2017 WGC Bridgestone Invitational – Thursday, August 3rd though Sunday, August 6th
Nice week for the crew, I saw some killer screenshots from a ton of the regulars this week. Lots and lots of Vegas, Varner, Woodland, and Finau helped counteract a bit too much Ryan Palmer (please remind the next time I get excited about this clown) and Anirban Lahiri in an otherwise chalky week. Anytime you play 35% of the 3% owned winner and don’t absolutely print it is a bit of a bummer, but a winning week is a winning week. Oh, and the weekend continues to be a wildly entertaining and profitable rollercoaster. That was truly crazy as Glen Abbey has only been bested by the CareerBuilder rotation for most eagles allowed over the past three years, and the fireworks certainly kept up. Let’s keep the momentum rolling because this week I’M COMING HOME-
Before anyone ever cared where I would play fantasy golf, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than fantasy golf. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.
Just kidding, I’m from Maine. Also, Steph Curry made fun of Lebron’s workout video and is headed off to get crushed in a Web.com event. There is absolutely nothing actionable about that, FYI.
Anyway…. golf makes its proud return to Northeast Ohio this week, for a WGC event at the imposing Firestone Country Club Course. This event is loaded with star power, with a nearly 10 million purse up for grabs for just 76 players. There is also no cut to deal with, guaranteeing everyone a full four rounds.
The 76 player and no cut angles are commonly complained about, and I’d like to address them.
MYTH #1: When there are half as many players ownership will double on everybody!
-There were 37 players owned on less than one in a thousand teams last week, 70 on 0.5% or less, 82(!) on less than 1%. Over half the field essentially wasn’t played, and while last week was probably a little extreme, at mediocre to weak fields the public is writing off a HUGE chunk of the player pool. At this event there are maybe 6-8 names you can just cross off and ignore, which means there are still going to be 65 or more playable dudes. Average effective ownership goes up, but I’ve found the move is typically from 7ish to 9ish, not double.
MYTH #2: No cut takes away the skill!
Listen, predicting cut making is probably the weakest part of my game so maybe I’m preaching to my own converted, wretched, soul, but let’s apply a little logic here, okay?
If one feels comfortable in one’s assessment of a particular player, wouldn’t more opportunity lead to a truer projection? How often are we crying about the cruelty of variance when we have a player get tackled on the one or fly out to the warning track? And what is the most arbitrary inducer of variance in all of sports?!? Actually, that’s a good question that I don’t have the answer to, so to avoid hyberbole… The cut line is an awfully big arbitrary inducer of variance. If a player misses a five foot putt to miss on the number did he play any better or worse than the guy who holed out from a bunker to make it on the number? Shit no. It does make Sunday even nuttier with many more live teams, but in theory this is a boon if we make good decisions. Although…
The counterpoint I will make to that (expertly reasoned) argument is that in most no cut events we are already dealing with incredibly good players. This makes the margins much smaller than when playing at an event with a wider disparity in talent. I saw some insane plays people made in cash this past week, but unless someone has a real hankering for a Pampling, that won’t be done here. It is difficult to make a bad lineup with all this talent and the distinct lack of subpar choices.
Either way, play at your own comfort level. I like the idea of no cut, especially for cash.
Length/Fairways: This course is very long, and there are 10 holes with average driving distances above 290 historically. Driver is in play. Unfortunately, we also have very narrow fairways and very thick rough. This is why Rory has destroyed this place, as no one is better at the length/accuracy combo.
Greens: We have superfast greens and a number of second shots that will be coming from deep rough. Unless it rains a ton (a distinct possibility) we will be seeing a lot of missed greens from bad lies/run off. Around the green work is going to be a big deal.
Weather: Wind has happened here, and some nasty action the last couple of years combined with extra dry conditions made this place play even tougher. It is entirely possible that we’ll have damp and still conditions this week. IF that looks to be the case (as always, watch our Wednesday night update show!), we could have a big swing towards ball striking fairways and irons guys, as the rough will be even thicker and the greens should be softer/easier to hold.
On to the golfers:
Switching around my pricing tiers a little this week as we finally have a strong field with sharp pricing. Alas, I think that probably has more to do with the limited entrants shortening the odds than DK trying to improve their game.
Pricey (10.K+ DK):
This is one of those weeks so packed at the top that I am not looking to take a major stand.
-Deej and Rory will always stand out for me as I love their skills and they have both had years of eviscerating this course
-Spieth is terrifying and presumably will be in the rough all week, where he somehow does his best work
-The tags on Rickie and Deki are creeping up but both very good fairways and irons players, Deki you trust more T2G and Rickie you trust more when you get there
Going to let ownership decide my exposures for the most part (would start with Rickie in cash), BUT I do have a hot measured take up here on who should definitely be the lowest owned 10k+ player:
Brooks Koepka-11.1/17.1: Above all else I am a nerd, so I spent close to three hours digging into the “is Brooks better on hard courses?” question. And the answer is pretty definitive.
First, I somewhat arbitrarily assigned a cutoff point of a “hard” course as one with an average score/round of +1 or higher. Since 2014, Brooks has played tournaments at 32 hard courses and 42 not hard courses. Overall, he has averaged 1.37 strokes/round better than the field during that time.
On the 42 not hard courses, Brooks has bested his competition by 1.04 strokes/round. On hard courses, he is 1.80 better than field average. Over a four round tournament, that’s a three stroke difference. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that the hardest courses are usually the premier events against the toughest competition! Seventeen of those 32 events are either majors, WGCs, or playoffs. This is not a narrative, this is real.
Mid-range (8.0-9.9 DK):
Sergio Garcia-9.2/16.0 has seen a price drop back to Masters and before levels, which I’m assuming is due to a bunch of 20s and 30s finishes here. I’ll take the savings, elite player having a great year.
If the rainy forecast sticks you know I’ll be buying some Adam Scott-8.8/16.2, and Paul Casey-9.0/15.9. You know the story, best iron players in the world, enough distance, straight off the tee. Not locks like they have been with the slight price increase but still as steady as it comes.
Jason Day-9.4/16.3 is a pretty exciting no cut option. He has been a disaster off the tee for over a year, but at least one of these four rounds he’ll have it clicking with the short game (still incredible on and around the greens) and could put up a 64. If he does it twice that’s smash city. First in the field over the last 12 rounds at long par 4s according to Fantasy National.
Nothing wrong with Daniel Berger-8.3/15.4 if you need some savings here, another long par 4 specialist.
Cheapies (below 8.0 DK):
Charl Schwartzel-7.2/14.4: This tag just doesn’t make much sense. Has been pretty erratic lately, but four rounds should give him ample opportunity to smooth it out and get in at least one low round.
Francesco Molinari-6.8/13.3 and Jason Dufner-7.2/14.4: These are you bargain basement Scott and Casey, and guys I wouldn’t hesitate to pair with if things look tough.
Phil Mickelson-7.9/14.8: See Day’s write up, only replace disaster off the tee for over a year with idk, like five years.
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FanDuel is back, with a roster of eight golfers counting for all four rounds. A potential improvement for sure, and duplicate lineups won’t be anything to worry about. However, if we say traditionally 10-15% of lineups get 6/6 through that implies around a 70% hit rate for DFS players. Add two more guys to the roster and you can halve that 10-15% for the number of 8/8 teams. We will be seeing weekend golf there sooner rather than later.
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