Back in the States, a field of 144 golfers prepare for battle with a difficult Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort.
Every week in DFS is a new puzzle so let's see if we can piece some things together...
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Heading to Palm Harbor, Florida, this week, weather could be a potential issue.
On Thursday we have a high around 64 degrees with winds expected to blow in the 10-to-16 MPH range with gusts up to 23 MPH. The gusts aren't expected to arrive until 10:00 a.m. or so, leaving a potential target window for the earliest of tee times on Thursday morning.
Friday is much calmer with winds forecasted in the 7-to-10 MPH range all day. Temperatures will remain cooler, with a high of 66 degrees.
Saturday looks to be similar to Friday with a temperature boost of about 10 degrees. Great golfing weather.
Sunday leaves the biggest potential threat for delays. Showers are likely with a possible thunderstorm in the mix. Like Thursday, we also are expecting the winds to pick up again with gusts potentially reaching the 30 MPH mark. It's possible they push up Sunday tee times, but that doesn't alter any of our fantasy strategies, since Thursday and Friday are the only tee times we know are static.
How do we deal with this weather? Keep reading.
Whenever heavy winds are in the forecast, gamers tend to scramble and sometimes overreact.
Looking at this week's forecast we see a potential target wave where the winds will be much lower. Currently, the edge is in favor of golfers that have the earliest tee times on Thursday morning. They will play in 10-to-14 MPH winds in the morning without much gusting until their final stretch of holes. Then when they come back on Friday afternoon they will see calm winds around 7 MPH.
Meanwhile, the Thursday PM wave will have to deal with winds around 15 MPH with gusts in the 20s.
That looks to be a pretty big advantage, but there are some important things to remember...
First, weather forecasts are rarely 100% accurate, especially when it comes to the time that winds will arrive and how specific their speeds will be. A slight shift in the timing could alter thing completely.
Second, with the wind advantage only being one round, the most a tee-time wave will likely lose is about half a stroke in terms of expected performance. Scenario: Golfer A has a baseline expectation of 0.25 strokes worse than Golfer B. Golfer A has an ideal tee time for the wind while Golfer B has a bad time. If they play exactly to their expectations then Golfer A might be tied or have a one stroke advantage after R1 but Golfer B will have three more rounds to exert their dominance.
Third, from a DFS point-of-view, many golfers will be looking at this wind forecast which should shift ownership slightly in favor of the Thursday AM wave. That leaves some nice ownership leverage for golfers that may have a tough time on Thursday but will have three other rounds to make up ground.
Recommendation: Consider giving Thursday AM tee times a slight boost but if you're entering multiple GPPs, consider making a few different lineups that stack each side of the tee-time wave. An example if you are making 10 lineups: make 4 lineups that don't factor tee times at all, make 4 lineups that primarily target Thursday AM tee times, and also make 2 lineups that target the Thursday PM tee times.
Copperhead Course is a tough track in calm conditions but with wind also in the mix, greens should be extremely tough to hit. With lots of mid-to-long irons into these greens, we should see a low GIR rate.
Looking at performance on courses with tough-to-hit greens 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:
Matt Kuchar: We see Kooch in the course-fit list above and that is because he's a grinder. When greens are tough to hit he knows how to approach the course strategically to give himself the best chance to contend. He's finished outside the top 50 in two of his last three starts so many gamers might be off the scent, despite his affordable price tag. Ball-striking is the word that gets thrown around at Copperhead and Kuchar is great in that regard. He's not long off the tee but he's posted a GIR rate better than the field in 16 of his last 18 starts. He's not the type of golfer that slumps, either. The last time he lost strokes to the field in consecutive weeks was back in 2015 (Houston-Masters). After a horrendous putting performance in Mexico last week, I'd expect Kuchar to rebound in a big way this week at the Valspar.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!