What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! I hope everyone enjoyed the first week and is back into the swing of things! DJ was DJ in Maui, and if you didn’t have a piece of him it was hard to compete. Overall, the first week was a success and an awesome kickoff to what should be a great year.
The PGA Tour is staying in Hawaii for the Sony Open hosted by Waialae Country Club. Waialae has played host to this event since its inauguration giving us plenty of course history to look back on. The course plays as a 7,044 yard Par 70, with just two Par 5s we love for DraftKings scoring. Compared to last week, the fairways are much narrower and less fairways are hit here compared to the average PGA Tour event. However, the rough isn’t very penial, which is why typical winning scores still end up in the -20s or high teens. Waialae is a second shot course. Ten of the Par 4s range from 400-500 yards and the majority of approach shots on the course will be coming from 150-200 yards. If a golfer scores on the Par 4s this week, they will end up near the top of the leaderboard. Shoutout to Kenny Kim (@KendoVT) for this stat – 13 of the last 19 winners of the Sony Open played the week before at Kapalua. Chalk that up to guys acclimated to the climate, the Bermuda grass greens, and getting rid of any rust that built up over the off season.
Stats for the Week
Birdie or Better Gained
SG:Putting – Bermuda
Par 4 Efficiency – 400-500 yards
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Jordan Spieth – $12,000
Man oh man did Spieth forget how to putt last week or what!! It was one of the worst putting performances of his career, and he still managed to finish 9th. Spieth was lights out tee-to-green but gave it all back with the flatty. What is encouraging is that we all know how elite Spieth is on the greens so it could easily come back just as fast as it left. Even if he putts field average this week at the Sony Open and continues his tee-to-green game, he’ll win this event. His price makes lineup construction difficult, but I doubt we see his ownership fall below 25%. I’m willing to shove all in while others are still feeling the burn from doing so last week.
Kevin Kisner – $10,100
I fully expect Kisner to fly under the radar this week with three big names priced above him and the in-form Brian Harman right there as well. Kisner stands out for a few reasons. First, he played last week which is huge. As mentioned above, 13 of the last 19 winners of The Sony Open have played the week before in the ToC. Check mark for Kisner. He also has the course history. Kis has a T4 and a T5 in his last two trips to the Sony. He can putt on Bermuda greens, is excellent on Par 4s and when he is on with his approach game he is usually in contention. I see another top 5 finish in the cards for Kisner this week.
Tony Finau – $8,900
It’s been quite a while since we have been able to roster Tony Finau, and I am pretty damn excited. Finau ended 2017 on his best run of his career. He had two top tens in the FedEx Cup playoffs, a 2nd at the Safeway Open and two more top 16s in his last two events. His stats are incredible over that time, and in his last two recorded event, he gained 5.5 SG:APP in each. He came T20 at the 2017 Sony Open, giving him some familiarity with the course which is what you want in a cash game player. Plenty of people have pegged Finau as a big time break out player this year, and a win this week would be a huge start to the season for Tony.
J.J. Spaun – $7,600
J.J. Spaun comes in ranked first in my weighted stat model this week because he finished the 2017 season hot as hell. Perhaps it is lucky for us that he didn’t pick up his first career title in the fall swing season and was saving it for the 2018 Sony Open. His game will suit this course as he is one of the best on Par 4s between 400-450, makes a ton of birdies and ranks 4th in SG:APP over his last 12 rounds. Surprisingly, Spaun did miss the cut here last year because he lost four strokes around the green. I do not expect that to be an issue if his irons are dialled in like they should be. He finished 2017 with three straight top 15s and a 2nd at the RSM Classic. Look for him to pick up where he left off at the Sony.
Jason Dufner – $7,300
How in the world is Jason Dufner priced $7,300. This mispricing won’t go unnoticed but still has to be taken advantage of. Duf played solid last week with a T11 finish Tournament of Champions, mainly because of his putter. Still, he is one of the best in the game on approach shots and has gained strokes on approaches in 16 of his last 18 events. Despite missing the cut here last season, he did finish T9 in 2016. I love Dufner for cash games this week because his price makes lineup construction so much easier.
Sony Open Interactive Data
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Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Webb Simpson – $9,300
This doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, because I hate rostering the inconsistent Webb Simpson. But it looks as though he will be the lowest owned golfer priced above $9K this week according to the early tag results on FanShare Sports. Simpson’s price is reasonable. We have seen him priced in the five digit range in similar field events last season. He also has three straight T13 finishes at the Sony Open. If ball striking will be important this week, a low owned Webb Simpson is the guy you need to take down a GPP.
Xander Schauffele – $8,600
Alright Xander, we’ll let you off the hook since last week was your first trip to Maui. Looking back, his T22 finish shouldn’t have been a surprise at the ToC. He uncharacteristically lost 5.8 strokes on approaches, his second worst performance of his career in that stat. The reason why I like Xander so much this week is that he is wedged in between Berger and Si Woo Kim, so he will be completely ignored. I’d be surprised to see his ownership go over 10% – a rare number to see for a two time winner on tour and rookie of the year. Xander is in a prime bounce back spot.
Chris Kirk – $7,100
Kirk’s price jumped out at me at first glance – that’s why he ended up in this article. Kirk has had success at this event in the past, two top 5s and a T26 in the past five years. Unfortunately, his last two attempts have resulted in missed cuts. What is encouraging is that Kirk found some form at the end of the 2017 season, making seven of his last eight cuts and finished T4 at the RSM Classic his last time out. He has also gained strokes on approaches in five straight events. Kirk falls in the crowded low $7K range and won’t gain traction throughout the week. He is definitely worth a flier or two.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Si Woo Kim – $8,500
I love Si Woo Kim as much as the next guy thanks to his profitable win at The Players. But in this spot, at $8,500 when the entire world seems to be jumping aboard – I have to abandon ship. I agree he can win this event no problem, but the likely hood he returns value at his price tag is a long shot. Kim only has 16 top 10s in 153 career events. One of those top 10s was last week and he has only had back-to-back top 10s twice in his career. He comes and goes faster than anyone, and if he is going to be chalk this week it seems like a logical fade.
Brian Gay – $7,900
The last time we saw Gay tee it up, he finished T3 at the RSM Classic. That result is still on people’s minds, as he has created some early buzz for the Sony Open. Gay’s $7,900 price is steep to say the least, and will have to rely heavily on his putter this week if is going to return value. His stats are very mediocre when it comes to SG:APP, Par 4 efficiency from the key yardages and his proximity from 150-200 ranks in the 90s. Having to put that much stock into a golfer’s flat stick is a scary proposition.
Jerry Kelly – $7,500
Sorry old man Jerry, none of you this week. I would have been intrigued if Kelly was closer to the dead minimum, but the risk he carries at $7,500 is high. Kelly will likely be unpopular, but his course history could lure some people in. He has three top 10s here in the past five years, but also two missed cuts. Stay away, stay faarrrr away.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Justin Thomas – $11,600
JT did not get the seasons started the way he had hoped. His T22 at the Tournament of Champions was mainly due to the fact that he lost 3.6 strokes on the green. He was also only about 15% owned across large tournaments last week, as the highest priced golfer. This field is obviously weaker, but not too many people will be super eager to put him back into their lineups. I do not see JT’s ownership eclipsing 20% this week, and as the defending champ who rarely needs to show form prior to a win – this is a perfect time to go all in.
Austin Cook – $7,600
Austin Cook created quite a bit of buzz last week in his first ever trip to Kapalua, thanks to a couple of big time names in the industry. As expected with most first timers at the ToC, he finished a subpar T22, losing strokes across the board. However, Kip Henley, Austin Cook’s caddie, said in an interview that the Sony Open is the event he expected Austin to do better at. That is a first hand, honest opinion about a golfer in this field that we have to consider. In Cook’s win at the RSM Classic, he gained 4.5 strokes on approaches, a stat that will be crucial this week. Cook makes a ton birdies and is the 4th most efficient golfer on Par 4s between 450-500 yards in the field over his last 12 rounds.
Thanks for reading the Sony Open preview article! Follow me on Twitter for more DFS and golf betting talk! Also, don’t forget to check out FanShareSports.com to get a full look at who the DFS golf community is talking about this week!
Good luck this week everybody!!