Daily Fantasy Golf Preview: PGA Championship

The Course

  • Bethpage Black
  • Farmingdale, NY
  • Par 70
  • 7,432 yards
    • Designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened for play in 1936 – first public course to host a U.S. Open
    • Hosted the 2002 & 2009 U.S. Open and it hosted The Barclays in 2012 & 2016 (first leg of the Fedex Cup Playoffs which is now The Northern Trust)
    • Winners: 2002 was Tiger Woods at -3 (only player under par), 2009 was Lucas Glover at -4, 2012 was Nick Watney at -10, and 2016 was Patrick Reed at -9
    • The 7th hole for The Barclays events was played as a par 5 instead of a par 4, unlike at the U.S. Open, making the course a par 71
    • One of the toughest courses in the country
    • Poa annua greens with poa and rye grass fairways
    • Greens are elevated but don’t have much break to them so they get them rolling pretty fast
    • Long, tough course with five par 4’s playing at 478 yards or longer
    • It’s a fairly open course but it has many large and nasty bunkers (76 total bunkers)
    • The rough is fairly long and penal
    • Weather should start in the low 50’s but climb into the mid 60’s with some wind and little to no rain, but that could change in the coming days
    • There has been plenty of rain so far this year so the ground may play somewhat softer
    • Course could play slightly different now that it’s earlier in the season – especially with the cooler temperature and thicker, healthier grass

Key Stats

  • Birdie or better
  • SG: tee-to-green
    • SG: off-the-tee
  • Par 4 scoring
  • Par 5 scoring
  • Driving distance
  • Bogey avoidance
  • Proximity

The Field

The field is obviously stacked this week with 156 golfers and it will be the first time in Major history that the world’s top 100 golfers are all playing. There are also 20 PGA Professionals including 6 club pros from the New York/New Jersey area who aren’t going to have a chance at finishing high so keep that in mind. John Daly will also be in attendance and he is allowed to use a golf cart this week so that should be pretty fun to watch.

Edit: Monday afternoon Justin Thomas has withdrawn from the tournament with a wrist injury.

Strategy

There are 24 golfers at +100000 to win or higher so those guys, as well as a few others, can be avoided altogether. With the amount of depth in this field I can imagine that people will build more balanced lineups this week so there should be more ownership concentrated in the upper $7,000’s to the lower $9,000.

This is a long course, the conditions will be softer, the rough won’t be as long as it was for the U.S. Opens but it should still be thick, and the temperature will be cooler so I am really targeting bombers this week that also gain strokes off of the tee. Most people will be on this same narrative too so golfers that hit the long ball might also attract a lot of ownership this week.

Big Dogs ($9,000 and up on DK)

Solid (Cash)

  • Dustin Johnson ($11,100 DK – $12,200 FD) – out of the four golfers above $10,000 DJ seems like the safest pick and the most likely to hit high ownership, but like I said, balanced lineups will likely be more popular this week so I don’t see him climbing too high in this field. In each of the last two years he is the number one golfer in my stats model for Bethpage Black and in the last two tournaments there he finished 3rd and 18th back in 2012 and 2016 respectively. Koepka and Rory could steal some ownership away from DJ so I also don’t hate him in GPP lineups.
  • Rickie Fowler ($9,300 DK – $11,100 FD) – Fowler seems to be a popular option this week and is right at the top of the range where many people may decide to start their lineups. Like DJ he has good finishes here with a 24th in 2012 and a 7th place finish in 2016. Out of his last 17 events that had a cut Rickie has made all 17 so I really like his floor this week.
  • Tommy Fleetwood ($9,200 DK – $10,800 FD) – priced right under Fowler, Fleetwood could be another highly owned guy this week. Tommy’s birdie or better percentage is not as good this season where he ranks 128th but his bogey avoidance percentage has him at 11th and his SG: off-the-tee is 4th so his floor is also pretty high. He’s a guy that has been known to catch fire and in the last year he has the highest percentage of rounds that are 5 strokes better than the average in this field so Fleetwood also has a lot of upside (weird stat I know, but it’s something I’ve been tracking).

Risky (GPP)

  • Rory McIlroy ($10,900 DK – $12,100 FD) – with DJ right above him and the defending champ Koepka beneath him, I have a feeling that Rory could go slightly overlooked this week in a deep field where people won’t want to pay up. He also has slightly worse history here with a 24th and 31st place finish in 2012 and 2016; not bad enough to really scare people but not good enough to want to pay $10,900. He’s 2nd behind DJ in my stat model but the best driver on Tour so worth a shot if he becomes a somewhat contrarian play.
  • Justin Rose ($9,900 DK – $11,500 FD) – Rose has been up and down lately finishing in the top 10 in two of his last four events while finishing just outside of 60th place in the other two. He also finished 46th here in 2012 and 31st in 2016 so that tells me that a lot of people will skip past him for other big names that are cheaper. He was the number one golfer in the world early on this year and is still top 20 in SG: tee-to-green while being top 10 in SG: putting so he might be one to think about.
  • Jon Rahm ($9,500 DK – $11,200 FD) – Rahm is a guy that has been on an absolute tear (ten finishes of 12th or better in has last twelve events starting with the Tour Championship) but with his temperament and being priced directly above Rickie, Fleetwood, Xander, and Day I see him going for fairly low ownership. He’s 2nd in SG: off-the-tee and top 20 in SG: tee-to-green, driving distance, birdie or better, bogey avoidance, par 5 scoring, par 4 scoring, and par 3 scoring so he’s exactly what I’m looking for this week — an accurate bomber who is a premier scorer.

Value ($7,400 – $8,900 on DK)

Solid (Cash)

  • Patrick Cantlay ($8,200 DK – $10,100 FD) – Cantlay is well rested coming off of back to back top 10’s including a 9th place finish at the Masters. He is 10th in SG: tee-to-green, 15th in driving distance, 3rd in scrambling, 3rd in bogey avoidance, and 1st in par 4 scoring this year so it kind of surprises me to see him priced this low. I could imagine he goes highly owned in this spot so you won’t have great leverage in GPP’s but he should almost be an automatic Cash play.
  • Sergio Garcia ($7,900 DK – $9,700 FD) – Sergio didn’t do all too great at the Masters (66th) but turned around and finished 4th several weeks later at the Wells Fargo. He also finished 3rd here back in 2012 so his stats are correct when they point to him being a good fit for this course. Sergio is 3rd in SG: approaching-the-green, 14th in SG: tee-to-green, he averages 303 yards per drive and is the 11th best par 5 scorer on Tour this season. With all of that said, I’m guessing he will end up being a fairly popular pick this week.
  • Ian Poulter ($7,600 DK – $9,600 FD) – Poulter is also a great fit for Bethpage Black and is coming off of a 12th place finish at the Masters and 10th place finish at the Heritage the following week. Ian has been a very good all around player this year and is at the bottom of the range that’s going to be chalky this week so I could also see his ownership climbing up this week.

Risky (GPP)

  • Matt Kuchar ($8,700 DK – $10,100 FD) – Kuchar is having one of the best years of his career and is even coming off of some excellent tournaments with a 7th, 12th, and 2nd in his last three events but he has struggled here. His last two times at Bethpage were in 2012 and 2016 where he finished 38th and 64th. He’s also 120th in driving distance so I’m hoping that people will see these two stats and think that it confirms the bomber narrative this week and they avoid Kuch. His distance off of the tee may hurt him but I’m willing to the roll the dice on the rest of his game if he ends up being lower owned.
  • Paul Casey ($8,300 DK – $10,000 FD) – from $7,800 to $8,300 there are eight golfers there that could all receive a decent amount of attention so I’m thinking that there is a chance Casey flies under the radar (especially because he’s the highest priced of those eight). Patrick Reed is priced above him and he won here in 2016 so that could take away some ownership as well. Matsuyama is right above that and he tends to be a popular pick. Casey has missed two of his last four cuts while winning and taking 4th in the other two events so he looks to be a risky pick — but if he goes low owned he could be a great GPP play with a lot of top 5 potential.
  • Webb Simpson ($7,600 DK – $9,800 FD) – Webb has been playing very consistent lately and has four top 20’s in his last five events. That tells me that he might be priced too low for this event which means his ownership could get up there but I’m thinking, like Kuch, the bomber narrative will drive people away. Simpson is 166th on Tour in driving distance this year only averaging 286 yards per drive and is 120th in SG: off-the-tee. He is going to have to be really sharp this week with the rest of his game to compete but if his ownership stays low, he could end up being a very good value pick.

Sleepers ($7,300 and under on DK)

Solid (Cash)

  • Lucas Glover ($7,300 DK – $9,100 FD) – Glover won at this course 10 years ago for the U.S. Open, that in itself will probably make him a popular pick at $7,300. He’s had five finishes in the top 15 in his last eight tournaments and has had one of the best tee to green games all year. But at the PLAYERS Championship in that same stretch (the biggest event he’s played in all year) he finished 116th, so does Lucas get a case of the jitters on the big stage?
  • Jhonattan Vegas ($7,100 DK – $8,400 FD) – Jhonny Vegas has been playing well for quite a while now, 7 out of 8 events since the Waste Management he’s finished in the top 30, and he seems to be a good fit for this course. He’s 18th in driving distance, 8th in SG: off-the-tee, and has vastly improved his short game where he’s 29th in SG: around-the-green. Back in 2016 he even finished 22nd on this course so I expect Vegas to continue his hot streak at the PGA Championship.
  • Thomas Pieters ($7,000 DK – $8,700 FD) – this season Pieters only has six starts on Tour but hasn’t finished worse than 30th in any of them including a 23rd place finish last week at the Byron Nelson. Last year at the PGA Championship he finished T6 and the only other Major he played in that year was The Open where he finished T28. It would seem that $7,000 is fairly cheap for a guy that has shown so much consistency no matter what event he’s in.

Risky (GPP)

  • Keegan Bradley ($7,200 DK – $9,500 FD) – I would typically put Keegan in the Cash play category but I think his ownership might be somewhat lower this week so you could use him either way. At the Barclays in 2012 and 2016 at Bethpage he finished 76th and 53rd so I think that might keep his ownership low but Keegan is great tee to green and even won a PGA Championship back in 2011. He hasn’t finished better than 43rd in his last three starts so there isn’t much buzz around but I think he might be due to surprise people.
  • Aaron Wise ($7,100 DK – $8,500 FD) – Aaron Wise was the flavor of the month but this week I haven’t heard much chatter about him. He had two top 20’s at the Masters and Wells Fargo but last week when he was defending his win at the Byron Nelson he ended up in 43rd place. He’s good off of the tee, getting to the green, and finding low numbers so I’m back on him this week.
  • Eddie Pepperell ($6,900 DK – $8,400 FD) – I originally had Charles Howell III here because with back to back missed cuts and a WD coming into this event with a supposed neck injury I thought no one would be on him but it looks like I might’ve been wrong. So I went to Eddie Pepperell who has made five straight cuts on Tour since the WGC-Mexico with a 3rd at the PLAYERS and a 16th at his most recent event, the Heritage. His sample size on the PGA isn’t great but Eddie has shown that he’s not afraid of the spotlight.

Dark Horses

Solid (Cash)

  • Ryan Fox ($6,600 DK – $7,000 FD) – there are several European Tour golfers priced extremely low on FanDuel and one of my favorites is Ryan Fox. Out of the three Majors he played in last year (The U.S. Open, The Open, and the PGA Championship) his worst finish was T41. Also since 2015, Fox has played in a total of nine Majors and WGC’s and he has made the cut in eight of them; so he might be a steal for that price tag.
  • Scott Piercy ($6,500 DK – $8,100 FD) – after Piercy’s recent performances he will probably get a lot of looks this far down. Last week he shot all four rounds bogey free and reached -21 but ultimately fell short to Sung Kang. He was 2nd there and at the Heritage several weeks earlier he finished 3rd so it’s hard to pass up a guy at $6,500 who is this hot.
  • Troy Merritt ($6,200 DK – $7,600 FD) – Merritt ended up in 53rd place at the Byron Nelson last week after an opening round 65. He blew up in the second round shooting +3 but closed out 68 and 69. If he manages to shoot a 69 in the second round instead of a 74 he would have slid into the top 20. He appears to be golfing fairly well since his surgery and looks like a good fit for this course so at $6,200 there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll end up rostering him.

Risky (GPP)

  • Abraham Ancer ($6,600 DK – $8,900 FD) – Ancer might be falling off of people’s radars having only finishing better than 39th once in his last nine events. He’s a sneaky good fit for Bethpage ranking inside the top 40 in SG: off-the-tee, driving accuracy, proximity, scrambling, birdie or better, bogey avoidance, and par 4 scoring. I’m going to trust his long term form and his ability to find top 10’s in the last year over his recent struggles.
  • Chez Reavie ($6,600 DK – $8,400 FD) – Reavie ranks 166th in driving distance this season so way down here I’m guessing he might get completely overlooked this week. He’s quietly coming off of back to back top 30’s and his last time here in 2016 was a 31st place finish so he has shown he can navigate a long course with his accuracy off of the tee (2nd). I don’t really expect big things from Chez but another top 30 would definitely be worth it for this price.
  • David Lipsky ($6,500 DK – $7,900 FD) – Lipsky had a win in December on the European Tour at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. He’s been playing some good golf this year outside of that as well; at the Abu Dhabi he was 16th, at the Saudi International he was 24th, at the WGC-Mexico he was 10th, and at the Corales Punta Cana he finished 22nd.

 

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Mark Lee

Written by 

Detroit sports fan, also sufferer of seasonal depression (the two might be related). Avid golfer and former college baseball player. Would've been in the league if it weren't for my lack of ability. Accountant by day, fantasy sports guru by night.