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DraftKings Fantasy Preview: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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The Zurich Classic annually arrives at a pretty poor time in the calendar, but there’s some serious star power this year.

Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, both top 10 in the world, return to the event for the first time in a number of years, and they will be joined by the likes of Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Billy Horschel.

If you want to get in on fantasy, DraftKings is the place to go with a tiny $3 entry fee (or FREE on first deposit) and a whopping $100,000 prize pool (with first place netting $10,000). The top 7,850 finishers all earn money.

Enter the contest here.

And, like last week, if you sign up for DraftKings by clicking the link above and you beat my main roster’s score, YOU WILL GET YOUR ENTRY FEE BACK!

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So you basically have a chance to play for free and possibly earn bragging rights against me. That should be enticing enough, right?

Last week, my main lineup scored 399.5 points and finished 9,460 of 35,328 teams. My alternate roster scored 354 points and finished 18,502 of 35,328 teams.

Anyway onto my picks…

The Course

TPC_Louisiana

The TPC Louisiana seems to get the reputation as a second-shot golf course, but I couldn’t find much else. My weekly research via the tournament’s top-10 finishers over the last five years had less to do with checking in on assumptions and more on configuring an accurate account of TPC Louisiana.

Anyway, the results here proved beneficial for ball strikers. Good drivers have contended here the most over the last five years with good approach players coming second.

Short game and putting weren’t useless, though. Having touch on and around the greens is far from neutralized but we are looking for excellent drivers first, excellent approach players second and excellent players on and around the greens a distant third.

As for specific characteristics within these aspects, the results showed that this course favors long drivers to a good degree. But driving accuracy was still quite important, so we’re looking for those bombers who have some sort of control off the tee.

There are reports of lush conditions and some rainy weather in the forecast, which means a wet course and an even bigger advantage for bombers than usual. The rough is back up to its usual solid standards at the course, though, so accuracy off the tee is even more imperative.

I would also say approach play from more than 200 yards is highly important (all four par-3s are 200+) and if short game is to play a role it is for shots around the green from fringe/fairway areas (as these extend well around these surfaces).

Six-Man Roster

PGA: Northern Trust Open-First Round

  • Dustin Johnson, $13,000
  • Keegan Bradley, $10,500
  • John Peterson, $8,900
  • Kevin Chappell, $6,900
  • Charlie Beljan, $5,200
  • Tony Finau, $5,100

I don’t usually like to pay for the highest-priced player, but Johnson is just too obvious a choice.

OK, his accuracy off the tee is poor, but he is a bomber of the highest order and an unbelievable approach player, most pointedly from 200+ away. And he’s been very good this year chipping from fringe/fairway areas off the green. Johnson’s missed two cuts, but his other five finishes are all top-6s. His form at the moment and his course fit are terrific. Take him.

Bradley is an even better match for this softened course. Pretty much ideal, actually. He’s maybe the game’s premier long, accurate driver, possesses a top-tier approach play game and excels in short game from those fringe/fairway areas.

The American seems to be getting more comfortable with that short putter too in building some recent form and he was in position to win here last year before faltering to a T8.

Although Peterson has really found his stride in Year Two on the PGA Tour with 13-of-14 made cuts and five top-25s, this is a hefty price for him. I’m not wavering, though. The LSU grad will be playing in front of a home crowd, already top-tenned here in 2013 and is a great accurate driver and fantastic approach player.

Zurich has a reputation for being the site of initial PGA Tour victories, as seven of the last 10 winners at the event were first-time Tour champions.

Peterson is a good candidate to join that list, but watch out for Chappell here.

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I’ll admit, this is a big risk, especially with Chappell having welcomed a baby to the world last week.

But the UCLA product is a seriously underrated golfer who is one of the best on Tour at the moment without a win. His play has been brutal of late (missed four of five cuts), but he checks off all the categories at this course. He’s a very accurate long hitter, tends to be a gifted approach player and has the short game prowess in fringe/fairway areas. And he’s proven a few times before that he can rise to form out of nowhere.

Beljan is a decent course fit who’s found his game a bit of late. He also likes to go low and this is a track that suits this desire.

Finau has floundered a bit since an electrifying autumn, but this may be a course where he can put his immense power to use. If he can just reign in his misses some, combine that with his solid work from 200+ yards on approaches and he could be dangerous here.

Ultimate Sleeper Roster 

John Senden

  • John Senden, $6,700
  • Erik Compton, $5,800
  • Mark Wilson, $5,400
  • Robert Garrigus, $5,300
  • Charlie Beljan, $5,200
  • Tony Finau, $5,100

Who symbolizes a pure ball striker more than John Senden? He’s had some good results here and the course fits him well.

I’m just taking a couple of flyers on Compton and Wilson. Neither really meshes with this course, but Wilson’s shown some good flashes of play recently. And after a string of missed cuts, Compton is climbing his way back — plus he has good memories from a top-5 here last year.

Garrigus fits the Senden mold of pure ball striking, except he has massive power off the tee as well. He’s a mystery with his recent poor play and a big risk.

Alternate Six-Man Roster

Justin Rose

  • Justin Rose, $11,900
  • Charles Howell, $8,600
  • Jason Bohn, $7,900
  • Scott Piercy, $7,800
  • Boo Weekley, $7,400
  • Erik Compton, $5,800

People forget Rose had a pretty good showing at the Shell Houston Open before his Masters runner up, and this is an awesome course for Rose’s game. He’s a top-notch long, accurate driver, an even better approach play golfer and has a dynamite short game from pretty much wherever you ask.

Oh, and he has finished in the top 15 his last three trips to TPC Louisiana.

Weekley isn’t a power player like Rose, but he nails all other criteria for a course fit basically just as well, if not better. He also possess two top-10s here since 2010. Despite his horrible form (three missed cuts and 75th in last four starts) all of this is too enticing not to take him.

I really don’t think Howell or Piercy have games that suit this course incredibly well, but both are on excellent terms with their games of late. Howell also seems to be ready to contend here again after a steady but unspectacular set of performances since his T2 in 2009.

Bohn has played sneaky well of late and contains some good characteristics for this course (accurate driving, formidable approach play). He has done little at TPC Louisiana since his win in 2010, but that didn’t seem to hurt Johnson Wagner at the Shell Houston Open a few weeks ago.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. MarkNado

    Apr 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    If you’re looking for a sleepy pick
    Get Rip Van Winkle

  2. Mike

    Apr 22, 2015 at 1:39 am

    setup my fantasy team

  3. Eric

    Apr 21, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Keegan a top tier approach game? 157th in Par 3 Scoring Avg, 187th in Proximity and 90th in GIR %. Pretty much the weakness of his game.

    • Kevin Casey

      Apr 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      I agree that Bradley has struggled in that department IN 2015, but historically he is a top tier approach player.

      While his fantastic driving skews his GIR and Proximity numbers favorably, his pretty consistent top 50 rankings in both categories from 2012 to 2014 still speak to a top tier approach player.

      Also, I’ve never been able to confirm that the Proximity stat counts GUR shots (i.e. second shots into par-fives) the same as regular approach shots (i.e. tee shots on par 3s, second shots on par-4s, third shots on par-5s), but based on the definition PGATour.com gives that stat, I think that is indeed what they do. And if that’s the case, the stat is pretty skewed against players who go for the green on par-5s much higher than the average (mostly long hitters, of course). By counting proximity on a second shot to a par-5 the same as if it were a third shot to a par-5, that’s creating some unfair results.

      For example, say you’re Keegan and you’re 250 yards away on a par-5 and you hit it to 25 feet for eagle. Now you’re Luke Donald and you layup and hit your third shot from 100 yards to about 15 feet for birdie. Which approach shot was better? Clearly Keegan’s. He’s further away from the hole, but his approach shot originated from a much greater distance, and his putt is for eagle, not for birdie. Ninety-nine percent of the time Keegan will make birdie or better from his position, while even a great putter like Luke will make birdie from his position like 30-40 percent of the time.

      So that’s pretty clear. But Proximity doesn’t differentiate. If my theory is correct (which I’m pretty sure it is), then the Proximity stat will put Keegan’s shot at 25′ and Luke’s at 15′. As you can see, then, the Proximity stat will actually tell us that Luke had easily the better approach on this shot because his proximity is significantly lower! But as it doesn’t account for Luke’s being a third shot to a par-5 versus Keegan’s being a second shot to a par-5, the stat totally misleads us. If the stat were to be totally trustworthy, Keegan should have the lower, better proximity here.

      Anyway, that’s not a big deal on one shot, but that discrepancy compounds over a year and can really make a difference. This will unfairly negatively effect players who go for the green a lot (as Keegan does), which means that we must treat their Proximity numbers as artificially low. A guy who is ranked top 50 in Proximity but goes for the green well above the average may in fact deserve to be top 30 in Proximity if it adjusted for GUR shots correctly.

      The fact that Proximity stat does this isn’t proven, though. All I’m stating is that Keegan’s numbers may not represent him like they should because the Proximity stat may be skewed against par-5 go getters like him. Even if I’m wrong on this Proximity thing, Keegan is still a top tier approach player based on his current numbers over the past years.

      Anyway…apologize for the long tangent but Keegan has indeed been a top tier approach player during his career. You are correct in pointing out that he has not been that way in 2015. But unless there’s some extenuating circumstance (i.e. something from his personal life affecting his game, swing change, etc.), I chalk up this regression to small sample size. As Keegan has long been a top tier approach player, I think there’s reason to believe he will regain that form (regress to his mean) at any time. I trust that to happen far more than his poor 2015 approach play to continue for much longer.

      It would be pretty unusual for Keegan’s large drop in his approach play to extend for a long period, as golfers in their prime years tend not to see massive dips in parts of their games for more than a small sample size, unless they tinkered, something is wrong personally or they are injured. To my knowledge, Keegan has no real personal or injury-related issues, and he did make swing changes with Chuck Cook, but those were at the beginning of last year, and his approach play didn’t suffer at all in 2014, which implies that the swing changes have already fit in well for that part.

      Overall, Keegan is a top tier approach player. I trust his long term results there over a short term blip going forward.

      • Eric

        Apr 22, 2015 at 11:41 am

        Fair enough, great response with regards to proximity. Maybe better numbers to look at for his struggles are his proximity numbers with the scoring clubs, say the 50-125 stat where he ranks 170th. I don’t recall the exact date when he switched, but would be interesting to see his approach numbers when he was with McLean vs the numbers when he switched to Chuck Cook. I believe it was at the beginning of 2014. Anyway, great read.

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