What’s goin’ on fantasy golf fans?! It’s time to pack our bags and head overseas to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. This is the second leg of the fall swing series and will host a unique field, with a mix of PGA, Euro and Asian Tour golfers. We get a week off from the Web.com Tour Grads.
The event will be played at TPC Kuala Lumpur. It is a 7,000 yard Par 72 that will get eaten up but the elite golfers in this field. Justin Thomas has won this event two years in a row, posting a combined -49 under par. There is only 78 golfers in the field and there will be no cut, adding a wrinkle to this event we have seen in the past. The guaranteed 72 holes allows us to target golfers who may be perceived as volatile, but over the course of a full four rounds can return value by simply making more birdies than other golfers.
Stats for this week are pretty simple and are some of the key stats as they relate to DraftKings scoring. First, Birdie or Better Gained is a stat that can be found at FantasyNational.com. It is looking at who is making more birdies relative to the other golfers in the same event. It takes out some of the noise in the birdie or better percentage stat that compares all golfers without differentiating between courses. Strokes Gained:Approach and Strokes Gained Ball Striking (Off the tee + Approach) will also be incorporated into my model. I will also be taking a small piece of Eagle % and Bogey Avoidance.
Alright, let’s get to the picks!
My favorite golfers for the week – for Cash and GPP contests.
Xander Schauffele – $9,700
The are pretty slim pickings at the top of the board this week. Thomas, Matsuyama and Casey are all good options and clearly the elite of the field, but my favorite golfer in terms of price, ownership and upside has to be Xander Schauffele. The reigning rookie of the year will look to get his sophomore season started on the right foot in Malaysia. He is only $9,700 and coming off of his Tour Championship win. Xander only has 17 tags on Fan Share Sports, way less than the golfers priced above him. Differentiate your lineups and start them with X.
Gary Woodland – $8,700
Over his past 12 rounds, Gary Woodland is 3rd in the field in SG:BS and 4th in SG:APP. He is one of the best birdie makers in the field and giving the fact that he is guaranteed 72 holes, He is a must play in all formats. Woodland turned his 2017 season around at the end of the year and will look to keep the momentum going into the 2018 season. It’s been a few years since Woodland has found success in Malaysia, but he had a runner up finish in 2014 and 2013.
Kevin Na – $8,200
I am going back to the well with Kevin Na. Despite his closing 77 at the Safeway Open, Na played very well and was in the mix on Saturday. Na has had lots of success at TPC Kuala Lumpur too. In his past four visits here, he has three top 10s, two of which were inside the top three. Na stands out statistically as well, ranking 2nd in SG:APP and 2nd in BoB Gained over his past 12 rounds.
Chez Reavie – $7,600
Even with back to back top 15 finishes and a run of 12 straight made cuts, Chez Reavie sees his price tag drop heading into the CIMB Classic. Reavie didn’t disappoint last week gaining 5.4 strokes on approach shots alone. Reavie won’t gain as much attention as he should because he will be deemed as a low upside play, but in a field of this strength he has the same potential to finish inside the top 10 as any of the elite golfers in the field.
CIMB Classic Research Spreadsheet
Note that this spreadsheet is FREE each week for Pro Members. If you are not a Pro Member, use code “ERIC” for 15% off:
Identifying the chalk, and going elsewhere.
Branden Grace – $9,200
This is strictly an ownership play. Grace is projected to see the lowest ownership of anyone priced above $9,200, despite his pedigree and recent performance at the President’s Cup. He only has three tags on Fan Share Sports. Grace has played at TPC Kuala Lumpur in the past, his best result being a T17 in 2015. In this limited field with no cut, targetting golfers whose ownership should be below 10% can be a difference maker. Most likely candidate for that this week has to be Grace.
Russell Knox – $8,100
Another golfer with next to no buzz is Russell Knox. He only has two tags on Fan Share Sports, likely due to his recent form. However, this no cut event provides an opportunity to roster some more volatile golfers. Knox finished T10 at this tournament last year and T21 in 2015. Over his past 12 rounds he ranks 14th in SG:BS and 21st in SG:APP, both reasonable numbers for a golfer who is considered to be struggling.
Nick Taylor – $7,600
Nick Taylor quietly finished T9 last week at the Safeway Open putting together a solid tournament gaining strokes in all categories. Now with only two tags on Fan Share Sports and priced below some of the most chalky options this week, Taylor is destined to be overlooked once again. He has played very well in back-to-back fall seasons and it looks like he will be making it three straight.
Sung Kang – $6,900
Sung Kang will not reach 5% ownership this week and in a field of only 78 golfers, sprinkling some Kang into your lineups will be beneficial. Kang finished T21 here last season and is entering the event with some decent form. He ranks 36th in the field in SG:APP over his past 12 rounds and tends to show up everyone once in awhile. There are plenty of Asian Tour fliers out there this week, but why not go with a golfer who is dirt cheap and has had success on the PGA Tour.
Bad course fit? Highly owned for the wrong reason? Players I will have no shares of.
Pat Perez – $9,000
I know it’s a weak field but come on – $9,000 for Pat Perez? Yes, he played solid through the FedEx Cup Playoffs but that should increase his ownership because people will remember those results. They won’t look at this poor course history, three straight finishes outside the top 30, or the fact that he lost 6.2 strokes tee to green at the Tour Championship. Take a pass on Perez at that hefty price and jump on one of the many options around him.
Anirban Lahiri – $8,200
Anirban Lahiri currently has the third most tags on Fan Share Sports and immediately that screams fade. Lahiri is one of the most inconsistent golfers on tour so any chance you can fade him while he is projected to be chalk, you have to do it. He did finish T3 at this event last year, but don’t ignore the four results prior which were all outside of the top 20. There is definitely some recency bias baked into his projected high ownership because of his showing at the President’s Cup and all eyes were watching that week. Let the variance in golf play out and capitalize when Lahiri likely under performs.
Keegan Bradley – $7,000
What did Keegan Bradley do last week to deserve this much attention? He ranks inside the top 10 in tags on Fan Share Sports after a missed cut at the Safeway Open. Perhaps it was his 6th place finish at the CIMB last year? Don’t forget about his T47 in 2015 either. Bradley is likely to see a lot of ownership being priced just $200 above the minimum. Chalky Bradley makes me want to run, far away.
So, you got burned?
Recently got screwed by a missed cut or a poor performance? Looks like a good time to jump back on.
Peter Uihlein – $7,700
Well, it looks like everyone’s shiny new toy from last week was completely dull. Uihlein was a huge disappointment at the Safeway Open, missing the cut and showing no signs of good form. With that said, he still owns the same skill set everyone was raving about a week ago, is $1,100 cheaper and won’t see near the amount of ownership he did last week. Uihlein also has the upper hand in terms of being accustomed to long travel times and time changes with his experience on the Euro Tour.
Jamie Lovemark – $7,500
Lovemark came out of the gate hot last week but was unable to follow up his opening round 67. He was over 20% owned in a lot of large GPP contests, and those owners have not forgotten about his mediocre T43. Lovemark is still one of the best birdie makers in this field and in a no cut event can pay off his salary simply by playing 72 holes. He’s worth owning in case we were all a week early on him.
Thanks for reading the CIMB Classic preview article! You can follow me on Twitter @EPattersonFS for more golf and betting talk! Also, make sure you check out @FanShareSports. They track and curate content produced across the DFS Golf industry, and highlight which players are being tagged or talked about the most, translating to an excellent ownership guide.
Good luck this week everybody!!