This week, the Tour heads to Malaysia for a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour. Only 60 PGA Players receive automatic spots in this field, and the rest is rounded out by Asia’s best players. This week’s field is headlined by Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, and Sergio Garcia. Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are coming off decently long layoffs, Paul Casey comes in scorching hot, and Hideki Matsuyama comes off a win on the Japan Tour last week. It’s also important to note that this is a no-cut event, meaning every player gets to play four rounds, no matter what. That always lends itself to a stars-and-scrubs roster construction.
Daily and weekly Fantasy sports have become all the rage. Battling it out over an entire season is fun, but sites like DraftKings offer a quicker payoff and big payouts for winners! Not only do they offer daily action in the four major professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) as well as college basketball and football but also the PGA Tour.
Your DraftKings lineup is made up of six golfers you select from within the $50,000 salary cap.
Each week DraftKings offers a wide selection of games to enter at a variety of price points. You can even get a feel for the game in a freeroll contest. Before you put your cash on the line, I'll offer my Top Values and Steals in this space every week, specifically geared to help build a winning DraftKings squad. I'll also give you my Overpriced golfers to avoid and a couple of “Vegas Says…” tips to help you find those players for GPPs.
The course hasn’t changed since 2010, but it has changed names a few times (now called TPC Kuala Lumpur). This is a par-72 course which only measures 6,985 yards, making it one of the shortest the players see all year. This means distance isn’t going to be as important, and ball-striking, driving accuracy, proximity to the hole, and greens in regulation are my target stats. Our two-course horses fit that mold to a tee: Kevin Na and Ryan Moore. I also don’t think putting is as important this week because last year’s leaderboard was littered with sub-par putters: Justin Thomas (win), Adam Scott (2nd), Hideki Matsuyama (5th), and Tony Finau (8th).
Recent Tournament History
We have plenty of course history to draw upon, although most players in the field only have a year or two of data.
Here is the data we can draw upon for this week’s Tournament History:
Finished in the top-10 each of the last three years: Ryan Moore.
Finished in the top-10 in two of the last three years: Kevin Na, Gary Woodland, Charles Howell III.
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll take a look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. However, because this is the start of a new season and most players have had a month or so off, we will focus on course history and stats. I have, however, included the top-20 from last week’s Safeway Open, and highlighted the players in this field:
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
There are not many weeks where we aren’t going to target birdie or better percentage because that’s what Fantasy golf scoring is all about. Last year, there were some low rounds here, and Justin Thomas won with a total of -26. Guys like Thomas, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, and Smylie Kaufman come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie makers who will benefit from the no-cut format. It’s possible to have a player finish top-10 in Fantasy points while not finishing anywhere near the top-10 in the actual event.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG: Approach):
TPC Kuala Lumpur is a fairly short course, so hitting fairways and subsequently hitting greens will be critical. I think players will distance themselves from the field based on proximity to the hole on approach shots on the par-4s, and tee shots on the par-3s. When looking at how players in this field finished in 2016’s SG:Approach stats, you’ll see some names that are reflected in my rankings below: Adam Scott (1st), Kevin Na (2nd), Hideki Matsuyama (3rd), Kevin Chappell (9th), and Paul Casey (11th).
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
Not as critical as par-4 scoring this week, but there are reachable par-5 holes that players will need to dominate. I’m not just targeting bombers here, but players who score well on all types of par-5 holes (i.e. great wedge players).
As usual, we will be looking towards strokes gained tee-to-green from last season, but with a lot of players coming off month-long breaks, it’s a bit unpredictable.
As always, check back on the weather Wednesday to see the final forecast. This week it looks like players will see temperatures in the low to mid-90’s with a chance of rain on Thursday only. It sounds like weather won’t be too much of an issue, except for the heat.
*In order of my rankings
Adam Scott ($10,400) – The fact that Scott isn’t the top-priced player this week is pretty crazy, but I’ll take it. He ranked 1st in SG: Approach in 2016 on the PGA Tour, which shows his ball-striking prowess. He finished 2nd here a year ago and is due for a win after a scorching FedEx Cup playoffs. He didn’t play well in Japan last week, but I think he was just getting the jetlag out of the way.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,300) - Unlike Scott, Matsuyama did play well in Japan last week, earning the victory. He’s an elite ball-striker (finished 3rd in the SG: Approach category in 2016) who just needs a cooperative putter to dominate any field. Hideki has made three straight cuts here, including a 5th place finish last year. I love him this week.
Justin Thomas ($10,400) - Thomas finished his opening round at the Safeway Open with two triple bogeys on the back-nine, en route to a 75. He then backed it up with scores of 66, 66 and 67, showing that he’s ready to repeat. In a no-cut event, this is the player type I want to target, and Thomas obviously loves the golf course…he shot -26 last year! I’ll have him paired with Scott and Matsuyama on many rosters this week.
Ryan Moore ($10,600) - The obviously course horse, with wins here in 2013 and 2014 followed by a 10th place finish in 2015. Moore is coming off an exciting FedEx Cup playoffs and his first Ryder Cup experience, so I’m not sure how he’ll respond. But he’ll surely have the positive memories of TPC Kuala Lumpur to draw upon, though.
Kevin Na ($9,900) - In two appearances here, he’s finished 2nd and 3rd, and he’s coming off a 3rd place finish at the Safeway Open. Na rules the Fall Swing, and I think a win is coming soon. Last season, Na ranked 2nd in SG: Approach, our key metric this week, and may still have some baby swag on his side.
Patrick Reed ($11,200) - Reed’s course history here is 40th, 26th, and 10th, so he’s trending the right direction. After an emotional Ryder Cup performance, I’m interested to see how Reed responds to “normal” golf. He recently won the Barclays and is always a threat to win on Tour. Reed also has a ton of experience playing overseas, so the travel shouldn’t affect him as much as it does others.
Paul Casey ($11,600) - Casey comes in with obvious form, with two 2nds, a 4th, and a 3rd in his last four starts. His course history here, however, is very mediocre, making him a fade for me. The high price tag, poor course history, and potential travel-related jetlag make Casey too risky of an option for me. Although he is the type of player I like this week (he finished 11th in SG: Approach in 2016), I’m off him this time.
Sergio Garcia ($10,100) - We haven’t seen Sergio since his duel with Phil Mickelson at the Ryder Cup, so I’m sure he’s itching to play. One thing about Sergio, however: he loves no-cut events, and he always plays better overseas than in America. I don’t love him in general, and he’s not likely to win, but Sergio is a safe top-10 bet this week.
Ryo Ishikawa ($7,500) - While Ishikawa has been playing mostly on the Japanese Tour recently, his results are still stellar. In his last four events, he’s finished 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th. He’s made both of his previous cuts in this event and had birdie making upside that is ideal for a no-cut event. Because he’s been playing in Japan, Ishikawa doesn’t have to worry about any travel or jet lag.
Jim Herman ($7,000) - When I see a short course that requires high driving accuracy and greens in regulation, Herman is my man. He broke through for his first career win last season at the Shell Houston Open, and he also finished 10th here a year ago. Herman has had some time off but ended last season with three straight top-35 finishes. He’s spent the last few weeks traveling around the world playing golf, so he should feel comfortable playing abroad. He just seems like a good guy who enjoys what he does, and that attitude is good for something.
Danny Lee ($6,700) - We’ve all had plenty of Danny Lee tilt, including at this event last year when he WD in the third round. But honestly, Lee is just super-underpriced for this kind of field. He shook some rust off with a 50th place finish at the Safeway Open last week, and before his WD here a year ago, he had posted 17th and 14th place finishes. Lee has apparently shown the ability to win events on Tour, and I’ll take my chances on him at this low price.
Anirban Lahiri ($8,300) - Lahiri has made his career in this part of the world, including a win in the 2015 Maybank Malaysian Open at TPC Kuala Lumpur. He’s been playing in Asia for most of the past few months and comes into the event in good form: 24th, 30th, and 2nd. We’ve seen him pop in majors and on the PGA Tour before, and this weaker, home-field event could be a great combination for Lahiri.
Young-Han Song ($7,300) - We last saw Song at the PGA Championship (56th) and the WGC-Bridgestone (21st) this summer. He hasn’t missed a cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event this year and is 4th on the Japan Tour’s money list. He struggled to a 40th place finish last week but had previously rattled off five straight top-10 finishes. If you’re looking for a very low-owned sleeper in this range, Song could be your guy.
Shih-Chang Chan ($6,900) - How’s this for recent form on the Japan Tour: 3rd, 12th, 12th, 1st, 49th, 1st, 5th. One of those wins came at the King’s Cup, a co-sanctioned Asian Tour – European Tour event that drew a decent field. He also recently made the cut at the Omega European Masters, firing three rounds in the 60s. Chan also has the advantage of short travel this week, while many of the American’s in the field have to fly across the Pacific from Napa Valley. For a guy who is bound to be under 2% owned across all contests, I’ll take a shot on a proven winner and scorer.
Jon Curran ($6,800) - Curran seems always to fly under the radar, as he did with a 35th place finish at the Safeway Open. Curran is great on courses that require strategic ball-striking, and this fits the mold. Curran is probably going to get his 1st Tour win this season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens during the Fall Swing season. He disappointed with a 53rd here last year, but hopefully, he’s more familiar with the course and the travel this time around.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest on their DraftKings salaries. Keep in mind; this doesn’t make these players “good plays” or “bad plays,” but it simply measures the value based on their price. I’ve done this not just with the actual rankings, but as a percentage. So if two players have a difference of 10 spots in pricing versus odds rankings, the player ranked higher overall will have a higher percentage. It’s a quick way to find value. I use an aggregate of odds from various oddsmakers to come up with my valuation.
The value differential column shows the number of spots lower in salary than their odds to win imply. The differential % column shows that as a percentage of the players DraftKings salary ranking. Here is a list of the top-15 “values” based on my aggregations:
On the flipside, we have the list of players Vegas believes are overpriced based on their odds to win. Using the same model and calculations as above, here are the top-15 worst “values” based on my aggregations:
DraftKings lineups for the CIMB Classic
Stars and Scrubs