The tour is staying in Asia for another week as they turn their attention towards China for the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions. This event has been held here since 2014, but, as with the past few weeks, ShotLink doesn’t make the trip. That means we don’t have a full set of data to go off, but there’s plenty to dive into for this slate.
The course itself is Sheshan International GC. It’s a Par 72 course that plays between 7,200 and 7,300 yards. Sheshan features bentgrass greens with a hybrid of grasses on the fairways and rough. The greens run fast at Sheshan, typically rolling upwards of 12 feet on the stimpmeter. As golfers make their way around the course, they’ll face 66 bunkers and 8 water hazards.
Attacking the Course
No ShotLink data means we’re flying a little blind as far as distance stats for the top of the field at this event in previous years. We do have ball-striking data, though. Since 2014, the field has averaged 58.7 percent fairways hit and 66.4 percent of greens in regulation hit. Hitting greens in regulation has been nearly four times more correlated to DK Points than driving accuracy, which makes sense intuitively. Greens hit equal birdie chances.
Even without data, we know that driving distance helps to a certain extent but it really needs to be coupled with some semblance of accuracy. For context, an r-squared of 0.101 would be good for 11th on tour last year for accuracy importance while a 0.378 in greens in regulation would be eighth on tour for GIR importance.
The most important thing this week is definitely game theory. We had a pretty good week here as we unveiled our ownership projections with a 0.7 r-squared to actual ownership in the 20 Max. Projections are down at the end of the article and will be updated as necessary.
It’s early in the week as I’m writing this but a couple of high owned plays seem pretty obvious, even without knowing the general sentiment across the industry.
The cheap chalk will almost certainly be Matt Wallace ($6,700). He has made seven straight cuts worldwide, including a win in Denmark and a T19 finish at the PGA Championship. Wallace currently sits at 62 in the OWGR and is all the way down at $6,700. His salary savings will open up the board for the rest of golfers in a given lineup. From a game theory perspective, I think it’s necessary to go all in or full fade. Be aware though, that we as a community are actually pretty good at identifying the super cheap chalk. Golfers in the $6,000 range that are between 15 and 22 percent owned average 64 DK points while golfers in that range that exceed 22 percent owned have averaged 80 DK points.
The not quite as cheap chalk will certainly be Lucas Bjerregaard ($7,800). I thought of a name pronunciation joke and then a Thor joke, but I don’t want to bring out all the big guns in the Fall Swing. Bjerregaard is a bit of an unknown to the casual US Golf fans, but Euro fans will know him well. He was 125th in the world and forced to withdraw from the Nordea Masters just two months ago. In his six starts since then, he’s rattled off a win, four more Top 10s, and a Top-20 finish. That has vaulted him to the edge of the Top 50 OWGR.
As of this writing, (projections can shift as we get closer to lock) it looks like Rory McIlroy ($10,700) and Tommy Fleetwood ($9,500) are going to be the highest owned golfers at $9,000 and up. There are strong reasons to play those guys which I’m sure you’ve heard on every podcast and article you’ve read this week. Fleetwood, especially, can excel in a no-cut event because he can find a round in the low 60s at any moment. If you’re looking elsewhere, a couple of options make sense.
Brooks Koepka ($11,000) is coming off of such a dominating win that most books didn’t offer odds from the third round into the final round. It’s a good thing too. Koepka closed with a 64 which included a scorching 29 on the back nine to hoist the cup Sunday evening in South Korea. Tony Finau ($9,900) will also be low-owned relative to his upside. His median score last season was 71 and he broke 90 DK points in five of 29 events.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello ($8,900) is shaping up to be chalky this week as well after his performance at the CJ Cup. He closed with a 65 to jump up into a tie for third place. Patrick Cantlay ($8,800) makes the most sense to me if you’re pivoting off of RCB. Quite simply, Cantlay has been a machine since his return. In his 35 starts since the February of 2017, he’s made 33 cuts. That includes his win at the Shriners last year and nine other Top-10 finishes.
In the mid-$7,000 range, Lucas Bjerregaard ($7,800), Hao-Tong Li ($7,700), and Kyle Stanley ($7,600) are all projected to be highly owned. If you aren’t willing to eat that chalk, Thorbjorn Olesen ($7,900) and CT Pan ($7,000) make sense.
If I had to pick a pivot down from Wallace, I’d probably take a look at Brian Harman ($6,700). It’s tempting to dip down this low to fit in a bunch of guys at the top but I’m not sure that’s the optimal build this weekend.
Whether or not it’s optimal, many lineups this weekend will feature one (or both) of Wallace or Bjerregaard for the saving they provide. If you stack them up it leaves you with $8,875 per spot for your last four golfers. Throw in another popular option in Kyle Stanley ($7,600) and you can fit in any combination you want up at the top. That’s what I’d imagine the typical GPP roster will look like this week. Cash builds might be slightly more balanced, only taking a shot on one of those guys.
|Rafael Cabrera Bello||8900||18.35|
|Cheng Tsung Pan||7000||11|
|Erik Van Rooyen||6400||5.92|
|Bo Wen Xiao||6000||0.09|