The First Tee – Greenbrier Classic by Adam Daly

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff July 3, 2017 23:31

The First Tee – Greenbrier Classic by Adam Daly

Leaving the U.S. Open-esque conditions of TPC Potomac where DFS darling Kyle Stanley finally took down a tournament and Charles Howell came up just short yet again, the PGA heads to the aptly named The Old White TPC in West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic.

The Course

The Old White TPC played incredibly easy in its first year in the rotation (2010), including a 59 from Stuart Appleby and a winning score of -22, so the course was lengthened in 2011 and made slightly harder – when looking at course history, ignore 2010 because it’s an anomaly. That only leaves five years of course history to look at, because the tournament was cancelled in 2016 due to the West Virginia flooding.

The par-70 is typically a middle of the road course in terms of difficulty, averaging below par over the last five years but playing tough in bad conditions in 2011 to make it seem harder than it is. The 7,287 yard course has some very wide fairways in the 325-yard range, so golfers that can bomb it down the course should be able to leave themselves in good positions; the fairways are slightly wider than normal on average, and although the course is lined with trees, the 2016 flooding forced the course to change a bit which included getting rid of some trees.

Off the tee, golfers will have an easy time finding the aforementioned wide fairways, and there aren’t many harsh doglegs so it will play fairly straight-forwardly. One potential hazard in the fairways is the very well-placed bunkers (also re-done after the flood) and some undulating terrain; as far as water goes there isn’t much to talk about, possibly coming into play on just three holes. It’ll be very easy to pick landing spots off the tee, so this course will be all about the right approach shots in, and putting.

Distance-wise, three of the par-3s play above 200 yards (so P3 efficiency 200-225 is a stat to consider), and the par-5s aren’t the most generous scoring holes at 568 (easiest hole on the course but eagles are rare) and 616. The par-5s will require a long tee shot which is more than doable with the fairways the way they are, but shorter hitters will be at a distinct disadvantage. Only five of the 12 par-4s are above 450 yards, so short approach shots will be much more common.

The bentgrass greens are fairly slow (~11 on the stimpmeter) and large, which makes it an easy course to get to the green in regulation on. There’s some sloping and undulation on the greens but they’re not tough – the average number of putts per hole (’11 to ’15) was a paltry 1.63, and in 2015 it saw the eighth-most birdies on Tour.

Expect lots of easy scoring, AU70 and 3BIR bonuses, but don’t expect eagles: there were only 10 eagles made in 2015, and two of them came on the 18th hole which is a par-3. That par-3 is the “feature” of this course, as players hit it into a simple green that aims to slope towards the pin (and had a mound removed from just in front of the green after the flood), and has seen three aces in the last two years.

Stats

With Birdie or Better% playing a larger role than normal (by about ~7%), it made sense to include the stats that have led to making birdie or better at the Greenbrier. As expected, approach and putting will have the largest impact on scoring, with Driving Distance being much less of a factor in birdie-making than it does otherwise.

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

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

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Birdie or Better % – by a wide margin
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Approach Shots 50-125 Yards
  • Greens in Regulation %
  • Par-4 Scoring
  • Putting 5’-10’


The Golfers

I’m doing something different this week, with two pricier golfers getting written up with a handful of value picks that can perform well for DraftKings purposes. Feedback appreciated whether you like it or hate it!

Phil Mickelson ($10400) – He’s never made a cut here (three tries) which will help keep ownership down at this price point especially because it’s not a premiere event meaning less public plays, but Phil is dynamite in almost every category needed to succeed this week:

  • T3 in Approaches 50-125
  • 8th in SG: Approach (0.736)
  • 9th in Birdie Average (4.18 per round)
  • 5th in Overall Putting Average and 22nd in One-Putt Percentage

Phil has yet to miss a cut this year and is entering the week of a solo 9th at the Fedex St. Jude, and his wild tee shots (53.64% driving accuracy, 181st) won’t have an impact with the width of these fairways. He’s slightly above average in distance, which means that the 50-125 range he excels at will be right in his wheelhouse on most holes. Also in Phil’s favour are his excellent par-4 Birdie or Better numbers – 18.74%, 20th – and his par-3 scoring average of only 3.03 (43rd).

Webb Simpson ($10100) – Rostering Webb is always a scary proposition thanks to his horrendous putting, but he’s also finished in the top-10 three times at this event and fits the statistical model in every facet except putting. He’s an excellent par-4 scorer (3.99, 14th) which is important on par-70 courses, and he’s accurate off the tee and gets to the green tremendously well.

On approach, Webb has the 7th best overall Proximity to the Hole number and is 13th in overall Strokes Gained, but importantly he excels as short distances. 3rd overall between 50-125 and 59th in 125-150, if Webb can hit his average proximity of 15’7”, he’ll have tons of birdie opportunities. Although he’s 105th in putting inside 10’, he’s still hit 87.27% of those putts which is good enough to keep him in the mix; if he manages to find his stroke for the week, Webb could run away with this tournament – if not, the rest of his game is sound enough that he’ll compete through Sunday.

Value picks (below $7500):

  • Vaughn Taylor ($6500) – T31 in Approach from 50-125, Vaughn is usually short but accurate off the tee and has excellent proximity numbers. He’s got above average putting numbers across the board, performs better on par-3s and -4s (he struggles on par-5s due to the distance), but he’s also never made the cut here and will be a high-risk/high-reward play thanks to expected low ownership.
  • Jonathan Randolph ($6900) – A better putter than his SG: Putting rank of 100 would suggest, Randolph is very good at one-putting (40.9%) and is nails from 4-8’ (7th in 148 attempts) which isn’t listed as a “key” stat, but is encompassed in the 5-10’ putting range that has some importance. Randolph is great from short distances and like Vaughn is known for his accuracy. He missed the cut in 2015 (only attempt) but has shown better form in making seven of his last ten events, including a T8.
  • Tim Wilkinson ($6100) – The New Zealander struggles on long tracks, which has helped give him awful SG numbers this season, but a large part of that is his lack of distance: at only 277.9 off the tee, Wilkinson usually needs long approach shots in which is where he struggles. Luckily, Wilkinson is T48 in Approach from 50-125, and 4th from 125-150 which will help him find greens more easily. He’s fine on the greens inside 10’, but has a bad SG: Putting number thanks to usually finding his ball beyond that point; on this course, that putting should improve.

Good luck this week! You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey if you have any questions, and my DMs are always open

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff July 3, 2017 23:31

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