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DraftKings PGA 2.5M Millionaire Maker Golf Strategy: Avoid the Obvious Plays

As we all know, DraftKings is running a $20 buy-in for the U.S. Open Millionaire Maker. This has a prize pool of $2.5 million with $1 million going to first place.

The most common strategy you might think is to use odds per dollar. This has often been a great strategy since DraftKings can price players incorrectly and you can get the best price per player according to Vegas. This was a fantastic strategy in 2014 since not many daily fantasy players used this and DraftKings was particularly poor at pricing the competitors.

However, after looking into this more in 2015 and looking at the results, there’s something we have seen when it comes to odds per dollar – it can often be a great idea to fade those players. The highest owned players in cash or GPPs for golf on DraftKings have been the players with fantastic odds. In GPPs, that’s a problem when you’re trying to get that huge first-place payout and need to have a unique lineup. For example, Charles Howell III was by far the best odds per dollar play at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and he missed the cut after a 77 on Friday. He was over 30% used in GPPs, and if you simply faded him, you’re already taking out that much of the field.

Justin Thomas, someone who had INSANE odds at the Memorial Tournament, ended up imploding on Friday’s round and missed the cut.

The best example is John Peterson at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. I really liked Peterson going into the tournament. It wasn’t that he just had fantastic odds, but it was also that Colonial was his home course growing up and had by far the most experience. While this was good reasoning, Peterson was approximately 35% used in GPPs.

When I saw this, I was shocked. Peterson isn’t a household name, and he wasn’t having the greatest season. I went around Twitter asking different DFS players if they even knew who Peterson was and wanted to know why he or she played him. With the exception of one person, everyone told me it’s because Peterson had great odds at his price. Only one person could tell me why he had great odds and actual reasoning for using him.

While Peterson ended up missing the secondary cut, which makes this easier to defend, I have found too many examples of this. It does depend on the tournament to an extent and it depends on how many great plays there are odds wise at a certain price level, but fading these mid-to-lower salary players can often be greatly beneficial since the usage for these guys is very high. Furthermore, the reality is, these guys at this price level do not have a great chance to win this tournament anyways. It’s not like we are splitting hairs between Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson for a shorter track that involves target golf, which would significantly favor Zach (vice versa for Bubba on a lengthy and more open course).

To be clear, I’m not saying you should fade all players who have great odds. There will be guys who fit the golf course particularly well that you do want to give some exposure to. But to overload on a guy at a $6k or even $7k level who has superb odds is a mistake. You are putting a ton of exposure into someone who quite frankly doesn’t have an amazing chance at winning and just an okay chance at making the cut.

Ultimately, you want to have your few top and mid-salary guys who you think have the best chance and use a fair amount of variety for the low-salary guys of who fits the style of the golf course.

 

How this Applies to the U.S. Open and Chambers Bay

I’m going to have another article on picks either tomorrow or Wednesday. But you need to know what’s up with Chambers Bay first. Here are some quick notes.

  • First time most players have seen Chambers Bay.
  • It will play as a par 70.
  • Holes 1 & 18 can play as a par 4 or par 5 with several different tee boxes. Par will always be 70 though, so which ever par is set up for No. 1, the opposite will be true for No. 18.
  • It features the three longest par 4s in U.S. Open history.
  • The length of the course will vary greatly with all the different tee boxes, but it can be anywhere from approximately 7,200-to-7,900 yards.
  • Eagles will be extremely difficult to come by, and they will often come in lucky fashion.
  • A majority of the holes are played uphill. Only a few holes, mainly par 3s, are downhill, making this length particularly long.
  • However, the course will be very firm and dry, so the ball will roll a lot.
  • The course overall is a lengthy links-style course.
  • There are sandy dunes and fescue grass everywhere.
  • Unpredictable coastal winds will take effect.
  • The busiest rail operation in the Pacific Northwest runs beside three holes with potential train horns going off (I’m not kidding, via Bill Pennington of the New York Times).

All of those notes are pretty cut and dry, but there is one specific point worth addressing in detail.

 

The Greens Are Insane and Borderline Ridiculous, Even For the Pros

We are less than three days away from the start of the tournament, and there is already significant concern about the greens. Ryan Burr of The Golf Channel gives us a solid look.

Now, we have seen U.S. Opens in the past on television where the greens look like they are in terrible shape, but in reality, it’s more just the color variation and how it appears on television.

However, this looks particularly disturbing and problematic.

James Achenback of Golfweek.com has documented the complaints by certain pros, caddies and coaches. There are several examples, but the most glaring of the bunch comes from Phil Mickelson’s short game instructor, Dave Pelz.

 

“Phil and I were here exactly three weeks before the start of the tournament,” Pelz said. “I realize a lot can change in three weeks, but these were the worst greens I’ve ever seen before a major championship. They were bumpy. Some of the breaks were impossible to read. I love (Masters champion) Jordan Spieth, but he’s going to see more breaks than he’s ever seen in his life.”

 

Coming from a man of Pelz’ experience, who has guided Mickelson and helped him become one of the best short game players of this generation, you listen to him, and you don’t take that lightly.

Furthermore, remember Shinnecock Hills in 2004?  I threw in a ton of different search terms on Youtube and struck out for a video, but the greens were borderline unplayable. What do I mean? The dry and windy conditions almost destroyed the greens and made them literally too fast. Players at the beginning of one of the rounds were hitting shots into a par 3, and the balls automatically rolled off the surface (no it was not a designed false front). They briefly halted play to water that specific green. After play resumed, the grounds crew spent the day watering the greens in between the groups coming through just to give the players a chance.

Now, I’m not going to say that happens at Chambers Bay, especially since you would think the USGA has learned their lesson from that experience and that the U.S. Open will return to Shinnecock in 2018, but it’s in people’s awareness of the possibility.

But what makes this even more insane is how enormous and complex these greens are. Take a look at the course on the U.S. Open website and look at the video flyovers. Essentially every green is divided into quadrants or even more sections than that.

Yes, the greens are huge, which makes these sections decent-sized, but when you get absurdly fast greens, firm conditions, wind and hitting long irons or utility clubs into these holes, how in the world do you expect a player to consistently keep the ball in the appropriate section without getting lucky a chunk of the time?

For a more optimistic and detailed view of Chambers Bay, this video by Golfing World is informative.

 

How the Heck Do I Choose My Players the DraftKings PGA 2.5M Millionaire Maker?

It’s a very tough question to answer. Why? Because quite frankly, the winner of this tournament will often come with more luck than we have seen in recent major championship history.

Having said that, there are two things I would strongly focus on – Avoid players who will be used highly and avoid players who are likely to tilt or not handle adversity well (completely serious).

Exhibit A is Rory McIlroy. Not only is he the favorite, but this is a golf course that is right up his alley – a lengthy links-style track with conditions that are similar to what they are like in Ireland. Considering that a lot of the publicity is that this will play more like an Open Championship as opposed to a U.S. Open, not to mention that McIlroy is one of the biggest superstars and the No. 1 player in the world, he will be used a ton.

But adding on to the huge luck factor that will kick in this weekend, McIlroy has shown numerous times to not handling terrible conditions well. At the BMW Championship, one of the biggest events on the European Tour, McIlroy fired a horrendous 78 on Friday’s round and easily missed the cut. The greens were incredibly bumpy, he was constantly missing puts and was comically laughing at them immediately after he struck putts. As the round played out, his full swing started to deteriorate, which resulted in such a high number. Another example is at the Irish Open where he shot an 80 in the opening round, which featured zero birdies. McIlroy was all over the place, had several 10 footers for par and couldn’t handle the challenging greens.

Here’s what Jack Nicklaus said two days ago (via Jim McCabe of Golfweek):

 

“When they said, ‘I don’t like the course,’ I checked him off. Oh, the fairways are too narrow? Check him off. The fairways are too sloppy? Check him off. The greens are too fast? Check him.

 

Granted this is coming from arguably the greatest golfer of all time, but he’s exactly right. Everyone is going to play the same golf course and everyone is trying to win. But the ones going in who actually want to put the nonsense behind them, not complain and want to overcome the challenge are the only ones who will prevail.

Several players have already started legitimately criticizing the golf course. There will also be a lot of players who dislike the course or the conditions who aren’t mentioned in the media.

But for now, Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post gives us a few examples.

Here’s McIlroy in response to Mike Davis, the director of the USGA, for the amount of studying required for Chambers Bay.

 

“What’s Mike Davis’ handicap?”

 

Ryan Palmer had this to say.

 

“As far as the greens are concerned, it’s not a championship golf course — not with the way some of the greens are and the pin placements they can put out there,” Palmer said. “[Davis’] idea of tee boxes is ridiculous. That’s not golf. I don’t care what anybody says. It will get a lot of bad press from the players. It is a joke. I don’t understand it. I just don’t know why they would do it.”

 

Then there’s Ian Poulter.

 

“The reports back [from fellow players] are it’s a complete farce,” said Ian Poulter, who had not yet been to the course. “I guess someone has to win.”

 

Therefore, we will see players of all price ranges near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.

Picks coming soon…

View all posts by Nick Juskewycz
Nick Juskewycz

About the Author

Sked Nick is a Daily Fantasy Sports enthusiast and a former Bleacher Report Featured Columnist. Most of his time is dedicated to the sports world in front of several televisions, monitors and a projector. This involves researching, writing, watching games or simply keeping up to date on news.He graduated with honors from Bowling Green State University with a degree in sport management and journalism. Furthermore, Nick was a radio play-by-play and color commentator for Bowling Green football, men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball. He also has experience working with the BGSU athletic department.Follow @NickJuskewycz

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