We have our first full-field event of 2017 here at the Sony Open, after an exciting Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. This week’s field is headlined by Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Branden Grace, and Justin Thomas. It’s going to be a very interesting week because Thomas, Matsuyama, and Spieth finished 1-2-3 last week, Grace burned everyone, and Rose is coming off a back injury. We could see record ownership on Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama.
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.
Waialae CC, designed by Seth Raynor, is a golf course that is almost polar opposite to that of last week’s Tournament of Champions. We’re going to see thicker rough, firmer fairways, and difficult-to-hit greens. It’s also a course that favors the tacticians: a par-70 that measures 7,088 yards. Think “old man” golfers, players who do well in windy conditions, and stay away from bombers (for the most part). Because it’s a par-70, that means we lose a couple par-5s and have an added emphasis on par-4 scoring. We also have par-3s (and approach shots) that are going to emphasize the 200-225 yard range, so that’s another small factor to consider. I also weigh course history pretty heavily here, because it’s a specialized event that certain players target or skip. What I mean by that is players who come to the Sony Open usually do so because they love and appreciate this kind of test. Bombers like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, for instance don’t fit the mold, and therefore, chose not to play.
Recent Tournament History
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: Jerry Kelly
Finished in the top-10 in two of the last three years: Jimmy Walker, Zac Blair, Harris English, Zach Johnson, Hudson Swafford, Matt Kuchar
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 Tournament of Champions, and highlighted the players in this field:
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
There aren’t 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 really low rounds here, and we can expect the same this year. Guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Palmer, Jimmy Walker, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, and Smylie Kaufman come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie makers who. 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 (SGA):
I think hitting greens in regulation are a key this week, but I didn’t want to simply look at that stat. I also think there are some proximity yardages to key on, but that’s inherently unpredictable. I’m going to target ball-strikers, so SGA is a good all around metric to measure whose iron play has been best. The 2016 SGA leaders in this field are Kevin Na, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, and Paul Casey.
Strokes Gained Putting (SGP):
Putting is always volatile, but we definitely see a correlation between good putters and success at the Sony Open. We want to look at year-end SGP ranks, but also target players who have positive splits on bermuda grass greens. The two names that pop on both lists are Fabian Gomez and Bryce Molder. We also see studs like Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Jimmy Walker, Ryan Palmer, Kevin Na, and Daniel Berger.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
Since this is a par-70 course, we have two fewer par-5s than normal which means we have two extra par-4s. Par-4 scoring average and par-4 birdie or better percentage are both statistics to focus on this week. When we look for strong par-4 scorers, we see names like William McGirt, Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, and Russell Knox. Thinking about those players, we are obviously targeting accurate players who are excellent ball-strikers this week.
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. For correlation courses, we can look at results from Mayakoba, Harbour Town, and Colonial.