World Golf Championships (WGC) – Mexico City, March 2nd – 5th
Another anti-climactic week, where Rickie had this thing wrapped up after Saturday. As I have stated before, I was not originally a big fan of his, however, now the pendulum has swung so far that he has been a little underrated lately. Unfortunately that price tag was hard to attack, so I barely bested the field in my personal exposure. Another okay week, where overweight positions on Ty Hatton (dude, whyyy you have to miss that last putt!!1!), Francesco Molinari, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Paul Casey, and First Three Rounds Emiliano Grillo were offset by similarly overweight positions on Branden Grace, Keegan, Paul Casey’s putter, and Last Round Grillo. Seriously, Paul Casey would have had solo 2nd by two strokes if he had a ZERO SGP (strokes gained putting) week.
This is something I have been meaning to touch on because it is very important: DFS golf, more than other sports, is largely a “live to fight another day” experience. Really, if you can tread water 40 weeks of the year and smash your entire core once or twice a season then you will be a profitable player. This was one of those smash weeks for my podcast co-host and editor (and your old pal), so big congratulations to EMac, buy something cool! Editor’s Note: it is Ol’ Pal with an apostrophe dammit, not old! Though I do have a birthday coming up shortly.
This week the players head to Mexico City for the WGC-Mexico Classic. WGC (World Golf Championship) events are smaller fields with no cut and giant prize pools, so they attract the most stacked fields we see outside of the majors. In years past this very prestigious, very big money tournament has been played at Trump National Doral in Miami, and is now being moved to Mexico. Let’s all take a moment to enjoy this delicious irony.
The course itself is largely an unknown, with no PGA events played here and no SG data available from any of its past tournaments. The last tournament even played here was in 2014, the Mexico Open on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica. This is a tour where the top five players at the end of each year qualify for the Web.com tour. So we are taking two levels down, and those guys carved it up to the tune of a -17 winner. We should see even lower this week. It is a 7,300 yard par 71 that is heavily forested. Reports I am hearing are that the fairways are on the narrower side, and the greens have a lot of roll to them (undulating!). This is poa annua grass, the bumpier variety found more often on the west coast. What we will really take note of here is the extreme altitude of over 7,500 feet……
….. Hey, it’s baseball season, let’s get a jump! Since this article is posted on a for pay DFS site, I’m assuming my audience is familiar with Coors Field and its effects on the path of balls in motion. Well, Coors on a 70° day has around 82% of the air density of a park near sea level. Here, with a full complement of 70° days forecasted, we are looking at 74% of sea level air density on average. I got pretty excited at first about doing my own calculations for this. Unfortunately, my physics is pretty rusty, and after about an hour down the rabbit hole getting distracted by factor after factor (humidity will be changing, it’s much cooler in the morning than during the day, golf balls travel differently than baseballs anyway because of the dimples), I cut some corners. Nearest I can tell is we are looking at about a 10-12% increase in carry on drives, with a bit less on iron shots as they are hit with more spin and a higher trajectory. This effectively makes the course the shortest of the year, but it also makes it more difficult for the players in terms of club selection. I know they will put in some work this week and won’t exactly be flying blind, but I doubt that the caddies will be crunching differential equations on the fairways, either. Maybe Bryson DeChambeau’s would, but he isn’t good enough to be here. Expect a little confusion.
All in all, I think this is a week to target players who excel at something in particular. We simply don’t know how penal it’s going to be to get wild off the tee or roll off the green. What we really need is birdies, and lots of them. There’s no cut, so we are not as worried if a guy gets into some trouble here and there. Construct scenarios with the players you like. If a guy sprays, make sure he has a good recovery/short game. If he’s a short hitter, make sure his iron game can make up for it. The iron shots should be shorter, or at least play shorter, than at most courses. There are a number of really short par 4s that look drivable for the longer hitters. I think there could be merit to stacking a lineup with archetypes (all driver teams, all short game teams, etc.). Above all, be price sensitive. The guaranteed rounds for everyone will smooth out some of the chaos we are accustomed to seeing in traditional two day cut golf, which makes the weaker players worse bets to get lucky and outperform a stud. Oh, and get a lot of birdies.
On to the golfers:
Dustin Johnson-12.5/23.6: That sure is a steep tag in a field like this, but hard to argue with the guy. He hass been the best for nearly a year now, and really has no weaknesses. Even his occasional lapses where he can shoot a random 76 are less likely to be a problem with the guaranteed rounds. I’d like to pay attention to ownership here. If he is the chalk of all chalks then you can always argue a fade but even around 30% this play is neutral expected value. I am probably going heavy and then looking to differentiate elsewhere.
Rory McIlroy-10.9/21.6: This is a buying opportunity. He’ll stay out of the trees and any drivable green is in play. This is the only golfer with the actual firepower to keep pace with an in-the-zone Deej. The ribs are a question mark, but the uncertainty is priced in. Let’s hope it will be in ownership too.
Fade: I’ve been hearing a lot of Henrik Stenson-10.3/20.5 talk already. I’ve had some great Henrik success and will always have a special place in my bankroll for him, but I’m not sure this is his spot. His short game is nothing special, and the long iron shots he murders will be less prevalent. Great bet to shoot four rounds of 70 but I’m not sure he can light up the scoreboard with DK scoring the way we want here unless he drops a bunch of eagles. Which is definitely a possibility. Actually, ditto for Adam Scott-9.2/19.1.
Patrick Reed-7.7/16.6 is possibly my least favorite golfer, but if the plan is to not kill yourself off the tee, excel with the wedges, and be aggressive on the greens, you aren’t finding a better match at this price. Only guy better at that game is Spieth and he’s almost 4k more.
Sergio Garcia-8.5/18.8: Listen, the putter has been ugly. Everything else has been incredible. This is one of the wonkier prices to me and I will have more than my fair share.
Nothing more fun than Phil Mickelson-7.6/16.8 at a no cut birdie fest with a bunch of wacky shots that likely reward aggression. Could totally see him coming 50th in the tournament and top 10 in fantasy scoring.
I can mess with a little Brandt Snedeker-7.8/17.2 if making some bunter stacks.
Fade: Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey were two of my highest owned plays last week, and I think people will go back to them here. I don’t think these are the dudes you want in a high scoring environment. Both are Stenson types, better with the irons from far away and much more likely to shoot a bunch of 70s than give you the 64-76-65-72 you hope to target here. Willing to admit some recency bias as this pair’s incompetency on the greens cost me a boatload (well, a boat’s worth) of money last week.
DraftKings, I hate you for this price tag on Bubba Watson-$7,000 (less compelling on FD-15.8). He’s far and away no. 1 for the price in my model, as historically (and I mean recent history, it’s only the last two tournaments that the wheels have fallen off) he belongs in the Rose/Scott section. BUT, it’s certainly possible that something is wrong here. Are the new balls to blame? Is he hiding an injury? Is it just a normal slump? I honestly have no idea, but I can’t not invest some here. Four rounds may take the pressure off and definitely gives a better chance of having the 62 day we all know he’s capable of.
J.B. Holmes-6.8/15.0: My personal binkie. If the trees are as bad as they look this man could be in some trouble as he has wild tendencies, but he’s another player that can come 40th and give you 80 DK points.
Bernd Wiesberger-7.1/14.6: Straighter hitter with a great short game that is likely to go overlooked.
I’ll throw some flyers at Charl Schwartzel-7.0/14.6 and Danny Willett-6.7/14.6.
Fade: I don’t think this is the week for Emiliano Grillo, for similar reasons to Casey/Hatton.
Strategy note: I normally like to play more cash at no cut events, as the guaranteed rounds make for more stable projections. However, with the uncertainty as to how the course will actually play this week, I’m considering scaling back and going after GPPs more, likely with some of those player type stacks I mentioned. I’m operating under the assumption that the most important aspects will be tee work and short game.
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