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The Approach – CIMB Classic

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Safeway Open review

What went right?

Not a lot a hell of a lot. Our favorite, sneaky value play, Anders Albertson missed the cut, and Carlos Ortiz and Bronson Burgoon faded on Sunday. On the plus side, Awesemo “A” grades Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore had  top-three finishes. Also, a fade of the highly owned Patrick Cantlay proved prudent.

The CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur

Tonight, at 8 pm EST we kick of the first leg of the Asian Swing with the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur. At 7,000 yards, this par-72 is one of the shortest courses we’ll see on tour this year. Though we’ve seen players like Ryan Moore succeed here, driving accuracy does not back-test well. This is more of an approach course than anything. Hit your GIRs and make your putts. Sounds simple.

Strategy

These early season tournaments are so hard to handicap. We’re dealing with time-zone changes, inclement weather, a crop of new golfers, and this week, a course with no stat-tracker. All this makes it more important to rely on Vegas ranks, weighted scoring average, what little form information we can get, ownership, and Awesemo’s ranks. And, as always, with a no-cut event, my focus will be on birdie makers.

Awesemo’s grades are showing a lot of value in the 6k range and high grades in the 10k+ range, ie. Stars and scrubs. I think with Thomas being so popular this week (for good reason), opting for a more balanced build may be the contrarian play.

The plays

Thomas Pieters: DraftKings, $7500: Grade: C, Value: B; FanDuel $7600: Grade: B, Value: C

Who knows what you’re going to get with Pieters. Could be a T-3, could be a 63rd with three quads. Sounds like the perfect GPP play. Pieters ranks 9th in my model, which back-tests various metrics that have correlated well with success at TPC Kuala Lumpur. He’s an awful value on FanDuel, with one of the worst Vegas bargain ratings in the field, but that should lower his ownership.

The stats:

  • 20th on the Euro Tour, 10th on PGA in LT Birdie or Better
  • 11th in LT SG: APP, 12th in ST SG: APP
  • Top-ten in LT and ST SG: P5
  • Top-15 in ST and LT DD

Gary Woodland: DraftKings, $9700: Grade: B, Value: D; FanDuel: $10,500: Grade A, Value: C

I was all ready to fade Woodland, given his relatively high price point and the buzz around the industry this week, but I can’t do it, Woodland is playing some top-quality golf right now. Woodland’s approach game is dialed in and that’s mitigating the effect of his usually poor putting: Over the past eight rounds he’s fourth in the field in putts per GIR. His stats below are insane.

The stats:

  1. 3rd in LT Eagles Gained, 2nd in ST Eagles Gained
  2. 3rd in LT Birdie or Better
  3. 8th in Bogey Avoidance
  4. 2nd in Driving Distance
  5. 2nd in LT GIR, 1st in ST GIR
  6. 5th in ST SG: APP, 8th in LT SG: APP
  7. 1st in LT and ST SG:P5

Low owned GPP fliers

DraftKings: I don’t hate J.B. Holmes (DK:B,B; FD: C,B) at only 5% ownership. He’s struggling with his approach game right now, and he did a lot of his scoring around the green at Silverado, but he scores on par fives and when he’s on, he’s capable of beating anyone.

FanDuel: Killa’ Keith Mitchell (DK: D,B; FD: C,A) is coming in at 3% owned. You want a bomber, birdie maker, he’s your guy. He’s first in the field in Driving Distance and fourth in LT Birdie or Better percentage.

The fades:

I think that at 55% ownership on FanDuel and 43% ownership on DraftKings, Justin Thomas is an excellent fade in GPPs. He’s obviously the class of the field, but not rostering him allows more balanced, contrarian builds.

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