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Fantasy Golf - PGA DFS: Puerto Rico Open (FanDuel Preview)

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FanDuel recently joined the PGA DFS community by offering tournaments for last week’s Bay Hill Invitational. It was a great success, and DFS players could feel out the new format and try to optimize their lineups accordingly. Here’s a brief synopsis of the FanDuel format and scoring:

DFS players will pick four golfers for Rounds 1 and 2, and four golfers for Rounds 3 and 4 (these eight golfers will make up one FanDuel “team”). At first glance it seems simple: take some shots on Thursday and Friday, and roster your studs – who you think could win the event – on your weekend roster. But when you think about it deeper, you’re trying to predict how a certain golfer plays round to round! That’s nearly impossible. For example, you could have the tournament winner on your weekend roster and not win, if most of his production came on Thursday and Friday. That seems frustrating. That risk is mitigated a bit because all players – whether you’ve chosen them for Rounds 1 and 2 or Rounds 3 and 4 – will accrue finishing position points. So, having the winner on your Thursday – Friday lineup is still a good thing.

FanDuel Golf Scoring System

Eagle = 7 points
Birdie = 3.1 points
Par = 0.5 point
Bogey = -1 point
Double bogey (or worse) = -3 points

Streak bonus = 0.6 points per hole under par
Bounce back (birdie or better after making bogey or worse) = 0.3 points
5+ Birdies in a round = 4 points
Bogey-free round = 5 points.

1st place = 20 points
2nd-5th place = 12 points
6th-10th place = 8 points
11th-25th place = 5 points



Tournament Stop

The top players in the world are playing the WGC-Dell Match Play event this week in Austin, TX, so the field in Puerto Rico is…uh… not great. However, FedEx Cup points and a huge purse are still on the line. The course at Coco Beach is interesting because it’s a par-72 that’s listed over 7,500 yards. But looking at past winners and leaderboards, it’s not exactly a bomber’s track. Much of the distance is on the par 3s and par 5s, which will neutralize distance off the tee as a major advantage. However, most courses in this part of the world are designed for high wind conditions and are wide open off the tee. This one is no exception. Winning scores have ranged from -7 to -21 over the years, so pay attention to the weather reports this week. We are expecting rain and winds all week, so I don’t think scoring will be quite as prevalent this year. Last year, Tony Finau broke through for his first career win at the PRO.

You can use the usual SG:T2G, bogey avoidance, birdie or better %, etc. this week, but I don’t want to focus too heavily on stats because of the unpredictable wind conditions and the really low strength of the field. I do think, however, that looking at other weak-field events and windy, seashore courses should provide some insight into the type of players we can target this week.

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: None.

Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Scott Brown, Alex Cejka, Will MacKenzie, Tim Petrovic, Martin Flores, Chesson Hadley, Jonathan Byrd.

Current Form Review

Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. I have included the top-20 from the past three full-field events: the Honda Classic, the Valspar Championship, and last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Statistical Report

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 Luke List, Chris Kirk, Camilo Villegas, and Graham DeLaet 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.

Strokes Gained Approach (SG:App): There’s no doubt that ball-striking and GIR% are huge at this venue, and that’s clear in past leaderboards. Because of the rain, the course should be playing soft enough for these players to throw darts all week. There’s going to be a slight edge to bombers, but targeting solid iron players – specifically long iron players – is one key for me this week.  If you have a player who sticks approach shots inside 10’ consistently, he’s going to shoot up the leaderboard and contend on Sunday. Some names that stand out in the field are Mark Wilson, Camilo Villegas, Luke List, Brad Fritsch, and Wesley Bryan.

Par-5 Scoring (P5): Par-5 scoring is going to be key this week, and I think the winner will be the player who leads the field in par-5 scoring. This could mean a bomber who makes a couple of eagles, or an elite wedge player. Either way, I think looking at par-5 scoring on the season will be a great pointer towards success this week.  Some players who popped out to me were Luke List, Greg Owen, Whee Kim, Nick Taylor, and Seamus Power.

Proximity from 200+ yards: I’m not huge on targeting proximity yardages, but this is an exception. We’re going to see a ton of long iron approaches this week, especially since the course should be playing very soft. I’ll be targeting elite long iron players this week. Players will be using long irons on par-3s and 2nd shots on par-5s. Names that stood out to me in this field were Mark Wilson, John Peterson, Bobby Wyatt, and Mark Hubbard.

Studs

*In order of my rankings

Graham DeLaet ($9,400) – FanDuel has DeLaet priced much lower than DraftKings does, so I’ll have most of my exposure here. DeLaet MC last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but had strung together five strong weeks before last. It was a tough track and a tough field, so I’ll give DeLaet a pass. He’s still searching for that first win, and hopefully, the recent win by fellow Canadian Adam Hadwin provides the extra motivation DeLaet needs to break into the winner’s circle. He comes to the PRO for the 5th time, having posted top-25s every year. He’s a great iron player and wind player, so the signs are pointing up for DeLaet this week.

Wesley Bryan ($8,900) – Bryan cooled off a little bit last week at Bay Hill, but still had a solid week after a horrendous opening round 75. He rattled off three straight top-10 finishes before last week and should be high on confidence. Bryan is a great ball-striker who loves playing in these tropical climates, as he showed during the Florida swing. He also won a web.com event in Mexico. Bryan is going to win on Tour this year, and the PRO could be just the place to get the job done. Like DeLaet, his price is affordable on FanDuel, making it possible to stack your teams.

Luke List ($8,600) – Speaking of breakthroughs, List might be the most talented player in the field without a PGA Tour win. He had a red hot Fall Swing and has been playing decently in 2017 as well. List ranks highly in par-5 scoring, birdie or better percentage, and ball-striking from 200+ yards, making him an awesome play on paper. Throw in a couple of solid finishes at the PRO in the past, and you’ve got one of my picks to win.

Chris Kirk ($8,300) – Kirk has missed back-to-back cuts on tough tracks, and now comes to an easy course in a weak field. This is a Chris Kirk specialty if I ever saw one. I have a slight concern with Kirk in that he’s never played here before, but raw talent should get him into contention this week. He’s a great putter and wedge player and should take advantage of the par-5s. If he can keep his driver in play, Kirk very well could be the winner Sunday afternoon.

Peter Uihlein ($7,200) –  Uihlein’s price on DraftKings is but I’ll have nearly 100% exposure on FanDuel. He’s an elite talent and birdie-maker that should be perfect for this track. He’s played here three times, including a 6th place finish in 2013. He plays on the European Tour and has quietly put together a great run. He’s made his last six cuts, including three top-7 finishes. His distance off-the-tee should help him crush the par-5s this week.

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