Each week in this column, you’ll find my favorite pivot plays in DraftKings tournaments. This isn’t to say to eat some of the chalk, sometimes the popular plays tend to be popular for good reason, and you should use some of those players in your lineups. Remember, never pivot off of a good play to a bad play just because they’re projected to be lower owned. That’s moronic. A shrinking of a lower-owned play or two, however, can grant you a lot of leverage in what a mostly coin flip situations.
Joaquin Niemann ($10,400)
While Hideki Matsuyama will be far and away the lowest-owned of the expensive players at the 2021 Sony Open, Niemann will be unowned enough to provide a lot of high-end leverage. Webb Simpson, Daniel “how’s your” Berger and Sungjae Im are projected to all be over double Niemann’s ownership, and Niemann is a terrific fit for this venue. Fresh off a playoff loss a week ago, Niemann’s elite ball striking didn’t dip entering the new year, and at least through one event, he’s been at to sustain his improved short game. It’s all going to come down to putting. On the surface his T57 at last year’s Sony isn’t very good, but it was all fueled by a horrendous -7.3 SG: PUTT. While not a good putter generally, that’s still the worst result of his career, by a full stroke. That has covered up how good he was tee to green a year ago, though. Niemann actually finished top 10 in the field in both SG: T2G and in ball striking.
Billy Horschel ($8,600)
This entire $8,000 range on DraftKings is filled with a lot of the same players. We know Horschel excels more at shorter Bermuda courses than anywhere else, and everyone is just skipping past his name. Glancing at last week’s stats wouldn’t put you on Billy Ho. In fact, looking back at his last few months of 2020, his approach stats would actively put you off of him. But like Kevin Kisner (projected for triple Horschel’s ownership) there are only so many events where they can truly contend outside of a flukily putting week, and the Sony Open is one of those events.
Carlos Ortiz ($7,500)
So much is made of the “played last week” narrative as it pertains to the Sony Open. But the masses only want to target the players who did well. Kapalua is notoriously rough on first-timers, and Ortiz was no exception. I’m just happy he played. Now, devoid of ownership, Ortiz returns to a venue where he’s made the cut the last two years, with a win and T8 in two of his last three starts, able to provide substantial upside in a price range DraftKings players are actively avoiding.