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Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report. Matt Kuchar overcame some early stumbles on Sunday to win the Sony Open by four strokes. Kuchar bogeyed three of the first five holes during the final round after making just one bogey during the opening three days. However, he seized control of the event with five birdies on the back nine en route to his second victory since November. The triumph moves the American up to 22nd in the world and continues his hot start to the season.

Justin Thomas, our pick to win, struggled with his putter all weekend -- eventually finishing in a share of 16th place. It was an extremely disappointing result, mostly considering the fact that we rarely select players towards the top of the board. Chez Reavie, our top sleeper selection at 80/1, concluded the event in a share of third place. Reavie holed out from 100-plus yards three times during his second round but was unable to get his putter going during the week, finishing 50th in strokes gained-putting. We have now produced 11 top-10 results in the first nine tournaments of the year, which includes the outright win at Mayakoba Golf Club with Matt Kuchar at odds of 66/1. For anyone that has each-way betting, this is our sixth top-five result with five of those finishes coming from players at 66/1 odds or higher.

Our head-to-head wager of Jimmy Walker (-115) over Kevin Na (-105) never got off the ground with Na withdrawing pre-tournament due to a broken pinky finger. We knew that was the most likely outcome, but it would have been nice if the American attempted to gut it out before withdrawing. No harm was done though, and we will count the wager as a push and move onto the Desert Classic this week. The event in La Quinta, California is wide open with most of the top players in Abu Dhabi for the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, so without further ado, let's get right into some value plays for the Desert Classic.

For an in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly Horse For The Course 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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2019 Desert Classic - TPC Stadium Course

7,300 Yards - Par 72 - Greens Bermuda

The 2019 Desert Classic will be held across three courses: Stadium Course (Pete Dye Design), Nicklaus Tournament Course (Jack Nicklaus design) and La Quinta CC (Lawrence Hughes & Clive Clark design). The players will rotate the courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, playing each venue once. At the end of 54-holes, the cut will take place, and the remaining players will play the Stadium Course one final time. The tricky part of the event, from a viewing perspective, is that ShotLink data and Shot Tracker are only available on the Stadium Course. The other two venues not only don't have trackers but also have limited camera coverage. It is going to be difficult to know what is going on with your players and expect a handful of misreported birdies, eagles and triple-bogeys.

The tournament is a Pro-Am, which adds to the gimmicky nature and rounds can take FOREVER to finish. The cut will trim the players to the top 70 and ties for Sunday, unless 78 players or more qualify, which will establish the dreaded MDF finish. During a typical event, if 78 or more players make the Friday cut, we would see a secondary cut happen on Saturday, and the top 70 and ties would play the final round. In La Quinta, though, only the top 60 would make the cut to play the final round if an MDF finish does come into play. Confusing enough? It does add an exciting dynamic for DFS contests because all players are guaranteed three rounds, and it allows a little more aggression for your roster construction, but I don't think it helps much from a betting aspect. You don't know where you stand until Sunday with all the golfers playing different courses, and it hurts head-to-head wagers in my opinion.

The Stadium Course will be the most difficult of three and features water on nine of the holes. The La Quinta and Nicklaus tracks are the two easiest on tour and will be where you need to do most of your scoring. Rain is expected in the forecast for Thursday and could add an unusual wave advantage for players that play a particular course on a given day. What is that advantage? I don't know. But I would assume playing the Stadium Course on Thursday in the rain would make things more difficult. All in all, the tournament isn't one of the better viewing events that we have on the year, but there could be some betting value in it if we can correctly gauge where the advantages lie.

 

Desert Classic Pick to Win

Joaquin Niemann - 60/1, DK Price $7,600, FD Price $10,400

Last season, no player that started Thursday on the Stadium Course finished inside the top 10. Some of that had to do with the way the draw was set up to feature the more prominent players on television for Saturday, but I do think there is an edge for the golfers that don't have to begin the tournament in the rain on the most challenging track.

If we remove a third of the field from contention, it makes this gimmicky event slightly more manageable to decipher. Golfers such as Sam Ryder (140/1), D.J. Trahan (400/1), Roberto Castro (200/1), Anders Albertson (150/1) and Peter Uihlein (60/1) were all longshots that I was considering but won't make the official card because of their potential negative draw bias. It seems to make logical sense to either target the players that will get to play the Stadium Course when the venue is softened from the rain or the golfers that get to play the course in back-to-back days.

Joaquin Niemann will start Thursday at the Nicklaus track before heading over to the Stadium Course on Friday and La Quinta on Saturday. I think this could end up being the ideal path for the week, and I am thrilled to get the young prodigy at odds of 60/1. It wasn't long ago that Niemann had entered a range of under 20/1 in a handful of consecutive events, but with players like Cameron Champ stealing the limelight, the 20-year-old sensation has gotten overlooked.

Golf is a fickle sport when it comes to that in general. If you don't win right away, there is a good possibility that you become forgotten about when the next phenom enters the fray. The issue with that way of thinking is can we safely say that Niemann isn't still the best up-and-coming golfer under 24 years old? I know most golf pundits will point to Champ, but the Chilean provided three top-eight finishes in five weeks last year and was knocking on the door before fading towards the end of the season. The two-month break should do Niemann well, and there is a lot of motivation for him to make a grand statement in his first event of 2019.

I have stressed this in past articles, but it seems likely that Niemann's first career PGA Tour win will come at a birdie shootout. In his previous 50 rounds compared to the field, the 155th-ranked player in the world grades out first in ball striking, first in opportunities gained, first in strokes gained approach and second in strokes gained off the tee. He has not been putting well recently, but none of the three courses are demanding and will yield a plethora of birdie looks. His pristine iron game should give him a surplus of chances this weekend, and I think his outright price is about double what it should be.

Niemann is the 29th highest priced player on DraftKings, 10th on FanDuel and 25th in the betting market. He probably is too volatile of an option for cash-games, and he is going to be extremely popular on DraftKings due to his cheap pricing, but Niemann possesses the upside to win the event and is someone I am going to be extremely overweight on across the board.

 

Desert Classic Sleepers

Luke List - 45/1, DK Price $9,000, FD Price $10,100

Luke List has always been thought of as more of a bomber, but I like him better at a course where the driver is taken out of his hands. La Quinta Country Club and the PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course are venues where you can grip it and rip it, but there aren't many places to miss that put you in a precarious position. The TPC Stadium Club has water to worry about on nine of the holes, so clubbing down off the tee is an excellent option for a player like List. If he can stay aggressive on the outer tracks and reign it in slightly on the main course, the American has a great chance to post a low score this weekend.

While the 34-year-old did miss the cut here last season, he has a share of sixth place in 2016 on his record and rides into the event with two top-four finishes in his past three tournaments. There is some concern that he hasn't played since November, but if List had posted those results during the 2019 calendar year instead of two months earlier, we would be looking at the 60th-ranked golfer closer to the 25/1 range for this event. I think it is encouraging for List's long-term prospects that he no longer has to overexert himself to garner the number of points that he needs and can now be more meticulous with his schedule.

After losing strokes putting in 14 of 15 tournaments, List has gained strokes in his past two events, which hopefully stems from the extra work he has been able to put in outside of the course. Always a great striker of the ball, the Vanderbilt University graduate is ranked fourth in his past 50 rounds compared to the field in ball striking and comes in ranked number one in strokes gained off the tee. List should be owned right around 15 percent on DraftKings but is in a range where he could go slightly overlooked to Aaron Wise, Abraham Ancer and Chez Reavie. I think he makes for a nice pivot option regardless of the game type and could compete if his putter cooperates. List is going to play the La Quinta Course day one, the Nicklaus track day two and end Saturday on the Stadium Course. In an ideal world, performing on the Stadium Course on back-to-back days should give him a better feel of it come Sunday.

 

Si Woo Kim - 66/1, DK Price $7,500, FD Price $9,200

Similar to Joaquin Niemann, Si Woo Kim's three-day draw is the Nicklaus design on Thursday, Stadium Course on Friday and La Quinta Country Club on Saturday. There isn't a massive difference in difficulty between the Nicklaus and La Quinta courses, but I love the idea of getting the weaker La Quinta track when there isn't rain and the Stadium Course after it has rained the day prior. That feels like the optimal way to stack this card, and I am happy to add the 23-year-old at odds of 66/1.

Kim has played this event once in his career, posting a share of ninth place in 2016, but the thing that attracts me the most about him this week is his success on Pete Dye-designed courses. The South Korean became the youngest player to win the Players Championship in 2017, capturing the title when he was only 21 years old. He also just missed winning the 2018 RBC Heritage, losing in a playoff to Satoshi Kodaira.

The volatility around Kim is undeniable, but he made 76.6 percent of his cuts in 2018, an increase of 10 percent from 2017. His odds appear to be taking into account his missed cut last weekend at the Sony Open and ignoring his play on Pete Dye designs. In his past 24 rounds compared to the field on Dye-designed tracks, Kim ranks first in strokes gained on par-fives, first in strokes gained off the tee and eighth in ball striking. I think this weekend can end a lot of ways for the two-time PGA Tour winner, but his odds are too high, and there is more than enough upside to warrant a wager at 66/1. At $7,500 on DraftKings and a less than seven percent projected ownership, he provides immense GPP upside, although I would avoid him in cash-games this weekend.

 

Dylan Frittelli - 80/1, DK Price $7,500, FD Price $8,600

I don't love taking on the triumvirate of Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Patrick Cantlay this week, so I will be keeping the card relatively small with the number of longshots that I have included. If you have each-way betting, Bud Cauley (90/1) is another name that I like, but I see no point in aggressively attacking the top of the board otherwise.

Dylan Frittelli at 80/1 is one of the more intriguing under the radar candidates in this event. The 28-year-old has opened his first season with full membership on the PGA Tour with three made cuts in three tournaments. Sandwiched in between his starts in America, Frittelli provided four top-25 finishes in five European Tour events, which included three top-12 results. The South African also finished 12th on the European Tour in scoring average in 2018 and eighth in par-five scoring.

Frittelli has historically underachieved on the PGA Tour so far during his career, but his recent form could bode well for success at La Quinta this weekend. The two-time European Tour winner has drawn the same rotational schedule as Kim and Niemann and presents intriguing GPP upside at only 4.2 percent projected ownership on DraftKings. Like most of the wagers this week, each-way betting would be a preferable option, but if you don't have that available to you, Frittelli has a high enough ceiling to justify a bet at odds of 80/1.

 

Bonus Bomb

Alex Prugh - 300/1, DK Price $6,600, FD Price $7,000

During Alex Prugh's rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2010, he provided four top-10 results on the year. All four of these finishes came in the state of California, and the run started at this very event, which was named the Bob Hope Classic at the time. The tournament used to be played over 90 holes instead of 72, and Prugh held the lead after 54 and 72 holes before the occasion became a little too much for him on Sunday.

Since then, the 421st-ranked player in the world has seen some ups and a whole lot of downs, but he has continued to bring his best quality to California stops. Since 2014, Prugh has gained 1.138 strokes per round in California versus 0.345 elsewhere. His 0.793 disparity is the fourth largest difference on the PGA Tour and third highest for this field. It is not going to be easy for Prugh to win, but he is worth a shot at 300/1 and is an even better wager with each-way.

 

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Anders Albertson -110 over Anirban Lahiri -110
Anders Albertson $7,200 price tag on DraftKings vs. Anirban Lahiri $7,300 price tag on DraftKings
Anders Albertson 10.2 percent projected ownership vs. Anirban Lahiri 2.0 percent projected ownership

Risk 1.10 Units to Win 1.00.

It is a weird tournament, but with both players starting on the Stadium Course, I think it increases the potential for each golfer to miss the cut. If Albertson had gotten a different draw, I would have considered him on the outright ticket, so I think this is a unique situation to still get an investment onto him for the event.

Anirban Lahiri has come 25th and 28th in his two appearances here, but there are a bunch of red flags for him coming into the week. Since 2014, Lahiri has only gained 0.215 strokes per round on Bermuda grass, a 0.803 decrease from his expected value of 1.018. Lahiri has also been on the record for his displeasure of playing in California, saying during a 2017 interview "I don’t particularly enjoy playing on the west coast, don’t like the weather too much, don’t like playing on those courses. For me, I’d rather come out and enjoy Asia."

The one thing he has going for him is that he is an exceptional Pete Dye player, so maybe that is enough to outweigh the bad, but the 31-year-old doesn't bring the best statistical form with him to La Quinta. In his previous 24 rounds compared to the field, Lahiri ranks 112th in strokes gained approach and 144th in strokes gained on par-fives.

On the other hand, Anders Albertson has been brilliant since getting his PGA Tour card in September. The American has made four of five cuts, which includes two top-15 finishes. Over his past 24 rounds compared to the field, the 25-year-old ranks first in opportunities gained, sixth in strokes gained approach and sixth in ball striking. The ability to use his irons to set up chances on the greens will prove vital this weekend, and Albertson's game is clicking on all cylinders.

With Lahiri not liking California or Bermuda grass, I think there is a real possibility that we see him struggle on the Stadium Course in rainy conditions. That alone could be enough damage to take him out of contention for the week, and I think we are getting a sufficient price to take on the 150th-ranked golfer in the world. I'd imagine that we see this number close more towards -120 or -125 so get in your wager as soon as you can! Good luck this weekend to anyone wagering on the Desert Classic and hopefully we can find the winner's circle with one of our longshot selections!

 

2019 Head-to-Head Record (4-2-2)

+2.70 Units Year-To-Date From H2H Bets

Tournament

Head-to-Head Bet

Bet

My Picks Finish

Opponent Finish

Result

Total

Safeway Open

Sangmoon Bae +130 Over Chris Kirk

1.00 Units to Win 1.30

MC (+2)

MC (E)

Loss

-1.00

CIMB Classic

Kevin Na -120 over Kevin Tway

1.50 Units to Win 1.25

T19 (-17)

T27 (-13)

Win

1.25

CJ Cup

Paul Casey +100 over Marc Leishman

1.25 Units to Win 1.25

T18 (-8)

T18 (-8)

Push

0

WGC-HSBC

Thomas Pieters +120 over Kevin Na

1.00 Units to Win 1.20

T18 (-1)

T54 (+10)

Win

1.20

Shriners

Austin Cook +100 over Russell Henley

1.00 Units to Win 1.00

MC (+1)

MC (-1)

Loss

-1.00

Mayakoba

Kevin Chappell +100 over Charley Hoffman

1.25 Units to Win 1.25

T41 (-9)

MC (+2)

Win

1.25

RSM Classic

Patrick Rodgers -105 over Bronson Burgoon

1.05 Units to Win 1.00

2nd (-19)

MC (+2)

Win

1.00

Sony Open

Jimmy Walker -115 over Kevin Na

1.15 Units to Win 1.00

T51 (-6)

Did Not Start

Push

0

 


2019 Outright Bets That Have Finished Inside the Top-10

Player

Event

Odds

Finish Position

Matt Kuchar

Mayakoba Golf Classic

66/1

1

Chesson Hadley

CIMB Classic

110/1

T2

Ryan Palmer

CJ Cup

150/1

T3

Sam Ryder

Shriners Hospitals

80/1

3

Chez Reavie

Sony Open

80/1

T3

Jason Day

CJ Cup

13/1

T5

Zach Johnson

RSM Classic

40/1

T7

Kevin Kisner

RSM Classic

40/1

T7

Webb Simpson

TOC

25/1

T8

J.B. Holmes

Safeway Open

60/1

9

Shubankar Sharma

CIMB Classic

150/1

T10

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