The Daily Spin – DraftKings Preview – Farmers Insurance Open

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 27, 2021 03:10

The Daily Spin – DraftKings Preview – Farmers Insurance Open

Welcome to the first week of the season with no NFL DFS to distract us on Sunday. This week always feels, at least to me, like the first real week of the PGA season. The field is more impressive, the courses are amazing and for the first time, my head really turns toward all of the big events that are on the horizon. I hope that you are as excited as I am for the year ahead that is 2021. After a year in 2020 that was unlike anything we have ever experienced before, I am excited and hopeful that 2021 provides any bit of a return to normalcy. Typically, this would be the week where I gathered up part of the FGI crew and headed down to San Diego for the tournament, but as luck would have it, we may get another shot this summer as the US Open will also be held at Torrey Pines in the middle of June. In any event, this is probably the event I most look forward to outside of the majors each year so while it is a little disheartening not to be there, I’m still excited for this event.

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RECAP

The American Express was an interesting weekend for me. I felt pretty good about my analysis, but some big names missed the cut with Patrick Reed, Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns all taking an unexpected dive before the weekend which rocked my core plays pretty hard.

In cash games, I did manage to get 14/20 cash game players through the cut which was a positive for me. Unfortunately, I managed to land on three of those players that missed the cut in my lineup.

I thought Scotties Scheffler would be a strong play coming off of a promising finish in Hawaii and ready to build on a great rookie season. He seemed like he was in decent shape to make the weekend when he was at -5 through eight holes on Friday and with plenty of scoring chances left in front of him. He then proceeded to bogey the next two holes and then could not find another birdie as he parred out the last eight holes to miss the cut on the number in painful fashion. All things pointed to a great week for Scottie and he was massive chalk in cash games so this one was easy to wave off as there was never really a scenario where I was not using Scheffler last week in cash games.

Abraham Ancer played well for me last week. I went right back to him after missing the cut in Hawaii and he rewarded me with a 5th place finish, his fifth Top-25 finish of the season and second Top-10. He’s very close to getting a win and if it had not been for two water balls on the island green, 17th hole, he might have had a shot in the last round to make a move.

Sam Burns struggled in his first round back after a long layoff. It’s amusing that this happened since we had a discussion that went back and forth with a subscriber who wanted to use Sam in his OAD league. Pari warned him to go with a big name and hold off on Sam after a lot of time off and sure enough, Sam came out and shot a 77 on the Nicklaus course, a ridiculous result. Of course, he bounced back the next day and shot a 66 on the Stadium Course so obviously, he has the chops to handle this event as evidenced by his two previous Top-20 finishes at that tournament, but it just took a day to get his competitive juices going again. I like the way Sam closed last season as well as how he started the new season in the fall so it is likely that I will be using him again, but will be a little cautious for these early events until the tour moves back east.

Brian Harman has been a golfer that has been really solid for us in cash games of late as he’s missed just one cut over his last 15 starts. Last week, he finally gave us the upside that we knew he was capable of and finished in 8th place for the week, fighting back hard after sliding down a little bit on Saturday after being up in the lead. He’s played really well all around and his putter has been really good during this stretch. When we can get him at a below average salary, he’s going to be a cash game lock until this little run is over.

Charles Howell III slipped up and missed the cut last week. He fought back late on Friday, but an ugly double bogey on a Par 5 hole ended his chances for getting to the weekend. Overall, I am likely to continue using CHIII in cash games, especially at this point in the season where he plays some of his best and most consistent golf. He’s been a solid cut maker throughout his career and garners enough ownership so that it does not kill your team when he misses the cut at an event like this. His short game is still strong and he’s approaching another event where he does well so do not be afraid to go right back to him this week.

Finally, John Huh had another strong performance, finished 21st, his 4th Top-25 in five starts this season. He’s playing some of the best golf we’ve seen out of him in his career and it is reflected in his stats. I was nervous to use him as he’s the type of name that usually blows up on me when things look like they are lining up too well, but he did not disappoint and at his price, he opened up a lot of options for how to construct the rest of my roster.

Going into Friday, my team had some work to do. I knew off the bat that Sam Burns was drawing dead so I was hoping for a 5/6 or even a strong 4/6, which usually gets the job done most weeks with a tricky cut to negotiate. Unfortunately, CHIII could not get there and then Scottie really disappointed so while I was sitting in the money after Friday with strong play out of Ancer, Harman and Huh, I knew all three would have to play really well over the weekend to give my team any chance for a win. Fortunately, all three had strong moments over the final two rounds and my team held on to cash in all my double ups for the week by the slimmest of margins, just barely holding onto the green to pay me off. Something about pulling off a miraculous win when all hope seems gone makes the win extra sweet, but those are the kinds of wins you have to find a couple of times a year if you are going to stay profitable.

GPPs were profitable last week as well. Despite losing a few key golfers to the cut, I had a good amount of Si Woo, Cantlay, Cam Davis, Sungjae, Harman and Ancer so that I had several teams in the mix in some of the larger field GPPs, but could not quite get a team to the top as a late Michael Thompson triple bogey knocked my best 6/6 team back out of the Top-10. All in all, I still made about 20% on my GPP entries and any time I am on the plus side for those for any amount, I will take it. For GPP contests, it’s all about treading water until you get into the mix those handful of times during the season and you just hope that one time, you get paid off for a big win.

 

Course (portions here clipped from my column last season)

The tournament this week will be played out over two courses. The players will get one round on the North Course either Thursday or Friday and then play the other three rounds at the South Course. The North Course is relatively straight forward as a Par 72 and plays at around 7,200 yards. The fairways are on the narrow side, but it should not be an issue to club down to stay on the fairways. The goal is to hold serve on the Par 3/4 holes and create birdie opportunities on the shorter Par 5 holes. The greens are on the larger side and bent grass was put in on the greens of the North course in 2017. It’s imperative that players shoot under par on the North Course if they want to be in contention for the weekend. The North course usually plays 2-3 strokes easier than the South Course on average so if you do not shoot in the -3 to -5 range, you’ve got a lot of work ahead to contend.

For the South Course, driver comes out of the bag whether players can handle it or not. This is a US Open course and comes up in the rotation later on this summer. There have been a few changes to the course as preparations are beginning to toughen up the course. The fairways are very narrow here and difficult to hit. This week may see some relief with very low winds in three of four rounds, but players that do struggle to keep it on the fairway will be playing from very thick rough this week which makes those lengthy approach shots into smaller, poa greens that much more difficult. I am looking for more of the bigger hitters this week for my player pool. I will have exposure to a handful of veterans that play in this event routinely as I think course experience is a bigger deal here than at other stops, but overall, we need to focus on golfers that can chop the South Course down into smaller bites rather than fighting approach shots from the rough from over 175 yards. A quick look at some recent winners will show you that the leaders off the tee and on approach have dominated this tournament for some time. There are events like Sony or AMEX where it feels like everyone genuinely has a chance to with the golf tournament. That is not the case at Torrey Pines where it is rare for a player from the middle of the pack to storm the field. Take a look at Pari’s course write up this week as well as he goes into great detail on how each course is set up.

In approaching this event from a lineup build perspective, it is important to keep in mind what I stated above. If we do anticipate that another stud wins this week, then we need to focus our attention around the top players. I want to have heavy shares of the golfers that I most favor near the top of the salary chart and take my stand on those players so that I do not end up underweight relative to the rest of the field. I want to build a heavily concentrated core at the top, but then give myself more sprinkle plays at the bottom. This is never an event where it feels at all clear which players are going to jump up from the lower range to have a big week. What I want to do is to give myself a few extra shots in the lower range so that if I really hit it hard with my stars, maybe I can find that somewhat random player that squeezes out an unexpected Top-10 finish.

Course Comps

  • Riviera
  • Bethpage Black
  • Club de Golf Chapultepec
  • Quail Hollow
  • Shinnecock
  • Winged Foot

Field

This event has the feel of a semi-major event. With the US Open being held here later this summer, plenty of stars have showed up this week to get a look at the course and to see how it has been changed over the last couple of years in preparation for the big event. Three of the Top-10 players in the world are here and 13 of the Top-25. The oil money must be flowing pretty well in Dubai as many of the other top players in world remained in the Middle East for another week during this stretch of the European Tour. Interestingly enough, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Bryson Dechambeau are nowhere to be found this week which was a surprise as I would have figured tht each of them would show up to Torrey Pines, a course that each of them likely have a chance to win on later this year, but perhaps they are comfortable enough with past experience to skip it this week.

These are the types of fields that I really look forward to during the season. For the majors, the fields tend to be so loaded that you get downward pricing pressure that makes roster builds really easy. The top of the field is also so loaded that it gets to be very difficult to pick just a few players to be overweight on so that when you miss out on the winner and they are heavily owned, you’re in trouble. Weeks like this provide the perfect balance of stars at the top, many very good players in the value range and a handful of lower dollar players worth taking a shot on. You do not see average golfers in the $9k range, but also do not see Top-25 golfers in the middle $7k range either. The cash builds come together really well for me in weeks like this one, next week at the WMPO and Riviera in three weeks. The courses are no joke so there are not a lot of random names that hover around the top of the leaderboard so I have a much easier time projecting performance when we get the combination of a good course paired with a strong field.

Weather

Torrey Pines Forecast – https://www.windfinder.com/weatherforecast/blacks_beach_torrey_pines

I am going to hold off on making any bold pronouncements at this time. Currently, it looks like a cooler than normal week with temperatures hovering in the mid 50’s all weekend. The winds look fine on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday is the only day I need a little more time to analyze when I get the hour by hour breakdown tomorrow afternoon and into the evening. Right now, it shows light rain and wind gusting as high as 20 mph until the middle of the afternoon. If that were to hold, I think that I would prefer to own South Course players on Thursday during the good weather and North Course on Friday if things were not looking so good. I would rather own more golfers that are tackling the tougher of the two courses in good weather than bad. There are not any real wave advantages this week. With two courses running concurrently, the first two rounds will be shorter than usual when an event plays out at only one course. I would build some lineups full of players starting on the same course this week. It’s quite possible that those starting on the easier course could build up a good lead on Thursday and that conditions could make scoring tougher all around on Friday so I am not 100% going to say that you would want the tougher course first in good weather, but that is the direction I would lean.

Local Connections (see Player Database for more details)

  • Phil Mickelson
  • Charley Hoffman
  • JJ Spaun
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Beau Hossler
  • Brandon Hagy
  • Cameron Tringale
  • Jamie Lovemark
  • Justin Suh
  • Matthew Wolff
  • Max Homa
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Si Woo Kim
  • John Huh

Key Stats

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 30%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 15%
Scrambling: 10%
Par 5 Scoring: 20%
Proximity: 5%

 

Cash Game Strategy

Jon Rahm 11300
Rory McIlroy 11000
Tony Finau 10700
Hideki Matsuyama 9200
Si Woo Kim 8900
Bubba Watson 8800
Jason Day 8600
Cameron Smith 8500
Ryan Palmer 8400
Adam Scott 8300
Billy Horschel 8200
Louis Oosthuizen 8000
Cameron Davis 7900
Jason Kokrak 7700
Talor Gooch 7600
Charles Howell III 7500
Carlos Ortiz 7500
John Huh 7000

 

Upper Tier

Jon Rahm – Rahm withdrew from the AMEX last week after ‘injuring’ himself at the gym. Of course, he did not disclose what they injury was or how it was sustained or if it is still any sort of issue, but I would have a hard time believing that he would tee it up this week if it were in any way a problem so I am not going to dwell on it much and assume that we have Rahm at full strength which has always been very good at this event where he has a win and two other Top-10 finishes in his career. He’s been great in every statistical category over the last few months and he’s at his best when putting on poa greens. With the injury issue, I would lean slightly towards Rory until we get more info, but overall, I am still comfortable using Rahm this week.

Rory McIlroy – Rory will be travelling back from Abu Dhabi this week which does always create a little concern, but my thought for a player like Rory is that he will be fine and well rested. He is making his third straight start at Torrey Pines and has two Top-5 finishes the last two years. If you are looking for a player that is elite off the tee and handles long, tough courses well Rory is your guy. In looking at the Course Comp tool, Rory averages .8 strokes per round better than the next closest competitor with at least 5 starts.

Hideki Matsuyama – The player behind Rory on the Course Comp tool is Hideki Matsuyama, who to his credit over 26 starts has gained more than 1.5 strokes per round on comparable courses throughout his career. Though his putter has been bad across the board on all surfaces, he’s ‘less bad’ on poa by about .17 strokes per round. I like using Hideki on tough tracks where he is not required to make a lot of birdies and can have success from simply not giving away a lot of shots getting to the green. Over the last 16 rounds among this field, Hideki ranks 6th in SGTG and impressed at Augusta before the break. It took a week to shake off the rust in Hawaii, but he got it together over the weekend at Wailae and managed a 19th place finish.

 

Middle Tier

Ryan Palmer – I just cannot get away from Ryan Palmer at this price. It was probably a bit much to pay $9200 for him at the Sony Open, but back here at Torrey Pines, he’s well priced. He’s finished in the Top-25 in all three of his starts here including a 2nd place finish in 2018. He’s coming off of a tremendous season when he missed only 4 cuts, had 11 Top-25 finishes and 5 Top-10s. This season, he’s already recorded to 4th place finishes. His tee to green game is sharp, he ranks 19th in GIR% and his putting is in much better shape than what we are used to seeing each year.

Adam Scott – Scott had a good start to last season broken up by COVID. He played well in the fall and then won in his first start of 2020 at Riviera, a great comp course for Torrey Pines. Two years ago, he finished 2nd at this event. He’s been strong on comp courses throughout his career and though his putter is always an adventure, his tee to green play and strong approach play put him into play this week at a great number. I love Scott on tough courses as he’s never going to win a birdie fest type of event, but will avoid the big mistakes that can ruin a round in a hurry. If he can just turn around his around the green play, which is usually a strength, I think he has the ability to win in his first start of the year.

Louis Oosthuizen – Louis tends to be a gamer when it comes to tough courses when facing talented fields. He seems to have gotten himself healthy the last couple of years and has become much less of a withdraw threat than previous seasons. He’s a natural ball striker and is playing really well with his short game right now. Over the last 24 rounds among this field, Louis ranks 5th in SGSG and 10th in SGTOT. He was impressive in the fall at the US Open with a 3rd place finish and he’s an excellent putter on poa surfaces.

 

Lower Tier

Charles Howell III – CHIII missed the cut last week, but did battle hard in the 2nd round which was encouraging. He’s been great at Torrey Pines through the years, making the cut in his last nine starts here with seven Top-20 finishes along the way. He’s on his favorite putting surface this week and is .285 strokes per round better on poa over other surfaces. He finished 19th just two weeks ago so his game is far from broken and we’re getting a nice discount on him coming off of the missed cut.

Carlos Ortiz – Ortiz has missed the cut here the last two years, but he took big steps forward last season and really found his game this fall, winning in Houston and then adding an 8th place finish at Mayakoba and then a 14th place finish at the Sony Open. Over the last 16 rounds among this field, Ortiz ranks 20th in SGTG and 18th in SGTOT. Though his putting numbers have been nothing special, Ortiz has the biggest differential on poa greens versus other surfaces. He’s a mildly poor putter on other surfaces, losing .108 strokes per round, but on poa, he gains .615 strokes per round, a massive difference of .723 strokes per round. If he can keep his tee to green game together, there’s no reason why he should not be able to keep the momentum going this week.

John Huh – I used John Huh on my cash game team last week, and it paid off well for me as he finished in the Top-25 for the 4th time in five starts this season. He’s been really good from tee to green during this stretch of play and ranks 15th among this field in SGTG over the last 16 rounds. In his career, he’s made eight of nine cuts at this event with three Top-25 finishes. With his current form and decent resume of experience at the courses, I am more than happy to take my chances with Huh and gain a little salary cap space as well.

 

GPP

CORE – 25-40%

Jon Rahm 11300
Rory McIlroy 11000
Hideki Matsuyama 9200
Bubba Watson 8800
Jason Day 8600
Ryan Palmer 8400
Adam Scott 8300
Louis Oosthuizen 8000
Charles Howell III 7500
John Huh 7000

 

Bubba Watson – At first glance, this would not seem like a great course for Bubba. It’s a US Open style course with narrow fairways and can play tough in the weather, and yet he’s been incredible here over the years with a win back in 2011 and a 6th place finish a year ago. I guess it should not be a huge surprise though as Bubba is incredible off the tee and a strong Par 5 player. Bubba is also .2 strokes per round better on poa than other surfaces. He’s near the top of the list when it comes to looking at comp courses this week and he has three career wins up the road at Riviera. The only issue that I have with Bubba this week is that he has not played in 11 weeks so there is certainly a little worry about potential rust.

Jason Day – We get another great value play in Jason Day, a two time winner of this tournament who was all over the place last season, but showed flashes of strong play during a couple of stretches. He flopped at Augusta, but had a 7th and 12th place finish to sandwich that missed cut. He’s been working on a swing change to help keep his back from hurting and he’s carrying a mixed bag of clubs this week covering several different brands, but he’s relatively cheap for his upside potential. He’s now had some time off which always seems to help his frail body and he tends to play some of his best golf here and up the coast at Pebble Beach. In 26 starts across comp courses, Day has gained nearly 1.5 strokes per round. When his game is on, he’d be no worse than 15-1 at Torrey Pines so we simply have to hope that the time off and rest help to rejuvenate his game.

 

SECONDARY – 15-25%

Si Woo Kim 8900
Cameron Smith 8500
Billy Horschel 8200
Will Zalatoris 8100
Cameron Davis 7900
Gary Woodland 7800
Jason Kokrak 7700
Corey Conners 7700
Talor Gooch 7600
Carlos Ortiz 7500
Doug Ghim 7200

 

 

TERTIARY – 0-15%

Marc Leishman 8700
Alexander Noren 7400
Sepp Straka 7100
Rory Sabbatini 7100
Russell Knox 7000
Brandt Snedeker 7000
J.B. Holmes 6900
Kramer Hickok 6800
Kyle Stanley 6700
Justin Suh 6600

 

 

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte January 27, 2021 03:10

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