2024 PGA DFS Cognizant Classic DraftKings and Betting Preview

by Keith Flemming
2024 PGA DFS Cognizant Classic DraftKings and Betting Preview

The event formally known as the Honda Classic(now the Cognizant Classic) starts the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing for the 2024 season this week. That brings me to my 2024 PGA DFS Cognizant Classic DraftKings and Betting Preview.

Last week my official DFS lineup was not great with only four of six golfers making the cut scoring 417.50 points on DraftKings. However, the lineup did include Jake Knapp as my favorite DFS play/bet for the weekend. I hit the betting trifecta in suggesting him to win at 40-1, top-5 at +850, and top-10 at +400!

This week the tour moves to Jack Nicklaus’s PGA Nationa, home of the famous Bear Trap on holes 15-17. The course features water on 15 of the 18 holes with potential disaster lurking everywhere, making this tournament a very difficult one to predict. In the last 14 PGA events held here the eventual winner was a betting long-shot entering the week seven times, five of those seven long-shot winners had odds of 100-1 or better.

Keep the conversation going with me on Twitter/X @KeithFlemming . You can also find me every Wednesday at 1 pm Eastern on @espnpc1043 Inside Drive talking golf with host Ryan Mulvey during my weekly segment previewing that week's PGA event.

2024 PGA DFS Cognizant Classic DraftKings and Betting Preview

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The Venue (PGA National)

The Bear Trap will garner all the attention this week and rightfully so. That three-hole stretch is the fourth most difficult three-hole stretch on tour, but that is not the only difficult stretch at PGA National. This course is the most difficult on tour for approaches beyond 150 yards.

The other big change besides the new name of the event was the decision to change the 10th hole from a Par-4 to a Par-5. PGA National will play as a Par-71 this year for the first time instead of the traditional Par-70. You would think the addition of a Par-5 would make scoring easier on the field. But not so fast.

The forecast is calling for more significant wind gusts than normal on a course that features some of the tightest fairways on tour. These tight fairways and hazards galore force players to lay up rather than challenge the course's many tight doglegs. Only 11% of shots into greens are inside 125 yards, something you will not see on a modern tour stop.

The three Par-5s will be by far the easiest holes on the course. Those Par-5s are practically the only easy holes on PGA National. PGA National features the toughest set of Par-3s and the eighth toughest Par-4s of any venue on the PGA Tour.

You want to target golfers who are great mid to long iron players at this venue. Players will hit 65% of their approach shots from 125-200 yards, well above the tour average. All these factors make this event one of the toughest on Tour with players averaging 1.14 strokes over par the last five years. The average winning score is below -10 under par for the last 13 editions of this event, making this event the toughest non major event six out of the last ten years on tour.

Course Comps

  • Concession Golf Club
  • Bay Hill
  • Muirfield Country Club

Key Stats

  • SG: Approach/SG Ball Striking
  • Proximity 125-200 yards
  • Bogey and Double Bogey Avoidance
  • SG: Putting (Bermuda)
  • SG: Total (Difficult Conditions)

My 2024 PGA DFS Cognizant Classic DraftKings and Betting Preview (Lineup)

Cam Young $10.7k +2200 to win/+500 top-5

Cam Young is anchoring my official DraftKings lineup but only by a razor-thin margin over Russell Henley. Henley hasn’t played in this event since 2021 where he finished 3rd. Henley is a value bet IMO this week at +2500. In his last five trips to PGA National he has at least .99 strokes gained in tee to green, ball striking, and on approach.

The reason I ultimately went with Young over Henley for my official lineup is he fits so many of the recent winner trends at this event. He finished 16th in his only appearance at this course. The last 7 winners of this event finished 16th or better the year before their victory. A majority of recent winners excelled in strokes gained total driving the week of their victory. Cam Young is number one on tour in this category for the season.

The last trend is a technicality as nine of the last thirteen winners at PGA National finished T-13 or better in their last start before this event. Young finished 16th at the Genesis two weeks ago but did finish inside that T-13 number three weeks ago at the Phoenix Open where he finished T-8. Finally, I’m going with Young because he’s well overdue for his first career PGA Tour win and PGA National is a perfect venue for him to make that happen with his elite ball-striking skills.

Another option in this price range: Russell Henley $10.2k +2500 to win

Byeong Hun An $9.5k +650 top-5/+320 top-10

Adding Byeong Hun An to my DK lineup was an easy decision. He excels at ball striking, he excels in windy conditions, and he plays difficult courses well.

His track record at this event is stellar. He has two top-5 finishes in his last five starts. He’s made the cut at this event in four of his last five tries at PGA National finishing outside the top-36 only once.

An is in great form to start the 2024 PGA season with three top-20 finishes in five starts. He finished 16th at the Genesis which was the most difficult course he’s played this season and 2nd at the Sony Open which of the courses he’s played had the strongest winds.

Another option in this price range: Daniel Berger $8.6k +3500 to win/+850 top-5/+400 top-10

Matthieu Pavon $8.7k +5500 to win/+1100 top-5/+500 top-10

I’ve included Pavon partly for the disrespect from DraftKings pricing him at $8.7k for DFS and +5500 to win this event on their Sportsbook. If you need reminding Pavon in his last five starts has finishes of 5th, 7th, 39th, 1st, and a runner-up. The last four finishes were all PGA Tour events with his win at another difficult venue, Torrey Pines.

If that doesn’t prove Pavon is extremely undervalued in DFS and betting markets, how about the fact he’s second in the field in strokes gained on approach over his last 24 rounds and fourth in strokes gained ball striking during that time? PGA National is a ball strikers paradise. You’re getting one of the top five ball strikers currently on tour at a discount.

Another option in this price range: Sepp Straka $8.6k +4000 to win/+900 top-5

Matthew Wallace $7.2k +2000 top-5/+360 top-20

The Englishman has played reasonably well at PGA National, finishing 29th last year and tied for 20th in 2019. Matt Wallace demonstrated his ability to play well on tough courses in Florida at last year’s Valspar Championship where he finished 7th.

Wallace played better last week in Mexico than his T33 finish would indicate. He struggled on Sunday shooting a final round 74, but indicated that he was “playing for the win”. That cost him going for the green in two on several par-5s where he eventually made bogey. Wallace is one of the best players in the field in gusty wind conditions and he’s a true grinder. This is the exact kind of player this week I want to target in this price range for DFS.

Akshay Bhatia $6.9k +7500 to win/+700 top-10

Bhatia is the golfer I’m including in my official DraftKings lineup who I’m the most worried about. He finished 49th in his only appearance at PGA National last year. I love that he made the cut in his first try at this difficult venue. That was despite losing strokes to the field off the tee, putting, and around the greens. He made the cut despite poor numbers in those categories by gaining 1.53 strokes on approach and 1.35 strokes in ball striking on the field.

Myself and my co-host of the Fantasy Six Pack Golf Gambling show @activelylazy85 are both big fans of Bhatia since he first arrived on the scene last year. He’s a superior ball striker who plays great in windy conditions.

I love using Bhatia when he’s playing courses that deemphasize putting and chipping due to how many birdies he can make in a tourney. In the two tournaments in Hawaii to start the year and the difficult venue of Torrey Pines he racked up 64 birdies and an eagle over those events.

Ben Griffin  $6.8k +800 top-10/+360 top-20

I considered using Chesson Hadley in this spot for my official lineup with his three top-30 finishes at PGA National in his last six starts. The reason I ultimately chose Griffin is that he hails from Texas. Therefore he excels in windy conditions. He has two top-30 finishes this season at venues known for windy conditions in the RSM Classic and Sony Open.

The biggest reason I’m riding with Griffin this week is his ability to gain strokes on courses with high water danger. He’s eighth in the field in total strokes gained on these types of courses over the last five years and along with Jhonattan Vegas the only players in the top-10 of that statistic who are less than $7.6k on DraftKings this week.

Another option in this price range: Sam Ryder $5.9k +1400 top-5/+550 top-20 
Be sure to check out our show Two off the Tee on the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube Channel tonight live at 8:30pm or check it out anytime after the live stream on F6P. Each week, my cohost Allen and I will break down the tournament for that week and give betting/DFS plays.  

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