Tournament Preview- The Honda Classic

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff February 24, 2015 22:06

The PGA Tour leaves the west coast and arrives at Palm Beach Garden Florida this week for the Honda Classic. The tournament is played on the PGA National Golf Club, Champion Course which measures 7,160 yards long (100 yards less than the average tour length) and is a par 70.  The Champion course features two Par 5s and 4 Par 3s. It consistently ranks as one of the toughest courses on tour. The course also features one of the tours most challenging stretches of holes called the “Bear Trap”, which stretches from holes 15-17. That stretch has accounted for 18 percent of all bogeys in the event, 33 percent of all double bogeys and 39 percent of all triple bogeys or worse

Sixteen of the world’s Top 25 players will be playing this weekend including world #1 Rory Mcllroy. Besides Rory, other European players will be playing their first 2015 PGA event including Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, and Steven Gallacher. The Euros have had mixed results so far this year as Jamie Donaldson, Shane Lowry, and Francesco Molinari have had some success, but Alexander Levy and Bernd Weisberger have disappointed. Generally, when the Euros come over they are overlooked and underpriced in DFS, despite playing well on the European Tour. However European success, has not necessarily translated into PGA success the last two weeks as Weisberger and Levy have both missed the cut in their first events. We will have to look closely at Tournament History in addition to current form to decide whether to choose any of the Euros this week.

Last year Russell Henley emerged from a wild final round that wound up going to a four-man playoff, using birdie on his second trip through No.18 to beat Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox. McIlroy appeared in control with three holes to play, but took double bogey after hitting into the water at No.16 and failed to save par from a bunker at No.17. He wound up shooting 74, opening the door for the others. Henley carded a 72, overcoming a chunky chip at No.18 with a long two-putt to get into the playoff.

As always, we look at the statistic Strokes Gained, and if you check out the articles Do Statistics Really Matter in Fantasy Golf Part I and II, written by our own Jeff Bergerson you will see why. In addition, to Strokes Gained, we will look at driving, both accuracy and distance this week. The overall distance of the course isn’t the longest on tour, but there are some lengthy par 4 holes which will favor the long hitters. Most of the holes are surrounded by water hazards and bunkers so they won’t be able to just wail away and get away with it. So we want distance, but we also want accuracy and avoidance of hazards. The scoring will be low, probably like the scoring at the Northern Trust as the course will probably play just as tough if not tougher this weekend. Finally we will look at scrambling, to find those players that can salvage holes even when they do find trouble.

Our picks last week were alright, but not up to our high standards. Our studs all made the cut and played fine. Spieth (T4) was again outstanding and we will continue to recommend him in just about every tournament. Walker and Schwartzel both made the cut but finished disappointing T41. This was the first week of this season that our value picks all played horribly with KJ Choi being the only one to perform respectably with a T30. Sleepers were a mixed bag as well with Peterson missing the cut, Molder T41, and Beljan T69. The biggest disappointment was easily Bernd Weisberger. He had placed in the Top 6 in his last four events on the European Tour and was underpriced for that fact on all DFS sites, and he missed the cut. This is why we say that success in fantasy golf is all about probabilities, not certainties, because despite overwhelming evidence of great current form, S#*t happens. Hopefully your other players were solid enough to overcome Bernd’s flop.

No matter the tournament we put in the time and research to provide our members the absolute best information available anywhere. We will continue to out-work everybody in the industry to make our members successful and profitable in season long and daily fantasy golf. As always, stick to solid lineup building, smart game selection, and disciplined bankroll management. See: How to win playing daily fantasy golf.

A key factor that we analyze every week is Tournament History. Check out our Tournament History page to see exactly who has had success in the past in this tournament. A few of the players that stand out as having good tournament history at the Honda Classic include:

Justin Rose- 3 Top 5s in last three appearances

Russell Henley- Defending Champion and 13th in 2013

Chris Stroud- 3 straight Top 15s

For access to our Top picks, value picks, sleepers, fades, and more become a premium member.

Top Stud Picks-

 

Rory Mcillroy– Simply the best. We are not telling you anything you don’t know, but what we are saying is we think you need to consider him in all formats and possibly roster him in DFS, despite his really high salary. Some people are going to avoid him because of the cost, which is very reasonable, but we just think he is so good that a Top 3 finish is probable. Rory is the top ranked player in our own proprietary rankings, Who is Hot. In his last four events he won the Omega Dubai Classic, finished runner up at the Abu Dhabi HSBC, T15 at the Australian Open, and T2 at the DP World Championship. Rory finished runner up in a playoff last year, had an inexplicable MC in 2013, and won this event in 2012. We normally like the more balanced approach, but Rory is far and away the best and think if you can find some value and save some money elsewhere and you should roster him.

Lee Westwood– After being burned on European players that have been hot as blazes on the European Tour and then come over and in their first PGA event miss the cut (Levy and Weisberger), we are hesitant to recommend Westwood, but we like him too much to pass. Over the past couple of months Westwood has rekindled his magic with a T5 at the Malaysian Open, T9 at the Omega Dubai Classic, a win in Thailand, and T16 at Nedbank. In the fall he also played well on the PGA Tour with a T20 at the WGC HSBC, T13 at the CIMB Classic, and a T12 at the Frys.com. He has also had a solid tournament history here with three Top 10s in his last five appearances. We are looking for a Top 10 this week from the Englishman.

Graeme McDowell– Another European player who brings a combination of good current form and solid tournament history. Last year he took 46th, but before then he took 9th in 2013 and 2012, and 6th in 2011. McDowell has also been playing well lately with a T36 at the Malaysian Open, T9 at the Omega Dubai Classic in 2015 and a T3 at the WGC HSBC and T16 at the BMW Masters in the fall. His price is reasonable and affordable across the DFS industry so you can capitalize on that.

Also mention- Martin Kaymer who is playing extremely well right now and we like him a lot also.

 

Top Value Picks-

 

Brooks Koepka– We are hoping that his embarrassing five-putt and unimpressive T41 at the Farmers Insurance Open will discourage people from focusing on Koepka this week. Yes, he did not look great at the Farmers, but you have to remember that he was up on the leaderboard day 2 before that 5 putt and he was never able to recover. In addition, he was coming off a win the week prior at the WM Phoenix Open and Zach Turcotte had some intriguing findings on results of players following a tour win in his article The Dangers of Recency Bias. Koepka was one of our favorite players this season and featured him in our Crystal Ball for 2015 article as one of top players this year. He placed in the top 10 in both PGA events he entered in the fall including a tied for 8th in the Frys.com Open and a tied for 4th in the Shriners. In addition, he won the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour in early November. He is currently ranked 6th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and Total Strokes Gained, 2nd in scoring average, and 1st in Driving Distance. In his only appearance at the Honda Classic, Koepka took 33rd last year. We like him a lot this week and throughout the year.

Keegan Bradley– He hadn’t looked outstanding coming into last week at the Northern Trust, but he finished T4 and showed a glimpse of a possible breakout. Before that he had a T41 at the Farmers, T17 at the WM Phoenix Open, and a T48 at Humana. In the past three years he has played extremely well at the Honda Classic with a 12th, 4th, and 12th, the past three years. Bradley is currently ranked 24th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 33rd in Total Strokes Gained. If he can get his putter working (currently 120th in Strokes Gained Putting), he can make a run at winning a tournament.

Daniel Berger– Based upon his current form Berger may be a value play, but we believe he is still under the radar for most and could qualify as a sleeper as well. A local boy, born in Florida and attended Florida State University has a T10 at Pebble Beach, T24 at Farmers, T10 at WM Phoenix Open, MC at Humana, an a T13 at Sony in his last five events. He has not played in this event before but ranks 31st in greens in regulation, 10th in driving distance, and 37th in total strokes gained. Berger has not given us any reason to avoid him in his homecoming tournament.

Robert Streb– A very disappointing missed cut at the Northern Trust is not going to make us abandon Streb. He has been way too good in his previous events and that hiccup last week might present an opportunity as he was highly owned and a lot of people will be bitter and avoid him this week. We have been on this guy since the fall and have featured him as one of our value picks for each tournament this season and other than last week he has made us money. He is now 8 for 9 in made cuts this season with 6 Top 25s and 5 Top 10s and a win at the McGladrey Classic . Streb ranks 24th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 7th in Total Strokes Gained. He has only played in the Northern Trust Open once, in 2013 he missed the cut. Streb is good for cash games as well as tournaments, but we would recommend not owning him across all your teams, in case he hits a lull in his season.

Russell Knox– This guy seems to alternate good and bad performances and this is a GOOD week. Here are his last four tournament results- missed cut at Farmers, T15 at WM Phoenix Open, missed cut at Humana, and T13 at Sony. How is that for consistency? He did take 2nd here last year in his only appearance at the Honda Classic. It is basically playing roulette and guessing whether this will be a good or bad week for Knox. Definitely not a good cash game choice in DFS, but a lottery ticket in larger tournaments.

 

Top Sleepers

We will give you a couple extra sleepers this week so you can roster Rory if you like.

Freddie Jacobson– You read correctly, we are expecting a nice week from the 40 year old, cigarette smoking, Swede. His last two events he has played well with a T32 at the Farmers and a T7 at the WM Phoenix Open. He isn’t long or accurate off the tee, but the dude can freaking putt. He is currently ranked 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting and actually 26th in Strokes Gained Total. Freddie has absolutely blossomed at the Honda Classic in the past however. Over the past six years he has a 12th, 25th, 16th, 29th, 6th, and 5th. We look for Freddie to crack the Top 30 again, which would make him a very solid sleeper.

Will Mackenzie– This will be his first appearance of 2015 after an outstanding fall. If the long layoff has not dulled his game we expect to see him on the leaderboard this weekend. This fall he had a T9 at the OHL Classic, T52 at the CIMB, and T2 at the McGladrey. His stats from the tournaments were good enough to rank him 1st in greens in regulation, 1st in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green, 2nd in Strokes Gained Total, 9th in scoring average, and 18th in driving accuracy. We understand it is a small sample size, but those are impressive none-the-less. He has also had a very good tournament history at the Honda Classic with two Top 10s in six appearances, including a 6th last year. He was one of our guys that we featured as a player to watch in our Crystal Ball for 2015 article. Last year Mackenzie started the season red hot and then fell off a cliff and completely lost his game. He blames that on the fact that he was having family issues at the time and now has re-dedicated himself. He sure showed that this fall and we look for him to continue playing well.

Boo Weekley– This pick was mainly generated by our awesome sportsbook odds vs. Daily pricing tool, which shows Boo as underpriced across the board on DFS sites. So we dug deeper and he has actually been playing very well, especially for his current price. He has a T30 at WM Phoenix Open, T7 at Humana, T44 at Sony, and a couple of good Australian tournament results with a 6th at the Australian PGA and T15 at the Australian Open. We like these last two results because who in the hell besides us is sick enough to follow the Australian golf circuit. Boo has also had a couple of nice showings in The Honda Classic the past couple of years with a 41st last year and 25th in 2013. Lets put the cherry on top and tell you that he ranks 11th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 18th in total strokes gained. He has a lot of experience on this course and is playing well lately, and looks like a very solid sleeper this week.

Deep Sleeper-

Kyle Reifers– After a very solid spring in which he had a T29 at OHL, T14 at Sanderson Farms, T54 at McGladrey, T56 at Shriners, and a T39 at Frys.com, Reifers hit a slump with three straight missed cuts at the Farmers, Humana, and Sony. He has however bounced back with a T21 two weeks ago at Pebble Beach and a monster T8 last weekend at the Northern Trust Open. He currently ranks 36th in total strokes gained and 25th in greens in regulation. He is not a good option for DFS cash games (H2H or 50/50s), but could be worth a look for larger tournaments as his ownership will be in the low single digits.

Top Fades:

Since our old pal Hunter (underachiever) Mahan isn’t playing the Honda Classic we will have to focus our attention on others. How about Luke Donald. This may come back to bite us because his tournament history is so good here with 4 Top 10s in 7 appearances, including an 8th last year. Despite that fact Donald is playing god awful lately and has missed the cut in his last 3 events on the PGA Tour. Despite that fact, his price on DFS sites, particularly on Draftkings is still inflated ($7,800). We just can’t see rostering him for that price when you can get a lot of players playing much better for that price.

*****Be sure to note that Hideki Matsuyama has withdrawn from the Honda Classic.

 

Also be sure to check out Zach Turcotte a.k.a Myzteriouzly’s great weekly column called The Daily Spin, which features advice tailored specifically to DFS.  He has had a lot of great picks so far this year, including last weeks sleeper champion James Hahn.  It usually hits the site Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

 

Good luck to all of you this week, we hope you continue to be profitable. Remember, be sure to let us know of your successes via email or Twitter. There may just be a t-shirt in it for you.

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff February 24, 2015 22:06

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