The PGA TOUR is back in action as a field of 34 heads to Maui for the first event of 2019.
With a tiny field, there won't be any tee-time waves to dive into but there will be some interesting weather to consider.
Let's have a look at that weather forecast and then look at some angles that might help us build our DFS lineups this week...
Thursday (R1): Isolated Showers (20%) then Sunny. High of 81 degrees. Winds ENE around 23 MPH with gusts reaching 32 MPH.
Friday (R2): Isolated Showers before noon (20%) then Sunny with a high near 80 degrees. Winds ENE around 24 MPH with gusts reaching 30 MPH.
The forecast remains the same on Saturday before the wind may calm down on Sunday.
This looks like a WINDFEST but fear not. This is basically the exact weather they say last year and DJ managed to reach 24-under by Sunday afternoon. Of course Jon Rahm was second at -16 so don't be surprised if they stay under 20 this year.
The best part about season-long leagues is the draft. You don't get that same rush with normal DFS contests but there is hope still. DRAFT has come along to fill that void and I'm having a lot of fun playing in their weekly golf drafts.
The first place to start is to build your pre-draft rankings for the week. I will point out a few golfers I think are overvalued in the raw rankings and a few that are undervalued in the raw rankings.
Brooks Koepka (85.86 Projected Pts): It seems crazy that the World No. 1 golfer could be overrated but hear me out. Looking at the past champs here at Kapalua, arriving with some recent results has been key to finding a win. Nine of the last 10 winners here had played at least once in the five-week period before the TOC. Koepka hasn't played since seven weeks ago at the Dunlop Phoenix. Just two weeks can't make that much of a difference can it? If you are looking for the tiniest of edges I think it may. Let someone else find out if he's rusty or not.
Webb Simpson (79.87 Projected Pts): It's the same theory here as Webb hasn't played since The RSM Classic. It's hard to find anything wrong at the top of the board in this field so avoiding the longer layoffs is the only possible angle I am finding at the moment. I'm not guaranteeing it's a smart move but it's one I'm hoping will pay off on Sunday afternoon.
Charles Howell III (68.35 Projected Pts): When it comes to dealing with Hawaiian winds, there aren't many better than CH3. He's racked up a whopping SEVEN top 5s at the Sony Open over the course of his career. He won his most recent official start and then kept the competitive juices flowing with an appearance at the QBE Shootout.
Brandt Snedeker (64.35 Projected Pts): Sneds also played in the QBE Shootout so he shouldn't arrive with too much rust. He'll be making his sixth appearance at Kapalua and past results include five finishes of T14 or better with two of them doubling as third-place finishes. Looking at rounds in the wind (14+ MPH) since 2014, Snedeker improves by over 1/4 of a shot per round versus his baseline. That is good for an entire stroke of expected value as we gear up for a windy week in Hawaii.
I just talked about it in the weather section and then again with Snedeker. It's going to be WINDY! Let's see who improves when the wind gets tough.
Looking at sample-adjusted performance in windy conditions (14+ MPH) since the start of 2014, the top 15 performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement in the wind (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
Recommendation: Looking for golfers that crack both lists we find Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland, and Xander Schauffele.
Gary Woodland: The Kansas Jayhawk made some putting tweaks at The Open and then again at the BMW Championship it's been a gravy train since then. If we look at his last three events with ShotLink which begins at the BMW, he's actually gained strokes putting in 75 percent of his rounds played. That would put him near the top of the class while his longterm baseline is actually just 46% (third worst in the field). We should ride his confidence with the putter until it cools off. As we saw with someone like Webb Simpson last year, it may take a long time to cool off.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!