Last week was a fantastic week at the WGC-HSBC Champions for Hideki Matsuyama, who got the biggest win of his young career in a 7-stroke thrashing of the field. He came in at 4th in my rankings last week, even in a stacked field.
This week, we are back stateside for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children’s Open, at TPC Summerlin.
One thing I always pay attention to this time of year is the players who have ties to Las Vegas (or are desert golf specialists). This doesn’t mean we have to overweight course history, but you should look at players born and raised in this part of the country, or those who played college golf at elite programs like UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, or San Diego State. Some names that come to mind right away are Scott Piercy, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore, Chad Campbell, and Kevin Na.
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.
TPC Summerlin is a par-71 that plays just over 7,200 yards. That means there is one extra par-4 (instead of a 4th par-5) on this course, making par-4 scoring even more important. Holes 15 - 18 will be equally critical this week, as players finish with a drivable par-4, reachable par-5, water-guarded par-3, and a tough finishing par-4. One thing to notice is that although the fairways can be difficult to hit, there isn’t much rough to speak of (welcome to desert golf). I think you might see a leaderboard similar to what we saw when Tony Finau won the Puerto Rico Open. When it comes to the type of player I’m targeting, I think I’m targeting scorers more than anything. Regardless of the course, fantasy points come from birdie makers, and this course has had a mixed bag of winners in the past.
Recent Tournament History
Here is the data we can draw upon for this week’s Tournament History:
Finished in the top-20 each of the last three years: Jason Bohn.
Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Alex Cejka, Kevin Streelman, Nick Watney, Tony Finau.
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 Sanderson Farms, 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. Guys like Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Walker, Charles Howell, Robert Garrigus, and Smylie Kaufman come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie-makers. It’s possible to have a player finish top-10 in fantasy points while not finishing anywhere close to the top-10 in the actual event.
Good Drive Percentage (GD%)
You can target driving distance alone, but I also wanted to target some accuracy metrics, as well. As mentioned, the rough isn’t too penal at TPC Summerlin, so I’m looking at GD% instead of just driving distance or accuracy. Certain bombers can overcome bad drives because they hit it far enough that they’ll have wedges in their hands anyways. And shorter hitters will still pop in this stat because they hit a ton of fairways. Some names in the field that pop from 2015’s GD% rankings are Chez Reavie, Lucas Glover, Kevin Streelman, Colt Knost, David Hearn, Webb Simpson, and Jason Bohn.
Par 4 Scoring (P4)
This week should be a birdie fest for the players, and as mentioned, there’s an extra par-4 on the course. The previous winners of this event played the par-4s -6, -9, and -12, respectively. Another thing that’s great about par-4 scoring is that we have data on the new web.com Tour players. C.T. Pan, J.T. Poston, Grayson Murray, and Martin Flores are all elite par-4 scorers from the web.com Tour who are in the field this week.
Strokes Gained Approach (SG: Approach)
I think both SG: Approach and GIR% can be good pointers this week since the off-the-tee game is a little mitigated by easy-to-hit fairways. Looking back at recent trends here at TPC Summerlin, there’s a strong correlation between top-5s at this venue and the season-end SG: Approach rankings.
*In order of my rankings
Brooks Koepka ($10,700) – Koepka is far and away the class of this field, so let’s hope he’s motivated after a lackluster performance in China. His only PGA Tour win came in the desert, at TPC Summerlin, so this is his style of golf. His record here is spotty but does have a 4th place finish on record. Even if he can’t win this week, he should rack up tons of fantasy points in all formats.
Scott Piercy ($9,700) – My main concern with Piercy is going to be the fact that he’s traveling from China, but hopefully he has a day off in between. He’s your prototypical desert golfer: born and raised in Las Vegas, and went to school at San Diego State. He’s won the Reno-Tahoe open which also tends to favor West Coast specialists (Pat Perez was the runner-up, and I’ll get to him later), so there is a definite connection. At this event, Piercy has three top-10s in the past five years.
Ryan Moore ($11,000) – The UNLV product always shows up for a home game. He has three top-10s here including a win in 2012. He’s in the midst of a career resurgence which included a spot in the Ryder Cup. Since then, he’s posted a 17th in Malaysia and a 23rd in China.
Jon Rahm ($9,800) – Birdie maker, check. Arizona State product, check. Chalk of the week, check. Rahm burst onto the scene last year at the Waste Management Open, and obvious correlation course to TPC Summerlin. He’s an elite ball-striker and is powerful off the tee, as well. He’s going to win, and win a lot. Expect Rahm to get multiple wins this year and cement himself near the top of the European Ryder Cup rankings this season.
Kevin Na ($9,500) – Na finished 2nd here last season and won in 2011, so the course fits his eye well. He’s a Vegas guy who dominates the Fall Swing, so I fully expect that to continue this week. He’s played golf the last three weeks, so I worry a bit about fatigue, but I’ll give him another go in a home game.
Russell Henley ($8,000) – I love playing Russell Henley in weaker fields, on the West Coast, and when he’s in form. Here, we have all three. Henley played well last week at the Sanderson Farms en route to a 14th place finish and finished 10th here a year ago. Henley also putts that lights out on Bentgrass greens, another reason to love him this week.
Webb Simpson ($7,800) – Webb is surprisingly a course horse here, with two 4th place finishes bookending a victory in 2013. One thing that stands out is Webb’s stellar approach game, which is why I’m focusing heavily on that stat this week. Although his last two outings have been poor, Webb seems to play well at the same courses year in and year out.
Harris English ($7,200) – He’s made all three cuts at this venue, including a 16th place finish in 2014. Although nothing pops about English, his record at TPC Scottsdale (back to back top-3 finishes) shows that desert golf suits his game well. I think he’s very undervalued in all formats this week and is a safe bet for a top-25 finish.
Ryan Blaum ($6,800) – After a 26th at the Safeway and an 11th at the Sanderson Farms, somehow Blaum’s price has dropped. He’s a fantastic value this week with his birdie making upside. Last year on the web.com Tour, Blaum finished 6th in birdie-or-better percentage and 3rd in par-4 scoring average. He’s my favorite punt play of the week by far.
Nick Watney ($7,500) – Another name that new DFS players won’t know much about since Watney has battled a back injury and a bad golf game for the past few seasons. He’s a five-time winner on Tour, including a FedEx Cup playoff win and a World Golf Championship. Here, he’s a course horse, with a record that reads: 11th, 16th, 48th, 10th, 2nd, and 6th over the past six years. With a lot of popular names in this range, I like Watney will go completely overlooked. Oh, and he lives in Las Vegas.
Michael Kim ($7,200) – Kim flashed a ton of consistent game last year, as he was one of our favorite, cheap cut-makers. He has been particularly clutch during last year’s Fall Swing, where he went 5/5 making cuts. He opened his sophomore season with a 3rd place finish at the Safeway, where he used excellent putting and GIR% to lock up his highest career finish. He now comes back to a course where he finished 16th a year ago, so the positive memories should serve him well.
David Hearn ($6,700) – Last time out, Hearn clearly had some jet lag from his flight to Malaysia, opening with a 79. He progressed throughout the weekend, though, and finished with back-to-back rounds of 68. He now comes to a course where he’s finished inside the top-30 four times, with a 5th and a 7th place finish on his record.
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:
|Player||Value Differential||% Differential|
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:
|Player||Value Differntial||% Differential|
DraftKings lineups for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children’s Open
Stars and Scrubs