THREE PUTT AT US OPEN BRINGS FANTASY FORTUNE to FIRST TIME DRAFT KINGS PLAYER
By Terry Lyons, Contributing Columnist, The Daily Payoff
A Father’s Day summer evening turned into night and golf fans around the world surely shook their heads in disbelief when the 17th and 18th holes at Chambers Bay brought about the strangest of finishes to the 115th United States Open golf championship. The four-day tournament was near its conclusion and the prime time US television audience stayed glued to their High-Def TV sets which delivered the grimaces of PGA Tour pros Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson into the living rooms of many casual sports fans, some longing for a Game 7 of the completed NBA or NHL seasons but left with nothing else to watch but the major golf championship.
What those primetime Fox Sports viewers couldn’t see or feel as the sun set near the Puget Sound were the heart palpitations pulsing through Carl Bassewitz, a veteran sports industry good-guy who was playing Draft Kings PGA Millionaire-maker daily fantasy game for the very first time. Bassewitz, watching on his TV, a half continent away from the action, double and triple-checked the scores of his six player fantasy team that he selected. His lineup featured Spieth but not Johnson, and also included, Louis Oosthuizen (T-2), Kevin Kisner (T-12), Tony Finau and Patrick Reed (T-14) and Jason Dufner (T-18).
That “fantasy team” combination delivered Bassewitz to the dream world of all fantasy sports players, as he turned a single $20 entry fee into a cool $1 Million dollar prize. In doing so, Bassewitz outlasted 143,000 entrants who ponied-up the $20 fee with hopes of a $1 million when they chose their lineups for six golfers, staying under a $50,000 cap, as per usual in the Draft Kings golf game. One such player, the second place finisher who is only known as “Headchopper” who is known as a professional in the fantasy sports world, needed Johnson to finish ahead of Spieth. But Johnson’s improbable three-putt on the 72nd hole of the tournament gave the U.S. Open title and its $1.8 million first place purse to Spieth, while delivering a cool mil to Bassewitz and a not-so-paltry $877,144 runner-up prize to both Johnson and Oosthuizen.
When reality set in, Bassewitz realized he’d made more money than the U.S. Open runner-ups!
“I had heard a lot about the Daily Fantasy sports craze and figured I’d give it a try,” said Bassewitz to The Daily Payoff in an exclusive interview, his first since being officially notified by Draft Kings that he was the lone prize winner. “I wanted to know exactly how it worked, so I entered a team.
“Spieth was my first choice, but I’d been following the PGA Tour pretty closely, just as a fan, and I liked the way Kisner was playing. Reed is one of my personal favorites and fellow Texan and Finau had been playing great of late and I’d followed him since seeing him play on the Big Break on Golf Channel. To win at these games, you definitely need some skill and some insight into how the players can compete on any particular golf course. I’ve always been a fan of Duff (Jason Dufner) and I really thought he was due and, overall, I thought the guys I picked could hold up under the pressure and the conditions at Chambers Bay.
“Oosthuizen was the key pick, for me, and I’ve followed him since the 2013 Masters which I was fortunate enough to actually attend.”
Bassewitz and one of his friends each were watching from home on Saturday, during the third round of the tournament when Finau carded a 74 and Reed wrote down a 76 in his score pad, making the longtime sports industry executive think his entry was pretty much cooked. But just as Reed and Finau fell on the leaderboard, Oosthuizen climbed up with consecutive 66’s on Friday and Saturday, giving the fantasy entry new hope.
“I went out to get some lunch and my Draft Kings app told me I’d dropped down to something like 750th place. I thought it was over. Then on Sunday, my friend started charting the other entries online and he texted me to say, ‘I think you have a chance at a Top 10, maybe a Top 3!”
The roller-coaster ride struck bottom for Bassewitz when he watched Spieth double-bogey the 17th hole Par 3 at Chambers Bay, the ramifications of his three-putt from within 40-feet just sending pain through Bassewitz as he watched helplessly and figuring Spieth and Johnson would end in a tie to force an 18-hole playoff on Monday.
In order to win the tournament and a $1M, Bassewitz needed Dustin Johnson to miss, not just once but twice. If there was a playoff, he would have lost. The putt was essentially for $900,000 as Draft Kings’ second place finish was worth $100,000
“When Dustin Johnson missed that last putt, I was stunned and in shock and didn’t think it was real,” said Bassewitz. “My phone was blowing up with my friends from around the country. It didn’t sink in until I was contacted by Draft Kings about 30 minutes after the US Open trophy presentation to Spieth.
“This is something my father would have loved as he taught me a lot about the game when I was growing up. This is the second best Father’s Day I’ve ever had,” said Bassewitz, referring to best day, when his son, a recent college graduate, was born. “Think about it, on June 11th, I entered this fantasy tournament with one $20 team and now I’m a millionaire.”
Yes, a good guy from within the sports industry and a first-time daily fantasy player is now a millionaire, thanks to a wild finish at the US open and a Dustin Johnson three-putt, but more importantly, the daily fantasy fortune was awarded to a guy who has his priorities straight.