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DraftKings LPGA DFS Lineup Advice: Kia Classic (2021)

Mar 23, 2021

A huge week could be in store for Danielle Kang at Aviara.

After a two-week hiatus, we’re back, and the LPGA is diving into the meat of the schedule. This week, we have the Kia Classic, which boasts another extremely strong field; and next week, the season’s first major. The players got a chance to regroup and fly out to California to start the west coast swing. With the Tour’s biggest events on the horizon, don’t miss out on the “Girls Got Game” podcast, hosted by yours truly, for a deeper dive into the field and more in-depth analysis on a larger number of players!

The Kia Classic, canceled in 2020 due to COVID, is one of the Tour’s longest-running events. It opened up a few exemptions for some past champions that haven’t played much lately: Michelle Wie West and Juli Inkster. Also, the top 14 players in the world and 17 of the top 20 will be in the field looking for one last week of preparation before the ANA Inspiration.

The biggest omission in this field is Jessica Korda, who has been on fire to start the season. However, we get the season debuts of Inbee Park, A Lim Kim, and many more!

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Aviara Golf Club

Aviara has hosted the Kia Classic since 2013. It is a par-72 that measures just under 6,600 yards. This is a golf course that has rewarded accuracy off the tee in the past, so I’m emphasizing driving accuracy in my model. The rough is measured at about 3″, which is higher than normal for a typical LPGA event.

Past Champions:

2020: Cancelled
2019: Nasa Hataoka
2018: Eun-Hi Ji
2017: Mirim Lee
2016: Lydia Ko
2015: Cristie Kerr
2014: Anna Nordqvist
2013: Beatriz Recari

The difficulty of the golf course has brought out the best in some players, as they’ve shown an extremely quality course history:

Cristie Kerr: 1 win, 4 top-10s
Anna Nordqvist: 1 win, 2 top-10s, 1 top-20
Inbee Park: 4 top-10s, 1 top-20
Lizette Salas: 3 top-10s, 2 top-20s
Shanshan Feng: 2 top-10s, 3 top-20s

Without further ado, let’s get into the plays!

Locks of the Week

Jin Young Ko ($10,600)
The #1 player in the world has been hovering in the early part of this season, waiting to pounce on an event. I believe this is the week that Ko really contends for that first victory of the season. She came in at #2 overall in my custom model and has dominated all over the course, except for the greens. She’s gained eight strokes to the field in driving accuracy and 13 strokes in iron play; however, she’s lost 0.84 strokes on the greens. She’s done this while still gaining over two strokes in total scoring.

However, I see a strong positive regression on the horizon as she’s averaging more than two more putts per round as she did in 2020. If you’re like me and believe that players tend to find their way back to their mean, that improvement in putting will turn the 4th place finish at Gainbridge into a win (or three) very shortly. Additionally, she has a runner-up and a T10 finish here in the past two years.

Danielle Kang ($10,300)
Kang hasn’t quite been the same since she led for three and a half rounds at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Since then, she missed the cut at Gainbridge and finished T6 at the Drive On Championship. She’s done so while hitting just 58.3% of her greens in regulation over the past two events; while in 2020, she hit 72.2% of her greens over the course of the entire season, leading to two victories.

If you buy into that positive regression thing, here’s another example. Danielle Kang is one of the best ball strikers on the LPGA Tour. It’s only a matter of time before he finds her irons again. I think she’s in store for a huge week at Aviara, and her 2.31 strokes gained on the greens (4th on Tour this season) will guide her to her third top-10 finish this season.

Nelly Korda ($11,300)
I know, take three of the highest-priced players in the field, and call them locks. That’s convenient, right? Yes, however, I’m heavily fading the $9k range, so I will start every one of my lineups with one of these three players before jumping down to the $8k’s. These players are also listed in order of preference, so I’m a bit hesitant on Korda in comparison to the other two. I don’t have any of the three actually winning the event, so it makes more sense to save the salary and avoid Nelly. However, she has the highest floor of the three, so I’d be silly not to include her.

She’s been the most consistent player this season, with a win, a third, and a T28 finish at the Drive On Championship. She’s leading the tour in scoring and has been one of the better putters, gaining 0.84 strokes on the greens. It’s a hefty price to pay, but she’s earned the right to be priced where she is, and if you can fit it in your lineup, she’s as safe as anyone out there.

Fades of the Week

Inbee Park ($11,000)
Fading Park has a lot more to do with her price and the fact that she hasn’t played in 2021 than it does with what she can do on the golf course. We know what she’s capable of, and we know what she’s done at this course specifically. I’m simply very hesitant to pay $11k on a player that hasn’t played in a few months. I also believe her ownership will be higher than you’d think, considering her name value. So I’ll use the money elsewhere on players that I’ve seen perform more recently.

Hyo Joo Kim ($9,400)
While she has an outstanding course history here with three top-10 finishes, she (and So Yeon Ryu, $9,200) hasn’t played yet in 2021 and didn’t play enough in 2020 to register statistics for the season. It could blow up in my face as I’m sure they’ve been doing what they need to do to stay on top of their game. We just haven’t seen it in action.

Until I see something physically on the golf course, I’m hesitant to pay this much for a player. Honestly, there’s simply too much value below going all the way down to $6.3k that it makes it impossible for me to feel comfortable paying up for a player we haven’t seen.

Rapid Fire: Studs & Duds in Each Tier

$8k:

Studs: In Gee Chun ($8,800) & Jennifer Kupcho ($8,300)
Duds: Nasa Hataoka ($8,500) & Jeongeun Lee6 ($8,400)

$7k:

Studs: Anna Nordqvist ($7,900) & Patty Tavatanakit ($7,200)
Duds: Sung Hyun Park ($7,800) & Lizette Salas ($7,200)

$6k:

Studs: Sarah Kemp ($6,800) & Morgan Pressel ($6,400)
Duds: Christina Kim ($6,800) & Michelle Wie West ($6,700)

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!

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