You know those D-list reality-show stars? Vanilla Ice, Snooki, Scott Baio, a Housewife, a third-level Kardashian, and so on. But hey, don't knock 'em – there's an audience.
That's right. During this time, when virtually no sports are being played, there is an audience for what could be considered the D-list of sports: mini tour golf. That audience naturally consists of bettors, and of course, daily fantasy sports players.
This week, while almost all of us were staying at home starving for sports, DraftKings began featuring Showdown contests for something called the Outlaw Tour, which is based in Arizona. DraftKings is planning to offer contests for the final three tournaments of the Outlaw Tour's 22-event season, all of them being two- or three-round, midweek affairs. One of the wildest aspects of this is the fact gamers can and will win more prize money than the golfers.
Cejka is probably the best-known golfer to have played on the Outlaw Tour this season. The 49-year-old Czech, who lives in Las Vegas, has five career wins across the PGA and European Tours. He took part earlier this week in the 80-player Orange Tree Classic in Scottsdale (Tuesday through Thursday) and finished sixth. Carson Roberts, a 24-year-old Arkansas native who did not make a cut in six Mackenzie Tour appearances last season, took home the $4,500 winner's check from a total purse of – get this – $21,150. And that's one of the larger ones.
Riley Wheeldon, the Tour's leading money winner this season and also in 2018, was in the field. Also entered were Thomas Lehman, son of former world No. 1 Tom Lehman, and KK Limbhasut, who played collegiately at Cal and who qualified for the Farmers Insurance Open in January but missed the cut.
For those wondering about social distancing and related matters, the Outlaw Tour's website said that flagsticks had to stay in the hole and that there were no rakes for bunkers at the 6,739-yard, par-72 Orange Tree Golf Resort. Curiously enough, if you take a look at the Outlaw Tour's logo, you'll see it's perfect for these social-distancing times.
To play in these tournaments, one might infer that a golfer is desperate, or bored. The same could be said of the DFS gamers. Keep in mind that not only can you not watch these tournaments if you are not at the course, you can't even follow them live on DraftKings – there is no live scoring. DraftKings scores only update at the end of each round and, since each contest right now is only of the single-round Showdown variety, you have no idea how your team is doing until play finishes. Of course, that may take away some of the stress of non-stop staring at your screen for updates. Some live scores can be viewed on the Outlaw Tour's website, where they appear to update scores every nine holes.
Otherwise, it's pretty much like playing Showdown for a PGA or European Tour event – six golfers, $50,000 salary cap, etc. Points for eagles, birdies and pars, minus-points for bogeys, doubles, etc. There are also points for streaks and bonuses: at least three straight birdies, a bogey-free round and a hole-in-one.
The next Outlaw tournament begins Monday. DraftKings had 24 Showdown games posted for the first round of the Arrowhead Classic in Glendale, Ariz. The entry fees ranged from 10 cents, which returns $40 for winning a 4,756-person contest, to $5,300, which returns $12,000 for winning what is only a four-person contest. That's more than any winner's check this year and more than Wheeldon earned – remember, he topped the Money List – in the entire 2018 season. Unfortunately, at posting time, DraftKings had not yet released its list of prices for the Arrowhead event.
There is indeed one tricky aspect about Outlaw Tour contests: it's difficult to determine which golfers are the best. In PGA contests, much is known about nearly every golfer in every field. To help, some stats are available on the Outlaw Tour's website, including some important ones: scoring average; birdie average; total eagles; and par-3, par-4 and par-5 scoring. But candidly, this Tour appears so fly-by-night in terms of who plays and how often that it's hard to glean any real good data.
What we mean is, it's hard to know who could just decide to pop in, as an apparently bored-at-home Cejka just did. With no other real options at the moment, more golfers could do likewise.
Others who have teed it up at least once this season are former PGA Tour card holder Charlie Beljan, who peaked at No. 64 in the OWGR; Calum Hill, a 26-year-old Scot now ranked 136th in the world; Nick Cantlay, younger brother of Patrick; and Anna Nordqvist, a two-time LPGA major winner who might be an even bigger name than Cejka. But it was Harkins who won the top payday of the season – $7,000 for capturing the Papago Winter Classic, which had a purse of $42,400.
One more golfer to note is former PGA Tour golfer Ted Purdy, who was in the field at the WMO Prep – Moon Valley CC in January. He finished sixth and took home all of $375. Purdy, you may recall, won the 2005 Byron Nelson by one shot over Sean O'Hair. For that, he took home $1.116 million.
So who is good? Well, Wheeldon is having the best season. He leads at $17,566, having won the Moon Valley Classic last month to go along with a runner-up and two other top-fives, including at the Orange Classic. The 29-year-old is a Canadian who plays mostly on the Mackenzie Tour, with one top-10 last year, but he has also played in some PGA Tour events. Sam Triplett is second at $13,533 thanks to one tournament win and Roberts is now third on the money list.
But be cautious when analyzing winnings. Wheeldon, Triplett and Roberts have played in only eight or nine tournaments, and many of the golfers have played in only one or two. There was the one tournament that Harkins won with a purse of more than $40,000. But at that WMO Prep, the entire purse was $4,850 and the winner collected all of $1,100.
So, what's a good way to play? Check out the stats, of course. And take a good look at the field to see if a Harkins or a Cejka or a Purdy decides to show up. But it's not like you'll have any inside info. Cejka was staring everyone in the face at the very top of the DK board last week at a Rory-like $11,000.
Maybe none of that really matters, because when you are hankering for golf, and for daily fantasy contests, you may simply want to play for the fun of it.
And right now, the Outlaw Tour on DraftKings is the only game in town.