The tournament this week from a DFS perspective is going to be very unique as it is the first time that DraftKings has offered contests for this event, and they have some interesting pricing and rules in place. It will be important to understand the rules and how to start building lineups from the very start especially if you are using an optimizer to build multiple lineups.
DraftKings has made it so that you can only play one player from a particular team, so you’ll have six unique teams in each lineup. Regardless of which player you choose from a team, they’ll score the exact same point — it won’t matter who made the birdie or bogey during the Four Ball portion as each player will receive whatever score is posted on the card. That carries well into the tournament format aspect, which will see Four Ball with best ball scores in the first and third rounds, and Foursomes or alternate shot in the second and fourth rounds, with a cut to 35 and ties after the first two rounds. The alternate shot format has always been where the field separates themselves as they alternate their way through each hole. In this format one player will tee off on all of the odd number holes and one will tee off on all of the even number holes, which makes for some strategy as the teams figure out which holes suit one partner or the other better.
My strategy to start the week will be to eliminate half of the field from the start as I generally build multiple lineups through the Fantasy Labs Optimizer. I want to be sure that I don’t build duplicate or nearly duplicate lineups, so with partners receiving the same score, I only need one of them in my player pool. I will first go through and eliminate one player from each team from my player pool, taking it down to 80 guys from the start. I’ll then go through and knock out some of the teams that i perceive as lacking the upside to contend or make the weekend.
The biggest test from the start is that DraftKings has set some pretty dynamic pricing with the standard floor of $6,000 with nine teams priced above $10,000. It makes it difficult to build lineups that feel comfortable, which may be an oxymoron in this format anyway, but it can also create an edge if you can work to find the right combination. This week we’re building for the $600k Resurgence contest with a $10 entry offering $200,000 to first with 70,588 entries.
I’ll be honest, I am going to spread things around a bit this week with how unpredictable this tournament will be, and try to focus on getting leverage through ownership and playing the teams where I see the most upside.
Cameron Smith & Marc Leishman $11,100
The Australian contingent of Leishman and Smith should start to gain some momentum as we get closer to lock. They’ve been partners in President’s Cup and recently in the QBE Classic. I am surprised at this stage to see them a little lower owned, but part of that could be that if paying this price, many may just find the extra $400 to get to Rahm/Palmer.
Both of these players have shown good form lately, being in contention in their last two tournaments with Smith at the RBC Heritage and Leishman at The Masters. I expect a comfort level and certainly upside that few others can match for this event, and the added benefit that Smith has won this event at this tournament in the past, albeit with Jonas Blixt.
Tony Finau & Cameron Champ $10,700
There are so many options at the top and the talent really takes a nose dive at the bottom, so I’m going to try to keep from having to go below $7,000 unless I fall in love with a low-priced team as I start building. Starting my lineups with Finau and Champ allows me to save $1,000 off the top teams and $800 off of what will be a popular option in Rahm and Palmer.
My thought process on this is that these guys have similar skill sets, which will allow them to use their length to be aggressive in Four Ball, when one is in good shape the other can let loose off the tee. They really set up to be able to score really well this week, and have the added bonus of familiarity as they played together in the QBE tournament back in December.
Pivot: One team that will lack ownership up top is Danny Willett and Tyrrell Hatton ($10,300). They’re surrounded by more popular plays, and in a normal week, even Hatton would likely be overpriced at this level. Despite that, with the stats I am looking at this week, they actually rank as one of the better and more balanced pairings. It won’t take much to double ownership at their current 6% projection, and I’ll look to do that if not more in my builds.
Lucas Glover & Chez Reavie $8,800
One thing I’ll be leveraging this week is trying to look at teams based on a few different things, but experience together will be valuable. Glover and Reavie have partnered in this event together for each of the three years, and made the cut in all three, though they go cut by the old MDF in 2016.
The GPP aspect is strong in this one as they are high priced for their play and form of late, especially Reavie, who has struggled this year. My hope is that being back on a familiar course and with a partner may loosen him up some in his game and get things going. Both of these guys are great ball strikers at their best, and when combined, they’ve shown an ability to compete in this format.
Matt Wallace & Graham McDowell $8,600
It looks like everyone is going to dip down to Jason Kokrak and Pat Perez in this range, as they approach 25% ownership. I get it for those guys and will have some shares, but the recent form of Wallace and the way he can combine with the skillset of McDowell has me intrigued for low ownership.
Wallace has made it quite clear that he’s found his game lately and is starting to play at a high level in every event. If he can put McDowell in position to succeed, this duo could be a dangerous team throughout the week.
Will Gordon & Michael Thompson $7,600
This is a bit of an odd couple pairing, but the yin and yang of this combo has me intrigued. Gordon can smash the ball off the tee, and when he is right with his approach play, he becomes a dangerous golfer. Thompson on the other hand is more of a straight forward fairways and greens player, who has shown great recent form.
I really like the potential of this pairing and they pose a nice pivot from the most chalky team just below them in Seiffert and NeSmith.
Matthew NeSmith & Chase Seiffert $7,500
I was all set to write about this team and talk about how excited I was for the pairing as my pick to contend in the longshot range as their bermuda preferences and solid approach play make them intriguing … then I saw ownership. Wow, 26% and climbing is not what I was hoping to get. That’s at a point of full fade consideration, but you can still own it if you build correctly.
Putting them in a lineup with Rahm/Palmer and/or Kokrak/Perez isn’t going to separate you from the field. This will be an extremely popular way to start lineups, so I will look to differentiate with these and get leverage elsewhere.
Sam Ryder & Doc Redman $7,000
One of my favorite pairings on the cheap end this week come in the form of Ryder and Redman, who have talent and upside but are yet to capitalize on it. Ryder has been the one in better form lately with a good finish at The Honda and a runner-up at Corales before missing the cut at the Valero. Redman seems to have more upside, but has struggled with missed cuts to start the new year. I’m willing to take a flyer that the new format and a low-scoring event will be to Redman’s advantage, and that Ryder can help Redman through some of those low spots at reasonable ownership.
Akshay Bhatia & Scott Piercy $6,900
This might be the strangest of all teams this week, though the next one certainly gives them a run for their money.
Bhatia is a teenager with a ton of promise while Piercy is on the back end of his career. The one thing they have in common is on the course, where their ball striking abilities stand out and can make them a dangerous pair at a cheap price. Piercy’s experience in this format and on this course can help the young player and put the pair in a spot to make the weekend which is all we need at this price.
Rasmus Hojgaard & Vaughn Taylor $6,800
Option No. 2 for the strangest pairing is actually so odd it just might work quite well.
Hojgaard is a young bomber who loves to attack the course and be ultra aggressive whereas Taylor is more conservative with fairways and greens being the name of his game. This could be a perfect combination as they can play off of each other in the Four Ball, allowing both players to go to their own style while also putting each other in positions of strength in alternate shot.
I may be talking myself into this one as a guy who loves to find a reason to play Hojgaard, but it does seem to make some sense.
Peter Malnati & Chris Baker $6,200
Both of these players flashed some form in the fall and contended at times, especially Malnati, who carried that form through to Hawaii to start the new year. Malnati is one of the best bermudagrass putters in the game and a hot putter is invaluable in this format. While there isn’t much to point toward in recent play, they’re two players who are solid with their irons when on, and if they can find that spark into the weekend, they could be a team that helps the winning lineup this week in GPPs.