The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – The Memorial

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 1, 2016 11:14

Well, it did not take long for Spieth to snap out of his ‘slump’ last week. I felt a storm brewing when he struggled to hit a fairway on Thursday and yet found himself right near the top of the leaderboard. By Friday, I could feel the momentum building as he started to hit fairways and eased his way up through the ranks. By Saturday, even in hitting less than 30% of fairways, he was still able to shoot five shots under par. On Sunday, there was a moment where I thought Spieth might slip. After a sloppy tee shot into the rough on the Par 3, 8th hole, Spieth blundered on his chip shot and left himself a 32 foot putt for par. Up until that point, Spieth had only managed to par the first seven holes and was two shots behind the leader. It was the sort of moment where things could have easily come undone for the second Sunday in a row…and then he nailed the putt to save par, went on a three birdie streak from the 10th-12th holes and was never seriously challenged at the end finishing three shots clear of second place finisher, Harris English.

It was the single real blemish for us on the weekend after nailing most of the picks with 17/21 making the cut with many standout performances. The aggressive play that I like to use in building GPP rosters worked really well with all five core players making it through to the weekend and at early points of the event, each one was in the Top 10 at the same time. Unfortunately, Bryce Molder fizzled after an amazing start and struggled after holding a four shot lead after the front nine on Friday afternoon, dropping out of serious contention by Saturday afternoon. Ryan Palmer was our biggest hope on Sunday and looked poised early, knocking in back to back birdies to start his day. Unfortunately, that was as good as it was going to get for him as he could not capitalize on other opportunities and made a few key mistakes to give away his lead. Overall, a pretty satisfying week. Two of our three optimal lineups finished in the money for cash games and our GPP picks brought in a tidy profit for those that stuck with it. A better weekend out of a couple of players and it would have been a really big week for us, but we have to be happy to make a profit and to keep building our bankrolls as we approach summer and the other three major tournaments.

This week, I want to take a moment to introduce two of our newest additions to the FGI team. Many of you know Pari (@HitTheHighDraw) from his work over at Project Roto where he did a first look type of column giving his initial impressions of the field before getting swayed by others. Pari is one of the many folks up in Minnesota that is involved with fantasy golf coverage so we anticipate that you will be seeing more of him this year on the webcast in addition to the writing that he will do for us each week. Pari is a huge golf fan and follows both the US and Euro Tours closely so he is going to be providing a first look and preview for each of those events every Monday. By now, you have probably had the chance to sample his work and hopefully you are as impressed as we are with it. The timing on bringing Pari into the fold was perfect and we are excited to welcome him.

Our other new addition is Jason Rouslin (@dfsxpert23). Jason was looking for an opportunity to break into the world of covering daily fantasy golf and we were excited to add him to our talented roster of analysts. Jason has enjoyed a nice run of success this season at all levels of GPPs and we felt like it would be valuable to add a player’s perspective blog each week to help give you some insights on what is happening with some of the bigger prize pool GPPs. After talking about a few ideas, we hit upon the idea to have Jason provide coverage of his strategy and picks for the week, but with special emphasis on what some of the more prominent fantasy players in the game are doing with their rosters each week. We get questions about certain players all the time so now we have Jason to dig in depth on what these individuals are doing and to shed some light on the many different strategies employed by successful players each week. He posted his first write up last night, The First Tee. Be sure to check it out if you have not yet and feel free to provide feedback on it for us so we can continue to shape it into a column that provides you with an insider’s view on this ever evolving game.

Moving on to The Memorial this week, I feel like we are moving up from algebra to calculus in terms of the sort of problems that we will need to solve this week. Last week, the strategies presented themselves pretty clearly as is usually the case with a weaker field, but with an event like The Memorial, the decision tree gets to be much more complex as I am sure many of you are figuring out right now. Do I fade the Top 3? Do I overload on one of the Top 3? Do I spread my ownership shares among all of the Top 3? All of these are valid options this week in selecting a strategy. I cannot ever recall an event prior to this week where the Top 3 players in the world all entered a tournament coming off of a win in their most recent start. It is unprecedented and makes for some very perplexing decisions.

The first question you really have to answer this week is; am I an aggressive player, a moderate risk taker or very conservative? Once you answer that question, the rest of your decisions get a little easier. My style of play in DFS is and always will be to stay aggressive. To play aggressively, I will select fewer players, take larger risks on a handful of players I feel especially confident in and select contests that will allow me to build a lot of lineups in the hopes that my core players kill it and I get enough out of the others to have many teams in contention. I am willing to accept that there will be weeks when I get killed and in exchange, I want a chance to win a lot of money when my smaller pool of players outperforms.

The other obvious problem that we have to confront this week is what to do about ownership levels. We took advantage of the Chappell craze last week in making him a fade and then watched as he blew the cut in classic Chappell fashion. It made me think about how I would recommend approaching players when we know for certain that they will be highly owned since my reaction is a little different depending on the particular player as well as his price. I will provide a breakdown between the levels of players to give you an idea for how I approach it each week.

For the highest priced players like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, I tend to not worry about their ownership numbers when I expect them to be high. I either anticipate that they will play well and buy in or avoid them. These guys tend to be pretty consistent and even though I can point to instances where some of the high priced players have struggled this year, for the most part, I am not going to fade these elite types of players just due to perceived high ownership numbers. I am only avoiding these players in situations where I do not feel they are playing as well as they are capable. This week, we know that Jason Day will be very highly owned. My decision to own him or fade him will have little to do with whether I think he will be owned by 25% or 35% of the field. If I think he can win, I will play him, if I am convinced that his history is such that this course just does not set up well for him, I will fade him. The point is that I do not usually fade these players simply based on perceived ownership unless it starts to approach a really ridiculous number in a smaller field, higher dollar entry GPP.

Kevin Chappell is a player that I will almost always fade when his price moves above a certain level. Each year, a bunch of middle level players will have a nice run of three or four weeks where the fantasy community is ready to anoint them as the next great player in the game. Chappell was in this spot last year and found himself here again this season. Colt Knost is another player that fits this mold well. One the more important things that you can do to help yourself out from week to week is to track a player’s average salary throughout the season to see how certain players rise and fall. You will start to see some interesting patterns that form over time. Kevin Chappell is normally a guy who sits in that $7,300-8,200 range each week, depending on the field and his current form. Most players have a similar sort of range that you can observe throughout the season. When they start to move outside of that range, it should startle you a bit. But what should really get your attention is when they move out of that price range AND they become every writer’s favorite play of the week. When your average (okay, Chappell may be slightly above average) golfer becomes expensive and highly owned, I am always going to lean towards fading that player. They may burn me and play well, but more often than not, they will underperform expectations and a huge chunk of the field will take the hit.

At the lower priced levels around $7,000 and below, ‘highly owned’ takes on a bit of a different meaning. If I am looking at a player priced at $6,300 and think he might be owned by 8-10% of the field that week, I am generally unconcerned about owning him from an ownership percentage perspective. I am not gaining on a big percentage of the field if that player underperforms so again, it just becomes a decision of whether or not I think that player will make or miss the cut. Since making the cut will almost assure such a low priced player of delivering value or creating the opportunity for me to own a more expensive player that delivers value, I am not worried about owning a player who might barely touch double digit levels down here. Now, if I thought one of these players in the low to mid $6k range was going to reach close to 20%, that is when I would seriously begin to rethink my play. This week there are a handful of players in that range that might be owned by 5-6% of the field and that will not factor in my decision to own them in the least. It is still the overall ownership percentage of each roster that trumps that of any single player.

As you all know, this week is a special one for players as Muirfield was designed by Jack Nicklaus who took great pride in making it one of the more challenging courses on tour with strategically placed bunkers and water hazards that will give players issues on eleven different holes. The course plays as a Par 72 and will be set up at around 7,300 yards with four Par 3 and Par 5 holes. Unlike last week, the Par 5’s will play at a more reasonable distance with the longest only being around 560 yards so there should be ample scoring opportunities for the bigger hitters if the can handle the fast greens here. The field is loaded although it should be noted that since it is an invitational, there are only 120 players in the field which should allow you to be a little more aggressive with your rosters given that the same number of players will make the cut as in a normal week. This is the last week that most of the big name players compete before the US Open in two weeks and given the money at stake as well as the prestige that is associated with Jack’s Tournament, it should bring out the best from this talented field.

The key stats for the week (Fantasy Golf Metrics):
Strokes Gained Tee to Green – 30%
Strokes Gained Putting – 25%
Birdie or Better % – 25%
Proximity – 15%
Par 5 Scoring – 5%

We heard from a lot of folks who did well last week so we hope to keep the momentum going this week as we enter what should be three very profitable months this summer as more and more new people start to play. Keep me in the loop as to how you are doing this weekend. I always like to cheer all of you on in the hopes that someone from within the FGI community will win big for the week.

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We had a nice week for our optimal lineups with two of the three winning in cash games for the week and just missed out on a clean sweep. The balanced approach paid off well as we were able to load up on a lot of middle range players who who the most part, did very well. In these invitational fields, it is much more prudent to use this type of balanced approach as it typically requires a 6/6 team or a very good 5/6 team in order to cash. Losing a player to the cut was much trickier to overcome last week as opposed to most others so keep that in mind before deciding to stack your rosters full of players on the high end.

Optimal lineups for the week are as follows:

Dustin Johnson – $10,100
Matt Kuchar – $9,900
Marc Leishman – $7,900
Kevin Chappell – $7,500
Charles Howell III – $7,400
Luke Donald – $7,200

Hideki Matsuyama – $10,600
Jason Dufner – $8,400
Kevin Na – $8,100
Charl Schwartzel – $8,000
Russell Knox – $7,600
Anirban Lahiri – $7,200

Hideki Matsuyama – $10,600
Matt Kuchar – $9,900
Charl Schwartzel – $8,000
Daniel Berger – $7,800
Russell Knox – $7,600
KJ Choi – $6,000

As you can see, for the most part, we have a really balanced group of players for our cash games. Hideki and Kuchar have been fantastic here and are both playing great so they should definitely be staples of your cash games and I would definitely use each of them in two of your three lineups. Charl Schwartzel seems really underpriced this week at $8,000 and although he has just been okay since winning at the Valspar, he is now priced affordably so that he offers a lot of value for us. The other player I am big on for cash games is Russell Knox. Outside of one nightmare hole at The Players, he would probably have notched three straight second place finishes. He is coming off of a missed cut at the BMW, but I expect him to bounce back this week. The rest is a collection of players that have performed well here or who are in good form coming into the event so I am really pleased with the way it came out.

CORE

Jason Day – 60% ($12,400)
Hideki Matsuyama – 60% ($10,600)
Kevin Chappell – 60% ($7,500)
Charles Howell III – 60% ($7,400)

I debated the Jason Day decision in my head for the last two days. I know he will be heavily owned, but I don’t care so much about that. He is really in the zone right now and has won 7 of his last 17 starts and is almost always in contention on Sunday. He may not win this week, but I know he will contend and that is all you can really hope for when you invest in these elite players. He struggled here a year ago in missing the cut, but that was around the time when he was dealing with health issues. He missed the cut at The Players in 2015 as well and 2016 worked out just fine. His history here in underwhelming, but Day had taken his game from really good to supremely elite over the last year so I am going to push in on Day this week. He’s better off the tee and just as good around the greens as Spieth and his putting puts Rory to shame right now. He is the best player in the world and we are going to ride with him this week.

Hideki Matsuyama has come into his own this year and particularly over the last couple of months, finishing in the Top 11 in his last four starts. He is a tremendous ball striker and all phases of his game are elite outside of his putter. He finished 5th here a year ago and won two years ago. Given how popular he has been in recent weeks and with owners being split on the top three players in the field, I think Hideki will be the highest owned player this week, but I also think he finishes in the Top 10 so I am willing to work with that.

Kevin Chappell hurt a lot of people last week, but not us. We knew that $9,600 was just not a price he could live up to, at least not consistently. I did not think he would miss the cut, but there is no way that Chappell is a $9,600 player over the long run. He is back in his normal range this week and after hurting owners last week, it is time to get back on him in a big way. His putting has been atrocious, but all other areas have shined this year. He is only 3/6 at Muirfield so this play is not without risk, but he did finish 2nd here in 2013 and his game is in a good place this year so I am willing to be aggressive with this play in the hopes of a big return.

Charles Howell III notched his 13th Top 25 of the year two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson. In fact, it was actually his fifth Top 10 this season. CHIII has been an amazing value play this season and I am surprised to see him at this price this week given the overall improvement in his game this year since switching to the new PXG clubs. His putting has improved and his tee to green game remains strong. He is one of the best on Par 5’s and 25th in birdie or better percentage. He has made four straight cuts at Muirfield and I am predicting a Top 25 finish this week.

SECONDARY

Dustin Johnson – 25% ($10,100)
Matt Kuchar – 20% ($9,900)
Jason Dufner – 20% ($8,400)
Charl Schwartzel – 20% ($8,000)
Marc Leishman – 20% ($7,900)
Daniel Berger – 20% ($7,800)
Russell Knox – 20% ($7,600)
David Hearn – 25% ($6,700)
William McGirt – 20% ($6,500)
KJ Choi – 30% ($6,000)

I have a lot of secondary and tertiary players to work through this week so I will try to condense it a bit to make sure you can get through it and still have time to put in your lineups by tomorrow…

I am making decent sized buys at the top on Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson. Kuchar is an obvious pick with four Top 10 finishes in his last five starts and a dominant course history, but DJ is a little different. His history here is not amazing, but what has impressed me is his putting this year, particularly if you look at his numbers on bent grass. You never have to worry about the other parts of his game so if his putter is on, I think he finishes in the Top 10 this week.

Jason Dufner had a great week for us last weekend with a 6th place finish and I think he will be a steady play again this week. The tee to green game is excellent this year and although his putter has not been great, he is better on bent grass so be aware of that. He is scoring a lot of birdies this year and has finished in the Top 25 in his last two starts here.

Charl Schwartzel is not usually someone that I write up as I always find him to be overpriced when he is in the $9,000-10,000 range week after week. He is down at $8,000 this week, however, and that makes him a great buy for us. He has missed just one cut here in eight starts and finished in the Top 27 in five of those starts. He has missed just one cut all season, has five Top 10 finishes and three wins. Schwartzel may actually be popular due to the price cut, but he is a tremendous value play.

Our old favorite, Marc Leishman has to be in the writeup this week, right? How could he not with his statistics and track record at Muirfield where he has made the cut in six of seven starts and finished 5th here a year ago. His tee to green game, putting, scrambling and scoring ability are going to keep him in this column for most of the season, especially if his price remains below $8,000.

Daniel Berger missed the cut here a year ago which was the beginning of a nightmarish summer for him that saw him miss seven straight cuts. As Vegas odds tend to reflect courses history over current form, I think we are getting a huge break on Berger who has made seven straight cuts and finished no lower than 28th in that span. His tee to green game and putting have been really good and like last year, he is a prolific scorer.

Were it not for one miserable hole at TPC Sawgrass, Russell Knox would have had three straight second place finishes before missing the cut in Europe last weekend. He is a really good tee to green player that is deadly accurate and the best on tour in GIR. His putting is not a strength, but he is average overall so it is not hurting him as much as in the past. He scrambles well and tends to stay out of trouble. He finished 18th here a year ago and should be able to follow up on that well this year.

David Hearn played well for us last week and is progressing well after a rough start to the season. He has made six of his last eight cuts with most of those being in the upper half of those playing the weekend. In four starts at Muirfield, he has finished inside of the Top 30 three times. His tee to green game and putting have improved dramatically in recent weeks and he is ranked 3rd in proximity, another key stat this week. He will not post big scoring numbers, but at his price, getting through the cut will be enough and he has shown that he has some upside as well.

William McGirt is like a three yard average running back. If you need him to make a cut, he will do it. If you need a Top 25, he will make the cut. Now that is not totally accurate as McGirt has popped a couple of times this season, but his role for the most part is just to make it to the weekend, which he has done on 13/17 occasions this season. His stats are strong in both his tee to green game and his putting. He does not get a lot of distance off the tee so his scoring numbers are not that tremendous, but generally, he gets the job done and plays the weekend which is all we need from him for a price of $6,500.

KJ Choi is not a terribly dynamic player, but in this event, he has been very good over the years. He has missed just one cut here in his last twelve starts and most of his finishes have been in the Top 30. Now, typically, I would not simply grab a player with great history and not much for statistics, but in this case, Choi is a salary save as he is priced so low at $6,000 that getting through the cut is more than enough for me to make this move in a slightly larger buy than normal. He is average from tee to green, but a good proximity player and can still scramble and putt really well. He will not score a lot, but we are not asking him to this week.

Tertiary

Gary Woodland – 15% ($8,000)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello – 15% ($7,900)
Tony Finau – 15% ($7,800)
Ryan Moore – 15% ($7,300)
Luke Donald – 10% ($7,200)
Anirban Lahiri – 10% ($7,200)
Daniel Summerhays – 10% ($6,900)
Adam Hadwin – 5% ($6,900)
Ben Martin – 10% ($6,200)
Camilo Villegas – 5% ($6,100)
Johnson Wagner – 15% ($5,900)

Gary Woodland – Missed just one cut in fourteen starts this year, plenty of distance off the tee, great tee to green game this season and can score on the Par 5’s

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – Great price for a player that has missed just one cut all season, making his debut here, but finished in the Top 25 in six of his last seven starts, great tee to green, good putter, solid all around player

Tony Finau – Looks to be back to his form from a year ago when he finished 8th at Muirfield, big hitter off the tee who can score a lot, particularly on Par 5’s, putting stats are skewed, he is actually well above average on bent grass courses, tons of value here

Ryan Moore – awful form coming in, but amazing course history, only one missed cut in ten starts here, a nice contrarian play and good price for a player who will bounce back

Luke Donald – nothing flashy here, just a guy who has made his last seven cuts here and missed only three cuts all sesason, he’s been solid tee to green and putting this season, won’t pile up a lot of points, but should make the cut

Anirban Lahirir – a lot like Charles Howell III last season, just a good, low priced cut maker who can flash upside on occasion like he did a week ago when he finished 6th, pretty good tee to green and putting, cheap cut maker

Daniel Summerhays – made five straight cuts and 14/17 on the season, great putter, above average of Par 5’s and picks up a lot of birdies and eagles to help his DK point totals

Adam Hadwin – made six straight cuts, one of the best putters on tour this season, not great from tee to green, but can score on the Par 5’s and makes a good number of birdies, made the cut in his lone start here a year ago

Ben Martin – priced too low for the level of talent, good putter who can score, upside potential if he makes the cut

Camilo Villegas – One of the courses he shows up at every year, he has a tendency to play well at specific courses and this is one, made eight straight cuts, nothing remarkable statistically

Johnson Wagner – made the cut here in four of five starts with the only miss being due to a withdrawal, made six of his last seven cuts, a GIR specialist that can putt and does well with the Par 5’s

Good Luck,

-myz
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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 1, 2016 11:14

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