The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Travelers Championship

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 19, 2019 03:59

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Preview – Travelers Championship

The US Open has come and gone and with it, we have a new champion after Brooks was unable to defend his title after winning the tournament the last two years. He did not go down without a fight, however. After birdying four of the first five holes on Sunday, I thought for sure that he was going to run down Gary Woodland for the win, but after the hot start, he just could not find a way to make a few tougher putts and had just enough wayward shots along the way so that he was never able to catch up to Woodland. To the credit of Brooks, nobody right now looks cooler under pressure in a big tournament than he does on Sunday afternoons in major tournaments. It is rare to find players who truly relish being in the moment the way he does and it reminds of watching Tiger back in his prime. There are certainly other players on tour with as much or more talent as Brooks, but right now, if you line up the field of a major tournament and have to pick one golfer to play the final round in a closely contested event, you want Brooks to play that round, and I am not sure that there is a close second right now.

Gary Woodland surprised me in being able to hold onto the lead after moving out in front with an impressive second round on Friday. In seven previous tries where Gary has held a 54 hole lead heading into Sunday, he had never won an event. With the pressure of the US Open on his shoulders and names like Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose lingering near the lead, I was prepared for Woodland to lose some ground on Sunday and slip back out of the lead. However, he played a really smart round on Sunday. He managed to avoid big mistakes off the tee and consistently put himself into good position on the green to keep himself from losing ground.

I was really impressed by the way Woodland was able to close things out over the last few holes. His birdie on 14 was really impressive. Although it is a Par 5, the big dogleg to the right and the thin winding fairway forces players to hit an absolutely perfect tee shot in order to have a chance to go for the green in two, which Woodland nailed. His second shot was very good as well landing just off the edge of the green and he was able to pitch the ball to about five feet on his third shot to have a reasonable birdie putt which he sank without looking the least bit anxious. He hit his best shot of the tournament on the 17th hole. After hitting his tee shot to the wrong part of the green on the Par 3 17th, he was forced to chip his second shot as a patch of rough was between him and the pin. He hit it absolutely perfect to about two feet from the cup and had an easy putt for par. At that point, Brooks was on the 18th hole and Gary had to know that Brooks had a decent chance of making a birdie so the pressure was on in that moment and he did not waver at all. Finally, on the 18th hole, with a two shot lead, he laid up the whole way, but was still on the green in three and then finished the weekend off by hammering home a long birdie putt to win the tournament by three strokes.

It was an exciting finish and we saw some great golf over the course of the four days at Pebble Beach. I will miss not having the US Open return to this iconic venue until 2027. I really do think that it should host the tournament every five years. The sight lines are beautiful. There are so many holes that you can picture in your mind that are classics among the world of championship golf courses. It was a nice departure from what we have dealt with in recent years with the longer, mostly treeless, links style courses with almost nothing memorable about them other than the thick grass that is impossible to hit out of and the extreme length. Chambers Bay, Erin Hills and even Shinnecock really do not do anything for me in terms of my viewing experience and honestly, none of them would make my list of ‘must play’ courses during my lifetime.

What I love with a course like Pebble Beach is that the challenge is more than just longer than average holes with tight fairways. You have to be able to do everything at Pebble Beach. Some holes you need to club down, while others give you a choice of going driver, but potentially paying the price if you’re wayward off the tee. There is iron play from every distance and nice blend of shorter Par 4 holes that players can attack and also three long ones that are in the 500 yard range which puts the pressure on plays to hit perfect drives off the tee to even have a chance to make it to the green in two shots. With all that, we also get some of the mot gorgeous views of the coastline imaginable. Sure, the USGA went a little ‘soft’ on the greens for the week and the scores went a lower than what some of the purists like to see, but I did not mind at all. It’s sometimes fun to see the pros putt on what plays like a sheet of ice, but I think that gets a little too gimmicky for me year after year.

For the week, it was a real rollercoaster ride of emotions for me. For the second time this season, I tweeted out on Friday afternoon that I was not sure that my 6/6 cash lineup would get me into the money for the week. Friday afternoon was particularly painful for me in following along with Tommy Fleetwood and Hideki Matsuyama. Tommy finished up his round on Thursday with two straight bogeys to close at E for the day and then proceeded to bogey the first two holes on Friday afternoon putting him in position to blow the cut. Agonizingly, I looked at my phone again and again, waiting on his every shot to see if he could salvage his week. He climbed back to even at one point by then lost those two strokes back to be sitting at +2 going into the 16th hole. He nailed his approach shot there and then made a birdie to get to +1 and after a par on 17, I started to breath a little easier with the Par 5, 18th hole coming up.

My only thought, as I iterated on the podcast was, ‘just do not hit the ball into the f*cking ocean and we are home safe for the weekend’. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in this situation where I should not even need to be sweating on the last hole and something outrageous happens to my final player on the course to break me for the week. Of course, Tommy went right into the water off the tee and at that point, my week, really our week, since many of us were on Tommy for cash, was suddenly in jeopardy. With his 4th shot coming from about 230 yards on the fairway, we were in big trouble. He did not get on the green with that shot and then chipped it to 14 feet with his 5th shot. At that point, my texts were nothing but rage. I slammed my phone down, started to shut everything down at my office to head home and prepared myself for the ‘L’ that was staring me in the face. Then my phone buzzed with a text from Jeff and I immediately had the feeling that he had made the putt since it was unlikely that Jeff would be taunting me in that moment. Miraculously, Tommy did make the putt and the cash team went 6/6, limping to the weekend with a tough road ahead.

By the middle of Saturday, things were not looking great. I was not that close to the money and the ownership was so concentrated around many of the golfers that I owned that I really needed all of them to play well to move up into the money. I did not see much green for the week until about 4pm on Sunday. Tommy turned in two more disappointing rounds to end the weekend, but the rest of my team all woke up in the 4th round and started to rally. Paul Casey and Hideki both played well and made up significant ground. Webb Simpson came to life and finished strong and then my two best players, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott both finished inside the Top-10 for the week. I went from feeling like I was DOA for most of the tournament to easily cashing late into the final round and ended up without much of a sweat as the tournament wound down Sunday night which locked in a nice profit for the week.

On the GPP side of things, it did not go quite as well. At the last moment, I sprinkled in some Woodland to my mini max player pool as well as a little Rose, but it was not nearly enough. I did have shares of Brooks, Xander, Stenson, Scott and Reavie, but it was not enough. I went big on DJ last week which really hurt me. With his history at PB and also his excellent track record at US Open events, it seemed like an easy play, but obviously it did not work out at all as he was a huge disappointment for the week and took shares away from others who played well. While I did not have any real significant players that missed the cut, there really were not many chalky players that missed the cut last week so you needed to be spot on at the top to contend and not having much of Rose or Woodland and only around 15% Brooks put me in a tough spot. I ended up getting about 55% of my lineups through the cut fully intact in the $10 last week (I was too slow to get them into the big one so I played in the 2nd one DK rolled out), but did not have a serious run with any team so ended up down for the week in GPP contests. Overall, it ended up being a very stressful week, but it was also profitable as I tend to go heavier in cash games for major tournaments which made all the difference.

As we move on to the Travelers Championship, I want to take a moment to address some big picture strategy concerns that I have going into the next four events. Over the next month, we have these four events coming up: Travelers Championship, Rocket Mortgage Classic, 3M Open and the John Deere Classic. There will not be a super strong field at any of these events. In most cases, you will see the best players play once or maybe twice at the most during this stretch. I doubt that Tiger will play in any of these events and will make his next start at The Open Championship in July. Some golfers will play once here in the US and then head over to Europe to play in one of the bigger tournaments over there in the lead up to the final major as it helps them to play an extra event on a links style course. What this means for us as we enter what I call ‘The Doldrums’ of the PGA season is that it is a time to catch your breath and evaluate your play this season.

I rarely play large portions of my bankroll during this time of year. Some will argue that we should have an advantage since we study hard and play every week, which should give us an edge in knowledge in these weaker fields. While I do believe this to be the case, it is still PGA DFS. These weaker fields are going to have average players see their salaries blown up as the quality of the field drops off. Cash games get tougher as the mid range players are even less dependable than normal and you start to get some of the more obscure names in these fields in contention. While I still feel good about my cash game abilities, I generally do scale back during this stretch. If you have been having a rough go of it lately, the temptation is there to start chasing, but try to avoid that this next month.

If you are generally a one lineup guy most weeks, this is a great time try your hand at building multiple lineups for GPP contests. With these events having a more wide open field due to being played on shorter courses where scoring is not so difficult, you are going to see more players on the low end wiggling their way up the leaderboard. When you know that this is coming, what you want to do is to open up your player pool at little more than normal. Really scour the deeper names and do not be afraid to work in an extra five or six names for a few percent to round things out. You still are going to need to have a strong core up top to be in the mix and you will want to pay attention to ownership as it tends to get more concentrated during these events, but in the lower ranges, there are not usually as many heavy chalk players that catch the eye of everyone in the industry so it does not always take much to gain leverage on the field. Give the mini max a shot these next few weeks. If you have not tried our lineup generator yet, it makes the process of building your teams very easy and with the entry only being $0.50 per team, 150 teams to max it out will only cost you $75. It’s a great way start honing your skills in building large player pools without breaking the bank. It will also help you in stretching your research into players that you would otherwise overlook if you were only building one, three or five lineups for the week.

Wow, I am already at the 2400 word mark and I have not even gotten into the Travelers Championship yet. That is what drinking a second Red Bull can do to me at midnight before starting to write up my column. Fortunately, TPC River Highlands is a course that we know well and one that has been a part of the tour for over 30 years so most of you are likely familiar with this Pete Dye designed layout. As with most Dye style courses, this is not one where players can typically just bomb away off the tee. It is a short, 6,840 yard, Par 70 layout and while the fairways are not unreasonably narrow off the tee, they do narrow down out past 275 yards as Adam Daly detailed in his column this week which means that you will see plenty of players clubbing down off the tee, which is usually something that Dye courses encourage (Harbor Town). There are only two Par 4 holes in play this week that are over 450 yards so what we will likely see for much of the week is 3 Wood/iron off the tee and a pitching wedge/short iron contest on the way to the smaller than average, poa/bentgrass greens. Unlike last week at Pebble, the fairways here are hit more often than normal so I am not going to obsess about accuracy this week, but it is certainly not a bad thing to keep in mind. I will likely be looking for golfers who tend to be both accurate off the tee and who hit a high number of greens in regulation. When looking at iron play, I am focused on the 50-125 and 125-150 yard ranges and with the smaller greens, I want to find golfers that tend to precise in their play which proximity takes into consideration.

UPDATE: Winds forecasts have shifted pretty dramatically since I initially wrote this column. It looks like Thursday AM will now be the only pocket where winds are light for the first two round and Friday it looks as if it will be gusty for most of the day. I would therefore recommend 15-20% of your teams having an AM/PM wave focus and maybe just 5% on PM/AM. As always, keep checking the weather (linked in the paragraph below) for the most current conditions.

Given that the greens may be a little wet this week from potential rain on Thursday, scoring conditions should be good. Rain is in the forecast for the morning groups on Thursday with it letting up by the middle of the afternoon. Winds do not look like a factor at all on Thursday, but are expected to pick up as the day moves along on Friday. Currently, it looks to me like the Thursday PM/Friday AM wave will have the advantage for the week as the rains are supposed to end in the afternoon on Thursday and the winds look light from about 7am to 10am on Friday. Be sure to get a good weather check late on Wednesday night before you put the final touches on your lineups this week, but for now, I plan to build some extra PM/AM teams this week to take advantage of the bet possible weather conditions as it does look like it will start to get gusty from about 10am and onward on Friday during the second round.

Key Stats

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 25%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 15%
Scrambling: 10%
Proximity: 10%
Par 4 Scoring: 10%
Strokes Gained Off The Tee: 5%

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 19, 2019 03:59

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