Arnold Palmer Invitational March 16th-19th
You know, considering my (completely rational) utter dread when it comes to all things snake related, last week was pretty great. As the tournament approached, it became clear that we were going to get abnormally subdued winds. This really made the outlook for scoring much brighter, as it appeared that the, uh, snake would lose some of its bite. Sorry for that.
Anyway, the calm conditions moved me onto a bunch of more volatile players and I had my best week of the season for the second week in a row. I really hit the nuts in cash, where getting 6/6 with Hadwin put me on top in 99.2% of my H2Hs as well as winning just about every triple up, booster, and 3/5/10/20 person smaller contest. This last piece merits its own discussion.
Where golf is a sport that is so all over the place, it can make sense to take a very aggressive approach to cash games. I play them a little looser than I would in NBA, for example, where stability is so important. In golf every player has a floor of missing the cut and you being furious that you rostered the dude. Even, or rather especially, if you spent 12k on him. “Cut making” is not a skill, contrary to what most of the industry will tell you. The golfer who misses on the number didn’t have a significantly worse two days than the one who ekes through. Some weeks it works out that you get a bunch through, some weeks it doesn’t. Not to say that there aren’t skills that make the likelihood of getting through higher, but we would rather target those than how often a player meets some completely arbitrary requirement. The point is that there will be a lot of week to week deviations in the quality of your lineups because of the random nature of the cut, whether you think you are chasing safety or not. Which means you can’t bank on rolling a 60th percentile lineup most of the time, being happy with your double up results and moving on.
Because golfers are all over the place week to week, your lineups will be too. This makes me take a riskier approach to cash game selection (though not necessarily lineup building), eschewing some 50/50s and double ups for more multipliers and 3-20 person games to try and realize more profit when I’m on the good side of golf variance. Similar logic to the “always enter your cash lineup in a tournament” adage, but with a more attainable upside.
Moving on to this week, the Arnold Palmer Invitational (I mean, that name technically doesn’t apply anymore if we’re being morbid) is played at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, FL. We’ve got a 7400 yard par 72 with reachable par 5s and lengthy par 4s. All of the par 3s clock in at 199+ as well, so we are looking at some of the most 200+ yard iron shots we will see all year. There are Bermudagrass greens that read fast, so some long putts are going to sink. Players can score here, and the wind looks to be on the tamer side again, which could really ratchet that up.
Length: Similar to last week, we have a longer course that encourages some layups from the tee box. While distance never hurts, I’m likely to allocate more resources chasing after the guys that can mash with the long irons.
Fairways: The fairways here have some tough spots, but the preferred play for most of these guys is going to be avoiding them. Accuracy off the tee is preferred, but second shots into the green are again the priority.
Greens: Quick Bermudagrass this week, which should really up the variance in the putting, like we needed any more. One putt prayers and three putt disasters should both be a little more frequent. With the rosy outlook of the conditions likely leading to less missed greens, I’m not worrying as much about the short game recovery skills as I would be at this course normally. So for the third straight paragraph, leggggooo long irons.
Weather: Wind looks okay right now, but that can change fast. Make sure you check back on Wednesday, or hit up Ben or myself (or a bunch of the other sharp folks hanging) in Slack.
On to the golfers:
Extra sharp take: So all these guys are awesome. No seriously, the top 6 priced guys-
Rory McIlroy-12.0/22.7, Henrick Stenson-11.5/22.0, Jason Day-10.6/21.3, Hideki Matsuyama-10.3/21.1, Rickie Fowler-9.9/20.7, Justin Rose 9.5/20.6
-all rate as amazing plays at their price points this week. I like Rory the most, as he has the best chance of going Odell Beckham/Russ Westbrook on us with the scoring. He and Stenson are exceptional with the irons from distance.
Rickie and Rose are steady players that do everything well without necessarily being 95th percentile at anything.
I’m the most apprehensive about Day, as it’s hard to get an idea of where he is at with the lack of just about anything lately. But I don’t feel comfortable enough choosing between these guys that I’m forcing a particular stud. I will likely let popular opinion dictate here, and try to find ownership angles to exploit. For example, if it looks like Day or Rose is going to be sub 10% owned, I’ll be all over them in tournaments.
My rough ranking is 1) Rory 2) Stenson 3) ’Deki, slight drop off, 4) Day 5) Rose 6) Rickie but, it’s very close. I’d rather play whoever I can afford in cash after filling out the rest of my roster. In GPPs I’d like to get a little of each with preference toward the lowest owned.
On FantasyDraft it is tough to play any of these guys with the sharper pricing.
Stable: Rory McIlroy-12.0/22.7, Henrick Stenson-11.5/22.0, Hideki Matsuyama-10.3/21.1, Rickie Fowler-9.9/20.7, Justin Rose 9.5/20.6
Volatile: Rory McIlroy-12.0/22.7, Jason Day-10.6/21.3
Fade: Any of ‘em, if the ownership price is right
Stable: Paul Casey-8.8/19.1, Emiliano Grillo-7.7/16.4, Martin Kaymer-7.4/17.9
Volatile: Charl Schwartzel-7.4/18.4, Tony Finau-7.6/17.8, Kevin Kisner-7.6/17.3, Keegan Bradley-7.8/16.4
Fade: Adam Hadwin-8.4/17.4
Casey has really forced himself into that second tier of overall players, with Adam Scott/Rose/Rickie etc. He may break your heart with the putting occasionally but he’ll be as close to the hole as anybody after two shots. Grillo has a similar skill set with a bit less short game, which I’ve mentioned I’m not going to be as worried about this week. Blow up round potential is there, but so is the price discount. Same thing applies to Kaymer. I’m comfortable with all three in all formats. Grillo specifically stands out on FantasyDraft with that price tag.
The volatile tier is full of players I will be relatively heavy on in tournaments, provided they look like they’ll be 30% owned. Charl I would also consider for cash. The rest are flawed in one way or another, but all have upside to compete and to score in bunches. Finau strikes me as the one who could get popular after his 64 last Sunday.
Hadwin is priced up quite a bit and when it really comes down to it he’s a putting specialist. I’d prefer not to pay this much for that type, especially off his first win with a wedding coming up next week.
(Oh, and Bubba Watson is still cheap, still showed a few encouraging signs last week, still missed the cut, and I’ll still play 10%. I’m saving that sentence into the template for all my articles.)
Stable: Lucas Glover-6.7/16.2, Roberto Castro-6.9/14.5, Benny An-7.0/16.3
Volatile: Billy Horschel 7.0/16.5, Benny An-7.0/16.3, Brooks Koepka-6.9/16.5, Webb Simpson-7.1/15.9
Mashing this tier was the key for me last week, with a bunch of Glover/Hadwin lineups. I also had a bunch of Swafford and Keegan, which was nice until they blah’d through the weekend.
I think Glover is worth going back to, but I am a little concerned that his ownership gets out of control after he helped everyone out at 20+% last week.
Castro is to Grillo as Grillo is to Casey, a cheaper and more mediocre long iron specialist, which we are fine loading up on.
Benny An is underpriced for his all-around skills, and if the putts roll for a couple days he could definitely be in business.
Horschel had a wretched time putting last week, but this is a nice spot to jump back on.
Calculated-risk-feel-play-alert, but I think it’s time to buy a little Brooks again. I’ve faded him all year so the fact that he hasn’t burned me yet is making me less cautious, but I also think the course and conditions could cover up the poor wedge play he’s displayed lately.
Webb is really good with the irons and really bad with the putter. I will always take a shot on that profile at this price.
Go and get it everybody.
Find me on Twitter @andrewmbarron or in the FanVice Premium Slack @hotmajik if you wanna talk strat/make jokes/argue