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PGA DFS Vegas Report - Sony Open


Welcome back to the PGA DFS Vegas Report. Justin Thomas got the job done in Hawaii for the third time in his career, but it didn't come without a little uncertainty down the stretch. The American played the final three holes in two-over par, which includes nearly handing Xander Schauffele the victory on the 72nd hole when his second shot found the native area.

Fortunately for Thomas, Schauffele also had issues closing the show after three-putting from 35-feet - setting up our first three-man playoff of the year between Thomas, Reed and Schauffele. Thomas' eventual two birdies on the 18th hole during the playoff was good enough to crown him the winner at the event for the second time in his career, and he will look to provide a carbon copy of how he celebrated his 2017 title by going into the Sony Open and capturing back-to-back victories.

Our outright betting card of Joaquin Nieman (50/1), Dustin Johnson (10/1) and Matthew Wolff (60/1) all flirted with the top of the leaderboard throughout the tournament, but a few poor weekend rounds took us out of contention late. With the Sony Open on tap, let's see if we can't continue the strong start to the year, and perhaps get ourselves over the hump with a triumph of our own.

Editor's Note: Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive Lineup Optimizer, DFS Tools, and weekly Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

2020 Sony Open

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.

 

Waialae Country Club

7,044 Yards - Par 70 - Greens Bermuda

A 15-minute drive from Honolulu, Waialae Country Club was designed by Seth Raynor in 1925 and was enhanced to feature restorations that mimicked the original layout by Tom Doak in 2016.

Just like Kapalua last weekend, Waialae is one of the easiest courses on tour, but it will play vastly different than its predecessor. Kapalua featured hilly terrain, stretching nearly 7,500 yards in length, while Waialae can be best described as a flat, boring bayside track that will emphasize par-four scoring and ball-striking at just slightly over 7,000 yards. The only line of defense for the venue is wind, which can cause approximately a three-shot difference per day in calm versus windy conditions. However, the fairways are lined with trees that do mitigate some of the weather. Driving accuracy is well below the tour average, but the rough is innocuous, and players will have clean second shots as long as they avoid the trees.

There are 12 par-fours on the course, with 10 of them ranging between 400-500 yards. The four par-threes extend between 173-200 yards and the two par-fives play 497 and 548 yards, respectively. The par-fives are the easiest holes to score on, featuring roughly a 71 percent and 55 percent birdie or better percentage. Those holes are reachable in two shots for just about every player in the field, so golfers that can give themselves an opportunity for quality eagle looks should make a few during the week. In general, Waialae is a second shot course that will reward players that are good with their irons and can score on par-fours.

 

Sony Open

#1 - Marc Leishman - 40/1

DraftKings Price $9,200 / FanDuel Price $10,600

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 7.7%

It is a weird betting card this week. Justin Thomas is eating up a ton of win equity with his 6/1 price tag, but it is not a route that I can get myself to go down. It wouldn't shock me to see the American go back-to-back in Hawaii, but this is one of those spots where I am ok opposing him and tipping my cap if he beats me.

The rest of our options in the sub-35/1 range also don't scream VALUE! Webb Simpson is one of my favorite DFS plays of the week, but there is a big difference between playing him in a cash-game/GPP contests and betting him as an outright selection at 12/1. Simpson has only won once on tour since 2013, and I don't think his upside is as great as some are leading you to believe. That doesn't mean he can't win, but you would need to inflate his odds by 2.5x for me to become interested.

The first player that returns positive win equity based on my math is Marc Leishman at 40/1. The Aussie is going to enter the week at under 10 percent owned on DFS sites because of his inconsistent run as of late, but Leishman is a world-class wind player that has been known to find success in birdie shootouts.

The one continuous narrative you will hear this week is that participants at the Sentry Tournament of Champions are more likely to win this weekend in Honolulu. I can't argue that stance since seven of the last eight winners of this event played the week before, but I do want to put my own spin on that take. It is important to note that the Presidents Cup allowed a handful of golfers to garner some early season form, even if it isn't shown on an official tournament record.

I have Leishman priced at 25/1 in this field, providing him a rather large window of value at his current bloated number of 40/1. His 7.7% projected ownership on DraftKings makes him a fabulous GPP option to consider, and his third-place showing here last season confirms that Waialae fits his game when he is in form.

 

#2 - Abraham Ancer - 50/1

DraftKings Price $9,000 / FanDuel Price $10,400

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 4.7%

I've alluded to Abraham Ancer a lot this week in my other articles here at RotoBaller, but I want to dive a little deeper than the rudimentary information I have provided so far. Good form is key for players early in the season since many come into the year slightly out of place with their game, and it is why golfers that shake off their rust at the Tournament of Champions get rewarded with robust finishes here in Honolulu. However, there may be no player in the world that is peaking more than Ancer is at this moment.

The 38th-ranked player in the world became the first golfer from Mexico selected for the President's Cup in December, where all he was did was finish in a tie as the top-scoring international player after going 3-1-1 for the week. His battle on the final day against Tiger Woods in the singles portion of the competition placed him on the biggest stage he has been on in his career, and Ancer literally answered all questions during his showdown against Woods, eventually falling 3-and-2 on the day to the best player of all time.

At no point in that match did Ancer appear to be out of place or overwhelmed, and not enough credit was bestowed on Woods for his excellent match play form that prevented the Mexican golfer from dethroning the king. Perhaps that display when it matters most is why Woods is viewed as being superhuman, but the confidence that Ancer earned the entire weekend can't be artificially gained or purchased. I believe we see the 28-year-old continue to add onto his career-changing weekend in Australia, and I look for him to remain hot after providing two straight top-10 showings to end 2019.

 

#3 - Brandt Snedeker - 50/1

DraftKings Price $8,600 / FanDuel Price $10,100

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 6.2%

It isn't often that you see me recommend Brandt Snedeker for my card, but I love the way Waialae Country Club sets up for the American.

Snedeker's course history is a little sneaky because while he did miss a cut here in 2017, he does have two top-16 showings since 2015 - including a second-place finish in 2016. When we look at those 10 rounds over the past five years at Waialae, only once has the 47th-ranked player in the world not broken par, which came when he missed the cut in 2017 and provided an opening day even-par 70. That means that every round he has recorded here since 2015 falls into the range of 63 to 70, with nine of those efforts landing in the 60s.

That is a quiet narrative that not too many people are pointing towards, making it likely that if the American can establish an aberrational few days with his irons, his putter has the chance to carry him towards the winner's circle. Snedeker's 6.2% projected ownership on DraftKings makes him a sneaky GPP play, and his 50/1 outright price might go overlooked because of his inconsistent approach shot numbers. Longshot selections always need an outside the norm result to take place with their games if they want to find success, and Snedeker has gained strokes with his irons each event here since 2015.

 

#4 - Cameron Smith - 55/1

DraftKings Price $8,500 / FanDuel Price $9,900

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 6.9%

Cameron Smith's shaky iron play may end up being the ultimate obstacle that prevents him from breaking through this weekend, but the Aussie has rendered three consecutive top-27 finishes here in Waialae. Smith's boom-or-bust nature with his approach game isn't a negative for those looking to find GPP upside, and the lack of real trouble off the tee shouldn't hurt either.

Despite his consistent results in Honolulu, the 26-year-old is someone I am only considering as a GPP choice on DraftKings, as I do think his range of outcomes spreads widely with his uncertain approach game. Still, though, Smith's 55/1 outright price has inflated too much from his opening number and is worth backing at a venue that should reward his birdie-making style.

 

#5 - Daniel Berger - 125/1

DraftKings Price $7,300 / FanDuel Price $9,000

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 6.8%

It has been a precipitous fall for Daniel Berger, who enters the week ranked 155th in the world. That ranking is a far cry from his career-high mark of 18th back in 2017, but the American has shown signs of life as of late.

While his lack of upside has been discouraging, Berger has made the cut in 15 of his past 17 events, which does include three top-23 results over his previous four tournaments. Add to that the fact that Berger has started two of his last three tourneys with rounds of 66 and 67, respectively, and you can see that the wrist injury that derailed his career seems to be finally behind him.

Berger has contributed four made cuts at Waialae in his four attempts, leading to two top-15 results in the process. If the two-time PGA Tour winner can return to his form of dominating par-fours - a category he ranked inside the top-15 in both 2016 and 2017 - his pristine play in the wind might be able to shine through.

 

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained Approach 25%
  • Par-Four Average 22.5%
  • Birdie or Better 17.5%
  • Proximity Over 125 Yards 15%
  • Par-Five Birdie or Better 10%
  • Strokes Gained Putting 10%
  • 50% Stats/30% Form/20% Course History

 

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

J.T. Poston -110 over Brendan Todd -110
J.T. Poston $8,100 price tag on DraftKings vs. Brendan Todd $8,300 price tag
J.T. Poston 16.4 percent projected ownership vs. Brendan Todd 7.4 percent projected ownership

1.10 Units to Win 1.00 Units

*** This line has moved dramatically since the construction of the article. I tweeted about the potential for this shift on Tuesday morning and have downgraded the stake to a min-bet to account for a new total that isn't accessible at this moment. Follow me on Twitter @teeoffsports to avoid missing any pertinent information that may affect the piece going forward.

I am a little surprised to see Brendan Todd not projected to be owned at a higher percentage. I've seen a lot of people touting him early in the week, and while I do understand the narrative of attempting to go back to the well on the hottest player in the world in the outright market, head-to-head betting is a different game. Of any golfer priced above $8,000 on DraftKings, Todd, Kevin Kisner and Alex Noren have the highest missed cut percentage for me. Joaquin Niemann, surprisingly, is fourth on that list, but it does make some sense given his volatile nature.

Some of Todd's victories have happened at events where statistical tracking wasn't possible, so take these totals with a grain of salt, but the American has ranked 114th compared to the field in strokes gained approach over his past 36 rounds. With Waialae demanding excellence with an iron in your hand, that raises major concerns that the 61st-ranked player in the world might be in for a doomsday scenario. I have -140 on Poston being closer to the correct value on this wager and believe we are getting a gift handed to us to start the season. Good luck at the Sony Open, and let's hope we can start 2020 with a bang!

 

2020 Head-to-Head Record (4-1-1)

+2.95 Units Year-To-Date From H2H Bets

Tournament

Head-to-Head Bet

Bet

My Picks Finish

Opponent Finish

Result

Total

Sanderson Farms

Denny McCarthy -110 over Martin Laird

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T18 (-11)

MC (+4)

Win

1.00

Safeway Open

Cameron Percy -110 over Danny Lee

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T7 (-12)

MC (+2)

Win

1.00

Shriners Open

Bud Cauley -115 over Phil Mickelson

1.15 Units to Win 1.00

MC (-1)

61 (-9)

Loss

-1.15

Houston Open

Jhonattan Vegas +100 over Aaron Baddeley

1.12 Units to Win 1.12

MC (+3)

MC (+3)

Push

0

Mayakoba Classic

Denny McCarthy +110 over Kevin Kisner

1.00 Units to Win 1.10

T48 (-5)

T76 (+1)

Win

1.10

RSM Classic

Brian Stuard -105 over Chris Kirk -115

1.05 Units to Win 1.00

T10 (-13)

MC (-3)

Win

1.00

 


2020 Outright Bets That Have Finished Inside the Top-10

Player

Event

Odds

Finish Position

Joaquin Niemann

Sentry TOC

50

5

Dustin Johnson

Sentry TOC

10

7

Xander Schauffele

ZOZO Championship

25

10


Career Record

2017 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets (10-2-2) +8.175 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Dustin Johnson Genesis Open (10/1)
Sergio Garcia Masters (50/1)
Brooks Koepka U.S. Open (45/1)
Justin Thomas PGA Championship (35/1)
Dustin Johnson Northern Trust (14/1)

2018 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets
(46-24-2) +24.49 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Phil Mickelson WGC-Mexico (22/1)
Bubba Watson WGC- Match Play (45/1)
Brooks Koepka U.S. Open In-Play Wager (14/1)
Dustin Johnson RBC Canadian Open (7/1)
Justin Thomas WGC-Bridgestone (30/1)

2019 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets
(16-9-2) +8.33 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Matt Kuchar Mayakoba Golf Classic (66/1)
Corey Conners Valero Texas Open (200/1)
Rory McIlroy RBC Canadian Open  (10/1)
Brooks Koepka WGC- St. Jude Classic (12/1)
Rory McIlroy Tour Championship (8/1)

 

Career Record (Excluding 2020 Season Results)

Head to Head Bets (72-35-6) +40.995 Units
Outright Winners (15)
Top 5s (Didn't Track in 2017)
2018 - 16
2019 - 26
Top 10s (Didn't Track in 2017)
2018 - 31
2019 - 41

Golf DFS News and Player Outlooks




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