In an effort to provide as much insight as possible for the final major of the year, we also brought on Kenny Kim to discuss this week’s PGA Championship. Good luck to all!
The PGA Championship is upon us and will be played at Whistling Straits, a 7790 yard Par 72 course in Kohler, Wisconsin. At first glance, the course looks like a links course with Lake Michigan bordering 8 holes and bringing with it constant 10+ mph winds. It also has large undulating greens with bunkers in play on almost every shot on the course. The fairways will be tight and the rough will be thick with high fescue grass everywhere. Depending on the lie, if golfers hit it in the rough off the tee, there is a chance that they wont be able to reach the green with their approach. The reason it isn’t a links course is because the greens will be much more receptive to golf balls, so golfers will be able to hit their approaches higher and more at the pin than they would on a true links course. Early word is that the greens are soft but that could change as the week goes by.
Stats To Look For
Looking at the description of the course above, a few key stats stand out to me as important for picking your DraftKings lineup during this week’s PGA Championship. They are listed in order of importance with the most important first.
Driving Accuracy (DA):
I think Driving Accuracy will be the most important stat of the week. Narrow fairways, heavy penalizing rough, and many bunkers make it a necessity to hit the fairway off the tee. Longer hitters will have an advantage even if they drive the ball into the rough because they will have shorter irons in their hands on the approach, so I have no problem if you use Driving Distance as an important stat, but the more a golfer misses the fairway this week, the more likely they are going to put up a big number. Thus, accuracy off the tee will be key.
Proximity from 200+ yards and Overall Proximity:
Proximity from the hole on approach shots are important every week. Due to the length of the course and the fact that many golfers might not hit driver off the tee (because of the penalizing rough), many approach shots will be from the 200 yard range making Proximity from 200+ an important stat when picking your golfers this week.
Strokes Gained Putting and Strokes Gained Tee 2 Green (SG:T2G, SG:P):
You should be using these two stats every week to help you make the right decision when it comes to your DraftKings lineups.
Sand Saves % and Scrambling (SS%):
Bunkers are everywhere at Whistling Straights. Making par from these bunkers will be a deciding factor on who does well and who doesn’t. Also with the thick rough, many greens will be missed so getting it up and down for par will be important as well.
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
Of the four Par 5s at Whistling Straits, hole No.5 will be the only one that will be difficult to reach in two. A total of twelve reachable par 5s in four rounds can move golfers up the leaderboard quickly.
3 Putt Avoidance (3PA): This is another stat I will be paying close attention to this week when picking golfers for my DraftKings lineup. The greens are huge and with the thick rough, if you miss on your tee shot the approach can land anywhere on these vast, undulating greens. Every golfer will have multiple 50+ foot putts this week and avoiding 3 putts will be huge.
So with all that in mind I will be writing about a few golfers who I feel comfortable using in my lineups this week that are UNDER $9800 on DraftKings. These golfers will be the core of all my lineups this week. I will also give you some value picks (under $7000) to help you fill out your roster. All the golfers $9800 and ABOVE (Fowler, Watson, Rose, Scott, Day, D Johnson, McIlroy, and Spieth) have a legitimate shot at winning and can be used in any of your lineups this week. My favorite out of this group would be Justin Rose with Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth right behind. Rose was number 1 in Driving Accuracy last week and has been playing some great golf lately. He has finished 3rd, 4th, 6th, 27th, and 2nd in his last 5 starts on Tour. He has missed the cut the last two times at Whistling Straits but he was not playing as well as he is now. Bubba was the runner up at the last PGA Championship played at Whistling Straights. He has struggled at Majors recently but he seems to play well in courses that he has had success at in the past. Case in point, Augusta National. He is also playing solid golf right now with two second place finishes and a win in his last 5 starts. If he can hit a lot of fairways off the tee this week expect him to be in contention for the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. Spieth is Spieth. He has shown he can pull out a victory anytime, anywhere. Personally I am avoiding Rory and Dustin Johnson in cash game lineups but I might use them in a couple of GPPs. Now on to my picks.
Henrik Stenson ($9700): Stenson is a safe cash game play almost every week. He has made every cut this year on Tour and he has finished Top 6 in 2 out of his last 3 starts. He also has been playing well in tournaments with deep fields. He finished 6th at Bridgestone, 40th at The Open, 27th at The U.S. Open, 17th at The Players, 19th at The Masters, and 4th at the WGC Cadillac. Playing against the best in the world doesn’t faze him. His stats for the course are solid. He’s 5th in DA, 6th in SG:T2G, 12th in SG:P, 51st in P5 scoring, and 19th in Proximity (200+). His Scrambling stats leave room to be desired but with his strong accuracy and putting he should be able to overcome it. Pencil him in for a Top 15 finish with upside.
Zach Johnson ($8400): The Open champion is playing some of the best golf of his life recently. He’s made his last 8 cuts with five Top 20s and of course a victory at St. Andrews. He also finished 3rd at Whistling Straits in 2010 and 37th in 2004 so he has good course history. Stat wise he’s 3rd in DA, 13th in SG:T2G, 18th in P5 scoring, 35th in SS%, and 31st in 3PA. He’s not that long off the tee but as you can see by his 18th in P5 scoring, lack of length doesn’t bother him. If his putter is consistent, he can contend for the win.
Jim Furyk ($8100): Furyk has been quoted this week saying that Whistling Straits doesn’t suit his game. I’m not buying it. I faded Zach Johnson at The Open because he said the same thing about St. Andrews and we all know how that went. Furyk finished 24th in 2010 at Whistling Straits and he has three Top 5s in his last 5 starts. He’s 7th in SG:T2G, 11th in DA, 2nd in overall Proximity, 15th in Proximity (200+), and 19th in Scrambling. Furyk often fades on Sunday’s but this should not deter you from using him this week. He rarely ever misses a cut and he has Top 10 potential every time he takes the course. With his price point, a victory by Jim is not necessary to reach value.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8000): Personally I think last week was an aberration. This guy is too good and too consistent to let last week’s performance fade him from your lineups this week. If anything his poor performance last week might lower his ownership making him a more valuable play this week. He has made 18/19 cuts this year with three Top 20s in Majors including a 5th place finish at The Masters. His stats for the course are strong and he’s 1st in SG:T2G. A big victory is coming for him and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was this week.
Brooks Koepka ($7800): This young bomber has made 14/16 cuts this year with six Top 10s and two Top 20 finishes in the last two Majors including a 10th place finish at The Open. Real consistent numbers and with a $7800 price tag he is a steal. He’s 36th in SG:T2G, 10th in SG:P, 8th in DD, 5th in P5 scoring, and 2nd in Proximity (175+ yds) which I think will be more important than the Proximity from 200+ yds because of his length. He will be very highly owned but another Top 10 this week would not surprise me and having a bunch of chalk players with one low owned golfer could be the right play this week for the Milly Maker.
Patrick Reed ($7600): Reed will be another highly owned golfer that will be worth adding into your lineups regardless. He’s made 20/22 cuts and finished Top 22 in all three Majors this year. He’s 38th in SG:T2G, 14th in SG:P, 27th in P5 scoring, 26th in Scrambling, 47th in SS%, and 35th in 3PA. If he can keep his tee shot on the fairway look for him to make some noise this week.
Paul Casey ($7400): After a couple of lean years Paul Casey is having a pretty decent season. He has made 12 out of his last 13 cuts including all three Majors and a 6th place finish at The Masters to boot. Last time out at Whistling Straits he finished 13th and his stats for the course are very good. He’s 11th in SG:T2G, 58th in DA, 24th in P5 scoring, 15th in overall Proximity, and 21st in Proximity (200+). I think he will make the cut and if he can get his putter going, he could fare well this week.
Kevin Kisner ($7300): Kisner didn’t have the best tournament last week but he did finish with a 68 on Sunday. I think he struggled a bit with the firm greens and his lack of distance. That shouldn’t be a problem this week with the softer, more receptive greens at Whistling Straits. He has made 10 of his last 11 cuts with numerous Top 10s. He also finished 12th at the U.S. Open, 8th at The Memorial, and 2nd at The Players so he can keep up with the big boys. His stats are very strong, especially for his $7200 price tag. He’s 13th in DA, 43rd in SG:T2G, 46th in SG:P, 27th in P5 scoring, 60th in Proximity (200+), 9th in Scrambling, 39th in SS%, and 12th in 3PA. Kisner’s form is not as strong as it was earlier this year but he is a Top 10 player this week using my stats for the course.
David Lingmerth ($7300): Lingmerth is one of the hotter golfers on Tour at the moment. He has made his last 6 cuts with FOUR Top 6s during that span. He has good stats for this week as well. He’s 43rd in DA, 63rd in SG:T2G, 60th in P5 scoring, 52nd in Scrambling, 42nd in SS%, and 17th in 3PA. He missed a bunch of cuts earlier in the season so there is some risk here but I think his current form is strong enough to make him playable this week.
Webb Simpson ($7200): If this guy could make a putt he’d be one of the top guys on Tour. His stats outside of putting are sick. Webb is 20th in DA, 9th in SG:T2G, 4th in P5 scoring, 16th in Proximity (200+), 24th in Scrambling, and 16th in SS%. If you take only these stats into account he is the number 1 golfer stat wise on my list. Even with the ailing putter he has made 13/16 cuts this year and made the cut in all three Majors. If his putting magically gets better, he can win this tournament. Odds are against this but I still think he makes the cut.
Danny Willett ($7200): This Englishman is having himself one hell of a season on the Euro Tour. He’s 2nd in the Race to Dubai and is currently ranked 24th in the world. He has played well in deep fields this year finishing 6th at The Open, 38th at The Masters, 12th at the WGC Cadillac, and 17th last week at Bridgestone. He won two weeks ago at the European Masters as well. Stats for Euro players are hard to come by but he is 9th in Stroke Average, 21st in GIR, 30th in Putts per Round, and 15th in SS% on the Euro Tour. He might not be well known but I think he makes the cut and finishes in the Top 30 at worst.
Kevin Na ($7100): Kevin Na is having his most consistent year on Tour ever. He’s made 18/21 cuts with six Top 10s and a 12th place finish at Augusta. His stats for the course are just average but he is number 1 is SS% which could help this week at bunker laden Whistling Straits. I think he will be great for cash games because of his low price tag and his propensity to make cuts.
Danny Lee ($7100): Another player that is currently playing the best golf of his life. In his last four made cuts he has finished 6th, 4th, 3rd, and 1st. He hasn’t played the best in tournaments with deep fields but he did finish 6th last week at Bridgestone, where 48 of the top 50 golfers in the world played. His stats are mostly average but his Proximity and Putting stats are very high. Ride the hot hand this week and feel free to use him in any of your lineups.
Brendon Todd ($7000): Todd has had a pretty good year but he stunk up the course last week shooting 10 over with a 76 on Sunday. He destroyed a lot of my lineups last week but with PGA DFS you need to have a short memory. His stats for the course are very strong for his price tag. He’s 7th in DA, 48th in SG:T2G, 4th in SG:P, 28th in Proximity, 17th in Scrambling, and 11th in SS%. I think he makes the cut and if he can mentally shake off his closing 76 from last week, I can see him on the leaderboard on Sunday.
Robert Streb ($6800): In my opinion Streb is the safest play under $7000 this week. He will be highly owned but for good reason. He has made his last nine cuts with three Top 5s including last week at the Bridgestone. He is also second on Tour in Top 10s with eight. His stats are average for the course but as long as he can keep the majority of his drives on the fairway he has a very high likelihood of making the cut and performing well this week.
Francisco Molinari ($6800): The Italian is another golfer who underperformed last week. Because of this he might be lower owned than he should be. A definite plus if you use him in GPPs. He’s 1st in DA, 20th in SG:T2G, 47th in P5 scoring, 38th in Proximity, and 36th in 3PA. All great numbers for a $6800 golfer. Molinari made the cut in both Majors he has played in this year and finished 33rd the last time out at Whistling Straits. He is another golfer who I think has a big win coming.
John Bohn ($6700): I think he has less upside than the two previous golfers mentioned but he has been playing well as of late. He has made 7 out of his last 8 cuts with five Top 13 finishes during that span. His stats for the course are very strong. He’s 4th in DA, 41st in SG:T2G, 37th in SG:P, 51st in P5 scoring, 3rd in overall Proximity, 8th in Proximity (200+), 30th in Scrambling, and 2nd in 3PA. The only worry I have about him is that he hasn’t played in many tournaments with deep fields and the ones he has played in, he has not fared well. Because of his stats and current form, I will be using him in a lineup or two.
Steven Bowditch ($6600): After shooting an 82 during the final round at the Quicken Loans he came back nicely with a 12th place finish at Firestone last week. His stats are average but he is 2nd in Scrambling on Tour and he is used to putting on large undulating greens since he is from Australia. After shooting the lowest round of the tournament last week (63), Bowditch said in an interview that he “found” his swing. Hopefully he hasn’t lost it and makes the cut this week. He has upside so using him in GPPs makes sense.
Marc Warren ($6500): This guy loves America. He’s made 6/7 cuts in the U.S. and almost all of them have been in tournaments with deep fields. Throw in a 4th place finish at the Scottish Open and you realize that playing against the big dogs does not make him falter. He has finished Top 40 in both Majors played this year which is solid for his cheap price tag. Once again, finding stats for Euro players is tough but he is 20th in Stroke Average, 2nd in Putts per Round, and 25th in SS% on the Euro Tour. Warren also averages 65 fantasy points per made cut in the United States. Very good for a $6500 golfer.
Pat Perez ($6000): If you are looking for a super cheap golfer to fill your Studs and Duds lineup, Pat Perez might be your guy. He’s made his last 10 cuts on Tour and has very good stats for his price. He’s 40th in DA, 70th in SG:T2G, 45th in SG:P, 90th in P5 scoring, 46th in overall Proximity, 87th in Scrambling, and 68th in 3PA. The main worry I have about him is his lack of experience, at least this year, in big tournaments. This will be his first Major played in 2015 but he still makes for a quality punt play.