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DraftKings PGA: Zurich Classic

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.


ZURICH CLASSIC OF NEW ORLEANS

Purse: $7M
Winner’s Share: $1.26M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Avondale, LA
Course: TPC Louisiana
Yardage: 7,425
Par: 72
2015 champion: Justin Rose



Tournament Preview

Let’s get ready to shift gears, in a hurry. Gone are the difficult conditions and weak field at TPC San Antonio. TPC Louisiana, traditionally, is one of the easiest tracks on the PGA Tour and has a slight player upgrade over last week’s Valero Texas Open. Justin Rose won last year with a course-record 22-under, as Avondale was the third-easiest course among the 52 played in 2015 (the cut was 5-under). We’re still in the post-Masters/pre-U.S. black hole of the schedule, but a few stars are returning to action. This is also the last good chance for golfers yet to qualify for next month’s Players Championship to get in the field. After this week, those in the top-10 in the FedEx Cup standings and in the top-50 in the OWGR get invites. Afterward, the only way in is to win next week’s Wells Fargo Championship. World No. 1 Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Rose highlight the field, with LSU alum Smylie Kaufman making his tournament debut. (Fowler and Kaufman are back from their well-chronicled Bahamas Brocation with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, so we’ll see how that works out.) Last week’s winner, Charley Hoffman, is also on hand. While there are more than 100 bunkers at TPC Louisiana, golfers will generally find things free and clear off the tee. With no par-5 reaching 600 yards, scoring is imperative. There are some dangers, however. Water comes into play on seven holes, including the final three: No. 16 is a risk/reward 348-yard par-4; No. 17 is a 215-yard par-3 that played toughest on the course last year; and No. 18 is the longest hole on the track, a 589-yard par-5 that’s reachable in two for the longest hitters. Weather-wise, wind is always a factor on the Bayou, and this year rain is in the forecast for Thursday and, especially, Sunday.




Key Stats to Winning at TPC Louisiana

Ball striking
Greens in regulation
Proximity to the hole
Bogey avoidance
Par-5 scoring



Past Champions

2015 - Justin Rose
2014 - Seung-Yul Noh
2013 - Billy Horschel
2012 - Jason Dufner
2011 - Bubba Watson
2010 - Jason Bohn
2009 - Jerry Kelly
2008 - Andres Romero
2007 - Nick Watney
2006 - Chris Couch


Champion’s Profile:

Great ball strikers (a stat combining driving distance, accuracy off the tee and greens in regulation) do well on this course, and Rose is among the best. Horschel, Dufner, Bohn and Kelly are also great ball strikers. This is a birdie-fest, so proximity to the hole will increase a golfer’s birdie chances, and scoring on the par-5s is paramount. There are some potentially big numbers out there, and avoiding trouble could be the difference between the winner and the also-rans.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)


DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Jason Day - $12,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 5-1)
Justin Rose - $11,800 (8-1)
Rickie Fowler $11,100 (10-1)



DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Daniel Berger - $10,100 (25-1)
Chris Kirk - $9,800 (30-1)
Marc Leishman - $9,100 (40-1)



DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Charles Howell III - $8,700 (40-1)
Patton Kizzire - $8,200 (40-1)
Boo Weekley - $7,800 (100-1)
Keegan Bradley - $7,700 (60-1)
Sean O'Hair - $7,600 (80-1)



DraftKings Long-Shot Values

David Hearn - $7,500 (100-1)
Luke List - $7,400 (100-1)
David Toms - $6,700 (100-1)
Sung Kang - $6,100 (Field, 9-4)




MY PICKS THIS WEEK



Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)
Justin Rose - $11,800
Charles Howell III - $8,700
Keegan Bradley - $7,700
Sean O’Hair - $7,600
David Hearn - $7,500
David Toms - $6,700

It’s hard to win as defending champion, but Rose sure does like this course, with three straight top-15s preceding his victory. The Englishman is sixth on tour in ball striking and fourth in par-5 scoring. Howell is fifth in bogey avoidance while also being T17 in par-5 scoring. Yes, he’s missed the cut two of the past three years, but he’s a better player this year and made four straight cuts from 2009 to 2012. Bradley’s putting woes are well-documented, but he has consecutive top-25s at Avondale, including a T8 in 2014. What helps is that he’s seventh in ball striking and 25th in GIR. O’Hair has made three straight cuts at the tournament, with a T12 last year. Hearn has made five straight, with a T6 last year; he’s also ranked eighth in proximity to the hole. Toms, a Louisianan, has made the Avondale cut eight of the past nine years and is 10th in proximity to the hole.




Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Jason Day - $12,500
Daniel Berger - $10,100
Patton Kizzire - $8,200
David Toms - $6,700
Andrew Loupe - $6,400
Sung Kang - $6,100

Putting a quarter of your bankroll on one golfer is always a risk, but Day should be refreshed after a week off, and the field still is on the weak side. Plus, he should destroy the par-5s. Berger will be a popular pick this week based on his T6 last year, plus he’s on form with top-10s in his last two starts on tour. Kizzire is a great putter and among the top-30 in par-5 scoring, but this is his tournament debut. Toms is still Toms. Fellow Louisianan Loupe is quite the enigma. He drives the ball a mile and putts pretty well but doesn’t have the results to show for it. He’s a real gamble here. At $300 less, we like Kang more. He had stumbled of late before making the cut last week at San Antonio. He’s played this tournament twice before but not since 2012, when he missed the cut, as he did in 2011.

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