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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Daily Fantasy Golf: The Doral Preview

Welcome all you hackers, mediocre, and scratch golfers out there.   FFChamps is happy to announce its newest addition to the family, FFChamps Golf.  Our venture into the daily fantasy golf world is a new stepping stone and the first spin off of fantasy football for us, and although we are confident in our advice and picks, how we get that information out to you will be a work in progress throughout the season.  Your input is vital to us for our goal of giving great advice in a format that is pleasing to the eyes.

For the entirety of the golf season we will be bringing you two articles a week.

  1. “Tuesdays Tee Off”:   A previous tournament analysis and upcoming tournament and course preview on Tuesday mornings.

  2. “Wednesdays Walk Through” :  Strategy and picks to help win a DraftKings GPP tournament.   

This being our first week and breakout article we will be giving you an all-in-one article. 

So let’s tee it up:  Firsts things first.  How does one excel in daily fantasy golf?



  1. Like any daily, weekly, or yearly fantasy sport.  The most important thing for all of them is to “KNOW THY SCORING SYSTEM”.  Our advice column will be 100% focused on daily fantasy golf on DraftKings, please click the link and review…better yet memorize the scoring system.  Knowing that the winner gets a 30 point bonus is huge, as well as knowing a streaky golfer that can string three birdies together in a row is the equivalent points as a golfer that takes sixth in the tournament. Everything factors in. 

  2. Make the cut.   On DraftKings you pick six golfers to complete your team.  You need four of them to make the weekend if you want any chance of cashing.  Missing that weekend 36 holes will cost you 30+ points per golfer.  Do the math.  However, if you manage to get all six golfers to make the cut, you’re almost always going to be cashing at some level.

  3. Pick the winner.   As I mentioned before, DraftKings gives a bonus of 30 points to the winner of the golf tournament.  It is unlikely to take down any daily tournament without having the winner on your team. 

  4. Know the course history.  By this I mean know what stat categories are essential to manage the course.  Is putting important?  Driving accuracy over distance?  Is the rough playable or a round killer?  What distance are most approach shots on par 4s? Who ranks at the top of greens-in-regulation from that distance?  Also, as in the Doral this weekend, has there been recent changes to the course affecting scoring and stat categories?

  5. Vegas baby.  Vegas should always be a factor in making decisions in any daily sport.  They have the most knowledge to the outcome of any sport by far.  Use it.  Especially in golf to pick the winner.  Just be careful of crowd favorites.  IE Mickelson, Tiger, and others where Vegas will give them say a 10/1 chance at winning even if they believe it’s a 15/1 because of their name familiarity.  Conversely, if you see a golfer you never heard of with a solid chance to win, seek him out for value.  Don’t question it, just know that Vegas knows more than us.

  6. Love them birdies.  This is always a deciding factor if I am torn between two golfers at the same price points.  Who makes more birdies per/round?  Remember a golfer that hits a three birdie streak in any round equates to a golfer that takes sixth in the whole tournament. 


On most courses for the year I will be giving a history lesson of the course and past champions and their greatest attributes and what to look for in golfers playing in the tournament.  From the tournament inception in 1999 through 2013 the course was a birdie fest with the winner over that span averaging a score of 271 (-17), and the worst scoring winner being Tiger Woods twice with a 278 (-10).  Last year, however, Donald Trump and course designer Gil Hanse turned the Doral back into the “Blue Monster.”  They did this by adding 150 yards to the course, shrinking greens and placing strategic hazards throughout the course including a whopping 26 water hazards.  The changes yielded a dramatic change in scoring with the winner Patrick Reed doing so with a 284 (-4), six stokes worse than the highest previous winner and 13 strokes worse than the previous 14 year average.  Making the new Doral the hardest non-major tournament on tour last year.  Click here for a complete hole-by-hole walk through and changes from the designer himself Gil Hanse.

That being said, we can throw out all the history prior to 2014 and just focus on last year.  If last year holds true, then there should be a couple of factors to keep an eye on to predict the 2015 Doral success stories. 

  1. Distance off the tee “Trumps” driving accuracy (yes pun intended):  The winner Patrick Reed hit the fairway only 41% of the time, with runner up Bubba Watson finding the short grass only 37% of the time.  Both averaged over 310 yards per drive, which tells us to find the big hitters who can over-power this course with little punishment for playing second shots from the second cut or hazards.

  2. Ball strikers “Trump” putters:  With a newly designed course, and many changed greens, the advantage of playing the greens in previous years and knowing the putting surface is not a factor.  Last year, the average approach distance on par 4s was in the 175 to 200 yard mark.  So seek out golfers with the best green-in-regulation (GIR) and proximity to the hole from that range. 

  3. Par 4s “Trump” Par3s and 5s:  With no cut this week it is important to always focus on birdies.  Golfers will see 250% more par 4s than 3s or 5s every round.  Ten par fours compared to four par threes or fives.  Find the guys that average the most birdies/round on par fours

Finding the guys that excel in all three gets a bit tricky, but that’s what I am here for, more importantly what my spreadsheet is here for.  Will it work every time, of course not, my ball sometimes doesn’t fly straight either, but I know if my set up and process is consistent that gives me the best chance for positive results.

Now on to the Picks.

Each week I will break down a few golfers from each of the following categories. 

  1. Raising the Cup:  These will typically be the top priced and top players in the tournament.  I will select a few of the top guys that I think have the best chance to win the tournament.

  2. Playing the weekend:  These will be the mid-tier/priced guys that I expect to make the cut and have an impact on the weekend.

  3. The Tin Cuppers:  These are the long shots, low priced guys, and unknowns.  They will help fill the lineup, and the biggest goal is that they make the cut, with anything else a bonus. 

  4. My Foursome:  Each week I will pick my favorite four guys I want in my DraftKings lineups to win a big tournament. 

Raising the Cup:

  1. Rory McIlroy:  He is the best player in the world for a reason.  However, I will usually fade a top priced guy that is almost $3000 more than the next closest golfer, but there is no cut this week so you can fill lineups with low priced guys to offset McIlroy’s high price tag without the risk of zero points from them on the weekend.  Besides, I think he is fuming over his missed cut last week and will bounce back like a champ.

  2. Bubba Watson:  He should destroy the par fives this week as he usually does. He finished 2nd at Doral last year as he figured the new course out with a bogey free final round 68.  Hopefully he took great notes or has a great memory.

  3. Sergio Garcia:  Sergio excels at the tougher courses.  With no Tiger Woods in the field to get in his head, he should be poised for a run at the cup this weekend.

  4. Matt Kuchar:  On any tough course where avoiding bogeys will be key, I will take the guy that ranks number one on tour in scrambling.  His accuracy of the tee should also be key to keeping any birdies that find his scorecard.

Playing the Weekend: 
With no cut, everyone will be playing the weekend, but this will rarely be the case. 

  1. Paul Casey:  Casey has really turned his game around in recent years, but hasn’t had a win in the US since 2009.  He is 29th in GIR (175-200yrds), 13th in proximity (175-200yrds), 11th in par four scoring, and just outside the top 50 in driving distance.  He has the all the right stuff to make a deep run this weekend.

  2. Graeham McDowell:  The man is just a gamer.  Every time there is a field full of the top golfers in the world it seems McDowell is always in the Sunday morning conversation.  His ability to keep it in the fairway and gain strokes putting will have him in that conversation again this Sunday.

  3. Lee Westwood:  Second on tour in proximity from 175-200 yards and fourth in par four scoring should reward him with enough birdie chances to be right in the mix all weekend.

  4. J.B Holmes:  He is one of my favorite golfers, so I am happy to ride the hot hand as he has T2, T10, and T22 in his last three outings.  His length off the tee should give him great chances all weekend.  My concern is his erratic putting at times.

The Tin Cuppers

  1. Shane Lowery:  He started the week as a 50/1 shot at winning the tournament and I highlighted his name in my spreadsheet.  He is now a 66/1 which tells me not a lot of people are on him, which is good for separation value in a DK tournament.  Don’t worry about his form as he hasn’t missed a cut since last June, and he obviously won’t miss this one either. 

  2. Gary Stal:  He has been rolling over seas to open the year.  With a T5, Win, and T4 in his bag this year he is in prime form to make a splash.  In the Official World Golf Rankings only Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy have collected more points to begin the season.  Shhhhh.

  3. Gary Woodland:  Maybe not a sleeper, but his price on DK (6300) warrants this spot.  He is fifth on tour in proximity and seventh on tour in driving distance.  Both great attributes to contend this weekend.

  4. Thomas Aiken:  The South African has made a few spot starts on the PGA Tour over the years so he should be familiar with it.  I will be riding the hot hand as he as top 10 finishes in each of his last four starts across the pond.

My Foursome
:  With no cut this week it gives us a unique chance to spend up for the top guy in the world and I will be going that route.  If picking a winner is key to winning a DK GPP then lets get the winner on our card first and worry about the rest after.

Rory McIlroy - $15300

Paul Casey - $7900

Shane Lowery - $6300

Gary Stal - $5500

Going with McIlroy forces me to pick some lower priced guys.  However with no cut, I know I will be getting 72 holes out of my lower priced guys.  This leaves $15000 to fill the last two golfers. 

Golfer: “I think I am going to drown myself in the lake.”

Caddy: “Think you can keep your head down that long?”

That will do it.  Happy Drafting, 



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