Bay Hill Country Club: Orlando, Florida Par 72, 7,419 Yards
Defending Champion: Marc Leishman (-11) by one shot over Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman
Primary Stats- SG: Tee-to-Green
Secondary Stats- Scrambling, Fairways Gained, Proximity: 200+ Yards, Par 5 SG: 550-600 Yards, Birdies or Better
Timeframe: Past 12 Rounds unless specified. (Changed from usual 24)
Roster Lock: 8:00 am EST (7:00 CST, 6:00 MST, 5:00 PST)
A crazy cut line saw it end at +1, with some Tommy Fleetwood owners panicking that it would go to Even. I personally have three 6/6, and two 5/6 (thanks to Jason Kokrak's Back 9 issues on Friday). I try to keep this to weekend analysis only, but DraftKings did some things today that I need to address:
Match Play and The Masters
So DraftKings is going to run contests for the Match Play. I would assume FanDuel and FantasyDraft are not going to follow suit, but keep an eye out in case they do. For those of you that subscribe, I will do analysis for the Match Play, which does start Wednesday. The format will probably be much more similar to the weekend analysis than the usual format.
Also, DraftKings released their salaries for The Masters on Friday, giving everyone 20 days to do analysis. I have put up two files to help you start your analysis. For subscribers and non-subscribers, I have a spreadsheet of how players did in the majors in 2017. You can see who made the cut in all four majors, and who performed best. It will include 2017 Masters results, though it is sorted by complete major performance. For subscribers only, I have also posted the Tournament History at The Masters from 2010-2017. There are players included that have not qualified yet, but since I don't know everyone who will make the field, I included many who still have a chance. On Monday of Masters week, I will narrow the list down to just those playing there in 2018.
Finally, if you are not a subscriber, a friendly reminder that it is $9.99/30 Days. It does include Masters week, so give it a try and if you like it, continue to subscribe for the rest of the season, which will include the other majors.
As usual, I'm looking for players who are playing well Tee-to-Green, but may not be putting all that great. I'm also looking for top tier golfers sitting in mid-pack or bottom of the pack, as they will should have a low round left in them. I'm also not afraid of golfers who are solid all-around so far this week. Here are some notes and players that have caught my eye:
- Tiger Woods (9,600) was over 60% owned in weekend contests a week ago. I expect him to be popular here again. He's +1.4 strokes so far, gaining over 2 shots around the green, but losing just over 1 shot off the tee. I will not be playing him due to expected ownership. However, if I wasn't worried about ownership, I would have no issue playing him.
- I also expect Henrik Stenson (8,800) to be quite popular. He's leading the tournament, is below 9k, and has made 12 birdies versus only one bogey through 36 holes. We know he likes Bay Hill, so he's usuable. I don't see myself using him due to ownership. But I understand if you want to: he is positive in all categories, being +3.3 Tee-to-Green and +2.3 Putting.
- So, who am I looking at? One player I didn't write up this week who was in some bad form but have turned it around this week: Rory McIlroy (9,400). Mcilroy is among the birdies leaders through two rounds with 10. He goes against my usual choices of players for the weekend: He's -0.30 Tee-to-Green, with the problem being Off-the-Tee. However, he has gained over 2 strokes Putting. Rory rarely gains strokes putting. I think the Tee-to-Green game will come around and if he is putting well, this is when I want to use him.
- If Rory is too risky or you want to pair someone with him, Rickie Fowler (9,200) has been efficient, making 9 birdies and only 3 bogies. He has gained 2.9 strokes with a +3 SG in Approach. He's not bad in the other categories, but only being 5 off the lead and his affinity for Arnold Palmer (check out his shoes and his golf bag has the Arnold Palmer umbrella), he's motivated and worth taking a chance.
- I try to give at least one player I think will be lower owned for the weekend. My pick is Sam Horsfield (7,200). After a rough start to 2018, he finished 2nd in South Africa in his last event before coming over here, making 23 birdies. He has only made 8 birdies, but fits the profile of who I'm looking for: +2.1 strokes gained Tee-to-Green, but -1.5 SG Putting.
- Golfers who are at least +1 SG: T2G and -1 SG: Putting: Ryan Moore, Grayson Murray, Brandon Harkins, Sam Horsfield, Davis Love III, Colin Morikawa, and Kevin Streelman
- Other golfers I'm looking at: Charley Hoffman, Patrick Reed, Talor Gooch, Sam Burns, Byeong-Hun An, Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood
According to the National Weather Service, no rain, little wind, and 70 degrees. Sounds like perfect golfing weather. No tee time advantages to be had.
Ownership (Fanshare Sports)
Projected to be over 19% owned: Tiger Woods (37%), Kevin Chappell (30%), Francesco Molinari, Emiliano Grillo, Alex Noren, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman, Jason Day.
I wasn't on Harman to start the week. I will gladly fade Grillo at such high ownership. One thing to know: He did play in India last week. Jet Lag has proven to be an issue for some golfers in the past. That is enough for me to not play Grillo. As far as Tiger goes, I am playing him in 3 of 10 lineups. I would have stuck to one except he is my pick to win, as well as my One and Done pick.
For the second week in a row, Taylor has withdrawn. I liked him a bit as a value play on FanDuel and DraftKings, so I had to change a lot of lineups due to this news. Check your lineups and choose someone else.
Players I did not write about that I am using: Byeong-Hun An. My One and Done pick from last week, An missed the cut and hurt a couple of my teams. So why am I going back to him? A couple of reasons: First, he's projected at 1% ownership. I suspect he may end up around 3%. If I liked him last week at higher ownership, why not go back to him at much lower ownership? Second, he's made the cut here both times, and has good stats: 9th in Par 5 SG: 550-600, and 28th in Tee-to-Green and Fairways Gained/Accuracy. The only stat the he struggles in is Proximity from 200+ yards.
My other player: Martin Laird. A past champion, he doesn't have great finishes here, but he hasn't missed the cut in the past six years. Has two 9th place finishes the past three tournaments this year, and is 17th in Birdies or Better, and above average in every other stat except Par 5: 550-600. He's slightly below average there.
Players article that I'm not using: Emiliano Grillo, Bubba Watson, (just didn't fit my lineup build), Chesson Hadley (want to see form return before I play him), Kevin Na (not sure what injury situation is like), Chris Kirk, Kevin Streelman, and Sean O'Hair.
A tournament in honor of the King, the Arnold Palmer Invitational brings a nice field of 120 golfers to Orlando for the third event on the Florida Swing. I have a few things to mention before the picks, including a story from last weekend that applies to fantasy sports game play. I put the title in Orange, so if you don't want to read it right now, but wait until later, you know what section it is.
WGC Mexico Recap
I'm sure most people weren't surprised that a golfer from Canada led the first three rounds. I just think most thought it would have been Adam Hadwin, not Corey Conners, who was in his first Sunday final group, and struggled like most first-timers in that same spot do. Tiger Woods was in contention and after birding 17 on Sunday, gave people some hope he could get himself into a playoff. But, it wasn't meant to be last week. After being so close to winning for a few years, Paul Casey finally got his second career PGA Tour win. Casey has a little bit of a history of blowing leads, so coming from behind was perfect. A Sunday 65 was nice as well.
Best Pick of the Week: Paul Casey. I had him in 3 of my 8 lineups, as I did like the Euros...
Worst Pick of the Week: Henrik Stenson. I think he only made one or two birdies in two rounds and missed the cut. There were plenty of good golfers that missed the cut (6/6 was something around 5%) but Stenson was my highest owned player that failed to make the weekend, and did not score enough points like Kevin Streelman to help a roster. More on him in my video...
National Fantasy Pregame Show
https://www.facebook.com/nationalpregame/. Also will be on the MyFantasyFix page on Tuesday night.
It will done Friday night this week, probably by 10:00 pm EST. Free for everyone, including non-subscribers.
Next Week: Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship & The Masters
There will be no article next week. I'm guessing FanDuel and DraftKings will have game offerings, but it will be small. While this is the PGA Tour event going on, the World Golf Championship-Match Play will also be going on. That's where the TV and Radio coverage will be aimed at, along with the Top 64 golfers in the world. That is why I'm not going to write an article. If you are playing it and want to discuss it, feel free to contact me and I'll be more than happy to discuss players.
In the next few days or next week, I plan on posting the Tournament History for The Masters, along with a summary of how every golfer did in the 2017 majors. Next week may be a good week to get started on your research for The Masters, which is only 3 weeks away.
Why Are You Playing Fantasy Sports?
This focuses on approaching lineup construction when you have a favorite golfer. Very little strategy for this specific tournament mentioned here, in case you are looking for just this week's content.
On Saturday, I was with a friend of mine, who is a very casual follower of golf. He was interested in the Valspar Championship because Tiger Woods was playing well. He was rooting for Tiger to win, which I responded I kind of hope he doesn't. He looks at me questioning why I would say such a ridiculous statement: Then he figured out that it was because I didn't play him in any lineups. He then proceeds to tell me that I have to play him in at least one lineup each week.
I bring this up because it's a debate I think we all have in fantasy sports: Do I play the best players or do I play to include my favorite player, or players from my favorite teams? It's nice when the answer to both of these questions are the same. But when it's not, that's when you have to figure out what the end goal of yourself playing is.
If you are playing because you normally wouldn't follow a sport without a fantasy lineup, or just really want to roster someone because you're a fan, go for it. One of the things that I maybe don't allude to enough is that fantasy sports are suppose to be fun. If it's more fun for you to play Tiger Woods, go for it. If you're an L.A. Angels fan and you enjoy DFS more when you can roster Mike Trout, do it. This is the approach I tend to take at the John Deere Classic: my local PGA Tour event. It's also the approach I'm taking with my college basketball brackets. Are Duke and Kansas good teams that can win it all? Absolutely. But, I don't like either team and hope they both lose (Sorry if I'm offending any Blue Devils or Jayhawks fans), and am willing to pick against them, even if it is not always the best play. For the record, I have Duke losing in the Sweet 16 and Kansas losing in the Elite 8.
If you are playing for a huge win or money, then I think you have to be objective as possible and remove any biases. I have not played Tiger Woods yet this season. Not because I hope he doesn't play well: I'm doing it from a game theory perspective. One look at TV ratings show that Tiger still brings people in to watch golf. That's great for Golf and great for all sports. But, because I (and others) know this, this means that he will be highly owned every week. I've made strategic decisions not to play him due to that high ownership. When he misses the cut like he did at the Genesis Open, I'm at an advantage. Yes, if he wins and I have no shares of him, I'm probably not enjoying my week. I'm a Bears and White Sox fan, so I haven't exactly had too many instances of worrying about not playing those players in recent years due to popularity. But, if you are going to try and win a tournament, you have to be willing to put aside your biases, and make the best picks according to your research.
Finally, what about my friend's point about playing him in at least one lineup? He probably has the best approach here. I will tell you that this is the tournament I have been waiting to target Tiger at since he played well at The Honda. So yes, Tiger will be in at least one of my lineups this week. Will he be in multiple? Depends on the ownership projections. If he's 30% or higher, he probably will be on 1 lineup only. If he is closer to 20%, then I may have him on 2 or 3 lineups out of eight, nine, or ten lineups industry wide. I try not to hedge all of the time, but sometimes it may be best. With the impact Tiger has had back in his return, maybe it is time to listen to my friend and play him in at least one lineup. For me, ownership will dictate how many more lineups, if any, Tiger is in for me.
This is an invitational tournament, meaning there are only 120 players with the same cut rules. Over 50% of the field will make the cut, so it is a week you may want to take a little more risk with your selections. The winning score is usually in the double digits, usually around -15 or so. I've included Birdies or Better for that reason. Also, with 3 Par 5s ranging from 550-600 yards, players will have to take advantage on those holes, and is why I included that. There are also a few Par 4s between 450-500 yards, meaning there will be some long irons into holes. I've included Proximity from 200+ yards into my stats, as that was the distance most shots were from when I looked at Fantasy National. I also look at Scrambling and Fairways Gained/Accuracy to be included in this.
But, the stat I weigh the most is SG: Tee-to-Green. When I went back a few years and look at strokes gained from the tournaments in the Top 25, there was no stat that most of them were positive in than Tee-to-Green. This makes some sense. The fairways are easy to hit; however, the rough is thick so players must keep the ball in the fairway. Otherwise, they won't hold the green, if they can hit it. In a tournament where you need birdies, golfers will have to hit greens to give themselves putts that they can make. Onto the picks
Tiger Woods (11,900)
This is the toughest price of the three sites. You can fit him on FantasyDraft very easily, and he is slightly undervalued on DraftKings. There are a couple of reasons for this: First, is his runner-up finish last week at the Valspar. He was in contention all weekend and got a lot of the media attention. Ratings last week were higher than any event not called The Masters in 2017. The other reason: he's won here eight times, including his last two appearances. In the past 12 rounds, Tiger ranks 7th in Birdies or Better, 17th Tee-to-Green, and 28th in Scrambling. He's going to be highly owned. As I mentioned in my conversation I had with a friend last week, I will play him in at least one lineup. How many more depends on how highly owned he gets. (Cash and GPP)
Tommy Fleetwood (11,700)
I love Fleetwood's price all across the industry this week. I feel like his is a little underpriced, with FanDuel being the fairest. He was 4th at the Honda, and played well on the weekend at Mexico to finish 14th. This will be Fleetwood's second appearance, finishing 10th here last year. He's #1 in my stat model when looking at 12 rounds: 1st Tee-to-Green, 2nd in Birdies or Better, 9th in Fairways Gained/Accuracy, 10th in Par 5 SG: 550-600, and 15th in Proximity from 200+ yards. I think a lot will just choose Tiger in this range, but Fleetwood offers some value and lots of upside at this price. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Jason Day (12,500) is a perfect example this week of paying up to be contrarian. He's so much more expensive than Tiger that he should be low owned. He's coming off a 1st and 2nd his past two tournaments, and has three top 25s here the past three years, including a win. Is first in Birdies or Better.
- Justin Rose (12,200) has gained 24.6 strokes here in the past five years, only playing four times and having one missed cut. Two Top 10s the past three years, Rose ranks 7th in Scrambling and 12th in Birdies or Better.
- Alex Noren (11,800) has a low finish of 21st in five events in 2018. He is playing really well right now, ranking Top 15 in every stat category I'm looking at this week except Proximity from 200 yards. Real nice pivot off of Tiger.
- Henrik Stenson (11,200): See National Fantasy Pregame Show
Cash: Noren, Rose
GPP: Day, Noren, Stenson, Rose
Zach Johnson (10,200)
Johnson is a play anytime a course requires accuracy. I look at his past history here and not surprisingly, he has played well: Two Top 10s and a Top 25 the past six years, while gaining 20.6 strokes the past five years here. Johnson has three Top 20s in four events this year. ZJ ranks 10th in Fairways Gained, and is above average in every category except Proximity, where he is 69th. Perhaps a better cash play, Johnson's past does give him some upside to consider as well. (Cash, GPP Playable)
Kevin Chappell (10,000)
Chappell has been a model of consistency in 2018: Making all six cuts, no finish worse than 31st, and two Top 10s. He has a runner-up finish and two Top 25s the past six years at this event, gaining over 10.5 strokes. Chappell ranks high in my stat model for the past 12 and 24 rounds. But for the past 12 rounds, he ranks 13th in Proximity, 15th Tee-to-Green, and 22nd in Birdies or Better. He is very underpriced at 7,300 on DraftKings, while fairly and accurately priced on FanDuel and Fantasy Draft. There is a lot to like with Chappell and at average price on FanDuel, he's a nice complimentary piece to any top priced golfer you want to play. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Tyrell Hatton (10,600): See National Fantasy Pregame Show
- Bubba Watson (10,400) is coming off a win and Top 10 in his last two events. Does have a 4th and 14th in the past here. Ranks 4th in Birdies or Better and 14th in Tee-to-Green.
GPP: Hatton, Watson
Francesco Molinari (9,900)
Molinari enjoys Bay Hill, never missing a cut here with three Top 10s in his five appearances. This results in him gaining over 37 strokes the past five years, second best in this field. He's made three of his four cuts on Tour this season, with his only missed cut due to a 77 in round one, in which he bounced back in round two with a 69. I'm not worried about one bad round. Molinari ranks 13th Tee-to-Green, 15th in Par 5 Strokes Gained from 500-550, and 24th in Proximity from 200+ yards. Good stats, decent form, and an excellent history, I do like his price better on the other two sites, especially DraftKings. But, he's playable on all sites. (Cash, GPP Playable)
James Hahn (9,100)
Hahn has had a good start to 2018, making all six cuts with a 2nd, and three other Top 26 finishes. I wonder if he may go a little overlooked due to him missing the cut both times he has played here in the past. He also stood out to me statistically: 4th Tee-to-Green, 6th in Birdies or Better, 17th in Scrambling, 19th in Proximity from 200+ yards, and 20th in Par 5 SG: 550-600. I like the form and the price on Fanduel, and think he makes for a nice value play. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Jamie Lovemark (9,700) has put together a nice string of finishes recently with a 26th, 7th, and 16th in his last three. Has finished 6th and 23rd here the past two years. Ranks 3rd in Scrambling, 9th Tee-to-Green, and above average in everything except Fairways Gained/Accuracy
- Kiradech Aphibarnrat (9,600): See National Fantasy Pregame Show
- Russell Knox (9,400) bounced back for a 16th last week after a tough week at the Honda. Has the made the cut here in both appearances. 11th in Fairways Gained, Top 30 in everything except Birdies or Better.
- Keegan Bradley (9,200) has made all five cuts here, gaining over 31.5 strokes here the past five years and two Top 10s. Has made five of six cuts this year. Ranks 6th Tee-to-Green and 8th in Fairways Gained. Struggles in Birdies or Better and Scrambling.
Others You Can Play: Kevin Kisner (DK especially), Jason Kokrak, Cam Smith, Emiliano Grillo
Cash: Lovemark, Knox, Aphibarnrat, Kisner on DraftKings, Smith
GPP: Everyone I mentioned in this tier
There is no one I am really in love with in this tier. There are ones I like, but have some major question marks. So, I'm going to do my secondary write-ups for this tier, and save Scott Stallings (8,900) for the National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
Golfers to Consider:
- Chesson Hadley (8,900) is one I'm going to probably not play this week, as he has struggled in Florida. But, still 11th in Birdies or Better and ok in all stats but Scrambling.
- Kevin Na (8,900) has three Top 15s in the past here, but did withdraw after lock last week.1st in Scrambling but not good in Par 5 SG: 550-600.
- Chris Kirk (8,700) keeps making cuts with Top 50 finishes. Has 2 Top 20s and 2 Missed Cuts in his five appearances here. 12th in Proximity and average in all other stats, but weak in Birdies or Better.
- Ben Martin (8,600) has gained 17 strokes the past four years here, including a 5th and 12th. Has made all six cuts this season. Ranks 25th in Fairways Gained and 26th in Birdies or Better
- Kevin Streelman (8,500) had a bad Back 9 to miss his first cut this year. Has made three of four cuts here in the past. Ranks 15th in Fairways Gained and 25th in Tee-to-Green.
- Sean O'Hair (8,500) is coming off a 12th at the Valspar and has made five of his last six cuts at the API. 24th in Par 5 SG: 550-600, but bad stats elsewhere. A tournament history flyer.
- Vaughn Taylor (8,300) has made four cuts in a row recently with two Top 20s. Does have a 21st and 23rd in the past five years at Bay Hill. Ranks 3rd in both Proximity from 200+ and Par 5 SG: 550-600, as well as 6th in Fairways Gained, 16th in Tee-to-Green, and 23rd in Scrambling. Maybe best value of week on FanDuel?
Cash: Streelman, Martin, Taylor, Kirk is Playable
GPP: Hadley, Kirk, Martin, Streelman, O'Hair, Taylor
Again, no one really jumps out at me. Matt Every (7,000) will get some attention because he has won here twice. But, I just don't need to play him or anyone in this tier this week.
The first decision is what to do with Tiger, and then where is the rest of the value at. I think lineups are pretty easy to build on DraftKings and FantasyDraft this week, with FanDuel being a little tricky. Find someone you like in the 8k range and build from there. The Wednesday update will help with ownership and weather. That will probably get me off of some players, and onto others more. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to contact me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions or suggestions.