Category Archives: Fantasy Golf Tips

5 Reasons You Should Draft Tiger Woods

Are you thinking about drafting Tiger Woods in fantasy golf?

Should you select Tiger Woods for your fantasy golf lineup?  There’s arguments both for and against choosing the game’s most famous golfer.  Many people would say the smart money bets against Woods in fantasy golf, due to his increasing age and out-sized popularity with casual fans, but in the right circumstances, Woods can offer exceptional value.

Here are some of the pluses to keep in mind when considering Tiger Woods for your fantasy-golf team:

1. He’s Aging, But He’s a Young 38

Tiger Woods has certainly reached the age when most golfers show an obvious amount of physical decline.  Some golfers adjust mentally, others physical; Tiger is one of the few who can do both.

Yes, Tiger’s skills are slowly decreasing, and yes, he’s no longer two strokes a round better on average than any other pro golfer.  He’s also going to have to keep on retooling and readjusting now that his body is showing more and more signs of physical wear and breakdown.  However, Tiger remains virtual unchallenged in pro golf for his ability to go through that process and return to the top of the game.

His overall physical condition means that despite being 38, he’s still a fit 38, and he may have as much as a decade of top-level golf left in his body, barring more serious injury or the simple loss of will to compete.

2. Across-the-Categories Performance in Non-Salary Leagues

Tiger Woods is generally overpriced in salary-cap formats due to his name recognition for casual players, but in a straight draft format, he can often slide to a very attractive spot.  Savvy fantasy-golf players can often overthink themselves, saying, “He’s old, he’s hurt, he puts too much pressure on himself…” and go pick a younger golfer of less ability instead.

Don’t forget to consider the numbers themselves, the most important of which (if not a daily or weekly category) may be all those Vardon Trophies he’s won for low scoring average – on consistently tough courses to boot.  (He won’t win the Vardon in 2014 after having to withdraw from a tourney due to injury, but that’s irrelevant to your drafting needs.)

Then consider that your league probably gives most of its points to subpar holes (birdies, eagles) and consistently high finishes in events.  In 2013, despite the off 2012, Woods still won five events, had several other high finishes, was fourth in birdies per round, 15th in number of holes per eagle – and oh, yeah, he was the number-one rated overall player.

3. Ride Him When He’s Hot

Woods is noted for his ability to run off three or four great events in a row, and he’s also one of a very few golfers who can post a low, low number more than once in a given weekend.  Many golfers can’t seem to follow up a 65 with anything other than a 73, but Woods doesn’t have that problem.

That’s why Woods, when he’s on his game, is one of just a handful of golfers who can win a tournament by five or six or eight shots, and all those extra holes under par can make for a winning fantasy-golf weekend for whoever has him in the lineup.  Few other golfers can close out a tournament in a similar manner – Rory McIlroy being one of the exceptions – so if Woods seems primed for a super weekend, give him a serious look.

4. Pressure in Majors, But Not Elsewhere

The same pressure that Tiger Woods places on himself in golf’s majors might be one of the reasons he’s still stuck on 14 titles, but the flip side is that he doesn’t put as much pressure on himself in non-majors.  The result?  He’s been even tougher in non-majors where he regularly participates than his overall great number would indicate.

This holds particularly true on course where Woods is comfortable and has had considerable previous success.  At Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational), for example, Woods has already won eight times, and would have been the favorite for the ninth in early 2014 had he not been sidelined by his bulging disk.  Woods might not get to Nicklaus’s 18 majors, but with 79 PGA tour wins already, he’s a virtual lock to eclipse Sam Snead’s mark of 83.  And Woods plays fewer events each season than many other PGA pros.

So it’s not a major, and Woods is on the course?  Then you have to consider him for your lineup.

5. Adaptability and Perseverance

The minus side of Tiger’s game is that he’s already had to reconstruct his swing and game on several different occasions, and he’ll likely have to do it again to protect his aging body, particularly his back.  That’s tough for any athlete, especially one nearing 40, but Woods has shown himself to be more mentally suited to this form of challenge than virtually any other athlete, let alone a pro golfer.

So the smart money doesn’t bet against him making another climb up golfing’s performance charts.  Such climbs are always done in skips and jumps, with stages of improvement marked by periods of setback and little gain.  That means if you can time it correctly and add Woods at the right moment, when he’s really honing his game into shape, he can be a great value.

Conclusion

Tiger Woods is often overvalued in general terms, but at the right moments and in certain formats, the best golfer in the game can offer an exceptional value to a fantasy-golf lineup.  The key with Woods as he grows older will be to use him selectively in your lineups.  Done correctly, it can be a “Best of Tiger”-type run… and that in turn can make your fantasy golf lineup a winner.

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5 Reasons You Should Not Draft Tiger Woods

Thinking about selecting Tiger Woods for your fantasy golf lineup?

There are arguments both for and against choosing the game’s most famous golfer.  There are some great reasons to draft Woods, but keep these possible detractors in mind as well:

1. An Increasing Injury Risk

It’s an old truism in golf. Back problems have shortened or lessened great golfing careers more than all other forms of injury combined.  And now Tiger Woods has back problems.  Are they correctible?  The surgeons say yes, and you can bet Tiger will train and re-strengthen his body, for but golfers, back problems never seem to go away completely.  One could ask pros ranging from Phil Mickelson to Freddie Couples to Lee Trevino; in golf, back injuries take their toll.

One thing that’s seldom commented in on his how hard Tiger swings, relative to many other golfers.  That swing itself likely increased his risk of injury.  Now that he’s been injured, it can crop up again at any time.  Woods has had a couple of other dings in recent years as well.  Even when he’s healthy, he now carries a somewhat higher risk, compared with other players, of injuring himself again and dropping from contention or being forced to withdraw.  That little bit of extra risk transfers into slightly worse value in fantasy golf.

2. Beware the Rust and Forget the Majors

Due to injuries, time off, and despite occasional appearances overseas, Tiger Woods just doesn’t play as often as one would think.  He’s spent much of the spring of 2014 on the injury list, but he’s never been much for golf’s year-end “silly season” and he’s only played in three official PGA events since September of 2013, for combined winnings of less than $90,000, a decidedly non-Tigeresque sum.

It’s hard to imagine that when Tiger returns, he’s going to have his old form any time soon.  Maybe he’ll back by the US Open, but probably not.  The British Open?  That’s more likely, but injuries such as Tiger’s typically require six months’ rehabilitation to return to top form.  That leaves only the PGA in early fall, meaning that 2014 is easily odds-on to be another major-less Tiger season.

Adding in all the internal pressure that Tiger seems to place on himself as he chases Jack Nicklaus’s all-time mark of 18 major wins, selecting Tiger for your fantasy team when any of the 2014 majors is on tap just seems to be a low-percentage play.

3. Age Means Inconsistency

Injured or not, golfers play more inconsistently in general as they get older.  At the age of 38, Tiger Woods has entered that area where his physical skills and prowess and pro-athlete timing have begun a subtle decline, no matter how much practice or physical training he puts into his game.  The line older athletes have to walk grows finer and finer; they risk injury by over-training, and if they under-train, parts of their game slide away from top form.

That inconsistency can crop up anywhere, and Woods has already shown that he’s not immune to the bug.  When he first returned to the tour after his long accident/breakup hiatus, the man simply could not hit a wedge pin-high; he went months before he was able to retrain himself to pro standards on that basic pro shot.  His famed stinger is the envy of pros and amateurs alike, but he hits it in part because his traditional driver became so inconsistent that hitting that low driving stinger became the better percentage play.  And his putting – there are some rounds, even some weeks, when he just does not make putts.  The early Tiger drained everything, week after week.

Remember, 38 is 38, golfer or no.  If Tiger was a tennis star, he’d long since have been forced off the pro tour and into exhibitions.  In the NBA he’d be a doddering, stat-padding drag on some team’s salary cap.  Golf allows for longer careers, but his clock is ticking.  Young golfers have a greater upside, and that’s a winning element in fantasy golf.

4. An Increasingly Artificial Swing

Tiger’s a chronic tinkerer with his golf swing, and you can bet he’ll be readjusting it yet again in the hopes of alleviating some of the pressure it places on his back, that may have contributed to his recent injury.  The last time he emerged from a long layoff, his swing was overly mechanical, and it took months for some of his natural fluidity to return.

So what’s wrong with that?  Tiger’s also been committed to a stringent workout regimen, and that’s made him ever more muscular and less wiry and lithe over the years.  Extra muscles, less fluidity, and a mechanical swing is just the recipe for those occasional wild swing yips that can send a ball out of bounds at a key moment, perhaps taking him out of contention in a given tournament in the process.  Recent years have seen Woods fire a few more of those wildly errant shots than in the “Young Tiger’ days, which all contributes to why he’s not as great a fantasy golf value as he once was.

5. The Epitome of Over-Value in Fantasy Golf

Tiger Woods remains the straw that stirs the proverbial drink when it comes to mainstream sports fans’ interest in golf, and that translates directly into fantasy interest.  Woods’ recent back injury was reportedly to have caused an immediate drop of 20% in the total handle of all money bet on professional golf in the weeks surrounding the 2014 Masters.

Many casual fans of golf pay attention only to what Woods is doing, true evidence of his transformation of the game, and that’s why whenever he’s on the course, the cameras follow his every shot.  Now, not all of that 20% share which global bookies attribute to Woods injury-caused sidelining would be directly bet on Tiger, either for or against him, but a good share of it is.

Yes, lots and lots of people bet against Tiger, particularly in fantasy golf, but many others, especially casual players, find it hard to resist that name recognition and marquee allure.  As a result, Tiger Woods is consistently overvalued; he’s fine in traditional drafts, but in a salary-cap format, he’s seldom a good value.  There are times when riding Woods can be worthwhile, particularly at a course where he’s had perennial success, or when he flashes that special “not going to lose” grit that was a larger part of the old Tiger’s makeup.

Conclusion

Having Tiger Woods in your fantasy-golf lineup can be a winning play, but more often than not, the price to obtain him is just too high for the risk involved.  He’s still going to draw plenty of interest, but interest and attention isn’t part of the winning formula for a fantasy-golf owner.

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