RBC Heritage April 10th-13th
Take THAT, Narrative St.!
As the back nine began and the Twitter trolls started firing off their various choke artist digs at our man Sergio, I had a creeping sense of dread at the seemingly inevitable smug cloud we’d all be enveloped in. As if picking someone to NOT win a freaking major tournament is some bold call! It’s really hard to win a major! Anyway, a couple of nice rolls along with some unbelievable tee and approach work down the stretch and he finally had his major. Very happy for the dude, very glad to have been able to watch that.
Was a fine but unspectacular DFS week for this author, as the last minute change from DJ and Kisner to Rory and an “upgrade” to Ty Hatton in cash really hurt. You know it’s a chalk week when 5/6 with the winner and another pair of tops 10s (Casey, Rory) doesn’t get you there in double ups.
Speaking of the chalk going off, that’s usually going to be bad news for me in tournaments, as I always work hard on finding some pivots in places. I stayed with chalk Rahm/Casey/Rory/Sergio, but almost full faded Fowler/Spieth/Rose, with the thought being that the better scoring conditions on the weekend could make it harder for them to stay at the top. A reasonable approach, and we even saw it a bit on Sunday, with Spieth and Fowler struggling. Unfortunately I replaced those shares by rationalizing away some of Henrik Stenson’s (mud, diarrhea) and Jason Day’s (back, personal life) recent woes. Especially in a Millionaire Maker week with so much of the payout at the very top, it makes sense over the long run to go for it. Speaking of that, ‘grats to Mike Leone, a DFS player and touter that I have personally admired for a long time. He pulled off 2nd place in the Milly for a significant portion of the monies.
Really enjoyed the weekend golf, and made a bunch of the full slate losses back, scoring an 11th place finish in the $300 contest. I LOVE the format and hope they keep it around, as it really suits my style of play (scoring scoring scoring, ignore everything else as it’s far less predictable). I saw some people I really respect make what I thought were pretty obvious mistakes too (I mean I’m sure I did too), so there should be some edge for a bit. It is a fun new puzzle that I much prefer to the wonky Fanduel design.
Oh, and it looks like FantasyDraft has eased up their pricing considerably, something to consider when playing over there. It first happened for the Masters and has continued for this week’s showdown at the RBC Heritage. I like a challenge but it had been a bit ridiculous for a few weeks, where you were basically priced out of all of the top golfers unless you were willing to load up on the true trash.
Ok, let’s look forward.
This week tees off on the Harbour Town Golf Links, in Hilton Head, South Carolina. This is literally an island that is like 50% covered in golf courses, an oasis for those who enjoy being frustrated as hell by high winds. The course is a 7100 yard par 71 with very small and slow greens, a lot of hazards, and some serious wind.
You may notice that the field is quite a bit weaker, you may notice a strong Canadian contingent, and you may notice a distinct lack of distance guys.
- It’s the week after the Masters, the rich guys need to chill for a minute
- This is one of two tour events sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, and most of the big names here are members of Team RBC. Also they sponsor a lot of Canadians.
- This course is one of the toughest to drive on of the whole tour, with trees and water everywhere. A number of players club down regularly to avoid trouble off the tee, and we have one of the lowest average driving distances at 275-280 yards, depending on year. I was surprised to see that the Masters is actually even lower until I realized that’s just the geriatric crew weighing down the field.
- I’m already tilted about Luke Donald.
Length/Fairways: As I said above, there is a lot of trouble to get into here off the tee. Distance wouldn’t hurt, but being true is going to be more important. Rory could beat this field by a dozen strokes with his rare combination of distance and accuracy.
Greens: We are looking at some slower greens but the big story here is the size. These are very small and tough to hit. I want guys that are excellent at mid length approach shots, with a much higher concentration of 100-150 and 150-200 than most tour stops. But the putting surfaces will also be missed fairly often, so chipping and short approach proficiency is a big plus. Scoring is very hard to come by, with an average DK points/round only bested on the low end by three of the four majors (Masters, both Opens) and Valspar in the wind. Part of that is due to the field largely not being big scorers, but that is who we came with, and therefore who we gotta dance with. Avoiding bogeys will be paramount without bunches of birdies available, and being able to recover from a missed green with a nice chip is the best way to do that. Putting’s correlation with DK scoring is much lower here than at most courses, and I am always willing to throw the stat out entirely when I can.
Usual disclaimer: Putting success will always be a huge driver of tournament success, but it’s much harder to predict than success off the tee or on the approach. I want guys that will have repeated looks from in close, not guys that I think are more likely to hit putts from the parking lot.
Weather: Another reason scoring is so tough and driving distance is so low here is the typically windy conditions. Wind has definitely been way down in the southeastern U.S. so far this year. The Florida courses played about two whole points/round easier than they usually do this year. That’s about two pars becoming birdies and two bogeys becoming pars per player per tournament! Still pretty far out, but that doesn’t look to be the case as much here. If it looks to be whipping there could be big tee time advantages. I’m not necessarily looking for good wind players, I just want guys who will see the least of it.
On to the golfers:
As a whole, I’m not in love with the top tier this week. The difference between your Brandt Snedekers/Kevin Kisners and your Webb Simpsons/Lucas Glovers just isn’t close to the difference between the tier one and tier three players at a stacked event, but the pricing disparity is just about as big. I think Kuchar got about a 1k bump based on his big Sunday surge and feel-good-moment ace on 16. But we gotta spend somewhere, and I think where I’ll be starting most of my teams is with:
Branden Grace-10.0: Grace is kind of your Rickie Fowler, pretty-good-at-everything-but-not-dominant-at-anything guy, which should work here. He’s been a little all over the place this year, but it was nice to see him show up at Augusta and I think I am totally fine with him anchoring my cash teams.
Tyrell Hatton-9.3: I think this is the tag that will stand out to people the most, and I’m definitely intrigued. I’m still in shock a little about how bad he was last week, but his short game abandoned him. If that happens here it could be real trouble, and my suspicion is that he will be awfully chalky. In a vacuum I like him fine as a value, but he could definitely blow up and if he’s 30% I’ll probably be underweight. Check back in slack with me about this one, it will be an important decision I have not entirely worked through yet.
Francesco Molinari-8.6: This is one of the straightest drivers of the ball ever. Consistently gains strokes on the field off the tee despite only hitting about 285. That is a recipe for success here. Nice mid irons, nice short game. Did not appear to be suffering from a reported wrist injury last week, as he crawled back into the middle after a tough Thursday.
Jason Dufner-8.5: Pretty similar to Moli, actually. A tiny bit longer and a tiny bit wilder (but still very accurate), his game should do wonders here. Fantastic mid and long irons, passable short game.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello-7.8: Hasn’t been the greatest iron player lately, but this guy can ball. This is my early guess for highest ownership. Fine for cash, may consider a fade given the recent struggles if it looks out of control.
Keegan Bradley-8.2: He may get into some massive trouble every once in a while, but this guy “should” be great here. A ball striking course where putting isn’t as big a deal? I mean, c’mon! Right?……Right?!?
Patrick Cantlay-7.6: I am loathe to do this, but making a gut call here. Don’t have enough data to support a fit, but he was awesome in the duel with Hadwin at the Valspar a few weeks back. And it wasn’t all putting, his approach game was impeccable. He has the pedigree too, as he was a Spieth/Thomas level prospect before all his tragedy and troubles hit. I want a seat on the bandwagon, and I’m pretty sure they’re still available.
Webb Simpson/Lucas Glover-7.2: Iron bosses, trash putters. I’m perfectly fine with that profile this week.
Ryan Palmer-6.7: Has had a horrible year, but I would argue that he is the same caliber as most of the players in the 8k range. Can’t imagine he’ll be owned much either, I will take some fliers.
Feel take: What a miserable year it’s been since he made half the community a ton of money at the Masters last year. It really seemed like the title defense started to wear on him. With the pressure of being a champ (did you see how #amped he was to give a jacket to Sergio?!?) relieved maybe he can start playing a little freer.
Math take: This course suits what he used to do well, this is as low as this stock is gonna go, and I’m game to pick up a few shares.
Site Specific Values:
Fanduel: Kokrak-5.5, Hahn-5.5, and Cantlay-5.8 are free money to do anything else you want. I like Cantlay for the weekend in GPPs, as his ownership should be lower there and I think he can actually contend.
FantasyDraft: With my personal lean against the higher tier, it’s really not hard to make lineups this week, but J.J. Spaun-15.7 seems exceptionally low. Scott Brown-14.5 is helpful if you really want multiple expensive guys, too.
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