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Waste Management Phoenix Open 2017

Credit: © Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

DraftKings Advice and Predictions for the Phoenix Waste Management Open!

It’s been a while since I’ve last written, as I have been working on improving my PGA predictions, and focusing on chess as well. There is a lot to talk about before getting into the actual picks, as the new and improved method of selecting players is a bit more complex and confusing. In the past, I would list the results and where they rank in stats, but I have decided to switch to a strokes gained metric for more accurate numbers. So far, the results have been successful, with last week 9 of my 15 plays finishing in the top 20, including a T-9 from Ollie Schniederjans at 1% ownership on DraftKings. The picks will be below the explanation to the process, so feel free to skip over the explanation and get right to the picks!

The three angles I look at are still the same: Recent Performance, Course History, and Stats. A key difference is in the weighing of made cuts with weak results and missed cuts. Although it is always better to have a made cut with a weak result than a missed cut for DFS, that is not always a true indication of how well they are playing. In fact, sometimes a missed cut can even be positive strokes gained to the field! To measure this, I take the average scores of all the players in the field from before the cutline, and subtract the average score of the field to the player’s score. I do this as well for the course history. Last week, for example, Jon Rahm shot -13. The field average for all 4 rounds was roughly 0.42. So Rahm gained roughly 13.42 strokes to the field for the tournament (3.36 per round).

For stats, it is less black and white. While with course history and recent performance you can figure out exactly the number of strokes gained, with stats it is not as possible. Exactly how many strokes does someone who drives it 300 yards gain on someone who drives it 297? Because there are a few Strokes Gained categories available, I try to make sure the top players in each stat are roughly equal to the top players in the strokes gained stats. Adam Scott led the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Gain at 2.062, so usually I try to not let any stat be worth more than 2 Strokes Gained. 

While it might not seem like a big deal to calculate strokes gained compared to looking at rank, there are actually a lot of outliers that get overlooked due to ranks being similar. Using Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Adam Scott wouldn’t be valued much over Matt Kuchar when you are told their ranks are 1 and 16 (both will be seen as elite SG:TTG players). But Adam Scott is +2.062, while Matt Kuchar is only +0.932! While this is only a 1.13 difference in strokes per round, it actually is a huge separation. The difference between Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar in SG:TTG is actually more than that of Matt Kuchar and Sung Kang, who is ranked 132nd in SG:TTG.

Waste Management Phoenix Open Preview:

While the new system has been much more accurate, there is one thing to keep note of. Excluding the top 7 and the bottom 7 players, the range of Strokes Gained range from +1.4 to -1.1. Even though players may not come up highly on the list, it doesn’t mean that they cannot do a few strokes better than predicted and find their way near the top of the leaderboard, and vice versa.

DraftKings Picks:

  • Hideki Matsuyama ($11,700): This week, Hideki grades out as the top play on the board, and the only player with a Strokes Gained Total over 2 (at 2.276). He has the best history at this course, with a win last year, and a runner up finish the year before. Statistically the best in the field, and is still one of the hottest players on the planet, with 7 top 5s in his last 9 events, including 4 wins. He’s my pick to win, and if you can find the salary to fit him into your lineup, you should.

  • Jon Rahm ($9,700): Rahm is coming off his first PGA Tour win, and now comes back to Arizona for an event near his college where he finished T-5th as an amateur. While most first time winners I would avoid in their next tournament, I strongly believe that Rahm will not be affected by having just won. He’s a very talented player who is used to winning all throughout his life, and I believe his chances of winning in back to back weeks is very high. He’s going to be very popular in cash games this week, but I won’t be one of the few to fade him.

  • Ryan Moore ($8,600): Although not statistically elite, he is very good at this course, which overrides the stats. He has done no worse than +6 Strokes Gained Total (+1.5 Strokes Gained Per Round) to the field in the last 4 years at this course. In his last 3 tournaments, he is averaging roughly +1.5 Strokes Gained Per Round. I’m guessing he’ll place somewhere between 10th and 25th.

  • Phil Mickelson ($8,400): There are only 5 players who are at least +1 Strokes Gained in all 3 angles. Phil Mickelson is one of those 5. In all 3 events Phil has played in, he has gained between 1.6 and 2.2 strokes per round to the field. He has had mixed results here, with an 11th place finish last year, and a missed cut the year before that. However, he is playing very well right now, and overall at this course he is still a great player. Combine that with his elite +1.25 Strokes Gained: Stats, and you have yourself a fantastic play.

  • Brendan Steele ($8,200): Steele barely missed the list of player that are all over +1 SGT for the three stats, since his SG: Stats is +0.92. However, I weigh Recent Performance and Course History over Stats. And Brendan Steele is the only player in the field to average over +2 SG: RP and SG: CH. In Steele’s last 3 tournaments played, he is averaging slightly over 2 strokes gained per round to the field (T-20th, T-6th, and T-6th place finishes). His worst SG: CH year in his last 5 years at this event is a +1 SG/RD year in 2015, a 26th place finish. I believe the chances of him finishing top 25 is extremely high, with top 5 to 10 upside as well.

  • Patrick Rodgers ($6,600): He’s the GPP play of the week. I’m wary of playing him because he is quite volatile, but the algorithm absolutely loves him this week. His price has him at the 95th best player in the field (also tied for 104th highest priced), but my projections have him ranked 10th overall. As mentioned before, there are 5 players who are over +1 SG:CH, SG: RP, and SG: Stats: Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Patrick Rodgers. He is coming off a fantastic week, where he held the lead going into the last day before settling on a T-4th. In his last 3 events, he has gained 1.4 Strokes Per Round to the field. He finished 17th here in his only appearance last year. He also has great stats at +1.01 SG: Stats. While there is a lot of risk with him, there is also humongous upside. There is definitely a good chance the GPP winning team will have Patrick Rodgers on their roster.

NamePriceSG: RPSG: CHSG: STATSSG: Average
1. Hideki Matsuyama$117001.5963.2262.0052.276
2. Jon Rahm$97001.4782.512N/A1.999
3. Jordan Spieth$120001.8212.2701.4881.860
5. Brendan Steele
$82002.0272.059.91981.669
6. Phil Mickelson
$84001.8811.7651.2521.633
7. Rickie Fowler$95001.5771.0361.9831.532
8. Justin Thomas$115003.1130.7290.3691.404
10. Patrick Rodgers$66001.4241.4731.0101.302
15. Ryan Moore$86001.5281.2590.6831.157


Top 5 in Strokes Gained: Recent Performance (Last 3 Events)

  1. Justin Thomas (+3.113)

  2. Gary Woodland (+2.464)

  3. Chez Reavie (+2.380)

  4. Brian Harman (+2.255)

  5. Sean O’Hair (+2.072)

Top 5 in Strokes Gained: Course History (2012-2016)

  1. Hideki Matsuyama (+3.226)

  2. Jon Rahm (+2.512)

  3. Bubba Watson (+2.459)

  4. Jordan Spieth (+2.270)

  5. Shane Lowry (+2.223)

Top 5 in Strokes Gained: Stats (Strokes Gained: Tee to Green; Birdie or Better Percentage; Strokes Gained: Off The Tee; Bogey Avoidance; and Ball Striking)

  1. Hideki Matsuyama (+2.005)

  2. Rickie Fowler (+1.983)

  3. Lucas Glover (+1.886)

  4. Bubba Watson (+1.757)

  5. Gary Woodland (+1.689)

Edited by Joe Sparacio.

SQuiz
Who is the defending Champion at the 2017 Phoenix Waste Management Open?
Created 2/1/17
  1. Hideki Matsuyama
  2. Rickie Fowler
  3. Jordan Spieth
  4. Bubba Watson
Who is the defending Champion at the 2017 Phoenix Waste Management Open?
Created 2/1/17
  1. Hideki Matsuyama
  2. Rickie Fowler
  3. Jordan Spieth
  4. Bubba Watson

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