The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – The Puerto Rico Open

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte March 23, 2016 05:36

Greetings to all the true lovers of fantasy golf! If you have been eagerly awaiting this column and the ensuing contests this week you are either a true enthusiast or have a real problem. I love you either way and can appreciate the excitement this week as DraftKings takes us to a land where Graham DeLaet is revered as the favorite for the week and names that we will never again see above $10,000 lead a field of players who can only dream of one day being able to take part in the other large event this weekend, the WGC Match Play event in Austin, Texas.

With the tour schedule in flux this year in order to accommodate the Olympics, the timing of certain events needed to be changed this season leaving us with a week where the Puerto Rico Open takes place across from no other regular tour event. I could be enjoying a rare Tuesday night of sleep this week and had tonight circled for months as a night for catching up on some rest, but when opportunity comes knocking, you better believe that I am going to be ready to answer the door.

I am a little conflicted about how to play this week in terms of the contests available. I have heard a lot of different takes that cover the full spectrum of options. The most widely held opinion is that players should only be putting a small portion of their bankroll at risk this week. This event is thinner than most of the events held during the fall season and trying to figure out which players will make it through the cut is going to be even more challenging than normal. Another drawback is that fewer novices are going to be playing this week. Without the big names to attract attention and smaller available contests, the fantasy players that do show up this week are likely to be tougher opponents than normal to compete against.

On the flip side of the argument, there is the thought that this could be a good week to take advantage of some of those tougher opponents out there as the models and algorithms that most of them will be using are going to be full of holes. There is limited statistical data for a lot of the players in the field and recent form for many will be coming from a range of different tours to include the PGA, the web.com and even The Sunshine Tour out of South Africa. If you really dig into this field and do a bit of searching, there are likely going to be a few golfers that do not score highly on any models, but who are going to be great candidates to do well this week.

I fall right in the middle of the debate. I will probably not roll out a lot of cash games this week as it really will be tough to say which players in the middle ranges will make or miss the cut. My level of conviction is a little lower than usual once I get past the first few names at the top. However, given how closely we track the other tours, we have a pretty good idea of who is doing well coming in to the week and who to be watching even if they are not the type to have received much coverage over the lat few months. It provides us with an interesting week to test out our process. I will not play at the same scale that I normally do, but I will have enough at stake to keep myself interested. Be very aware of the fact that the weather is looking like it will be a factor this week with rain and high winds projected throughout the entire event. This will factor into how much exposure I have to the event this week as I am not looking to be in invested too deeply if I feel the winds and rain will be such a factor as to wipe out much of the analysis I have performed by making the results tied to chance rather than play.

In terms of strategy, it would be really easy this week to start building teams with dozens of different players. There are so many unknowns in the field that the temptation will be to try to make sure you find the needle in the haystack on at least one of your rosters. Do not make this mistake. Too often, I encounter folks that are struggling to make any money playing in GPPs who utilize this approach. They are only making a few teams each week, but want to play half the field on their rosters. They are like a popular girl on a Friday night who does not want to miss out on anything so rather than picking one bar to hit for the night, they hit a dozen just to make sure they were at the right one for at least a few minutes that night. Don’t be a dumb, popular bar hopping idiot this week. Pick one spot and make it the cool place to be when it comes to building your teams this week. Pick your core players the same way that you always do and use them along the same lines. It will be harder to exercise conviction with certain players, but that is the only way that you are ever going to be successful when it comes to GPPs.

Coco Beach Golf and Country Club is a long course that will be played at roughly 7,550 yards and is a Par 72 with four Par 5, four Par 3 holes and Paspalum Greens. Though it is a lengthy course, it does not tend to be dominated by bombers as there are not a lot of eagle opportunities. In looking at the most recent list of winners, those who have success here tend to be reasonably good ball strikers (relative to the field, at least) who can putt a little better than average. Alex Cejka, Chesson Hadley, Scott Brown, and George McNeill are just a few of the recent powerhouse players that have been able to win a title here in the last few years. What is a little unusual this season is that a couple of the players who have played really well here over the years are coming into the week in just terrible form. It is either going to be a huge opportunity or a massive trap.

The key stats for the week as recommended by our friends at Fantasy Golf Metrics:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 35%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better %: 20%
Par 5 Scoring: 20%

Good luck this week. With the two events going it should be a lot of fun as we will have the best in the world squaring off at the Match Play event and a fun event in Puerto Rico where we will have more than a few unlikely names populating the top of the leaderboard. I just threw in a second $300 GPP team so my energy is starting to build…

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There is an optimal lineup for the week. It is about what I would have expected given the circumstances. The model looked for names of consistent players from the PGA Tour at the top with the best of the scrubs mixed in at the bottom. I think that 5/6 will definitely get you into the money for cash games this week and a solid 4/6 team should have a realistic shot as well.

Scott Brown – $10,900
William McGirt – $10,500
Jerry Kelly – $9,300
Michael Thompson – $6,900
Mark Hubbard – $6,200
Bronson Burgoon – $6,200

This lineup actually looks playable for GPP purposes as well as cash games this week. Thompson and Burgoon should not be too terribly highly owned so if they perform well, this team could be in business. I suspect the other four players will have a good chunk of ownership so it might dim its chances to a degree in the larger field events. In any case, the composition makes sense as it is trying to lock in three players at the top that should each make the cut and then hoping for two of three in the lower range that have played well this season and who stand a good chance to make it to the weekend.

BLUE CHIPS

Scott Brown ($10,900)
William McGirt ($10,500)
Freddie Jacobson ($10,400)
Patrick Rodgers ($10,200)
George Coetzee ($10,000)

Scott Brown looks like the best play on the board this week. He has made four straight cuts with two recent Top 10 finishes, has won this event previously and has three Top 10 finishes to go along with all of that. He plays well from tee to green and though his putter is just above average, it has been improving over the last month. He is not a flashy player, but probably the most consistent and worth using in all formats this week.

William McGirt makes an appearance in the top salary tier this week after a recent run of solid play and the fact that he has finished well in both starts in Puerto Rico. His tee to green game has been exceptional among the top players on the PGA Tour and his putting has been well above average as well. The biggest knock on McGirt is that he usually fades over the weekend, but in a field this soft, he should be more competitive than normal.

I have a sizable wager against Freddie Jacobson this season that he will not finish in the Top 25 another seven times before the end of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. In the first four weeks of my bet, he has failed to notch a single Top 25 finish. This will be the week where he gets it done for the first time in the last couple of months. Freddie is awful off the tee and usually takes the scenic route in getting to each green on course. Without his scrambling and putting ability, he would be completely lost. Fortunately, for Freddie, that will be enough this week and he will play well.

I wanted to fade Patrick Rodgers this week. Between Rodgers and Tony Finau, these two will most likely be the highest owned players in the field this week. Both are struggling in 2016 to recapture the form they each had at the end of 2015. The culprit for Finau is that he just is not that good on Bermuda grass. We it not for a miracle, 36 foot eagle putt on the 16th hole last week, Finau would have missed the cut and I would have won more money than I did. For Rodgers, he is actually very good putting on Bermuda-like surfaces so I anticipate that he will have a nice week following up on his 20th place finish a week ago. His tee to green game is excellent and he can score on the Par 5 holes all day. I may be a little less enthused to use him if I am unable to get him in the right weather conditions.

George Coetzee will continue to be under the radar this week, making him a nice player to own in GPPs. We took a shot with him at Doral a few weeks back and he was a bit of a disappointment, but at Doral, that will happen to good players as it is a very challenging course. He bounced back the following week with an 11th place finish in Thailand so I am not too concerned about Doral. He is an expensive cut maker, but he does have upside. He drives the ball about 300 yards and hits a lot of greens so he will be competitive this week.

VALUE PLAYS

Retief Goosen ($9,700)
Alex Cejka ($9,500)
Dean Burmester ($9,400)
Jerry Kelly ($9,300)
Jonathan Byrd ($9,000)
Kyle Stanley ($8,000)
Aaron Baddeley ($7,600)

Retief Goosen is making his first start in Puerto Rico which worries me slightly, but his extensive experience overall should be enough to keep him on track for the week. Like Freddie Jacobson, his game is not too dynamic as his success typically comes from his putting. The rest of his game is not too pleasing to watch. What we get with Goosen is a player who has looked good in recent events and has made five straight cuts. I will use him mostly in GPPs this week.

Alex Cejka is the defending champion of this event and also someone with the potential to have a better than average finish from time to time. Though he has cooled off after starting out the season hot, he has made back to back cuts on tough courses which bodes well heading into Coco Beach. Cejka is a good ball striker, though not a big hitter off the tee. His tee to green game is in good form and his putting will not usually hurt him. He has been good on Par 5’s this season and scoring a lot of birdies so he should be able to put up a strong defense of his title from a year ago.

Dean Burmester is a real wild card this week. At his lofty price, most people are going to be scared away. However, if you take a look at what he has done recently on the Sunshine Tour (South African Tour), you will find that Burmester has been excellent in recent starts with four consecutive Top 4 finishes. His play has been strong in bigger events on the European Tour as well where he had a couple of nice finishes during the fall. He is a pure form play in GPP events this week.

Jerry Kelly is another aging veteran who we usually end up using as a cut maker with a little bit of upside. Hopefully, he can continue to do that this week at an event where he has finished in the Top 25 in five of seven starts. Though he does not have a lot of top finishes this season, Kelly has been consistent in making seven of eight cuts so far even if his stats are not all that flashy. I have a hard time seeing Kelly winning this week, but at his price, he offers just enough form and consistency to make him appealing in all formats.

Jonathan Byrd has bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour over the years. He will flash for a week or two, but usually not consistently. He has been playing pretty well this year overall on both tours in making three of four cuts on the PGA Tour and two of three on the Web.com where both times he made the weekend he finished in the Top 5. At Coco Beach, Byrd has been strong over the years with all three starts resulting in Top 20 finishes. Though the price is high, Byrd works as a GPP play this week.

If you have not figured it out yet, my overall strategy for the week is to spend up at the top and then to largely avoid the middle ranges from around 7000-9000. As the players below that seem about as likely to perform as those in the middle, I see little reason to dwell in that range as the normal value that we would find there is unavailable this week. Kyle Stanley is one of the few that is worth a buy this week. He finished in 28th in his single start here back in 2011, but has made five straight cuts this season and eight of his last nine. He is a good ball striker and a good mid range iron player. If he can get his putter going, he can contend, but more than likely, he will just be a cut maker with some upside this week.

I picked Aaron Baddeley last week and sure enough, just like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, we were fooled again. What really surprised me was how off he was with his putting as he blew a few short putts that could have easily gotten him through the cut. I think he will turn that around this week and that we will get him at a nice bargain when compared to the other higher priced players in the field. He has not played here before so I will not own too many shares of Baddeley this week, but he is an affordable option for tournament play.

SLEEPERS

Kyle Reifers ($7,500)
Gregory Bourdy ($7,000)
Michael Thompson ($6,900)
Mark Hubbard ($6,200)
Tyrone Van Aswegen ($6,200)
Bronson Burgoon ($6,200)

Kyle Reifers is playing relatively well this season having made nine of thirteen cuts with the occasional decent finish. He has made his last two cuts and also made the cut in his first and only start at Coco Beach. He is a decent ball striker who is not particularly strong or weak in many other categories, but his price makes him a better value than players worse than him who are priced higher. I will use Reifers in GPPs this week.

Gregory Bourdy is another player that few will have heard of this week. Bourdy is a Frenchman that plays on the European Tour and though his results have not been eye popping, they have been respectable and so we get a lot for $7,000 this week. He is not a bomber off the tee, but does hit a lot of greens so he should be in position to score this week. I like Bourdy in all formats this week as I think he is underpriced compared to others above him.

Michael Thompson kicked us hard the last time we tried to use him back at Pebble Beach. However, he has played well the rest of the season in missing just two cuts so far. He has made the cut in both starts at Coco Beach and his tee to green game is enough to make him a decent sleeper play this week.

I am really surprised at how low Mark Hubbard’s salary is this week. He has missed only two cuts in fourteen starts this year, but one was last week and so he did not get a price bump like most others. He does not do anything really well, but he finds a way to make the cut each week and in this range, that is all we need to be happy for the week. More than likely, Hubbard will be highly owned this week, but given the need to find players in this range that can make the cut, I will have him overweighted on my rosters.

Tyrone Van Aswegen is another player who could have had a higher price tag this week. He has missed two cuts in a row, but did not play badly at either event. For the year, he is eleven of fourteen and as a bonus, he is two for two in Puerto Rico. Van Aswegen is a good iron player, but the rest of the numbers are an absolute mess. I will own him in GPP events as a cut maker.

Bronson Burgoon is the final player this week and he does have more upside than Hubbard or Van Aswegen, but he is also more inconsistent as well when it comes to making cuts. His stats do not tell much of a story as outside of being a decent iron player and getting a little more distance than average off the tee, the rest of his game is pretty forgettable. However, he does have four Top 25 finishes on the season so when he makes the cut, he does have upside. He will be used to compliment the other two players that I like in this range.

Good Luck,

-myz
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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte March 23, 2016 05:36

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