Happy New Year to all and I hope you enjoyed your holiday break.
It's time to jump back into the golf action this week. It's been a month since we've had a PGA TOUR event on DFS sites but we did have some Euro Tour action and the Presidents Cup to hold us over. Really, there was just one week of missing action.
This week we have a 34-man field for the winners-only Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
For DFS purposes that means fewer options to select from and no cutline to sweat. That means more duplicated lineups and fewer "dead lineups" after 36 holes. Make sure you are considering the popularity of each golfer this week before you jam in six of the most popular picks and share your lineup with hundreds of others. That kind of roster setting is okay in head-to-head or 50/50s formats but the aim of large prize pool contests is to differentiate yourself from the pack because the prizes are so top-heavy.
Now let's jump into the weather then look at some form and course-fit stats.
Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high near 78 degrees. Winds around 5 to 10 MPH.
Friday (R2): Light showers in the AM before the sun pokes out and reaches 77 degrees. Heavy winds at 25 MPH with gusts up to 40 MPH!
Wow, just look at that wind in the forecast for Friday. That wind forecast holds steady for Friday through Sunday, as well, so look for golfers to go real low on Thursday before trying to hold on for the final three days.
In previous years, this part of the article focused on DRAFT.com with highlights of value plays and overvalued plays. If you haven't heard the news then let me break it to you. DRAFT is merging its product into FanDuel's platform so there are no longer contests running. It's unclear whether a snake-draft golf product will make its way over or if they'll just keep the most popular best ball format.
For now I am going to focus on some recent results in this section to highlight what golfers may be trending in the right direction.
Brendon Todd -- Finished the fall with a WIN, WIN, and 4th Place. He gained strokes over the field in 12 of his last 13 rounds, lapping the field by 4 or more in six of those. Did the holiday break reset things or will he stay hot on Maui?
Jon Rahm -- Ended 2019 with two runner-up finishes and two wins over the last five worldwide starts. Sure, three came in Euro Tour events and one was at the unofficial Hero World Challenge, but that's still a lot of great golf. Got married over the holidays so that is the only question mark in terms of his practice versus play schedule leading up to the event.
Adam Long -- He hasn't been the model of consistency but that changed this fall. He gained at least 4 strokes over the field in 5-of-7 starts and capped off his fall with a runner-up finish at the Mayakoba and 35th Place at the RSM. Is this the new-look Long for 2020 or will he revert back to a boom-or-bust option?
The Plantation Course at Kapalua received a major renovation this year. They laid down new turf but it remains bermudagrass. Let's see who plays well on this surface...
Looking at sample-size-adjusted performance in rounds played on bermuda since 2018 (PGA, KFT, Euro Tour) the top performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on bermuda (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
If you needed a tiebreaker at the top then maybe these lists will point you toward Rahmbo. The rest would be considered low or mid-level options this week.
Chez Reavie: Looking at quotes from Mark Rolfing (had his hand in parts of the renovation), he says "The course is even more of a second-shot golf course than it was before." That's great news for someone like Reavie who has beaten the field average in proximity to the hole in 85% of his measured rounds over the last year. That is easily the best in the field. Proximity is not always the best stat but it does paint a good picture of who can set up loads of birdie chances if you give them a short or mid-iron. It might come down to wind direction but if the weather forces golfers to play more conservative than usual then someone like Reavie could really shine with a value salary attached to his name.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!