In this series, I’ll highlight six guys that my PGA models identify as high-upside players who are projected for low ownership. Note: these will not always be my core plays. For my core, find me in FTA+ chat each week!
Finally, here’s a breakdown of my model. You’ll find I refer to the top 10/3/1 percentages a lot. In my mind, Cut Odds is a floor projection, Earnings is a median/average projection, and the probabilities of a top 10/3/1 finish are akin to a ceiling projection.
Let’s get to it.
Course Breakdown – Hamilton G&CC
I hate course history. The sample size for each player is too small to get a reliable sense of how a player fits at the course, or whether that fit even matters. However, what if we could see how numerous players perform at a given course in order to dramatically increase the sample size? Thanks to DataGolf’s Historic Event Data, we can.
To begin, I take the top 25 and bottom 25 golfers in CH Index (DG defines CH Index as “the average (adj. for field strength) strokes-gained at the course”). Next, I regress the CH Index of each player on their strokes gained profiles, bogey avoidance, and birdie or better percentage to find out which stats best translate into success at the course of interest. This strategy makes the model predictive, whereas most course breakdowns are inherently more descriptive. The difference is simple; predictive tells us what will happen while descriptive tells us what did happen. DFS is all about the former. Put another way, what use does knowing iron play plays a key role if you can’t predict whose irons will be on that week? The CF Model combines what will be important with what we can best predict.
Unfortunately, since Hamilton CC hasn’t been played since 2012, the typical CF Model strategy is not possible. Based on the predictive nature of each metric and the descriptive value of each metric at Hamilton CC in 2012, I came up with the following weights:
- OTT – 26%
- APP – 22%
- ATG – 11%
- Putt – 16%
- BoB – 18%
- BA – 7%
These weights are admittedly less scientific than usual, but I believe they still give us an edge over those who fail to consider the predictive value of each instead of just the descriptive. Nevertheless, I will weigh the CF Model Rank a little less than usual this week and skip the CF Model Favorites section.
Two studs killed me last week: Rory and JT. Two studs project for barely over 10% ownership this week: Rory and JT. I’m diving back in on both.
Rory trails only Dustin Johnson in top ten odds, earnings projection, and made cut odds. He’s third in recent form and second in the CF Model. The recent form rank is especially notable coming off a missed cut in which he lost two drives OB on day one. Without those two, he comfortably makes the cut while hitting the ball quite well. To have a strong recent form rank despite that mess suggests he’s ready for a big time bounce-back.
Finally, his numbers as a whole this year are still stupid good: He’s gaining 1.158 strokes per round off the tee, .878 with his irons, and is second on tour in driving distance. He’s also positive around and on the greens, but perhaps most impressive of all, he has top 10’d in 9 of his 12 events!
People are going to see the missed cut and Friday collapse as evidence of his wrist still bothering him. However, JT gained over a stroke off the tee on Thursday and nearly four strokes that day with his irons. He was rusty on the greens and then truly exploded on his back nine Friday. Oh well, [sh]it happens. I liked what I saw Thursday and simply put, JT is the third best player in this field (not a major so he’s better than Brooks). He has NO BUSINESS being priced below Kuchar, yet he’s projected for between 5 and 10 percent less than him.
JT is third in top ten odds, third in earnings projection, and fifth in odds to make the cut. His Rec Form Model rank of 8th is thrown off by the back nine last week, but is still pretty strong. Very few lines of mine will have neither Rory nor JT.
DataGolf tweeted something interesting today:
What is a “strong field”? In photo below, left number is average skill level of the field, and the 3 right-most numbers are win probabilities for different player types. All these fields have similar overall skill, but RBC is much harder to win due to the elite players present. pic.twitter.com/9ze7AraFX2— data golf (@DataGolf) June 5, 2019
Essentially, they’re saying that even though this field is not deep, the presence of several stars drives down the win-equity of everyone else in the same way a deep field would. Consequently, I believe you want your mid to upper tier players to have a unique chance to contend for their price. Enter Bubba Watson – While just 15th and 13th in the CF and Rec Form Models, Bubba stands out everywhere else.
In fact, Bubba is one of the most unique case studies of all. Despite a high 15.52% bogey rate, he is fourth in made cut odds thanks to elite driving (+.83 long term) and a long term made cut percentage of 85%.
Bubba is 7th and 8th in top ten odds and earnings projection, but as high as fifth in both top three odds and odds to win. I say he’s an interesting case study because so much of this is counter-intuitive. Bubba seems streaky and is high-variance – yet his cut odds are more impressive than anything else. Nevertheless, his high odds to contend (10/3/1) fit the narrative DataGolf laid out for us quite nicely. He’s not necessarily a contrarian play, but he won’t be chalky either.
Wise’ missed cut really hurt last week, too, but again I’m happily going back to the well. The kid is 10th in both recent form and the CF Model, 10th in top ten odds, and sixth (!) in earnings projection. He continues to shine off the tee and his BA/BoB profile is exactly what we want. He has a very high 16.46% bogey rate, but counters that with an elite 23.76% birdie or better percentage. That high-variance nature is why his cut odds rank is just 19th, but since he’s projected for under 10% ownership, I’m welcoming that risk with open arms for the massive upside he brings.
Lebioda has been quite impressive this year while flying under the radar. Here’s his SG Profile, straight from his PGA Tour bio:
He’s gaining in every category except putting, which is the most unstable. That’s what we want! This profile has Hank 16th in the CF Model and 19th in Rec Form. Everything here suggests he is too cheap, but is projected for around 5% ownership. In order to fit one or two of the studs up top, we’re going to need some salary relief and Lebioda blows away the rest of the field around him in my opinion.
Fade – Henrik Stenson
Aside from their mutual disdain for making putts, Stenson and Bubba couldn’t be more opposite. Bubba is aggressive and high-variance, while Stenson is conservative and so consistent it’s boring (and likely counter-productive). Stenson’s bogey rate is under 13.5%, which would be outstanding if it didn’t come with an abysmal birdie rate under 20%. Essentially, he’s capping his own upside by being too risk-averse. Stenson is projected for 20% ownership, which means that with little upside, he can’t help you take down anything. Not only is he unlikely to contend, but his style of play is also the polar opposite of what DK’s scoring rewards. This fade seems pretty straight-forward to me even though it’s unlikely he misses the cut (I said this last week about Kuchar and then he missed so hopefully the anti-jinx works again!).
Good luck this week and find me on Twitter at @alexblickle1!Fantasy Golf