The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – The Honda Classic

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte February 24, 2016 06:04

The Northern Trust Open lived up to its reputation of being a tough course that tends to see the best players rise to the top. At one point on Sunday, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson were all within the Top 5 battling for a victory. Eventually, Bubba Watson won out, marking the second time in three years that he has captured the title at Riviera. Even when Bubba was down two strokes with four holes left to play, it just did not feel like Jason Kokrak stood much of a chance even if betting odds would have made him an overwhelming favorite at that point. Bubba played really well down the stretch hitting a few key putts on the back nine holes to keep the pressure on and then just leaned on Kokrak towards the end playing mistake free golf and forcing Kokrak into just enough mistakes to snap up another win.

Overall, it was an interesting week in terms of the players that I discussed here. In full disclosure, I was pretty upset last Friday night after watching Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas punt the cut line and miss out on playing over the weekend. I have never in my life been so sure that someone was going to miss a putt after seeing Keegan chip onto 18 on Friday and have it stop just over four feet from the cup. He had played so well the first 12 holes on Friday, but managed to bogey three of the last six (no, there are no DraftKings bonus points for such a feat) and proved to be a costly miss for a couple of my teams.

However, after looking over the damage, my cash teams actually held up quite well versus the rest of the field as one team easily cashed with 5 of 6 players through and another with 4 of 6 through managed to make it just over into the green on DraftKings as well. It ended up being a profitable weekend, although it certainly was not as enjoyable as when Friday’s go well and victory is assured going into the last two rounds. Fortunately, the players who made it through Friday did pretty well for us. A few of the better selections were: Bubba Watson, DJ, KJ Choi, Hideki and JB Holmes. We also had a solid group of core players who did their job in making the cut for cash games: Casey, English, Steele, Schwartzel, Donald and Tringale (no thanks to Cameron for his absurdly bad round Sunday).

A few players struggled. The aforementioned Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas crumbled down the stretch. Daniel Summerhays bogeyed on 18 on Friday to miss the cut. However, two other players who missed were particularly surprising in Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia. Spieth’s miss was not too hard on my bankroll as I never would pay that much for a cash game play and used him sparingly in GPP action. Unfortunately, Sergio’s meltdown was a kick in the groin for a lot of us.

Since the PGA App actually followed interesting players this week, I was able to watch much of Sergio’s first two rounds. Out of the gates, he looked okay, hitting a couple of big putts and saving par on holes where it looked as if he would lose a shot. Then he got to the 7th hole and it all unraveled with a brutal 4 putt from close in that was reminiscent of something you would see me do after several cocktails and a couple of shots with the girls driving the drink carts. He never regained his composure and looked bored on Friday. Even when he was only two shots off the cut line, he seemed disinterested. His hand kept coming off the club on his tee shots and could not find the fairways or greens. It definitely was a concern to see such poor body language out of him. Sergio has typically been very good to us over the last couple of seasons so this is something to keep an eye on to see if it becomes a trend or simply an anomaly.

Moving on to this week, we leave California and make our way eastward to the Florida leg of the Tour which last for four week before shifting to Texas for two weeks and then….Augusta. The Master is going to be particularly exciting this year since not only will I be attending for the first time with my father, but DraftKings also announced a Millionaire Maker for that event as well. Judging by the size of it (229,000 entries), we have again been proven correct that daily fantasy golf is growing faster than ever. For those of you who have only recently gotten hooked on DFS golf, you will see that it is run a little differently than other events and typically the prices come out a few weeks ahead of time. As it was brand new last year, the industry scrambled to provide additional coverage. Here at FGI, we started our coverage early and kept you ahead of the game and our subscribers really dominated in the majors last year. As soon as prices arrive in the middle or end of March, you can expect a lot of extra coverage to help you to get prepared early.

Before we dive into The Honda Classic, I want to take a minute to discuss a strategy question that came up a couple of weeks ago from a subscriber who e-mailed me. He (obviously a he since I have yet to hear from a she) wanted to know what it meant for a player to reach value and how that relates to his price. It is a great question since it is something that we discuss often, but do not always put parameters around. You might hear one of us mention in passing that a player would have to finish in the Top 3 in order to ‘reach value’ for the week at his price. For the most part, it is pretty intuitive, but I will put a few numbers to it this week to give you an idea of how to start thinking about it moving forward based off of what took place last weekend.

First, and foremost, it is easy to conclude that missing the cut will always mean that a player did not reach value. Unless a player knocked in a hole in one and a couple of eagles, it is almost impossible to have any real value while missing the cut. Value for golf changes a little bit from week to week. One week, 60 DraftKings points might be an amazing performance for an $8,000 player and other weeks it can signify a disaster, so when you look at point totals alone, you can’t simply view them in a vacuum, you need additional context.

Each week, you start with a $50,000 salary cap to work with. The goal in cash games is to beat half the field (or slightly more for a double up) and the goal for a GPP is to beat at least 80% of the field. Last week, I just made it across the cash line for the $300 GPP and for many of the double ups I participated in so I am going to use real world examples from my actual teams to break this down. In the PGA Giant $5 Double Up, I had a team that I entered that finished around 4700 out of 11,363 where the Top 5000 teams doubled up. That lineup was as follows:

Keegan Bradley ($7,800) – 27.5 pts
Paul Casey ($8,900) – 64 pts
Matt Kuchar ($8,600) – 90 pts
Charl Schwartzel ($9,600) – 71 pts
Brendan Steele ($8,300) – 68 pts
Vaughn Taylor ($6,800) – 21 pts
Team Total = 341.5 pts

The last team to cash had 337.5 so that was the threshold we needed to cross in order to get to the pay window on Sunday. With $50,000, I shave off the last two zeroes and just use $500 for my ratios. You therefore had $500 to accumulate 337.5 points for the week or $1.48 dollars per point. That then becomes our measurement for efficiency in terms of if a player reached value or not for the purposes of a cash game.

Bradley – $2.84/pt
Casey – $1.39/pt
Kuchar – $0.96/pt
Schwartzel – $1.35/pt
Steele – $1.22/pt
Taylor – $3.24/pt

You can see for our example that the four players who made the cut each reached value, some just by a thread while the two players that missed the cut were dreadfully off.

For the $300 GPP, my team was the last team that actually doubled its money for the week sliding into the green in 111th place….whew…this team scored 373.5 points for the week giving us a ratio of $500/373.5 = $1.34 That team was as follows:

Paul Casey ($8900) – 64 pts – $1.39/pt
Brendan Steele ($8,300) – 68 pts – $1.22/pt
Harris English ($8,100) – 60.5 pts – $1.34/pt
KJ Choi ($7,100) – 100 pts – $0.71/pt
Luke Donald ($7,500) – 55.5 pts – $1.35/pt
Sergio Garcia ($10,300) – 25.5 pts – $4.04/pt

What you see in the first example is that while Paul Casey reached value for cash games, he missed it for GPPs. The same is true for Luke Donald who just slightly underperformed for GPPs. This exercise is useful in determining a baseline for performance each week. While it is always nice for a player to make the cut, we need to figure out if he was actually effective based upon the price. If we can begin to make reasonable guesses as to what those metrics will be from week to week we can then more effectively begin to look at some of those top salaries to see just how high of a mountain they would need to climb in order to make them worthwhile for your roster in a given week.

In looking at either Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth last week at a price tag of $13,200, they would have needed to score at least $132/$1.48 = 89pts to hit value for a cash game and $132/$1.34 = 98.5pts at a minimum to be efficient to use in a GPP…and that is only for a minimum cash result. Considering the winning score was right around 500 points, they would have needed close to 130 points to hit their value…8 points higher than what Bubba Watson scored as the winner.

Now, there are a couple of additional points that I need to make with this information. First, every course produces different scores. There are some easy courses where the winning GPP score might be in the high 600 range and other tough courses where it might only reach 400. This is really important to know as the salaries from DraftKings do not typically move up or down with potential points scored in a week. We get roughly the same range at The Northern Trust Open as we do The John Deere Classic. The ratios will change each week as far as how high of a bar a player will need to clear to be considered efficient.

The next point worth mentioning is that this is not a perfect way of looking at efficiency for salary. With golf, a lot of times, just making the cut can be considered efficient considering how much of a penalty is sustained for those players that miss the cut. Every player on your team does not need to meet that perfect ratio and often times the higher salaried players will fall a little short even with a big finish. That does not necessarily mean they were a bad choice, it just means you will need to choose the rest of your team that much more carefully as others will need to make up for the slack. I just wanted to illustrate that there are certain parameters that you can start to apply when it comes to constructing your lineups each week.

Briefly, let’s touch on PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It is a challenging 7,150 yard, Par 70 course with difficult green, plenty of water hazards and the weather always seems to end up playing a crucial role in the outcome of the event as winds and rain pushed the final round into Monday where it was settled in a playoff between Daniel Berger and Padraig Harrington, with the latter emerging victorious. As we hit these challenging courses this time of year, be very cognizant of the type of grass (Bermuda this week) that the event is played on. Certain players that are experts on bent or poa annua are terrible on Bermuda. Knowing which players are local and have course knowledge is really helpful here as well.

Stick to the more experienced players this week and check out the Europeans in the field as they tend to handle the tricky weather a little better than the American players. This is not a week where you have to have a strategy of paying up for the studs. A couple of them have decent track records here, but if you look year to year, you find a lot of journeyman players winning going back to when the event moved here in 2007. There is a lot of value in the middle ranges and given that I think they have as much of a chance as the elites to win this week, I want as many of them on my roster as possible. There is definitely some risk to this play, as there are a lot of reasonable players in the upper $6,000 range to fill out a stars and scrubs roster. However, the low to middle $7,000 range looks like a mine field again this week so step carefully if you do try to stack your rosters at the top.

The key stats for the week are as follows (shout out to the guys at Fantasy Golf Metrics):

Strokes Gained Tee to Green – 35%
Strokes Gained Putting – 30%
Birdie or Better Percentage – 20%
Proximity – 10%
Par 3 Scoring – 5%

Good luck this week and feel free to reach out to me over the next couple of days with any questions on lineups or strategy!

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The optimal lineup for the week based on our model:

Patrick Reed – $10,600
Ryan Palmer – $8,700
Brendan Steele – $8,300
Webb Simpson – $8,000
Charles Howell III – $7,500
William McGirt – $6,800

Solid players up and down here. You could pivot from Palmer to Donald or down from Reed in order to upgrade McGirt, but all in all, a pretty solid looking cash game lineup for the week.


Patrick Reed ($10,600)
Brooks Koepka ($10,500)
Branden Grace ($10,300)
Kevin Kisner ($9,900)

Patrick Reed has been playing some really consistent golf this season, piling up one Top 10 after another. In three appearances at PGA National he has improved with each start managing to finish in 7th last year. What is really important to note on Reed this season is his improved ball striking. Last season, Reed ranked 160th in that category and this year he is currently ranked 5th. His accuracy is much improved and he is hitting greens. He has always been good at scrambling and hitting a lot of birdies, although his putter has not been what it was last year. I think that is going to fix itself as the season wears on and when it does, Reed is going to start winning events. I like Reed in both cash games and GPPs this week.

Brooks Koepka is back in the mix this week and makes a return to my player recommendations. Brooks is a Florida St alum and thus familiar with the types of courses on the Florida portion of the tour. He had some difficulty in the tough conditions here last season, but did manage to shoot an amazing 64 on Friday to roar back to make the cut after shooting a 78 in the opening round. If Koepka can avoid the blowup round on Thursday or Friday, he will put up a lot of points. He is a little volatile for cash games right now, but makes for a great tournament play as some of the bigger names above him will draw more attention.

Branden Grace is a player that some of you might not have heard about if you are new to golf. He had some success in the US last season after playing really well over in Europe. This year, his destruction of the European Tour has been pretty thorough as he has finished in the Top 8 in his last six events including a win in Qatar. As usual, I am a little nervous about this being his first start on US soil this year, but I think that given his recent play and ascent into the Top 10 in the world rankings, he needs to be on some of your GPP teams this week. Ignore his one start here in 2013 (finished 71st) as he is on a new level now.

Kevin Kisner was a big disappointment for us a few weeks back at the Waste Management Open. He looked good early on Friday and then gave away a bunch of strokes at the end to miss the cut. We will let that pass for now as he has all the tools to succeed at PGA National and like others in this price range, will get overlooked. He is a top ball striker, dominates from tee to green and on the greens as well. He is great in terms of proximity, scrambling, Par 3 scoring and birdie or better percentage. He makes for a tremendous GPP play this week with lower ownership levels in play here. He is also a guy you can use in your cash games as well.


Ryan Palmer ($8,700)
Luke Donald ($8,600)
Shane Lowry ($8,500)
Brendan Steele ($8,300)
Freddie Jacobson ($8,200)
David Lingmerth ($8,200)

Ryan Palmer is playing well right now and plays well at PGA National where he has made 6/7 cuts and finished in 2nd place two years ago. He has not missed a cut since October and is consistently near the Top 25 in most events. His tee to green game is sharp, although so far, his putter has been a little off. Fortunately, he puts himself in position for birdies often enough to take advantage. Palmer ranked really high in our model this week and I will start him in the majority of my cash games. He is cheap enough so that he may attract a fair amount of ownership, as he usually does, but up until now, there has not been a lot of buzz in the DFS world. I believe that much of this has to do with Luke Donald being priced at just $100 below him so I think you will be okay using him in GPPs as well without having to worry about huge ownership numbers.

Luke Donald is probably the easiest cash game play of the week. I am sure now that I have made such a bold statement, he will inexplicably miss the cut, but I will use him quite a bit this week. This is his home course and he has made the cut here in all five starts with four straight Top 10 finishes. His stats are not going to jump out at you while doing your research, but his play has been better this season overall, making 5/6 cuts. I am a little torn on using him for GPPs. He should see close to 30% ownership, which would usually make me take a pass, but even if he finishes 30th this week, he could still reach value this week. I will own him on cash and GPP teams.

Shane Lowry is another European player who should be useful for working through tough conditions if the winds pick up over the weekend as he usually hits the ball a little lower than average which makes the ball less likely to get caught up in swirling winds. Lowry has not played here previously, but he has been a great cut maker having made all three cuts this season with two Top 15 finishes. I suspect he will do the same this week. He is not likely to be highly owned with other bigger names around him so he works well in all formats.

One player that we will count on over and over again in our cash game and GPP lineups this season is Brendan Steele. He tends to stay pretty steady in price outside of the fall season when the stars take time off. He is like a lot of our other picks with a great tee to green game, but just an okay putter. He has always played well here making the cut in all five starts and has improved upon his finishes since his debut. He keeps putting himself into good position week after week, but has dropped back in the last round on multiple occasions to let us down. At this price, I am willing to accept that out of a player. He will surprise us a few times this year and finish strong, but so long as he is making cuts, he is a great fit for cash and GPP teams although his ownership numbers should be watched carefully.

I hate that I am writing up Freddie Jacobson. I just made a wager with Roger that he would not finish in the Top 25 seven more times this year. He cried like a baby as I piled up the crab legs and drinks out in Boston and the next time around, I will not be taking it easy on him. Unfortunately, for me, the Swede sets up well for the course this week and has missed just one cut when the weather was ridiculous a year ago. The other six starts he has always finished in the Top 30. When you combine that with the fact that he has been playing good golf this season with three Top 10 finishes, this is a great price for him and I will own him in all formats this week. He is all scrambling and putting so it is never pretty to watch, but I am willing to concede that he makes for a great play this week.

David Lingmerth is the falling knife and we are going to try to grab it this week in the hopes that his recent two consecutive missed cuts will be the end of a cold streak and that he will begin a resurgence this week. Following a missed cut here in 2013, Lingmerth followed up with an 8th place finish in 2014 and a 25th last year. He is looking to build on the success he enjoyed last season when he won at Memorial and has done well so far with four Top 15 finishes. His stats are not off the charts in any category, but he is above average in all areas including tee to green, putting, proximity, scrambling and is well above average in birdie or better percentage. After disappointing people two weeks in a row, owners will be off Lingmerth giving us a great GPP option as he certainly has Top 10 upside. Given his erratic play, he is not a player I will be using for cash games this week.


Webb Simpson ($8,000)
Jason Dufner ($8,000)
Gary Woodland ($7,900)
Charles Howell III ($7,500)
Sean O’Hair ($7,000)

What a great price for Webb Simpson this week. At $8,000 we get about as good of a tee to green player as you will find on tour. It is well known that his putter is putrid, but on Bermuda greens, it is a different story. As luck would have it…we are on Bermuda greens this week! Webb has not played here a lot lately, with his last start resulting in a 24th place finish in 2011. He has missed just one cut in five starts this year and has already recorded three Top 20 finishes along the way. I will be using Webb in all formats this week.

Jason Dufner is struggling since his win at the CareerBuilder last month. He has only missed one cut since then, but the other two finishes were unremarkable. What is nice is that he does not need to do much to justify his price, particularly in cash game. Given his recent struggle, owners may start to look in other directions this week. That would be optimal for us as Dufner is 6/6 here in making the cut with three Top 20 finishes. His putter has been Simpson-esque over the last few weeks, but he is another player who is much better on Bermuda grass than bent grass or poa annua so expect better things this week. I will have him cash games and GPPs this week.

It appears that the Gary Woodland of 2014 has returned this year. He is 6/6 this year making the cut with three Top 25 finishes. He is in the Top 10 in Strokes Gained Tee to Green this season and although his putting is still only average at best, he is playing much more consistently overall. In three starts, Woodland has made two cuts with a 6th place finish and a 68th place finish to go along with a missed cut so he has not shown me enough to make my cash lineup. However, given his potential and recent form, I like him for GPPs this week.

I was kicking myself during the first round last weekend as I had decided CHIII’s course history disqualified him from consideration. Fortunately, the next four rounds were awful and he finished in 75th. However, the rest of the year has been stellar as he has yet to miss a cut in ten starts and has accumulated eight Top 25 finishes. He has never missed a cut in six starts at PGA National with four of those ending up in the Top 30. His putting has improved dramatically this season and he has risen from 144 in the rankings to 44th overall. His tee to green game is steady and he is scrambling well. He will be popular this week, but I will own him in many cash game lineups and a handful of GPP events.

Sean O’Hair was a nice addition to our GPP lineups a couple of weeks ago, contributing nicely as he has on several occasions this year. He has made five of seven cuts with most of his finishes being in the upper half of those who move on to the weekend. His record here is strong having made the cut in four of his last five starts with three Top 25 finishes. He is a better ball striking version of Freddie Jacobson with a rough tee to green game offset by excellent scrambling and putting. The upward trend in his game makes him worthy of a couple of GPP tickets this week.


Scott Piercy ($6,900)
Brian Harman ($6,900)
Adam Hadwin ($6,800)
Jim Herman ($6,600)
Zac Blair ($6,300)

I am surprised to see Scott Piercy below $7,000 this week. He is 7/7 in making the cut this season with four Top 25 finishes. He is also 3/4 at PGA National with a Top 10 finish to his credit. Piercy is a good ball striker with average tee to green skills and a slightly below average putter. In past seasons, inconsistency has plagued Piercy, but he is putting it all together so far this year. Piercy is mostly a GPP play this week.

Brian Harman is playing well this season and always seems to be a player that is off of everyone’s radar in the DFS golf community. That combination of factors makes him an interesting selection this week. He’s missed only two cuts this season in ten starts and has three Top 15 finishes. Having grown up playing on Bermuda grass, Harman has has had success at PGA National with two Top 15 finishes here in his last four starts. His stats are rough, but he can putt and offers enough upside for GPP play this week.

Adam Hadwin, like Brian Harman and Freddie Jacobson is a pure putter with a poor tee to green game. However, in spite of this, he has finished in the Top 20 in three of his last four starts and has missed the cut only two times this year. Despite the fact that Hadwin is much worse putting on Bermuda grass, he played well here last year finishing in 31st place. I am not confident enough to use him in cash, but his ownership should be limited so he is a good GPP option.

The Hermanator makes an appearance this week in the rankings as his recent play has made him a solid option this week. He has not putted well this year, but his tee to green game is better than average and he tends to hit a lot of greens. He has missed only two cuts this season and took 7th here a year ago in his only start. Herman is a GPP option and you could consider using limited shares of him in cash games.

It is a Par 70 course which means it is time to consider Zac Blair for use again. He is accurate off the tee, scrambles well and hits a lot of putts. Most of the recent courses have given him trouble as their length has been a bit more than Blair can handle. Courses like this one that do not demand high levels of Par 5 scoring are a specialty for Blair. A similar course comparison would be the Sony Open where Blair finished in 3rd place back in January. He placed 22nd here a year ago and is so cheap this week that he will open up a lot of salary cap space at the top for adding multiple stars.


Ben Crane ($6,300)
Tyrone Van Aswegan ($5,900)

This is usually where things go sideways. A lot of weeks I will just avoid this range completely, but two players caught my eye this week. Ben Crane, the least popular of the Golf Boys (Bubba, Mahan, Rickie and well…Crane) has been awful the last few years. This fall, I could sense a bit of a turnaround taking place and over the last four events, he has really started to find his stride making all four cuts and finishing in the Top 25 three times. He has made the cut here in all six starts, although his last three were all in the mid 60’s so it has not been too noteworthy. Fortunately, at his price, all we really need is a made cut and he will easily achieve value for his low price. I hate the fact that I am writing him up. Gross. I am moving on now.

All aboard the…okay, I will skip the easy joke. What is not a joke is how well Van Aswegan has played this season. He has now made 10/11 cuts on the season, but really has not seen any sort of bump in price. He has finished in the Top 20 three times this year and in his lone start here two years ago, he finished 24th. He putts well, plays well on Par 3 holes and is okay at scrambling. That is about all there is to say about Tyrone Van Aswegan. Will I have a Crane/Van Aswegan stack this week? You’re damn right I will.

Good Luck,


Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte February 24, 2016 06:04

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