PGA Angle of Attack: Honda Classic

Well that was a pretty boring sports weekend on the whole. I’d like to take credit for touting Dustin but that was about as easy as cake on Sunday mo …no wait, that would be easier than shooting fish at a knife fig…. well, easier than coming up with a joke about it.  As a matter of principle I try and ignore the OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking) and I definitely would have been surprised if you told me he wasn’t already #1. Anyway, he had it wrapped up early and NBA All Star Weekend was mostly a letdown. Well, until that crazy Boogie trade. On my end, fading Brooks Koepka/Jordan Spieth/Jason Day and going heavy on Bubba Watson/Charl Schwartzel basically cancelled each other out. Overall, it was a nice, predictable, solid week. Which hey, I probably shouldn’t complain about, as we all know how crazy up and down golf DFS generally is.

One new source of excitement for me (recent west coast transplant) is that this week will be my first time deciding whether setting an alarm for 3:15 AM or just staying up super late is more optimal. Check out the slack chat around lock time to see if I can still formulate a sentence if you want to know which one I went with.

This week we head to Florida for the Honda Classic, and we are looking at a much different course than what we’ve usually dealt with lately. This is a 7,100 yard par 70, with only two par 5s. It may look short when taken as a whole but it doesn’t play that way, with a number of very long par 4s. Distance will never hurt, but on this course wildness will. That’s new. I am actually kinda bummed my dude J.B. Holmes is not playing as he crushed again last week (10x salary) but didn’t play well off the tee and would be in a lot of trouble with that game here. I would kick him to the curb in a second here. The rough at PGA National plays more than 1/10th of a stroke per shot harder here than at Riviera. That may not sound like much, but it’s an expected difference of nearly three strokes over a whole tournament if one hits fairways at a normal rate for the course. A bad week with the driver is unlikely to end well. Add to that the fact that birdies are going to be hard to come by (this is generally a tough course, partially due to the rough and partially to the area’s winds) and we want to focus on guys who can play as much low anxiety golf as possible. Really, we are avoiding weaknesses more than targeting specific skills.

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Length: This course is not short, and length will certainly help, but ultimately we are trying to get to the green in as few strokes as possible. I think there are more efficient ways to spend our money getting there this week.

Fairways: Fairways are of normal width, but missing them is going to be a big problem. My accuracy metric will be more heavily weighted than it has been thus far this season.

Greens: The greens don’t look like they would be particularly hard to get to in a vacuum, but the difficult rough/high winds combo makes it a bit tougher. I do think second shots (specifically 150-200 yards) are going to be the most important.

We also have a switch to Bermuda grass this week, if you’re into that sort of thing. I really, really don’t like to look at putting as it is almost impossible to draw any statistically significant conclusions from it, but there is a guy I will be talking about (Ahem, Emiliano Grillo) that has been pretty terrible on it. Fair warning.

Weather: As always, it is hard to tell this far out, but check back Wednesday night/Thursday morning to see if either tee time wave is looking at nastier wind conditions.

On to the golfers:

I liked the format I went with last week of partitioning each tier into Stable/Volatile/Fade sections, and it is something I will look to do again in the future. However, stability is really the number one thing we need this week. There is an average of over a half birdie less per player per round here compared to Riviera. This inflates the importance of finishing points and makes it harder for the birdie-double-birdie types to make up DK scoring. A normally uninspiring 68-69-68-69 (remember, par 70) could win this tournament.

Pricey (DK 9.0k+ / FDraft 20k+)

Of the mega expensive guys, Adam Scott (DK $12,200 / FDraft $24,800) and Rickie Fowler (DK $11,900  / FDraft $23,400) inspire more confidence than Justin Thomas (DK $11,800 / FDraft $22,800). The former pair are exactly the type of steady, mistake free, all around players we’d like to target here. I was pretty excited to play Scott this week as the course is a better fit for him than Riviera, where he really needed to sink some tough putts to compete. Unfortunately, I think both he and Rickie are a bit more than I’d like to spend for an anchor. Fine plays, but somewhat luxury spends. Thomas seems like a lot of fun until you realize he’s going to have to go through the Bear Trap (famous stretch of the windy, water lined holes 15-17) four times.

I will most likely be spending my resources up here on shares of Sergio Garcia (DK $10,900 / FDraft $22,300) and Russell Knox (DK $9,000 / FDraft $17,400). Sergio really shouldn’t be less than Rickie and Thomas. His game lines up great and really, he played well last week except for the putter. Let’s hope other people did not notice that. Knox is maybe the straightest hitter on tour, has great long irons, and has owned this course in the past. I don’t advocate course history for its own sake but if the fit explains the results I’m not going to be angry. Think of course history like E.R.A. You shouldn’t necessarily be excited by it alone, but if dude has a 26 K% and 50 GB% you are likely to believe. Knox has 26 and 50.

Mid-range (DK 7.5-8.9k / FDraft 14.5-20.0k)

Paul Casey (DK $8,700 / FDraft $15,900) immediately stands out as an odd price this week. Oh, and before I read/hear a bunch about how the pricing is way better this week, it is not really that different. We are just looking at a weaker field. Anyway, Casey was a great price last week at $8.6k and an even better one this week where he doesn’t have four of the best six players in the world to compete against. He’s got a pretty similar game to Scott and comes in $3,500 cheaper. Should probably be priced up closer to Sergio.

Danny Willett (DK $7,800 / FDraft $15,200) is a guy I don’t think I’ve played since the Masters, but he’s shown some signs of life lately (albeit mostly against weak fields), and if he has his game working it’s well suited for the course. Worth some GPP flyers.

Emiliano Grillo (DK $7,600 / $14,400) may be the great unknown here. His short game has completely abandoned him lately, but if you want a guy for a ball striking course it doesn’t really get much better. I’ll invest, cautiously.

Jason Dufner (DK $7,500 / $14,900) is a great candidate to two-putt his way to a 70 four times this weekend. Straight driver, great irons. Branden Grace (DK $7,900 / FDraft $15,200) is likely the mega chalk, but he rates as a good fit. Probably a better cash than GPP play. Keegan Bradley (DK $7,600 / FDraft $14,400) I always need a little of, join me if you dare.

Cheapies (DK 7.4k and below / FDraft $15,000 and below)

Francisco Molinari (DK $7,300 / FDraft $14,900) is probably the lock of the week, and hopefully the MC last week throws a few people off the scent. I doubt it, but that’s why I said hopefully. Super straight driver and the whole bag of irons is above average.

Lucas Glover (DK $7,200 / FDraft $14,000) and Billy Horschel (DK $7,200 / FDraft $13,500) are the fun GPP plays. Both great ball strikers and horrible putters. Both really struggle from the rough, so we better hope their driver stays as true as it usually does or it will be an early exit.

Ryan Palmer (DK $7,400 / FDraft $14,000) still rates really well if you are willing to go with the recent stats and ignore the recent results.

I doubt he’ll be as popular as last week but I will continue to be off Brooks Koepka (DK – $7,500 / FDraft $16,800).

Remember, this week is less likely to be won by piling on the birdies than by avoiding the doubles. The average finisher is looking at about 6.5 less points from birdies/eagles than a typical course. Many of your opponents will still be targeting the types that have done well recently, use that to your advantage.

Go and get it everybody.

If you have any questions find me in the FanVice Premium slack chat HotMajil or on Twitter @andrewmbarron