Fantasy Golf

2017 PGA Championship DFS Golf Outlook

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Golf’s final major finally makes its way to the forefront after an eventful season. For some, the stakes include adding to their major list en route to a career Grand Slam. For others, the quest to win their first and automatically qualify for the other majors is incredibly motivating. No matter the reason, it is my belief that the competitiveness of this field will be second to none to any other event this year.

We have got a ton to get to here, so I won’t bore you with incoherent rambling that would make Billy Madison proud. In fact, that might not even be the only Adam Sandler movie reference! With that added suspense, it’s now time to analyze the course and talk about some players that will win us money in DFS this week!

2017 PGA Championship DFS Golf Outlook

Course Preview

Quail Hollow ClubCharlotte, NC
Par72
Rating77.2
Slope148
Length7,442 yds
GreensChampion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass
WeatherMostly Rainy, 84°F
Purse$10MM

Key Statistics

  1. Strokes Gained: Approaching-the-Green
  2. Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  3. Ball Striking
  4. Birdie or Better Percentage: 200+ yards
  5. Bounce Back

The Strokes Gained statistics are going to be common in these rundowns. The importance of those two is obvious, so I won’t spend any time on that. Between the four Strokes Gained stats, I pick the two most tied to success on the course. See the ‘Recent History’ section below for more details.

I honestly couldn’t select just one statistic between driving distance, driving accuracy, and greens-in-regulation this week. Thank goodness for ball striking. All three are going to be vital, which seems obvious admittedly. However, I didn’t want to leave myself in the cold by narrowing down my selection too much.

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I noticed a common trend while surveying the land on online tours. Long Par 4’s and Par 3’s dominate the course. So while I was vague with the ball striking statistic, I decided to be very specific on the yardage selections for one of my stats. I’m anxious to see how this turns out in my statistical value chart.

Also, I threw in the ‘bounce back’ statistic to recognize the importance of staying mentally tuned in after a bad hole. This was not a ploy to mention the hype track produced by Big Sean this year, however catchy it may be.

Recent History

The following table shows the top 10 over the last three years at this course. I calculated z-scores for each player based on their finishes each year and summed them up. Then, I included all players who made the cut in the Wells Fargo Championship in two of the past three years in this chart. I will total the two best results from each player to compare to the field. The hope is that this chart displays the type of player that succeeds at this course.

Playerz-2014z-2015z-2016Total
Rory McIlroy2.901.013.90
Justin Rose1.661.433.09
Phil Mickelson1.441.212.64
Danny Lee0.990.641.63
Gary Woodland1.210.371.58
J.B. Holmes-0.792.281.49
Brendan Steele0.550.831.38
Robert Streb1.210.161.36
Kevin Chappell0.450.791.25
Rickie Fowler1.44-0.261.17

All but one of these golfers rate poorly on strokes gained approaching-the-green and around-the-green in 2017. This verifies the ‘Key Statistics’ above and downplays the importance of putting this week. The greens are in fantastic shape and have been recently renovated to a top class surface. The course has certainly gained length, but I have accounted for this in the other statistics.

Golfers to Own

Jordan Spieth, $10200

Yes, homeboy is a bit of a nutcase. But this nutcase is someone I want to ride or die with at the moment!

The Claret Jug winner had another win at the Travelers Championship along with a T2 at Dean & Deluca. He played well last week despite just (‘just’ relative to his recent work) a T13 finish at Bridgestone. There’s absolutely no discussion between him and Dustin Johnson in the $10000 range. There’s another player in that range that we will discuss later. Until then, Spieth is the guy to own right now.

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Hideki Matsuyama, $8800

When the Hideki train gets rolling, either hop on or move out of the bleeping way! After a T2 at the U.S. Open and a T14 at The Open, we saw how dominant Matsuyama can be any given week with a win at Bridgestone. I mean, really? A five shot win after a final round 61? Damn, son!

He’s starting to regain early season form and we all saw what he was able to do at the beginning of the year. I actually have Matsuyama as my winner this week. I know it’s not always smart to pick back-to-back winners, but he usually rides hot streaks well. He has finished first and second in consecutive weeks twice this season and should have no problem navigating his way to another top 10 finish at least this week.

Daniel Berger, $7100

Outside of an inexplicable missed cut at the U.S. Open, Berger has been money in the bank. He’s been consistently finishing toward the top of the leaderboard throughout the 2016-2017 season.While the breakout has actually happened, FanDuel ain’t respecting the game. He remains in the mid range for salaries. The next player on this list is another nice player in this section, but check out the rest of the crew. Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen are low ceiling plays. Thomas Pieters has potential, but he’s not on the same level as Berger. Matthew Fitzpatrick at $5700? Get out of here!

Just use common sense and plug Berger in wherever you can.

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Tony Finau, $7000

Can someone say ‘en Fuego’? Or, as the kids today would say, ‘fire emoji’?

Finau has been awesome since missing the cut at The Players Championship. He’s averaged a top 20 finish in nine events and is only getting better over that time frame. He finished T27 at The Open, which signals his ability to play in wet conditions. In the two starts sandwiched outside of that one, he finished top 10. Things are finally coming around for the 27-year-old. Just call him Fuego Finau!

What about the style of play? He certainly has the length for any track, but what about the other factors? Well, I’m glad you asked that because he rates very well on the stats chart. He is in the top third in all the categories and even boasts a top 10 in birdie percentage from over 200 yards out and ball striking. He is a favorite of mine in tournament lineups, but I’m also not afraid to play him in cash games given his recent string of success.

Charley Hoffman, $6500

I struggled to put Hoffman in my good graces this week. He’s not a player I enjoy watching and I mostly hope he stays out of contention. So, this should tell you how much I like him this week to do well at this track. The dude is just very consistent across the board and checks all the boxes in the ‘Key Statistics’ list. Although he has missed three cuts at five events here, something tells me it’s a different guy this time around.

In fact, how the hell is this guy so cheap? All he’s done is finish in the top 8 in four his last eight tournaments (one being a major). I personally would set his salary around $7500 in between guys like Paul Casey and Justin Thomas. I just don’t know how he doesn’t outproduce those two at a ~$1000 discount. Take advantage of this discount in both cash and tourney line-ups.

Also, as a side note, I’m slowly coming around to the guy after he talked off a layup from his caddie. Mad respect, Hoff.

Golfers to Avoid

Jason Day, $9100

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Day and rightfully so given all the personal stuff going on in his life. I’ve been a Day fan from the start and it pains me to see him struggle with consistency this season. You’re paying the old price for the 2017 version of Day here, so I just can’t recommend him this week.

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Henrik Stenson, $8000

That’s a pretty badass photo right there. However, what’s the old saying – where there’s smoke, there’s fire?

Sure, Stenson has played well in his last two tournaments, posting a T11 and T17 at The Open and Bridgestone, respectively. Are we going to forget the six cuts he missed in the nine tournaments prior to that though? I’m not. He is one of the worst in the field around the green and that’s going to be devastating if it continues this week.

While everyone else rides the ‘hot streak’ (if you want to call it that), I will be fading him hard. If you are in that price range, I would rather have Justin Rose or try to avoid that area altogether.

Branden Grace, $7300

This is more of a gut call, but I don’t think Grace performs well. He hasn’t necessarily played bad recently, but the upside is limited.

Folks are still raving about that 62 at The Open, but what else has he done outside of that round? He’s had no rounds better than -1 since that round. That’s not winning you much money in DFS, my friends! To add to this, he ranks quite poorly in the statistics for this track. His lack of efficiency on shots 200+ yards from the pin worries me greatly this week.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello, $7200

One of the most ‘boom-or-bust’ players in the league, RCB faces a tough course for his style of play this week. He doesn’t rate positively (above average versus the field) in any of the ‘Key Statistics’. That puts him in the bottom 10 of my statistical value chart.

Furthermore, to prove his boom-or-bust nature, check out his results this season in PGA Tour events. In his last ten tournaments, he has posted a T4 in three of them – not bad! In the other seven, they go T24, T42, 72, and four cuts missed. He should be 0% owned in cash games this week and only used in desperation tournament lineups. If you aren’t going a little cheaper here with Berger or Finau, you will regret it.

Sleeper of the Week

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Webb Simpson, $6000

Remember in Happy Gilmore when Adam Sandler’s lovable character needed to go to his ‘happy place’ before an important shot? He had to go into the depths of his imagination to calm himself and strike a big shot.

Simpson will be in his ‘happy place’ without having to go to imagination land. When I say that Quail Hollow Club is in his backyard, I’m not just using a terrible cliche. Dude literally lives in a house on the course. Do I even need to sell you anymore on why he shouldn’t be so cheap in DFS this week?

Oh, I do? Well consider this – he’s made the cut in each of his last seven contests. He has finished T16 or better in four of those. He also finished a respectable T35 and T37 in the US and British Opens, respectively. The former major winner (remember that?) is a model of consistency lately and certainly knows the course better than any other golfer in the field. Definitely consider him in cash lineups with the occasional tournament entry as well.

Bonus Sleeper – Ross Fisher, $5700

I don’t usually suggest European Tour players in American events, but Fisher is an exception. The 40th ranked golfer in the world has shown the ability to contend in tournaments, including The Open Championship for three days.

At the very least, he is as close to a lock to make the cut here as anyone under $6000. On the flip side, he could take advantage of the treacherous weather expected and post a respectable score.

My Friend JSK’s Lock of the Week

For each tournament, I will ask my friend known simply by his initials, JSK, which golfer he predicts to win. JSK and I are actually going to play in a charity tournament together next weekend. I already feel JSK’s back hurting from carrying the team so much. Shoot, his back might be hurting from carrying this article!

“Given the recent string of first-time major champions and with Jordan Spieth completing the third leg of the Grand Slam, a lot of golf fans, including myself, have forgotten about the prowess of Rory McIlroy.

It seems like he hasn’t won in forever, but let’s not forget his wild comeback at last year’s FedEx Cup finale, which included a back nine hole out from the fairway. The reality of the situation is that he hasn’t won a major since 2014, and now it feels like he’s slumping. We golf fans are easily spoiled and have poor memories sometimes.
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Coming off of his T4 finish at the Open Championship and his stellar driving performance at Firestone, Rory is shaping up to really contend at the PGA Championship. Even with his recent caddie shake up, Rory has been playing really well, and Quail Hollow seems to really fit his eye (he set the course record here and then broke his own course record).

He broke through on the PGA Tour here in 2010, and he’s going to end his major slump here, as well.”

It’s hard to argue against McIlroy’s past performances at Quail Hollow, so I’m glad JSK decided to choose him. My lineups should see an uptick in McIlroy shares this week. Hell, even Spieth himself would approve this message.

Proposed DFS Lineups

Tournament

PlayerSalaryTyler's Statistical Rank
Total$60,000
Jordan Spieth$102001
Rory McIlroy$1010025
Jon Rahm$92009
Hideki Matsuyama$88002
Andy Sullivan$590031
Shane Lowry$59005
Cameron Smith$500038
Luke List$490012

It was difficult, but I was able to squeeze in four of the top six golfers by odds to win the tournament in this lineup. Spieth, McIlroy, and Matsuyama were already discussed and will be highly owned by this author. Jon Rahm has the upside to win this thing by a large margin. As far as upside goes, I don’t think it gets better than those four assembled together.

Unfortunately, where there is upside comes floor. However, these guys can turn it up in any given week and it’s part of the gamble that is a tournament lineup. Shane Lowry and Luke List both rated extremely well on my statistics chart. Andy Sullivan and Cameron Smith are both wild cards and I’m praying for a miracle here. Perhaps you can rearrange these four spots among the other $6000 and below options.

Cash

PlayerSalaryTyler's Statistical Rank
Total$59,800
Jordan Spieth$102001
Rickie Fowler$95003
Hideki Matsuyama$88002
Daniel Berger$710011
Tony Finau$70008
Webb Simpson$600010
Ross Fisher$57004
Kyle Stanley$55006

Well, this lineup just has a certain fragrance about it. I mean, it’s only got every player I mentioned in this article so it must be awesome, right?

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Spieth and Matsuyama once again join a lineup of mine. Berger and Finau are perfect mid-range options that I like to succeed. Sleeper picks Simpson and Fisher should have solid outings as well.

A DFS stalwart for me, Rickie Fowler is always a safe bet to perform well in a major. Hell, he may just win one if he keeps at it. Kyle Stanley is another under $6000 player that rates extremely well for this course and is having a nice season. He has made 14 of his last 16 cuts, which is an incredible consistency from someone in his price range.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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