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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - Mayakoba Golf Classic

Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report. What an exciting weekend it was in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. Bryson DeChambeau clawed his way to his fourth title of 2018 and his third victory in his previous five events. The American had his pivotal moment come on the par-five 16th hole on Sunday when he sunk a 57-foot eagle putt from just off the green. DeChambeau stated that he was only playing in Las Vegas to "shake off a little rust," which makes it even scarier that he somehow was able to find his way into the winner's circle. The win moves DeChambeau up to fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings and solidifies him as the hottest player on the planet.

Beau Hossler, our pick to win, finished tied for 23rd, and Sam Ryder and Aaron Wise, our two top sleeper choices, concluded the event inside the top-15. Ryder's third-place finish was highlighted by his bogey-free nine-under 62 on Sunday. The 2019 season hasn't been boring from an outright perspective, as we have had six top-10 finishes in the first six events of the year, but we still are trying to connect on our first winner.

Outright betting in golf can be a grind, and it is why you always want to make sure you aren't overly invested in any one week. For those of you that have each-way betting, it opens up many more possibilities and turns your bets into a scientific equation. There are numerous edges that you can exploit and more sustainable paths to victory every week. But for those of us in the United States or other areas where each-way betting is not offered, head-to-head wagers are really where we should be pinpointing our focus. That doesn't mean we shouldn't make outright bets, but far too many people are risking an inordinate amount of money and wondering where their bankroll has gone. It is like the classic golf quote says, "drive for show and putt for dough." Your futures bets will always be for show, but your matchup wagers are where you make your dough.

For an 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 Mayakoba Golf Classic - El Camaleon Golf Club - 6,987 Yards - Par 71 - Greens Paspalum.

After a quick stop in Las Vegas, the PGA Tour is back with its International flair as we head to the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The field features 132 players and will experience the top 70 and ties making the cut. El Camaleon Golf Club is the host venue and has played that role since the inception of the event in 2007. The course is an extremely short par 71 that plays under 7,000 yards. Because of its length, scoring will be rather easy if winds remain calm. But if gusts pick up, the event can be completely altered.

Greg Norman architected the course in 2007, and the best way to describe it would be as an exposed oceanside track that also features jungle terrain and swampland. The fairways are average in width but can make players feel as if they are trapped in a tiny bubble. El Camaleon ranks inside the top 10 for birdie or better percentage on tour but also ranks near the top 10 in double bogey or worse rate. Essentially, if you start spraying the ball off the tee, big numbers can come into play.

There are very few tracks on tour where distance doesn't hold an advantage over accuracy but 65 percent of all top-10 finishers during the previous five years have been shorter than average off the tee. It's not to say that distance is a negative but accuracy players will see a boost this week.

Pick to Win

Kevin Chappell (75/1, DK Price $7,500, FD Price $10,400)

After missing Bryson DeChambeau last week because we didn't want to mess around with the top of the board, I am afraid this is another tournament where we are going to try and take on the favorites. Emiliano Grillo at 25/1 would probably be where I would start if I were ignoring odds, and Gary Woodland at 18/1 does grade out as my number one player for the event. However, Woodland under 20/1 has trouble written all over it, and I'd rather pinpoint a golfer that is remarkably overpriced, as is the case this week with Kevin Chappell at 75/1.

Players will see ebbs and flows in their pricing throughout the year, but Chappell's value has refused to come back down to where it should be despite starting the 2019 PGA season with strong form. In reality, Chappell is around the same skill level as players like Woodland and Grillo, but the market appears to have lost touch with the American's talent.

The 32-year-old suffered through a back injury he sustained in March at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and proceeded to miss six of his next nine cuts, failing to post a top-25 showing during that duration of time. A share of sixth place at the Open Championship wasn't enough to get Chappell back into the good graces of bettors and apparently a share of 10th during his first start this season at the CIMB Classic didn't do the job either. Chappell followed his top-10 up with a share of 29th at the CJ Cup, but it seems evident that the American is going to have to do something drastic to get himself back towards the 30/1 odds he was coming in at during the beginning of 2018.

El Camaleon Golf Club appears to be a perfect fit for the 63rd-ranked player in the world and should highlight his birdie-making style, superb ball striking ability and solid approach game. Chappell's only win during his career on tour came at the Greg Norman-designed TPC San Antonio, so he has proven to be able to succeed at a Norman track before. Chappell is the 32nd highest priced player on DraftKings, 34th in the betting market and a respectable 12th on FanDuel. FanDuel has his pricing the most accurate this week, and I am happy to back him at a great price of 75/1.

Joaquin Niemann (45/1, DK Price $8,800, FD Price $11,200)

I think Joaquin Niemann is an interesting case study of talent versus value. Most 20-year-old up-and-coming golfers aren't going to be 45/1 selections in a tournament, and in reality, this is even veered towards the higher end of what you will find the Chilean at for a weekly price. He had a period after his quick start on tour of becoming a fixture towards the 20/1 range, and I think the market has struggled to try and figure out where to place him weekly.

For us bettors, a similar dilemma has taken place. Niemann has passed all the visual tests with flying colors, but it's not easy to accurately gauge where the breaking point is of upside versus value. The best example of this is Tony Finau. Everyone knows Finau is a world-class player, but his odds of 12/1 are not conducive to long-term success. It doesn't suggest he can't win, but history has shown he isn't winning any event at a 12/1 rate.

The question becomes: at what number can we safely bet Niemann and expect it to be successful long-term?" My initial inclination is that anything above 60/1 is probably a profitable wager, but sportsbooks are too wise to offer us that in a non-major event. However, just because we aren't getting a "correct price" doesn't mean the Chilean prodigy is off limits to futures action. All it indicates is that we are going to have to pick and choose our spots with him going forward. At events where courses are easy, birdies come in bunches and iron play from 150 yards or less can alter a tournament, Niemann is probably best suited to compete at a venue like that.

Value isn't always so cut and dry, and it is what makes handicapping challenging. But in the same breath, it's what presents edges and strategy to shine through. Niemann is going to record a big win soon, and I am more than willing to try and be a part of it at a birdie-fest venue like El Camaleon. The former No. 1 amateur in the world is the 15th most expensive player on DraftKings, 13th in the betting market and 6th on FanDuel.

C.T. Pan (45/1, DK Price $8,100, FD Price $9,300)

C.T. Pan has been inching towards his first PGA Tour victory for the past six months, and the Mayakoba Golf Classic seems to be an ideal fit for him to experience his first breakthrough victory. Since May, the Taiwanese golfer has made 16 of his previous 17 cuts, which includes eight top-25 finishes. Even more impressively, Pan has contributed two top-four results in his last seven events.

I've stressed this during my previous few articles, but I believe it remains true. Most of the time the fall portion of the year tends to see players who were getting close to a title during the end of the previous season find their way into the winner's circle. For the most part, the early part of 2019 has been won by the who's who of the golf world, but we still have a handful of events left for someone to find their signature win.

During Pan's previous 50 rounds compared to the field, he ranks sixth in par-four scoring between 350 to 400 yards, sixth in par-four scoring between 450 to 500 yards, eighth in strokes gained approach, 11th in proximity from 100 to 125 yards and 15th in strokes gained on par-fives. The culmination of consistency throughout the majority of key statistics for the week could allow the 26-year-old to take the next step in his maturation process and record his first PGA Tour victory.

The only downside to Pan this week is he is going to be extremely popular on DraftKings. Currently, he is projected to be right around 20 percent owned, which gives him the third highest expected ownership in the field. Ownership isn't something we need to worry about in cash-games so fire him up as a staple to your lineups, but things do get a lot trickier for GPP events. I prefer to use Pan as a fade in GPPs and an outright bet at 45/1. The reason for this is that we want to maximize our win potential in large field events and fading popular mid-priced players gives us an advantage over the field if those golfers don't perform. This is purely recommended from a game-theory perspective, and I think Pan is still worth an outright bet at odds of 45/1.

Matt Kuchar (66/1, DK Price $8,200, FD Price $10,900)

Matt Kuchar isn't a golfer that makes many of my betting tickets, but his outright price and golf skill set make him too difficult to ignore at the Mayakoba Classic.

El Camaleon Golf Club has had a history of mature outsiders contending, and while Kuchar shouldn't be considered an outsider, he also isn't the mainstream option that he once was either. The seven-time PGA Tour winner hasn't recorded a win since the RBC Heritage in 2014 and has probably lost his title as golf's cut-making savant. Through an eight-year span ranging from 2010 to 2017, Kuchar made a ridiculous 202 out of 217 worldwide cuts, which includes 2013's brilliant season of making the cut in every event he played.

Fast forward to 2018, and while the 40th-ranked player in the world has still been solid, he has only made 20 of 25 cuts during the calendar year, a 13 percent decrease from his incredible eight-year run. Smaller sample sizes can cause incongruities to the average production expectancy, but Kuchar has missed more cuts in 2018 than he did from 2012 to 2015 combined.

But all of that should be expected from the 40-year-old. Players are getting bigger and stronger, and I don't know how to say this nicely, Kuchar is getting older. However, events like the Mayakoba Classic can reinvigorate an aging golfer. El Camaleon Golf Club plays slightly under 7,000 yards and allows precise, forward-thinking players to take the reigns for a week from the golfers that do the bludgeoning on tour. Perhaps Kuchar's game is too far in limbo right now for it to matter, but at 66/1 and $8,200 on DraftKings, I am willing to take a gamble that the American can find some of his magic.

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

Kevin Chappell +100 over Charley Hoffman -120
Kevin Chappell $7,500 price tag on DraftKings vs. Charley Hoffman $7,600 price tag on DraftKings
Kevin Chappell 5.6 percent projected ownership vs. Charley Hoffman 1.7 percent projected ownership

Kevin Chappell +100 versus Charley Hoffman -120 is a wager that seems to be taking into full account Hoffman's win here in 2014 and ignoring his previous three missed cuts at El Camaleon since. I understand that Chappell hasn't been a prize here either at Mayakoba, missing the cut last season but current form would indicate that Chappell should be the favorite over Hoffman this particular weekend.

Hoffman wasn't a player I was actively looking to target in a head-to-head wager, and I do actually think he provides some contrarian GPP upside, but matchup wagers are about exploiting volatility, so a win for Chappell is all that matters whether Hoffman comes in second place or 132nd place. I don't want to deter anyone from playing Hoffman in large-field events on DFS sites, but part of the intrigue he brings as a boom-or-bust option is exactly why he is an excellent player to target in a matchup wager.

Over Hoffman's previous 50 events, he ranks 62nd in fairways gained, 69th in par-four scoring between 450 to 500 yards and 91st in strokes gained on par-fives. The par-four holes between 450 to 500 yards are essential because these will be where a lot of the big numbers are possible. The par-fives are the opposite; they should be the easiest holes on the course where players are going to be required to score if they want to compete. The lack of production in those two critical statistics could turn Hoffman's week into a short visit in Mayakoba.

Chappell isn't impervious to an implosion of his own, but he is our pick to win the event for a reason, and sometimes you have to stick to your guns when mathematical inconsistencies present themselves. To me, Chappell should have been the one golfer who was listed at -120, which places him at a win rate of 54.5 percent.

As a $100 bettor, if ties don't ever get recorded, we should expect to hit Chappell 54.5 times out of 100 and lose the other 45.5 occasions. Since we get him at +100 instead of the -120 that we think he should have been, the math would look like this:

54.5 wins of Chappell over Hoffman= $5,450 (54.5 wins x $100 )
45.5 losses of Chappell over Hoffman= -$4,550 (45.5 losses x $100)
$5,450 of winnings - $4,550 of losses
Total= $900 or 9 units.

A return rate of nine units over 100 wagers (barring ties) makes Chappell an intriguing head-to-head bet. This, of course, is assuming we are correct with our evaluation of Chappell's actual odds of winning. I'd recommend erring on the side of caution when you try and figure out what you think a team or player's win percentage should be because it can give you some additional wiggle room if you were wrong with your initial assessment. But in general, these are tips and tricks that you should be looking to add into your repertoire and will make you a better gambler as you continue to break down games with this sort of a mentality. Good luck this week to everyone wagering on the Mayakoba Classic, and let's hope to hit some winners!


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