as it requires owners to take on a greater amount of risk in filling up the rest of their squad with players at the lower end of the salary spectrum. However, last week, without that cut, you could put two to three top end stars in your lineup, grab the bottom priced guys to fill in and you knew you would get four full rounds from everyone making it huge to find the roster the winner. I did a few cash lineups which featured HIdeki, Spieth and Perez and while they all played well, I was behind the 8 ball with against opponents who rostered DJ and any other combination of players as DJ destroyed the field and was well in front of every other player in DK points. Fortunately, I limited my play for the week and only booked a small loss as I used the event to get a look at the players and to see who was ready to go this season.

In looking back at the 18 players I did write up last week, I had a good chunk of the Top-10. I had a heavy weighting of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Hideki, Rahm and Leishman at the top. Utilizing all of those players forced me to make the sacrifice with DJ that I paid for dearly, although all of those other five played well so I don’t feel too bad about it. The entire FGI team safely dodged the Brooks Koepka DFL bomb which also gave us a nice start. On the value side, Jason Dufner and Si Woo Kim played great for us. It was the perfect time to get Si Woo out there if you’re a fan. Without a cut, you can worry a little less although a WD is still never off the table. Pat Perez was a core play and my most heavily weighted player as well as my One and Done pick so that worked out great. I have a feeling we won’t see him sticking around the 8k range for very long this year and he’s a player that I will be invested in very heavily in 2018, especially during the early portion of the year when he’s playing in the west coast events where he tends to shine.

I had plenty of exposure to players who finished right in the middle of the pack last week in Cam Smith, Russell Henley, Patrick Cantlay and Kevin Kisner. These were all solid value plays with some upside potential, but none really broke out to the upside or hurt us with a terrible finish. Where I got hurt was with my primary cash lineup was in managing to get the three lowest finishing players of my 18 picks all onto one roster in Kyle Stanley, Bryson DeChambeau and the very chalky Brendan Steele. I can understand the first two having some struggles as this is not a spot where Bryson has played before and it’s been years since Stanley had won and been in the event. Brendan Steele was a little bit of a surprise. He looked good in the fall with another win and had finished well there the prior year so seeing him flounder was a letdown. He was well priced and his skill set seemed reasonable for the course so it was disappointing that he never got it going. That’s always the other part of no cut events that is difficult. It is a guaranteed payday for everyone in the field so the guys that fall way back after the second or third day, rarely rally back to put up much of a charge, with Koepka being the clearest example this week (although it looks as if the wrist is still an issue so we’ll be watching him closely moving forward).

Going into this week, I will open up my bankroll a little more than last week. I say a little more due to the fact that for many of these players, it has been nearly two months or more since they have played competitive golf. For some, it is going to take a little time to get back into the flow again. This is why we tend to see so many winners at this event that also happened to play in the TOC the week prior. It is certainly not just a coincidence here so where we can get some extra exposure to those players, we will be opportunistic about it.

The first thing to get a look at for the tournament is an easy wind check. I always use WindFinder.com which is pretty reliable and updates often. Wind is usually a constant presence for the Sony Open as it is a coastal course in Honolulu. It is typically the one line of defense to prevent the scoring from getting way out of hand, which is still not always enough. However, this year it looks like we’ll see some of the lightest winds that I can remember since I started covering this event closely a few years ago. You can have a look at the link here, but outside of Sunday when things get a little gusty, it really should not have a dramatic effect on play.

The course itself is a Par 70 that is just over 7,000 yards. Unlike last week, where the players enjoyed the widest fairways that they will see all year, this week is the complete opposite with some of the most narrow and tough to hit fairways. However, typically it is tough to get into trouble here by missing the fairways as it is also one of the highest courses in terms of hitting greens in regulation. Without the winds to defend the course, I anticipate the winning score being lower than -20 again this year. This means that while more accurate players will be in better position off the tee, that it should not deter you away from players who are normally viewed more as bombers. Players like Jimmy Walker, CHIII and Gary Woodland would hardly be players known for their accuracy and yet all have had incredible success at this event. Justin Thomas is perhaps the best example of this as he only hit 44% of fairways here last year, but nearly 78% of greens. There are two lone Par 5’s on the course, neither of which is terribly challenging and should allow for most players to have scoring opportunities. The greens are Bermuda grass so look closely at players who grew up or live in the southeast that are particularly adept on these types of greens.

In terms of the type of player that I am looking for this week, we’ll be focused on those that are best with their mid and long range irons although gaining strokes off the tee is definitely helpful. With the extra Par 4 holes in play, we get a rare opportunity to see a course where Par 4 Scoring is a key stat this week. Given that the those in contention will be scoring often, being able to get up and down when missing the green will be key as losing shots on a scorers course will put golfers out of the mix quickly.

Key Stats:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Scrambling: 10%
Par 4 Scoring: 10%
Proximity: 5%
Proximity: 175-200 yards

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 10, 2018 15:12

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