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

Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte August 7, 2018 14:27

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

Welcome to the final major of the PGA season. It is hard to believe that it is upon us already, but what a great season it has been so far. Fortunately, with golf, just because the majors are coming to an end does not mean that the season is over by any stretch. In the weeks ahead, we still have five of the most exciting tournaments of the season right around the corner which will take us right into the NFL season.

Next week, one of the most interesting tournaments takes place at the Wyndham Championship down in North Carolina. It happens every year the week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs start and marks the final event where players can try to accumulate points for the season. For the casual golf fan, this might be an event that gets overlooked. However, for those of us who watch closely every week, it can be a life changing event for many players on tour. Not only are players competing for a tournament win next week, but many are playing to try to keep their Tour card. With many folks running the numbers over and over throughout the weekend, most golfers who are on or outside of the bubble will know almost exactly where they need to finish in order to accumulate enough points for the week to get themselves into the Top-125 in points for the season which clinches a playoff spot and a fully exempt status for the following season. If players are outside of that milestone, they can still make it back through battling in the Web.com playoffs which take place during the FedEx Cup playoffs. If you want to see some real pressure putts, the cut sweat on Friday and the final round on Sunday provide real life drama that is as intense as anything you will see all season.

Following the Wyndham, we go straight into the FedEx Cup Playoffs where the Top-125 point earners on the season will battle it out in an elimination style format over a four week period of time. At the Northern Trust Open, the players will continue to collect points based upon where they finish, but the point totals are amped up for the playoffs so that even if you make it in as the 125th player, if you go on a run and can collect a win and some high finishes, you mathematically still have a shot to win it all. After the first event, the field is narrowed to 100. After the Dell Championship in Boston it drops down to the Top-70 players and then finally, at East Lake, the Tour Championship concludes the season with the Top-30 players based on points accumulated up to that point. It is always an exciting finish to the year, especially as certain players seem to save their best golf of the season for this stretch run with the potential to win $10 million for claiming the season long title. These are also great DFS events as the first two playoff tournaments are very strong fields with normal cut rules in place so very little changes with them. The BMW Championship is similar to a WGC event with a field of 70 and no cut and really the only event that does not have a lot of cache for DFS purposes is the Tour Championship with only 30 golfers which tends to limit our options a bit. In any case, we still have almost a month before the NFL kicks off so stick around and enjoy the playoffs with us!

I also want to mention that once the NFL does start up, we will again be bringing full coverage to all of our subscribers who have either the Edge or Pro Pack plans in place. Jeff will be handling the GPP side of things where he has done extremely well in recent years in winning several hundred thousand dollars of profits with a couple of large scores in particular during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Last year he was a finalist at the DK Fantasy Football World Championship down in Miami representing Team FGI. As Jeff mentioned in his column, we began playing fantasy football together back in 1989 when he first introduced me to this idea of fantasy sports that he had heard about. We started small, playing heads up, then grew the league to four and then as large as twelve. We brought in family (my dad has since become our most dominant champion) and friends and this will mark our 30th year of experience, which is amazing to consider. I handle the cash game plays each week and you will get a very wordy write up much like the one you are used to reading here for the Daily Spin with golf. I’ve been very happy with my success in cash games the last two seasons as we’ve been very profitable since starting up coverage on the NFL for our subscribers. We will also provide a weekly model, a WR vs CB chart and a lineup builder for those of you who like to multi enter the big GPP events throughout the season. I also noticed that FanDuel finally did away with kickers this season so be sure to check out how that will change pricing and lineup composition over there.

Finally, the fall golf season starts up all of two weeks after the Tour Championship. The Ryder Cup takes place over in France during the one week off season and then we get right back to business. The fall season is always a lot of fun in that we get three really cool events that take place over in Asia each year (Korea, China and Malaysia) and they tend to have pretty strong fields as the event in China is always a WGC event and the addition of The CJ Cup at 9 Bridges in Korea provided us with a gorgeous, new, challenging course where I think even more top players will want to go to be a part of that this season. If you enjoy staying up late and watching the top players in the world, the stretch of events over in Asia each year is a lot of fun. The fall is also always a great place to see the newest golfers on tour each year and while most other DFS players are buried in the NFL, we will be working hard to gain an edge by finding those young new players on their way up after graduating from the Web.com Tour. It’s always nice to have a little bit of an edge on knowledge once the attention turns back to golf near the end of January and the beginning of February so make sure you take advantage of everything that we have to offer over these last 4-5 months of the year.

This week, the tour heads to St Louis and the course at Bellerive for the PGA Championship. This event is always the trickiest of the majors for me to judge each year. With Augusta, I know that course forward and backwards and can give you a detailed breakdown of every hole along the way. While the US Open has been played at a handful of links style courses new to the mix in recent years, you know the motivation of the USGA in setting up those courses to maximize the pain inflicted upon the players. The Open Championship over in the UK brings us the classic links style setups where the game of golf originated and the weather takes on a huge role in determining the outcome for the week. With the PGA Championship, we get a real mix of courses from year to year. We’ve seen a few American style, links courses along with the more traditional layouts that are more common throughout the season. The courses tend to be on the longer side, but it is never too consistent in terms of the score to par each year. While some of the courses are set up to be more challenging like Quail Hollow last year where JT won with a score of -8, others like Whistling Straits have played really easy as Jason Day was able to win with a score of -20. Given the wide range in scoring, the biggest key each year with this tournament is to try to determine where you think that winning score is going to end up and then work backwards towards selecting your rosters

So far, all reports seem to be leaning towards Bellerive playing more towards the easy side overall relative to other recent setups that we’ve seen. I usually go into an event like this thinking that somewhere around -10 to -12 will be around the winning score, but I think I am leaning towards -15 at this point. The greens have played very slow during practice rounds as many players have stated, and while course officials actually posted signs saying they would play faster during the tournament it seems to be a stretch that they would be able to make it too extreme. The course itself is around a 7,300 yard, Par 70 layout with two Par 5’s that each play around 600 yards. The fairways are long and to the narrow side and tree lined in most areas. There is water in play on the course, but it only comes into play on a handful of holes this week so it is not a huge worry going into the week. The biggest threat that most players will want to avoid are the greenside bunkers. As our own Adam Daly detailed in his course preview this week, getting up and down will be a challenge. Fortunately, the bentgrass greens are on the large side so you’ll likely be able to void those bunkers for the most part.

In looking at the course this week, there are a lot of comparison courses that you can look at when trying to decipher how Bellerive will play. It is a Robert Trent Jones course, but was redesigned by Rees Jones back in 2005. Rees is also well known for his work in Houston as well as East Lake so those are both course to take a look at this week. I think Firestone last week is a really good comp course as it is also a long, narrow, Par 70 setup with bentgrass greens and a lot of long Par 4’s. Jeff also added  some of the other lengthy tracks like Riviera and Torrey Pines into the mix as challenging courses where bombers tend to have a little more of an advantage in scoring during the season. For a more detailed writeup on the specifics of Bellerive, please check out Adam’s column, The First Tee. 

From all I have read about so far this week, it looks like we really want to focus on the tee to green machines that are able to pick up strokes off the tee. Approach play is always important as it will be again this week, but with the greens as large as they are, I would put more emphasis on proximity as opposed to simply hitting greens. Given the nature of the course with many long Par 4’s and the two lengthy Par 5’s, we will again be looking at players who are strong from 150-200 yards with their iron play to be in position to score. Finally, putting gets a nudge this week as making birdies will be more important this week than at other majors this year. While most of those other courses played tough enough so that par was generally a good score, I do not think that will be the case this week and guys are going to have to drop a lot of one putts in order to stay competitive. Given the description of the player type we are looking for, I am having a hard time believing that the winner won’t come from the upper tier of players this week.

My roster composition will reflect my feelings above as I think it is important to take advantage of the softer pricing in place for a major to load up in the upper range and then dig for value in a few key areas on the low end. I think that the pricing is tighter at the very top so I would not dwell on trying to load up on more than a couple of players above $10k this week. Once again, it feels like the real value in this field is in that $9k range. I wish that DK would flatten out its pricing structure a little more to be more reflective of how close these players actually are together in terms of their skill levels. Yes, DJ is head and shoulders above the rest right now, but is Rory really that much better than any of the other players in the $9-10k range? It’s hard to say that he should be $1300 above JT after what he’s done over the last two seasons. This is the case for me when comparing the very top of the field with that next tier. I would much rather grab extra shares of players who I think are just as talented rather than trying to play the ownership game the way I would in other tournaments. This should be an event where many of the top players can contend rather than a specific few that I zeroed in on for the US Open and The Open Championship.

Key Stats:

Strokes Gained Tee to Green: 25%
Strokes Gained Putting: 20%
Birdie or Better Percentage: 20%
SG: Off The Tee: 10%
Proximity: 10%
Scrambling: 10%
Par 4 Scoring: 5%

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Zachary Turcotte
By Zachary Turcotte August 7, 2018 14:27

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