Valero Texas Open – Weekend Strategy
Here we go, friends. New games/formats tend to be a lot of fun for the first couple months, as no one has really figured them out yet. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think I have identified a few things that will be common knowledge by the midsummer peak of golf season. It has been a great start for those of us playing the first few weeks and the plan is to keep killing it until the herd catches up. We are definitely keeping this one behind the pay wall, so let’s get it FV.
#1: Finishing points do not exist
At all. Coming in 2nd place or 38th has absolutely no bearing on a player’s DK scoring. However, from what I’ve seen so far, people still can’t help themselves from rostering all the cheap guys that are in the top 10 after Friday. I get the argument that they have been playing well and are perhaps more likely to continue to do so, but whichever side of the hot hand fallacy you are on, blindly clicking as many guys near the top of the leaderboard as one can is –EV for a number of reasons, among them higher ownership. I’ll get to the rest in the next few paragraphs.
#2: The bird is still the word
With no finishing points, scoring goes from “most important” to “the only thing to look at.” Eagles and the bonuses are reduced a little, presumably so their impact isn’t so massive on a shorter slate. This is probably good, as these events are pretty random round to round anyway. But a birdie is still worth six times what a par is, so you want guys that can put up numbers. While a hot putter is ultimately going to be the factor that leads to tons of birdies, the useful stats for modeling here are distance off the tee and skill at approaches. Longer off tee => shorter approach => better chance to stick around the pin => easier birdie putt. And with no finishing points you aren’t worried about the mega blowup holes. Seriously, on a par 4 shooting a six or twelve has the exact same impact on the final score.
#3: Tee times
This is actually the greater reason to avoid the dudes at the top of the leaderboard. Tee times on the weekend are done in reverse order of the standings, and most of the time the scoring conditions will be easier in the morning*. Greens firm up and become less receptive as they bake in the sun all day. And, in general, wind is more likely to pick up in the afternoon. This is an extreme example, but check out the Saturday forecast for Valero (tomorrow), via windfinder.com (click on link to go to the updated forecast).
The guys at the top are going to be playing a lot of holes in that nasty looking 2-6 PM wind. I don’t care how much hotter one player is over another, I’m basically snap playing the dude in the morning here. AND, unless your guy smashes and climbs way up on Saturday (not something to complain about), then they will likely have a similar situation on Sunday.
*Disclaimer: this is not always the case. Always double check windfinder before finishing lineups for any PGA contest, weekend or not.
#4: How did he get there?
A hot putter, while obviously the deadliest tool in golf, is also the most likely to come and go from round to round. Tee and approach work are more likely to stay steady round to round. All else being equal, give me the guy who got there with the repeatable skills.
#5: It’s still the same course
This probably goes without saying, but the pool you were on beforehand is probably still live, assuming you properly identified the fit. Look for real problems (was I all about 150-200 yard approaches and my dude has lost 3 strokes on them? Maybe time to move on) but other than that your pre-tournament reads should still apply. Hopefully a bad putting round has your favorite volatile bombing/scoring machine 5% owned, sitting T47 with a great tee time on Saturday.
Find me on Twitter @andrewmbarron or in the FanVice Premium Slack @hotmajik if you wanna talk strat/make jokes/argue