The First Tee – Dean & DeLuca Invitational by Adam Daly

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff May 22, 2017 22:40

The First Tee – Dean & DeLuca Invitational by Adam Daly

The re-emergence died late for Jason Day, but it was good to see him back to the form that made him last year’s #1 ranked golfer in the world. If there’s one thing to take away from the past two weeks beyond Day coming back, it’s that form is very hit and miss – Billy Horschel had missed four straight cuts before winning, and previously, Si Woo Kim had an awful year before taking down the PLAYERS. That’s something to keep in mind this week at the awfully-named Dean & DeLuca.

This Week

The Course

The Dean & DeLuca is best known as Colonial, as it takes place at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth – the Tour stays in Texas for another week, which means tight fairways, bentgrass greens, and some tough wind to deal with.

Colonial is a par-70, which means 12 par-4s to four par-3s and two par-5s, but the distances on these holes is one of the few things that makes Colonial an interesting event – five of the par-4s are below 410 yards, which means short irons on approach, as opposed to some of the longer courses of recent weeks where the 175+ approach has been key. The two par-5s also present some challenges – there were eight eagles on the 565-yard 1st which is where the bulk of the extra scoring has come from, as this event saw only 13 eagles last year – because of some tough angles and distance. The second par-5 sits at a whopping 635, and it averaged only 0.131 strokes below par last year.

The toughest three hole stretch comes on the front nine at holes 3-5, as they all averaged over par by a wide margin in 2016. Scoring early will be a tough ask for most of the field because of that, so golfers that start on the front will need some mental toughness to get past those holes.

At 7,209 yards, the Bredemus/Maxwell-designed course offers some challenges off the tee, as the narrow fairways are not only tough to find (56.47% in 2016), but the course is set up specifically to battle headwinds from the tee. What that means for golfers this week is that yet again, drivers will rarely be seen, and when they do come out of the bag, they’ll be hit short; 274 yards was the 4th-lowest driving distance last year, and it’s typically a top-10 course in that category. The course also features a lot of doglegs on the par-4s, which will force golfers to really work to find the right landing spot for their approach shot.

What that means is that this is a second-shot course, which will be a tough ask given the small size of the greens; at only 4,400 sq. ft, these greens are among the five smallest greens on tour, and they also feature some multi-tiering and undulation. Most greens are surrounded by bunkers, and four of the holes either have water in front or on the side, so precision into the greens is paramount. The greens themselves will also be firm and fast, so even if the ball gets there, hitting the right spot will be tougher than normal.

Because Dean & DeLuca is an Invitational and not a full field event, there are only 125 golfers in the field this week which will put a big premium on getting 6/6 through.  What that could mean is playing it safer, even in GPPs – it all depends on your risk tolerance.

Stats

Check twitter.com/adalyfrey on Tuesday for the 2012-2016 stat correlations

The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):

  • Approach
  • Off-The-Tee
  • Around the Green
  • Putting

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Scrambling %
  • Greens in Regulation %
  • Par-4 Scoring
  • Birdie or Better %

One stat note that isn’t one of the regular featured statistics – with the wind playing a large factor here (reminder to check WindFinder for AM/PM splits), low ball flight golfers in the vein of Ollie Schniederjans or Branden Grace is a good area to research. Check the bottom of the PGATour Launch Angle statistics.

The Golfers

The Core

Ollie Schniederjans ($7700): The aforementioned Ollie Schniederjans, he of the low launch angle and ball height, makes a great play this week for many reasons beyond his play in the wind – he’s had good finishes this season at both RBC Heritage (T3) and the Valero Texas Open (T18) which are good comparable courses, and is coming in off four straight made cuts. Ollie sits 21st in Strokes Gained: Approach, and is excellent at getting close to the pin from both the fairway (14th) and the rough (17th); prox from the rough will have an impact this week given how tight the fairways are.

Over his last three tracked events (the Zurich is excluded), Ollie has gained 3.658 strokes on approach and 4.467 from tee to green, and although he’s been better on Bermuda grass than bentgrass this season, all he needs to do to win this week is hit some putts. That’s where he’s struggled so far, but on a course where the putts will come outside 10’ (where Ollie ranks 109th) that’ll get neutralized some, and Schniederjans is actually a top-63 golfer between 10’ – 20’.

Although Ollie is prone to bogeys (90th in Bogey Avoidance), he sits 24th in Par-4 Birdie or Better% with a big 18.84%, and 36th in overall birdies per round with 3.96. He’ll get in trouble in spots as this is a tough course, but more importantly for DraftKings, he’ll put points on the board for a good price.

Pat Perez ($7600): Perez is an interesting play this week, given he’s very reasonably priced at only $7600 and finished T5 in 2015, but the rest of his course history is rather ugly (a MC, WD, and finishes in the 60s) and he doesn’t check every statistical box. That being said, Perez has been excellent this year out of the rough (40’2” to the pin, 22nd) and is great with a short iron in his hand, and like Ollie is better (relatively) outside 10’ than inside.  On missed greens Perez has been excellent at getting up and down, which will play a factor with the small size of the greens – 35th in Scrambling% (63.04%), 13th in SG: ARG.

Perez has consistently been a great play on DraftKings, because he’s one of the best in the field at putting up birdies. He averages 4.16 (15th) per round, and is above-average on the par-4s (53rd), so although he has some warts he should find some success here.

Kyle Stanley ($7400): The third golfer this week is also a mid-priced option, which leaves lots of wiggle room to squeeze in an elite golfer without blowing over the salary cap; the 29-year old Stanley has had his coming-out party this year, sitting 38th in FedEx Cup points and three top-10s including a T4 at the PLAYERS. Going back to the fall swing season, Stanley has only missed two cuts (Honda and OHL Classic), and has been one of the best on Tour in terms of tee-to-green (5th) and Bogey Avoidance (12th).

Where Stanley has struggled immensely is with the flatstick in hand, ranking 165th in SG: Putting, but he’s elite in almost every other factor on the way to the green. He’s hit the 2nd-most greens in regulation (73.08%), sits 5th in Proximity to the Hole, and 6th in overall SG: Approach.

The other concern with Stanley is if he hits the rough off the tee, he tends to struggle with his approach shot – but luckily, Stanley is a very smart golfer for as young as he is, and can play the narrow fairways with deadly accuracy. He sits 17th in overall driving accuracy (68.23%), but he actually hits the fairway a whopping 83% of the time. Stanley hasn’t performed well here historically so should go under-owned relative to his talent.

 

You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey, and if there’s something you’d like to see change in this column my DMs are open! Good luck this week

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff May 22, 2017 22:40

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