Canadian Open Review
Dustin Johnson – Event Winner at -23
Tony Finau – Made Cut, -10 finish
Bubba Watson – Missed Cut
Gary Woodland – Made Cut
Byeong Hun An (Ben An) – 2nd place finish -20
Joel Dahmen – Made Cut -15 finish.
Keith Mitchell – Made Cut -6 finish.
Bronson Burgoon – Missed Cut
Harold Varner III -Made Cut (-13)
If you stuck with the Game Theory Blog and played DJ, Ben An, Joel Dahmen, & Harold Varner III, you would have done very well last week. So how did my best lineup finish up? Well, let’s check it out. . .
Deeper dive into the win->
DJ -> I took a stand last week and went 100% DJ in all formats. I felt he was for sure going to smash at this course and would be a requirement to have in winning GPP lineups.
Hoffman -> Hoff is a guy I mentioned on the pod and highlighted as elite in my playbook. Hoff's final round really let me down, but nothing I can complain about.
Ben An -> Ben An was mentioned in my article and was listed as one of my favorite GPP plays due to his elite ball striking and game off the tee.
Johnny Vegas -> I went back and fourth on Vegas. I had Johnny listed as a GPP play in my playbook and despite his two wins, his ownership was pretty low at 12%. He did just enough for me.
HV3 -> I originally had HV3 has my 2nd highest owned play behind DJ, I made a pivot before lock from HV3 to Burgoon in one of my builds. This was a mistake, but luckily did not effect this build. HV3 was very elite last week.
Cink -> I had Stewy listed as Eite on the playbook and I ended up having double the exposure to the field.
In sum-> We almost took down the Pressure Putt on DK this week. What an awesome week of golf and we really have some momentum going for us over the past three weeks. Let’s continue to build on that at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
Bridgestone Invitational - Firestone CC
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is a NO CUT event. That means if Panda was in the field he would be guaranteed to make the cut. However, with this being an invite only affair, Panda obviously did not make the list. Firestone Country Club’s South Course is a long and difficult par 70 track. If you read a lot of golf DFS content, you already know that Tiger Woods has won here eight times. With the success Tiger has had at the venue, I can already tell you this is a grinders type of golf course. A strong tee to green player, with just enough patience, will be able to put himself into a position to score low.
We have seen some very low rounds in the past at this venue, but small mistakes can compound very quickly. Just ask Jon Rahm about his second round in 2017. Coming off a birdie at the very easy par 5 #2 hole, Rahm found trouble at the par 4 #3 hole where the green is guarded by water. Rahm went on to make four more bogey’s and another double to finish his round 7 over. Luckily, for him, this is a no cut event. With that being noted, this course is attackable, Hideki Matsuyama did just that with 23 birdies and one eagle through four rounds last year. Hideki is our defending champion.
7,400 Par 70 track
73 Golfers in the Field
NO CUT EVENT
SCORING = Average to Difficult
Hitting Fairways = Difficult
Greens = Bentgrass
Green Speed = Fast
Course Length = Long AF
(1) Solid T2G game
(2) Solid Course History
(3) BoB Percentage
(4) Par4 scoring
(5) Driving Distance / SG OTT
NO CUT – WHAT THE ?
There is no cut, birdies are hard to come by, so what is the optimal route to take when building your lineups? That, in my opinion, is one of the most important things to be thinking about this week. I’ll do my best to give my two cents on strategy this week.
This week, more so than any other, it is vital to understand scoring on whichever site you are using. I primarily play Draft Kings and this article will solely be focused on DK strategy. Let’s briefly review pricing;
Tournament Finish: 1st +30pts , 2nd +20pts, 3rd +18pts, 4th +16pts, 5th +14pts, 6th +12pts, 7th +10pts, 8th +9pts, 10th +7pts. . . going down from there & eventually ending at 41-50th +1pt.
*Priority #1* - We want the winner in our build and multiple top 10’s to get a decent cash.
Scoring: Eagle +8pts, Birdie +3pts, Par +0.5pts, Bogey -0.5pts, Double Bogey -1pt, 3 Birdie streak +3pts (1per round), Bogey Free Round +3pts, All 4 Rounds under 70 +5pts, Hole in One +5pts
*Priority #2* - With eagles incredibly hard to come by at Firestone, we want players who can make birdies and avoid bogeys.
To further illustrate my emphasis on scoring, let’s look at Jon Rahm vs Branden Grace, who both finished T28th last year.
RAHM -> T28 (+3), 1 eagle (+8), 13 birdies (+39), 46 pars (+23), 10 bogeys (-5), 2 doubles (-2)
RAHM DK Pts -> 66
GRACE -> T28 (+3), 9 birdies (+27), 55 pars (+27.5), 8 bogeys (-4)
GRACE DK Pts -> 61.5
Both players finished in the exact same position, but from a fantasy perspective, Rahm’s volatility and ability to score rewarded him with a 5.5 pt advantage over Grace.
Roster Construction – GPP
Here’s the issue I see; we have an invite event that brings together all the top golfers in the world. We have the PGA Champion priced at 8,800 while DJ and Rory are priced well above 11,000. As we just reviewed, the winner of this event gets a +30-point bonus. Getting the winner correct is vital if you want to take down a GPP this week. From a pricing standpoint, I absolutely love what DK has done. If you click DJ, you are forced to build a lineup that must fade many of those high-priced golfers. If you click Justin Thomas, you can easily fit in guys like Fleetwood, Koepka, Stenson, Paul Casey etc. I see the majority of people gravitating toward this balanced build strategy trying to plug in as many players in the 8.5k-9.9k range.
But let me pose one question; How often do we see many of those well-known names all finishing well inside the top 10?
2017 – Matsuyama (1st), Zach Johnson (2), Charley Hoffman (3), Thomas Pieters (4), Paul Casey (5), Adam Hadwin (5), Russel Knox (5), Rory McIlroy (5), Rickie Fowler (9), Thornbjorn Olesen (10), Hudson Swafford (10), & Scott Hend (10)
Last year, Matsuyama was priced in that stud range at 10,200. Matsu put up 136 DK points. If you had him, you were pretty much guaranteed to cash. Rory was 11,400 and posted a very respectable 5th place finish but only accumulated 84.5 DK points. This isn’t a knock on Rory, I point this out just to show how important getting the winner correct is. Additionally, we almost always see some random names who find themselves finishing inside the top 10 (Pieters, Hadwin, Knox, Olesen, Swafford last year).
2016 – Dustin Johnson (1st), Scott Piercy (2nd), Kevin Chappell (T3), Jason Day (T3), Matt Kuchar (T3), Jordan Spieth (T3), William McGirt (7), David Lingmerth (7), Charl Schwartzel (7)
Again, if you faded that 10k+ range in 2016, you probably didn’t fare to well. Scoring was much more difficult in 2016 (possibly due to weather), and DJ’s 30pt bonus would gave given your lineups a huge edge.
Moral of the story -> Let’s make sure we are building WIN EQUITY into our line ups this week.
Initial Plays (Guys who can win)
Rory McIlroy, 11,300 -> Over his last two events, Rory has quietly gained 20 strokes on the field. He won this event in 2014 and finished 5th in 2017 (did not play in 15’ 16’). In my opinion, Rory is absolutely flying under the radar coming into this event. Much of this could be credited to his MC at the US Open and that he is priced between DJ & Woods and you have Justin Rose at a substantial discount to Rory. But make sure you note this stat; since 2013 (remember he didn’t play in 15’ & 16’) he has gained 28 strokes on the field at this event. The other thing to make note of, Rory absolutely smashes the ball off the tee. If he is hitting fairways, he is going to have wedges left into these greens.
Tiger Woods, 10,800 -> Speaking of win equity, has anyone mentioned that Tiger has won this event 8 times? I absolutely love what Draft Kings has done with Tigers price. I came into this event thinking Tiger would be chalk city, but I also thought he would be priced in the 9k range. At 10,800, we can get Tiger at reduced ownership relative to what I expected it to be coming into this event. Here’s what Tiger did from 1999-2013 at Firestone CC.
Bubba Watson, 8,500 -> Hard to hit fairways at Firestone and you mention Bubba? And you think Bubba can win? Bubba has two wins YTD and four top 10’s. He is also coming off a MC at Glen Abbey, which is great because it should reduce ownership. Bubba is a guy we want to target on courses where he feels comfortable. Firestone CC is a course where he has excellent history. Since 2013, he has gained 26 strokes on the field and has a 2nd place finish in 2015. Bubba is a guy who always has a chip on his shoulder when he plays these elite field events.
Zach Johnson, 8,100 -> ZJ was priced in the low 8k range last year and ended up being sub 5% owned. His 2nd place finish almost guaranteed you a cash and if you paired him with Matsuyama, you probably won some big money. Since 2013, ZJ LEADS this field in strokes gained at 35. He isn’t a long hitter, but his consistency at this course should not be overlooked. Do I think ZJ will win? No. Can he win? Yes. Where will he finish? I think ZJ falls inside the top 15 and does enough to pay off his 8,100-price tag.
Xander Schauffele, 7,900 -> Speaking of playing with a chip on his shoulder. Not only is Xander a monster off the tee, he almost always plays well when we have a tough course paired with a tough field. Xander comes in with a solid Birdie or Better percentage and fairs well on long par 4s. I don’t think he will go overlooked, like he did at the Open, but I will be making sure I am over weight vs the field on Xander.
Adam Scott, 7,500 -> What do we always worry about with Adam Scott? His putting. He ranks 62nd vs this field in strokes gained putting on bentgrass greens. That is bad. What is Adam Scott good at? He is an elite tee to green player, ranking 15th in strokes gained against this field. Regarding his putting, it wasn’t horrible at the Open. Over his last two rounds he finished with 28 putts each day (1.5 per hole). With his elite tee to green game, we know the opportunities are going to be there for Scott. I’m banking on him having an above average putting week, which would easily pay off his 7,500-price tag. His course history at Firestone is very similar to Rickie Fowlers; Scott has gained 25 strokes on the field since 2013 at this event.
Want the opposite of Adam Scott? Go ahead and fire up Webb Simpson. Webb ranks 61st in strokes gained off the tee vs this field but is an elite putter on Bentgrass. If Scott and Simpson could play a scramble at this event, I’d put money on them winning.
2 Value Plays with Win Equity
Jhonattan Vegas, 6,800 -> Vegas is a 2x winner at the very easy Glen Abbey, which he just played last week. The one thing Glen Abbey and Firestone have in common is their small greens. The other thing they have in common is they tend to favor the bombers outside of a few guys, one I discussed earlier. The best part of Johnny’s game is the most important shot in golf, his drive off the tee. He ranks 36th in strokes gained off the tee relative to this field. He knows how to win, he did it twice at Glen Abbey (Obviously a much easier field to tackle). And, he finished inside the top 20 last year gaining 5 strokes on the field.
Aaron Wise, 6,700 -> Wise has struggled to make cuts since his win earlier this year. Fortunately for him, this is a no cut event. On paper, Wise checks all the boxes I’m looking at relative to his price. Wise is 13th in strokes gained off the tee, 26th in strokes gained tee to green, 23.15% birdie or better % and 19.77% BoB% on Par4s (both of these numbers are elite).