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

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 13, 2018 08:04

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

My second favorite week of the year has finally arrived and after spending the last week diving deep into the research, I think I am finally comfortable with the player pool that I have selected as well as the strategy that I am going to take to approach the tournament this week. As with all major tournaments, there is a Millionaire Maker GPP running this week on DraftKings which always helps to generate a lot of excitement around the event. I will be very interested in seeing if this one actually ends up filling up for the week as it is now less than half full with only another day to go to get up to over 205k entries.

Before I get too far along, I should put out my usual disclaimer for the MM in that it is the most top heavy GPP imaginable each time it is run during the season. As with most GPP contests, it is difficult to be profitable without hitting your core really hard and then hoping that a few of your secondary and tertiary players make a big move to get one of your teams into contention. Realize that if you are going to dump a massive amount of lineups into this event, that generally it will be a losing proposition. Throughout the year, we preach bankroll management which is the key to having long term success in any DFS sport.

The reason that so many players go broke over time is easily illustrated by what happens during these big weeks throughout the season. A regular player will grind along, have some ups and downs and depending on the contests that they like to play, may be ahead or behind at this point in the year. For GPP success, you really have to stick to your process throughout the year. Know your bankroll, know how much you are going to put in play each and every week. Too often, when a major tournament arrives, people get way too excited. They go from playing $50-100 in a week to $400-500 or higher, suddenly wanting to hit something big with all of the contests that are out there. I understand the inclination to go big on weeks like this, but you have to realize that going big just for the sake of going big when you haven’t built up the big balance to do so will only end up cannibalizing your bankroll and setting you back.

The goal for GPP players should be to shoot for a handful of weeks during the season where their core hits and the a couple of times when they get to Sunday with some real teams in contention. It’s golf so things are going to be volatile. Players who look good for two or three rounds will fall apart and others who faded will rise. Your opportunities in the low dollar GPP events like the weekly $4 are not going to come all that often, especially against fields of 70k-100k entries where you only get to enter 20 teams. When you break your process and jump up your entry fees by five or ten fold, you end up putting a lot of additional pressure on yourself to succeed those weeks and with fields that are this strong, it is even more challenging from the standpoint of a GPP to be successful as there are going to be big names that get left out of your player pool that could spoil everything with a win.

Even in looking at some of the biggest names in DFS, they all go through ups and downs during the season. One particular player won just about every GPP imaginable back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few months back. He had Rory everywhere and had many leaderboards covered, peppering the top with many lineups that had just small variations from one another. He probably made $300-400k on that week alone, more than likely enough to make his year. However, since then, he has struggled to match his performance at the API and has probably sustained some significant losses over the last few months. It does not mean he is any less of a player, it simply illustrates how volatile PGA DFS can be during the year and that you need to have a good game plan in place so that you can sustain your own bankroll swings throughout the year. He knows his process, he understands how much he can put in play each week and when he takes losses, he does so knowing that he is one week closer to his next big score which he usually hits two to three times each year as he is one of the tougher players in the game. Don’t play so far over your head on weeks like this so that if you do get wiped out, it will bring your entire season to a screeching halt.

If you want to make money during the majors, Jeff and I are still in agreement that cash games are probably the best way to go. I had a couple of questions pop up this week about playing cash games at majors and if it really is more profitable. The question came through Twitter and revolved around the concept of prices being so cheap for certain good players that it was easier for people to build a credible roster and if that potentially made cash games less attractive. My thought on this is that for bigger events, we do tend to see an influx of novice players which does help to offset some of the advantage that is lost in the softer pricing. There are many DFS players out there who will jump into cash games this week who will not have watched much golf this season. These are people who will not necessarily spot the automatic plays like you and I are able to do.

The goal is not any different than it is for other weeks for cash games, we just do not have to take any huge leaps of faith when building our teams for the week. This is much different than last week where there really was not a lot of great value in the $7k range and you had to hope that whoever you ended up hitching your horse to made it through the minefield and played the weekend. Most of the chalky plays bombed so if you did happen to play cash against my advice, you most likely were trying to make a 4/6 or 5/6 team work out and with a lot of busts around the $9k range with An and Finau blowing up late, it made for a poor week for balanced lineups which is largely how most cash games were constructed based on how tough it was to roster DJ and to then get five other value picks through the cut.

This week, we should theoretically have an easier time getting full teams through the cut. Although it is a new course to most of the players, we know what we are getting for the players that we are rostering for the week and we understand that the pricing compression that takes place around majors is significant. I have been writing about it all year, but just take a look at where Matt Kuchar is priced this week at $7,600. Kuch is the ultimate example of how widely a player’s salary can fluctuate throughout the year as he can fall as low as where he is this week, or rise as high as $11k in a weak field. Our developer, Aaron, did a little research on Kuch and found that over the last few years, he has actually performed better when the field is strong and he is priced down as opposed to when he’s been the class of the field and is one of the most expensive players. Now, I am not going to tell you that Kuch will definitely make the cut this week, but he’s been remarkably consistent making the cut not just at US Open tournaments but all majors going back to 2010. Normally, a player with these types of credentials in a regular tournament would be in the $9-10k range and here we can lock him in for well below the average salary. It only takes two or three players like this to build around in the lower tier to give you enough room up top to get some of the bigger names in. It is still the US Open and as we saw last year, plenty of great players crumbled on Friday before it turned into a scoring fest on Saturday and late Sunday, but I believe being able to build teams with more consistent golfers and going up against a wider range of talent in terms of our competition should continue to lead us to long term success in cash games during major tournaments.

The course for the week was broken down beautifully again by Adam Daly in The First Tee so if you have not read that yet, go back and do it now, but I will give you a little summary of what I expect for Shinnecock this week. We are dealing with another American style links course that is one of the longer Par 70 courses that most of these players will see playing out at over 7,400 yards. This means that there are only two Par 5 holes on the course and one is over 600 yards so there will not be too many players reaching that in two for eagle or easy birdie opportunity attempts. Last year at Erin Hills, the fairways average 60 yards in width and while we were promised that the rough would be penal, it really did not end up playing much of a factor at all. The USGA, in wanting to uphold the reputation of the tournament, has made some changes to Shinnecock in order to keep it more in line with past events. The fairway are still wider than average at just over 40 yards, but the pictures that I have seen of the rough on Twitter look fairly imposing so that those players who get too aggressive off the tee and cannot keep the ball on the fairway are going to face a lot of trouble in trying to punch their way out.

The biggest challenge on a course like this is whether or not the winds are up. Last year, the winds were a non-factor and Erin Hills looked defenseless as players scored at will. This year, with the narrower fairways and with winds looking like they will be rather gusty for at least portions of the first couple of rounds, there could certainly be some carnage in the same manner that we see many years at The Open Championship where winds are an issue almost every year. I have refrained from commenting too much about the winds so far this week as most in the industry that looked at the early forecasts have called for the advantage to be with players on the PM/AM wave, but as it currently stands, it looks to me as if things have in fact shifted and the best conditions that players will see during the first two rounds will be on Friday afternoon as you can see here. Jeff and I will finalize our take on this later tonight, but as of now, my recommendation would be to build about 20% of your teams as AM/PM waves and about 5-10% PM/AM. With how quickly things can shift, I do not want to be caught without some teams on the other side as we’ve seen that hedging a bit against the weather can be extremely profitable when things change and everyone is playing lineups on the opposite wave. Realize that if you are making a lot of lineups this week that you really should not need to stretch to find guys to fill on each wave. As we always say, pick your players first, then use that pool to build your waves rather than just randomly building teams based on weather alone.

Approach play will be at a premium this week. It will be interesting to see how the winds are affecting players off the tee and if they end up keeping driver in hand or dropping down to a 3 wood or iron to make sure they keep the ball in play. With the length of the course, longer iron play is something to take a closer look at this week. For me, I started with 175-200 yards which looks to be about the length of the average approach shot for many of the longer Par 4 holes and also you should consider looking at over 200 yards, particularly for some of the shorter hitters off the tee. The greens are on the small side and as is always the case for the US Open, they will play fast which should neutralize the good putters to a degree and offset those who struggle on the greens. I still want to focus on Strokes Gained Off the Tee this week a little more than approach play just due to the sheer length of the course, but precision iron play is always a huge factor at any US Open tournament.

Here are my specific key stats for the week that I used to customize the model when selecting my player pool:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
Strokes Gained Off the Tee: 10%
Bogey or Worse Percentage: 10%
Scrambling: 10%
Proximity 175-200 yards: 5%

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte June 13, 2018 08:04

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