DraftKings LPGA DFS Lineup Advice: Gainbridge (2021)
Welcome to the first article in a brand new series detailing everything you need to know about LPGA DFS. First of all, let me give a big shoutout to DraftKings for broadening the golf landscape for the DFS world by adding a full-time slate of LPGA contests for every event. Secondly, I host the only (that I’ve seen) LPGA DFS podcast on the airways, “Girls Got Game,” and episodes release every Wednesday leading into a women’s golf tournament. So if you’re the type that prefers audio content and don’t feel like reading this entire article, that’s where you find it!
Back to the consumers of written content. As the LPGA transitions into full-time betting status, they need to work on the information/statistics accessible to bettors and fantasy players around the country. They have no strokes gained data which is the most commonly used metric for the PGA Tour among the industry, so we’re on our own here, at least in the beginning.
I have spent the offseason building a custom model which every piece of information I could gather from the past two seasons. When I use the term “strokes gained” in these articles, know that it is not the same strokes gained from the PGA Tour, but strokes gained from my personal findings. For instance, I compiled all the driving accuracy numbers for every LPGA player, and based on that statistic, I use “strokes gained” as a metric to show that player’s stat in relation to the median. This is virtually the same way the PGA Tour does it, just in a much more advanced state.
Now that that’s covered, let’s talk golf. For those new to women’s golf, let me tell you, it’s just as exciting as men’s golf. The Diamond Resorts – Tournament of Champions a few weeks ago was one of the most thrilling tournaments and Sundays I’ve watched; men or women. The Korda sisters (Jessica and Nelly) and Danielle Kang were in a three-way battle for much of the weekend, eventually leading to a playoff between Kang and the older Korda sister, Jessica. Korda eventually took the title by draining a 40-foot bomb for birdie on the first playoff hole. So, as the title of my podcast suggests, these girls got game!
For this series, in particular, I’ll be providing some information on the course, stats I’m looking for, as well as a few locks and fades for the event. I will detail a few locks and fades (generally higher-priced players). I will finish with a rapid-fire “Studs & Duds” section that presents players in the lower price tiers, with no reasoning provided (you can hear the reasoning on the podcast!).
Lake Nona Golf & Country Club
In the second year of the Gainbridge LPGA, they’ve already found a new golf course. This year’s event will be held at Lake Nona G&CC in Florida. It is a 6,701 yard par-72. It’s never held an official LPGA event, but it did host the inaugural Solheim Cup in 1990 and a few Tavistock Cups, U.S. Open qualifiers, and many amateur events. It’s seen its fair share of competition, but never a premiere circuit event.
That changes now. The 6,701 yards is long for LPGA standards, as the courses they’ve played over the past two seasons have averaged roughly 6,400 yards. Target the big hitters, gotcha. The average putting numbers for the players range anywhere from 29-32 putts/round from my research. In essence, we want to identify the players that will have their 30 putts come from plenty of GIR rather than 30 putts of scrambling. Easy enough, right? Let’s dive in!
Locks of the Week
Sei Young Kim ($11,100)
Let’s not get complicated here. Sei Young is the #2 player in the world and has been playing like the best player with 2 wins in 2020, including her first Major championship at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in October. She has been dominating the LPGA in recent memory, and that will continue this week.
While she’s not the longest player out there, she’s long enough, gaining 9.83 strokes on driving distance in 2020. In addition to that, she led the LPGA in the following metrics:
Strokes gained: greens in regulation
Strokes gained: putts per GIR
Strokes gained: scoring
The price tag is a difficult one as the highest-priced player in the field. However, she’s priced there for a reason. There are plenty of options down low to play a “stars and scrubs” style roster, and if so, Sei Young Kim is the best place to start.
Nelly Korda ($9,800)
Frankly, I’m shocked to see Nelly priced under $10k, especially after her performance at the Diamond Resorts – Tournament of Champions last month. She was right in the thick of the battle until a 67, yes, a 67, cost her on Saturday. After Jessica Korda’s 60, and Danielle Kang’s 63 on Saturday, Nelly Korda was lost in the shuffle playing catch up.
However, fast forward a few weeks, and the fact that her issue in the last event was shooting a 4-under 67, I’m going right back to the well. She’s 4th in this field in both strokes gained: driving distance and strokes gained: greens in regulation over the past two seasons. Those are the two most important stats I’m looking for this week on a long course that will require some power to alleviate the long approach shots. She’s also hovering just above field average in strokes gained: driving accuracy and strokes gained: putting, which will complement the initial two stats extremely well. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a Korda sister sweep in the season’s first two events.
Brooke Henderson ($9,300)
Like the previous passage, it’s crazy to me that there are six players priced above Brooke Henderson. I have two lineup builds that I’m rolling out this week: one that features Sei Young Kim at the top, then jumping the $9k range and loading up on mid-tier players. The other starts with both Nelly Korda and Henderson. I think both players have a really good shot at winning the tournament, and to both be priced under $10k is a bargain to me.
Henderson failed to win an event in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. However, she finished 3rd on Tour with a 60% top-10 finish rate. She is one of the longest and most accurate players on the LPGA Tour, as evidenced by her ranking 3rd in strokes gained: scoring among players in this field. She sports the perfect package to compete at this golf course. Length, accuracy, and ball striking is the name of the game, and she’s one of the best in all three categories.
Fades of the Week
Lydia Ko ($10,000)
Lydia Ko exploded onto the scene, winning at a ferocious pace, and climbed to the top player in the world at just 17 years old, the youngest to ever reach that plateau. However, she’s been very underwhelming to her standards since, failing to win an event in nearly 3 full years. This “slump” has resulted in her falling to #29 in the world. Yet, she’s still the fourth-highest priced player in this field.
She also nearly skipped this event, following a surgical procedure on her nose just a month ago. However, when it was announced that the Gainbridge would be coming to Lake Nona (Ko is a member), she decided she wouldn’t miss the “home game.” Member or not, I just haven’t seen anything in her game to suggest that this is a good spot for her. They’ve stretched this course out, and Ko is tour average in distance and has lost 6.6 strokes to the field in driving accuracy over the last year.
I do believe she will find her way back to her dominating form. I just don’t see it this week. She is the only player priced over $7.9k in my model that finished with a negative overall strokes gained rating. I’ll pass.
Lexi Thompson ($9,600)
Remember that putting metric I referenced earlier in the article (putting ranges from 29-32 putts/round), yeah, that one. Thompson pretty much sets the bar at the back of the range. She lost a stroke to the field in 2020 and finished T21 in a field of 25 players in the metric in the Tournament of Champions. I’m worried about her ability to get the ball in the hole, and for that price, there are better options (see above).
The primary thing she has going for her is that she’s long; fifth in this field long. However, she’s below field average in accuracy, and the putting scares me, especially if she has to spend an extra amount of time scrambling. She is one of the best players in the world, there’s no denying that, but in a field of this strength, I’m worried about the volatility of her game. She only finished 2020 with a 20% top-10 rate. That’s not comforting enough for me to use her at the top of my roster.
Jeongeun Lee ($9,100)
For a player at this price, you’d expect a top-10 or two leading into it. However, Lee6 didn’t post a single top-10 in 2020. She was excellent in 2019, which is where I’m assuming her price is being generated from, but 2020 was a different story. She gained just 3.25 strokes overall in my model in 2020, leaving her ranked #47 in this field, which is a far cry below being the 9th highest-priced player.
She’s tour average in distance and greens in regulation while giving back .5 strokes to the field in putting, as well as scoring. That’s just not a recipe for this golf course specifically and the early part of this season overall until she shows us otherwise.
Rapid-Fire: Studs & Duds in Each Tier
Studs: Carlota Ciganda ($8,800) & Austin Ernst ($8,100)
Duds: Sung Hyun Park ($8,500) & Anna Nordqvist ($8,300)
Studs: Gaby Lopez ($7,400) & Xiyu Lin ($7,100)
Duds: Anne van Dam ($7,800) & Cristie Kerr ($7,000)
Studs: Alena Sharp ($6,800) & Robyn Ree ($6,700)
Duds: Bronte Law ($6,900) & Maria Fassi ($6,600)
As always, you can find me @joebutter_ on Twitter, where I’m always around to talk shop and answer any questions. This is as good a time as ever to get into LPGA DFS because, with the lack of valuable information readily available, a little bit of digging between the numbers could prove very profitable! Don’t forget to check out “Girls Got Game,” available everywhere you get your podcasts!
Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.
Joe Buttgereit is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joe, follow him on Twitter @joebutter_.