DFS Golf: UpNorth’s PGA Preview – Sony Open Advice for Fanduel and Draftkings

DFS Golf is back! The new seasons first full-field event is the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club!

My name is Josh Thomas, and I am a PGA and NFL Coach here at DFS Army! Welcome to the 2019 PGA Season! We here at DFS Army have got you covered this year with my weekly preview out on Sunday Nights, Chalk Donkey article breaking down the ownership projections, where to pivot, and GPP strategy out Tuesday Nights, and our Research Station that is full of more information than you could ever need!

Xander Schauffele came from behind with a Sunday 62 to take down Gary Woodland who shot a great 68 in his own right, but it wasn’t enough as the X-Man took the crown at the Sentry Tournament of Champions! While a fun event with all the winners from last year a 34 man field (33 after Kevin Na decided he was over it) we get the REAL start to the PGA Season with a full field event, the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Hawaii!

 

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Course Breakdown:

The Sony Open is held yearly at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. The PGA has made a stop here in one form or another since 1965, and the course actually has been featured in multiple video games, including True Golf Classics: Waialae Country Club on Super Nintendo, which was one of my favorite games growing up.

Waialae Country Club is a 7044-yard par 70 that, while par is three strokes less than the previous weeks’ par 73, has played fairly easy with winning scores the last few years of -17, -27 (hello Justin Thomas), -23 and -20. The course played on average a little over 1 stroke under par at last year’s event and gave up a whopping 1711 birdies.

Players who played last week will see a much different course this week with faster, smaller greens, and hard to hit fairways. While less undulating, it’s not a course that you can just grip and rip it like at Kapalua. The rough isn’t incredibly penal, but if you miss the fairway you’ll have a hard time getting it close to the pins on these greens.

While a premium should be placed on hitting fairways here, players have found ways to win without doing just that, including Justin Thomas who actually hit less than 50% of the fairways when he routed the field shooting -27, with a 59 in round one to boot.

If you look at the last few years top tens though, what you will find is straight hitters (not necessarily bombers) who are great wedge players. Players who keep the ball in front of them and don’t make too many mistakes.

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Not a lot of bombers here. You see names like Brian Harman, Zach Johnson, Chez Reavie, and Kevin Kisner. Not necessarily guys who hit it a country mile, but all guys who keep the ball in the fairways and give themselves a chance to make birdie from position A. That’s the type of golfer we want to target this week.

Getting it in play is the key here, and you’ll likely see many of the longer hitters hitting 2 irons off the tee just to give themselves a chance. Pulling driver on every hole more often than not means a long weekend on the beach.

The Bermuda greens will be much faster than they were last week at the Sentry, and that will be a bit of an adjustment for players coming over, but typically they have done pretty well here. They are some of the purest greens players will play all year though.

Wind will be a factor as usual, and while usually there isn’t much of an AM/PM advantage, it’s something to keep in mind. More or less it just affects the way that players attack a hole, or where their start line is off the tee. Similar to last week, experience here helps.

This course is a great test and a ballstrikers paradise. Get it in play and you can attack these pins and go low, get off track though and you’ll be fighting to play the weekend.

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Key Stats: 

Key Stats to look for this week – Driving Accuracy %, Birdies Gained, SG – Approach, and Projected Course Score.

You can find all of these key stats in our DFS Army research station accessible ONLY for our VIPs.

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The Field:

In this section, I’ll cover who is in the field this week, the odds, any pricing discrepancies, and a few of my favorite plays on first look!

At the top of the board this week we have Justin Thomas who is a former winner here and coming off a 3rd place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He will likely be the highest priced golfer on DK/FD and should carry a decent amount of ownership. While the fairways were much easier to hit at Kapalua it’s encouraging to see that he was 2nd in driving accuracy hitting 86.67% of the fairways. That should bode well for him here.

Looking at the opening odds, it looks like everyone who played last week got a bump. Guys like Patton Kizzire who yes is the defending champ here going off at +4500 just a touch back of Zach Johnson seems like a bit of a stretch.

Since those guys all get a bump in terms of odds and likely pricing on DK/FD it should open up a ton of value down low for us, especially among players who were either on the Web.Com last year or were playing in Europe or Japan.

Sungjae Im is an auto click for me at +8000 the value there is to great and we will likely see that number drift towards +6500 and I would hit it there as well. This guy is an absolute stud and we saw a bit of that last year in the fall when he was playing on the tour. He was 23rd on the Web.com last year in driving accuracy, 17th in greens in regulation, and 5th in birdie average. All keys to success at Waialae.

Brian Harman is another guy that I’ll be targeting this week. He had a bit of a rough go in the fall swing, making cuts but not really contending and now returns to a course that he has had a ton of success on. T4, T20, T13, T13, in the last four trips here for the lefty. There is clearly something about this course that suits his eye and he was 21st in driving accuracy last year on tour, which should give him plenty of opportunities to fire at pins.

Any time Bryson DeChambeau is in the field you need to take notice. He putted out of his mind last week, further making a case for everyone, myself included to putt with the pin in. He has not played here before but should be comfortable after playing last week.

Another name to take notice of, though I’m sure he’ll get plenty of buzz in the industry this week is Mr. Hawaii, Charles Howell III. CH3 is a perfect 17 for 17 in cuts made here and is coming off a solid T14 last week.

Overall, it should be a fantastic field and a fun week for DFS Golf, I’m pumped to have a full field event for the first time this year and am looking forward to seeing everyone’s green screens on Sunday!

Beat the Bookie Betting Card:

Something new I’m adding each week to this article is my personal betting card for the week for Outrights, First Round Leaders, Top 5’s and Top 10’s. The real bread and butter with golf betting is tournament and round matchups but I’m saving those for our Beat the Bookie VIPs!

A couple of guys I mentioned above that I really like as value this week make for great outright bets in Sungjae Im and Brian Harman. As a rule, I typically don’t bet many outrights under +3500 unless its an extremely weak field (DJ at the FedEx St. Jude last year comes to mind) It’s just not a +EV most weeks when you think about 156 guys teeing it up. Hitting 3-4 outrights a year is a fantastic year for most golf bettors. The return on investment of hitting an outright at 50-1 can pay for a long dry spell (which is fairly typical in golf betting if you are only playing Outrights, FRLs and T5/T10).

Chris Kirk is another play I have a ton of interest in who wasn’t mentioned above. He has great course history and played extremely well last year with three top 10’s. He’s a winner at Colonial which is a course comp to Waialae and should be fairly comfortable here. Switched full time to Mizuno clubs in the fall last year and has three tournaments under his belt which should help.

I doubled up Kirk/Im with T5 bets to ensure I get my money back if they contend but don’t quite get it done.

Two typically hot starters in Ollie Schneiderjans and Keith Mitchell make great First Round Leader plays. Ollie has good history and with the switch to Damon Green on the bag he has a caddy who knows his way around the course. Mitchell is a great first round bet almost any week and a 20th place finish here last year is promising. I love playing bombers at less than driver courses and Mitchell fits that bill.

T10 bets aren’t my favorite but I’ve provided two here with a bit of a narrative. Dominic Bozzelli is on his last start of a medical exemption before he gets conditional status so he needs a top 5 to maintain full status on the tour. Nicholas Lindheim is coming off a string of solid performances on the fall swing and fits the bill of the type of player I’m looking for on this course and at +1600 is worth a unit.

I’ll have Head to Head and full tournament matchups posted for our Beat the Bookie VIPs on Wednesday. These are truly where you can make your money in golf betting, while not as sexy or as big as an outright win, they are much more profitable.

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Final Thoughts: 

This is the second event of the 2019 PGA Season and the first full-field event! Fire up your typical weekly bankroll, but know that this early in the season, we need to temper our expectations a bit!

We will have content for you all through the week at DFS Army. Our research station and domination station optimizer will be updated on Tuesday and I will have my full Chalk Donkey article breaking down all the ownership and GPP strategy for our VIP’s on Tuesday night! If you aren’t a VIP yet, use code NEWYEAR for 20% your first month!

Also, give me a follow on twitter @dfsupnorth as I’ll be posting updates there as well as useful retweets leading up to this weeks event!

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