Favorite Plays by Tier (Skeeter Only as James is in Jamaica: Lucky Guy!)
- 10k: Justin Rose
- 9k: Francesco Molinari
- 8k: Lucas Glover
- 7k: Hao-Tong Li (Wednesday Change to Zach Johnson)
- 6k: Stewart Cink
NOTE: Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the API this week, due to a neck strain.
This is a great field at the top, with a lot of elite names playing and giving tribute to Arnold Palmer. There are only going to be 123 golfers with the normal cut rules, so I think you will want to be aggressive in player selection. It may be a week where it's better to choose someone with 3 Top 10s and 4 Missed Cuts than someone with 7 Made Cuts, but only one or two Top 25s (Theoretical Example: not mentioning any specific golfer).
In the last three years, here are the course ranks for Bay Hill: 15th toughest in 2018, 9th in 2017, and 28th in 2016. The cut is usually over par, with a winning score around -18. 2017 looks to be the outlier, with some winds keeping the winning score at -11. As far as a comparison course, it looks like TPC San Antonio, home to the Valero Texas Open, would be a good one to look at. Very similar yardage for both, and the correlation among some players in the field this week and their history at the Valero is correlated (Martin Laird, Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson, and Billy Horschel to name a few). Ball striking is key here, so I will be looking at Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, SG: Approach, Greens in Regulation, and Proximity as my main stats. I will look at Scrambling, SG: Putting, and Birdies or Better as well to figure out what golfers I like.
Since Monday, we have seen Charl Schwartzel and Talor Gooch withdraw. Gooch is a big one, as stat models liked him quite a bit at 6800. Gooch was expected to see 10-15% ownership rates. Expect to see some ownership funnel towards Nate Lashley, Harold Varner, and Sungjae Im at similar price points. Schwartzel may have ended up around 5% owned so I don't think there will be a significant ownership change due to his withdrawal.
According to the National Weather Service, it looks like there will be no rain this week, with winds from 5-10 mph for most of the week. Windfinder is suggesting that there may be some 10-13 mph gusts Thursday morning and most of the day Friday after 10:00 am. This could create a slight advantage for the Thursday PM/Friday AM groups. Is it enough for me to alter lineups with? No. But, I think it could be a tiebreaker if you are deciding between two golfers. If you are playing multiple lineups, it may not be a bad idea to stack each wave, particularly the PM/AM wave just in case there ends up being an advantage.
The Tiger Woods withdrawal really impacted the 9k+ players projected ownership. Tiger was likely be around 25% owned. As the 2nd most expensive player, it took people into cheaper options, basically making this whole tier float around 15-20%, with 25% ownership in some spots. I would say the most popular in this tier will be Justin Rose, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, and Hideki Matsuyama. Most of the others are a closer to 15%, with potential of 20%. The only golfer in this tier that is being projected in single digits is Phil Mickelson. Assuming you're not on Phil, I'm not sure there is too much of an advantage to be had in this tier to warrant getting off of someone.
As far as everyone else below 9k, here are the golfers that may attract the highest ownership (In no particular order): Ian Poulter, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Zach Johnson, and Nate Lashley. That range of Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak, and Keegan Bradley will definitely have some ownership as well; it's just hard to determine who will get talked up the most in that range. Outside of RCB and Zach Johnson, I don't really get a great feeling of who will be third. Luke List, Si Woo Kim, and Byeong Hun-An could be in this spot, but I'm not sure any exceed 15%.
As far as my lineups go, the only player I'm going to fade due to ownership is Nate Lashley. I was really hoping he would be a sneaky play, but as I was afraid of, everyone talked him up. I don't think he's a bad play; I just will generally avoid anyone in the 6k range that could see double-digit ownership.
Thinking before I set Final Lineups:
All of these are decisions I'm making with only having four lineups. If I was playing 20 lineups, I would have exposure to every golfer I mention in this section.
- Molinari over Fleetwood (will have exposure to both players)
- Hideki over Day. One lineup will come down to Hideki vs Koepka, factoring price and alternatives.
- Glover over Kokrak/Bradley. I would take Bradley over Kokrak
- Cink over Conners
- Golfers I'm still debating on: Niemann, Olesen, Li, Thompson, Moore, and Aphibarnrat. I'm definitely playing Sungjae Im in this price range, and will probably end up with 2-3 of these players. I'm sure I will take at least one shot on Niemann. I am leaning Li/Thompson right now, but I could see myself changing at the end.
- I will probably still have exposure to some combination of Poulter/RCB/Zach Johnson. I will probably cut one of them out, and right now, I think it's Poulter, but could be ZJ in the end. I think I will eat the chalk on RCB, as he is mispriced in this field.
If I have any big changes that I didn't mention here, I will re-post later tonight. But, that's my general thinking in the middle. My thoughts on Rose/McIlroy haven't changed since the podcast. Good luck this week at the API!