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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - CJ Cup


By Keith Allison (Flickr: Jason Day) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report. Marc Leishman captured his fourth title on the PGA Tour at the CIMB Classic. The Aussie steamrolled the field, shooting a 26-under par en route to a five-shot victory over Emiliano Grillo, Chesson Hadley and Bronson Burgoon. The win for Leishman moves him from 24th in the Official World Golf Rankings into his new position of 16th, only four spots off his career-high ranking of 12th.

From a betting perspective, the event was a successful one. Three of our outright selections concluded the tournament inside the top-20, and our head-to-head choice of Kevin Na -120 over Kevin Tway +100 held on for a four-shot victory. While the event was a profitable one for us, it had the makings of something special going into Sunday. Shubankar Sharma entered the final round in a share of first place but was only able to fire an even-par 72 to fall into a share of 10th. Chesson Hadley, on the other hand, made a mad dash on Sunday but was unable to apply any pressure on the final two holes to make Leishman ponder the situation.

All in all, Malaysia provided a nice boost to the bankroll and has helped to get 2019 off to a promising start. The CJ Cup is the third tournament on tap for the season, so without further ado, let's take a look at some value plays we will be targeting this week in South Korea.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate, check out Seth Finkelstein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

And for a more in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly "Horse For The Course" column that highlights the best fits for the week's course.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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2018 CJ Cup - Nine Bridges Golf Club - 7,196 Yards - Par 72 - Greens Bentgrass.

Week three of the 2019 season takes us to South Korea for the CJ Cup. Similar to last week, only 78 players will be participating at the no-cut event at Nine Bridges Golf Club.

The course itself is beautiful. Located almost 2,000 feet above sea level, Nine Bridges is a majestic mountain venue that played as the fourth-hardest course on tour last season. But despite the extraordinary challenge that appears to be bestowed upon the players this week, Nine Bridges may not be as difficult as some may think. Weather conditions ravaged the tournament last season, and winds blew at 17 MPH or above in three of the four rounds.

Length isn't an issue at slightly under 7,200 yards, and fairways are generous. Last season, the field still managed to hit almost 72 percent of fairways, even with the blustery conditions. The same could be said for approach shots as nearly 70 percent of golfers were successful in hitting a green in regulation.

So outside of weather, what caused the course to play the way it did? Greens are tricky to read at Nine Bridges, and the natural surroundings can be deceptive. Undoubtedly this helped to contribute to the poor scoring we saw, but I think the weather was still the primary beneficiary of what went wrong. During the opening round last season, where the wind was average in strength, the field averaged 70.949 that day. That would have resulted in the 14th-easiest course on tour last season if the tournament ended on Thursday.

If the winds remain calm, I think the CJ Cup turns into a birdie shootout, and therefore we will be pinpointing players that should relish and thrive in those conditions.

Pick to Win

Jason Day (13/1, DK Price $10,600, FD Price $11,900)

Despite there being only 78 players in this week's CJ Cup, this is a tough tournament from a betting perspective. Justin Thomas comes in as the defending champion and the cream of the crop statistically. However, with nearly a 30 percent ownership projection on DraftKings and 5/1 odds betting odds, I feel like game-theory suggests that we must fade Thomas in large GPP fields and ignore him in the betting market.

Although I don't usually start my betting card below 15/1, Brooks Koepka does intrigue me at odds of 8/1. I think he very well might be the best player in the world, but his recent schedule has been a tad bit alarming. Koepka has played the Ryder Cup in France, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and now the CJ Cup in South Korea. All of this in the past three weeks.

And so that leaves me with Jason Day at 13/1. The Aussie hasn't been great as of late, only recording one top-10 finish in his previous eight tournaments, but Day has shown the ability to strike out of nowhere during his career, especially when he is fresh and rejuvenated. During his last two victories on the PGA Tour, the 12th-ranked player in the world has had at least three weeks off in both situations, which is where he finds himself this week.

Day's game should translate nicely to Nine Bridges Golf Club, evident by last seasons share of 11th during the event's inception and domination of courses under 7,200 yards. In the 12-time PGA Tour winners previous 50 rounds at shorter venues, he ranks first in birdies, second in three-putt avoidance, second in scrambling and fifth in par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards.

Day will attract some ownership on DFS sites, but at 13/1 in the betting market, he will be lost in the shuffle. Our exposure to him will mainly be the end of our betting week for outright bets, but we will still add on some deep longshots to round off the card.

Sleepers

Jimmy Walker (125/1, DK Price $6,800, FD Price $8,700)

Lost in the shuffle of the CIMB Classic was Jimmy Walker's strong close to the event on the weekend. The American opened the tournament with rounds of 73 and 71 before closing the show with rounds of 68 and 66, good for 10-under par in the final two days. Outside of his weekend in Malaysia, it is hard to say that Walker has been good recently. He has failed to post a top-15 result since May, but sometimes all you need to see from a world-class golfer is a little sign of life, mostly when you are being offered 125/1 on a former major champion.

The 39-year-old has been brilliant on par-72 courses that are less than 7,200 yards. In Walker's previous 50 rounds compared to the field, he ranks first in strokes gained approach, first in par-four scoring from 400 to 450 yards, first in scrambling and fifth in birdies. At a price tag of $6,800 on DraftKings and under seven percent projected ownership, the six-time PGA Tour champion might be my favorite selection in large-field GPP events. If someone pulls off a shocking result in South Korea, Walker could very well be the one who does it.

Ryan Palmer (150/1, DK Price $6,500, FD Price $7,900)

Ryan Palmer checks a lot of boxes for those looking to find a longshot winner. Born in Amarillo, Texas, Palmer has shown that he is one of the best players in the world when it comes to playing in gusty conditions. In his last 50 rounds compared to the field in extreme wind, the American ranks first in strokes gained off the tee, third in scrambling, fifth in par-five scoring between 550 to 600 yards and fifth in strokes gained approach.

The opening round of the event is supposed to be windy, and Palmer might be able to place himself in a position of dominance. Winds are set to die down over the next three days, which in theory is supposed to hamper Palmer's chances, but the 42-year-old has shown great skill at par-72 courses under 7,200 yards. Not to mention that it's not like the winds are going to be non-existent after Thursday. In the 114th-ranked players previous 50 rounds on short par-72 courses, he grades out first in strokes gained off the tee and third in birdies.

Palmer's putting could end up hampering his performance in South Korea, but he is worth a long look at odds of 150/1. The three-time PGA Tour winner is projected to be under three percent owned on DraftKings and is a potential game-changer in large-field GPP tournaments.

Bonus Bomb

Jason Dufner (175/1, DK Price $6,400, FD Price $7,800)

I admit this is a bit of a shot in the dark that I am taking on Jason Dufner, but he is worth a flier at odds of 175/1. The 41-year-old has been bad; I mean like really, really bad. Bad to the point that he hasn't recorded a top-20 finish since May. The sportsbooks aren't stupid and are well aware of this fact, but I think they have probably taken Dufner's number to a bit of an extreme.

Nine Bridges is a course that the American could find to suit his game. It is a short par-72 that will present an ample amount of opportunities to use his pristine iron play. Yea, the same person who used his irons to finish the 2017 season as the 15th ranked person on tour in strokes gained approach. Those days appear to be long gone, but Dufner is a gamer and is capable of turning the switch on in a flash.

At par-72 courses less than 7,200 yards, the five-time tour winner ranks second in strokes gained off the tee in his previous 50 rounds and also ranks in the top 20 in birdies, strokes gained off the tee, par-five scoring between 550 to 600 yards, par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards and strokes gained approach in extreme wind conditions during the same time frame.

Dufner's poor play is going to place him right around one percent owned on DraftKings. You don't need much of him to be overweight to the field, and no, that was not meant to be a pun. However, the American does have a chance to feast in South Korea, and that is never a bad thing.

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Paul Casey +100 over Marc Leishman -120
Paul Casey $9,900 price tag on DraftKings vs. Marc Leishman $10,200 price tag on DraftKings
Paul Casey 18.9 percent projected ownership vs. Marc Leishman 8.9 percent projected ownership

We will attack the winner of the previous tournament for the second straight week on our head-to-head bet. This isn't something we are actively looking to do, but value quite often gets pushed so far in one direction that we have no other choice.

Before Marc Leishman's victory at the CIMB Classic, I believe Paul Casey would have been around -125 or -130 in this matchup on this exact course. In the Englishman's last 12 rounds on par-72 venues under 7,200 yards, he ranks in the top 15 in five major categories this week, which includes par-four scoring from 400 to 450 yards, strokes gained off the tee, and eagles and birdes gained. The 41-year-old also ranks first in the field in strokes gained approach over the same duration of time.

Leishman, on the other hand, does rank sixth in birdies over his past 12 rounds but ranks outside the top 35 in all additional categories mentioned above. The two golfers have played 51 tournaments together that either hasn't featured a cut or has resulted in both players making the weekend. In those situations, Casey has won 27 times, lost 20 and pushed four.

Casey may find it difficult to capture the title at a given event, but the 21st-ranked player in the world is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour. Leishman's birdie potential could keep the matchup close for a while, but this is a classic letdown spot for the big Aussie.

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