Honda Classic Recap
Lots of drama this past weekend in the first event of the Florida swing. The course played about as difficult as expected, even without much wind for most of the week. Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler got into the clubhouse with the lead at 8 under late on Sunday, and a playoff was looking likely. However, longshot Keith Mitchell made birdies at 12, 13, and 15 and topped it off by holing a 15-foot birdie putt on 18 to win by a shot. Mitchell has been a favorite in the DFS arena for the past year or so due to his supreme ball striking ability, and he was able to combine those skills with a decent putting week to pull out his first PGA Tour victory. Mitchell entered the tournament with the prevailing odds being 225 to 1. He joins Adam Long and JB Holmes as winners at odds of over 100 to 1 this year.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview
The Florida swing continues this week in Orlando. The Arnold Palmer Invitational will be played at Bay Hill Club and Lodge. There will be 120 players teeing it up, and the standard cut rule of top 70 and ties will apply after the 2nd round. The field is strong this week, with 12 of the top 20 players in the world rankings participating. Tiger Woods would have made that 13, but he has withdrawn due to a neck strain.
Rory McIlroy is the defending champion. He finished at 18 under and defeated Bryson DeChambeau by 3 strokes after shooting a final round 64. Justin Rose finished 3rd at 14 under and Henrik Stenson, who was the 3rd round leader, finished 4th at 13 under par. The winning score has been between 13 under and 19 under par in 6 of the last 7 years. The exception was 2017 when Marc Leishman won at 11 under par. That year the final round was played in wind gusts of over 20 miles per hour, which contributed to the higher scores. Other winners of this event over the past seven years include Jason Day (2016), Matt Every (2014, 2015), and Tiger Woods (2012, 2013). In fact, Tiger Woods has won this tournament 8 times dating back to 2000.
Course details for Bay Hill are shown below, with the difficulty ranking based on the 2018 tour season.
· Par 72
· 7,454 yards
· Bermuda greens
· 15th most difficult (out of 51)
This course tends to play a little more difficult than the average tour course. Two holes have been lengthened by a combined 35 yards since last year. This adds to what was already a fairly long course. The fairways have been widened a bit, but rumor has it the rough will be a bit taller this year than in years past. The greens are TifEagle Bermuda, and they are generally some of the fastest on tour.
The early weather forecast indicates relatively calm conditions and does not include any rain. The highs will be in the 70s on Thursday and Friday before warming into the 80s on the weekend. Winds are expected to be 5-10 mph over the first three days with gusts potentially up to 15 mph. The winds may pick up just a little on Sunday, with gusts potentially up to 20 mph.
Bay Hill is a par 72 and obviously has some length to it. As a result, driving distance and par 5 scoring heavily come into play this week. Narrowing it down a little further, strong long iron play is likely to be very important this week. All four of the par 4s are 199 yards or longer. The par 5s will certainly require approaches from long distances. That being said, I recommend taking a look at proximity stats from 200 yards and over and including that in your player analysis. As far as the course conditions go, it makes sense to consider players who like Bermuda grass and tend to play well in Florida. As mentioned, the greens will be fast this week, so that is another angle to consider. In general, course history seems to show up a little more at this event than some others. The fact that Tiger Woods has won so many times and that middling tour pro Matt Every has won twice seemingly indicates that certain players really like the course. Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are also players who have consistently played very well at Bay Hill.
GOLFERS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR LINEUPS:
Rory M. - $11,400
If I am paying up this week I am going all the way up. Rory has been straight fire and his recent form is superb! He is coming off 4 tournaments in 2019 putting up 100, 95.5, 100.5 and 121.5 DK points. That is a solid floor to build around. In those 4 tournaments he has finished 4th, 5th, 4th and 2nd place. He is also the defending champ and has finishes of 1st, 4th, 27th and 11th in this tourney. 9x value is pretty much a floor for him. I don’t need to get into the stats because his course history and recent form make him the #1 option (if you can afford him). He also comes in as #2 on our custom model for this week.
Jason Kokrak - $8,300
He is in the sweet spot pricing of low $8ks on DK. He is also $1,200 cheaper on DK vs. FD. His recent form is solid with 5 events this year finishing 9th, 37th, 20th, 20th and 18th. He has also put up no less than 71.0 DK points and got as high as 107.5 DK points. That is giving you close to a 9x floor. He comes in as #5 in our custom model on our PGA cheatsheet and is the 18th priced golfer. Through his 5 starts this year he is averaging 84.8 DK points per start for just over a 10x average. Proximity 200+ he ranks 14th over his last 36 holes and ranks 1st and 15th in the Par 4 holes which make up the majority of the course.
$7,500 - $7,999 Category Golfers:
In this category there are 4 golfers who stand out and I want to hit on each of them.
Adam Hadwin – $7,700
Custom model rank was 64th but when I looked deeper he has a 90.8 DK point per game average across 5 starts which is 11.8x value! He is also 5th and 10th in the Par 5’s and has a 6th and 36th place finish here. Also a $1,600 discount off his Fanduel price.
Michael Thompson – $7,600
I wrote about him last week and he was locked into my lineups. 27th in our custom model and on an 88.5 DK points per game average which is also 11.6x value. He has not played here but is coming off 16th, 7th and 10th place finishes. He also ranks top 20 in all the Par 3s in his last 36 rounds and 13th in the Par 5: 500-550. $2,000 discount on DK vs. Fanduel.
Cameron Champ – $7,600
He pops out as he is 15th in our custom model and the next closest ranked golfer in this category is 10 spots behind him. He has some nice drive distance rankings but his proximity numbers are just shit. However he does rank 13th and 1st in the Par 5’s for this course over his last 36 rounds so he could be a sneaky play depending on his ownership.
Byeong-Hun An - $7,500
He has a solid 71.0 DK points per start for 9.5x value across his 3 starts in 2019. He is 25th in drive distance and an impressive 10th in GIR: Gained. 1st in Proximity 200+ and middle of the pack everywhere else.
CHEAP PUNT GOLFER:
Talor Gooch - $6,800
4th in our custom model, 89.7 DK points per start across 5 starts in 2019 puts him on the radar for us and likely everyone. In the Par 5s he ranks 15th and 48th. Proximity 200+ he ranks 20th so he could fit this course really well.
PGA Cheatsheet Tips:
My favorite thing is to go to column “AS” labeled AVG+Keys and sort it low to high. This takes the average ranks across the board, key ranks and key proximity ranks and pulls them altogether in a single model. This is how I sort the sheet and send it to Matt B. (premium members know who he is) and he builds his lineups off that screen shot. The first or second week he hit for $15,000. This is a solid way to find golfers who are going to fit the course well. You can also compare that to the custom model, GPP algo and course history and pick some solid plays to build around!
Biggest Price Difference from DK to FD:
1. Stewart Cink - $8,800 (FD) vs. $6,200 (DK) - $2,600 difference.
2. Brandt Snedeker - $9,800 (FD) vs. $7,200 (DK) - $2,600 difference.
3. Rafa Bello - $9,900 (FD) vs. $7,500 (DK) - $2,400 difference.
4. Scott Piercy - $9,700 (FD) vs. $7,300 (DK) - $2,400 difference.
5. Kiradech Aphibarnrat - $9,500 (FD) vs. $7,100 (DK) - $2,400 difference.
6. Bubba Watson - $10,400 (FD) vs. $8,000 (DK) - $2,400 difference.
Highest Ratio (Value vs. Salary) for starts in 2019:
1. Talor Gooch – 13.0x value across 5 starts.
2. Dominic Bozzelli – 12.6x value across 4 starts.
3. Michael Thompson – 12.4x value across 5 starts.
4. Ian Poulter – 12.1x value across 3 starts.
5. Jason Kokrak – 11.7x value across 5 starts.
6. Jason Day – 10.9x value across 3 starts.
Thank you for reading and good luck!