The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
We’ve got a stacked field on deck for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. Given it’s an invitational, there are only 120 players, but top-70s and ties still make the cut.
As always, I backtested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out those that have been the most valuable at Muirfield Village. Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 56.49 DraftKings points and a +5.93 Plus/Minus with a 60% Consistency Rating to the field.
I’m listing only those metrics that tested positively relative to the baseline:
- Long-Term Par-4 Scoring: +6.06
- Long-Term Birdies: +5.07
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +4.79
- Recent Driving Accuracy: +4.51
- Recent Par-4 Scoring: +4.49
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +4.46
- Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +4.15
- Long-Term Bogeys: +4.07
- Recent Missed Cuts: +3.05
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +2.81
- Long-Term Driving Accuracy: +2.79
- Long-Term Eagles: +2.47
- Recent Par-5 Scoring: +2.36
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +1.92
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation: +1.72
- Long-Term Par-3 Scoring: +1.23
- Long-Term Scrambling: +0.60
- Recent Eagles: +0.43
- Recent Greens in Regulation: +0.13
Muirfield Village is a 7,392-yard, par-72 course that has plenty of water and deep rough. Keeping the ball in play off the tee would be ideal, but it shouldn’t be too hard since they also have wide fairways. You don’t need to be long off the tee to succeed here: Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar have notched victories at this course. But having good long irons will help, considering 40.8% of approach shots have come from 175 to 200-plus yards.
The first thing that immediately stands out is how well par-4 scoring will be for this week. Only two of the par 4s have birdies rates above 20% (per Fantasy National), but the golfers will still need to minimize damage on the other ones to hang around. More specifically, there are six par 4s between 450-500 yards, so par-4 scoring from those ranges will be key.
Key metrics to focus on: Birdie scoring, par-4 and par-5 scoring, Strokes Gained: Approach
And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.
Best DFS Plays for Memorial Tournament
$10,000 and Above (DraftKings Pricing)
You can make a case for any of the golfers in this pricing tier, but none of them will find their way onto my cash game teams this week with the strength of the field below $10,000.
For tournaments, I’d mix-and-match exposure with the guys you’re highest on. I like the idea of targeting Rickie Fowler ($10,600 DraftKings; $11,300 FanDuel) after his missed cut last week. He’s got an excellent short game and ranks 13th and 10th in proximity from 175-200 and 200-plus yards over his past 50 rounds.
Patrick Cantlay ($10,200 DraftKings; $11,000 FanDuel) has been great this season, finishing inside the top 10 in five of his eight events, he just has yet to put it all together for a win. Further, his metrics look great in 2019, ranking 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach, ninth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and second in Total Strokes Gained.
Rory McIlroy ($11,500 DraftKings; $12,000 FanDuel) has been dominant this season, with eight top-eight finishes in his nine events this season. It’d be difficult not to get some exposure to him considering he ranks first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Ball Striking and Total Strokes Gained. His -6.1 adjusted strokes on par 5s is also among the top marks in the field.
Matt Kuchar ($9,400 DraftKings; $10,900 FanDuel) has been absurdly consistent here, finishing fourth or better in four of his seven appearances since 2011. Over that span, he hasn’t finished worse than 26th. More importantly, he ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach and third in Total Strokes Gained over his past 50 rounds.
Kuchar’s -0.9 adjusted strokes on par 4s is a top-eight mark in the field, but he also ranks fifth in par-4 efficiency from 450-500 yards.
If you want to risk the wrist injury, Justin Thomas is far too cheap on DraftKings for $9,300. His 67.9 LT Adj Rd Score is the best mark in the field, but he’s priced as the No. 9 golfer. People could also be concerned about some rust since he hasn’t played since the Masters. But he could be a risk worth taking on with his -2.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and -6.5 adjusted strokes on par 5s, both of which lead the entire field.
Muirfield Village isn’t an ideal course fit for Jason Day ($9,200 DraftKings; $11,200 FanDuel) since you need to be good with your irons, and he ranks 55th in Strokes Gained: Approach over his past 50 rounds. But his adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s are both top-seven marks in the field. He also has an elite short game and putter that can bail him out of trouble. I wouldn’t over-expose yourself to Day, but he’s a decent value at his price with his 68.1 LT Adj Rd Score.
As usual, Hideki Matsuyama ($9,100 DraftKings; $10,700 FanDuel) makes this article any time he’s in the field, but for good reason. Deki has been one of the best ball strikers all season, ranking first in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, fourth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and third in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
The main knock on Gary Woodland ($8,800 DraftKings; $10,400 FanDuel) for this tournament will be his short game or lack thereof. However, if his irons are dialed in, that might not be an issue as he ranks second in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and eighth in Strokes Gained: Approach.
Woodland’s adjusted strokes on par 4s ranks 17th, which isn’t terrible, but his -5.7 adjusted strokes on par 5s rank third in the field, trailing only Thomas and Rory.
Henrik Stenson ($8,500 DraftKings; $10,200 FanDuel) has a top-15 LT Adj Rd Score, and he’s elite with his irons, hitting 70.8% of GIR. Moreover, his approach game has been dominant of late, gaining strokes on approach six-straight tournaments, including at least +4.4 strokes or more in five of those six tournaments.
It’s getting hard to ignore what Rory Sabbatini ($8,300 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) has done this season. He hasn’t missed a cut since Pebble Beach, and over his past 10 events, he’s averaging a +22.32 DraftKings Plus/Minus with a 100% Consistency Rating. He’s not much of a value, especially for cash games, but I’d consider him in tournaments if he continues to be low owned.
I also like Marc Leishman ($8,000 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) for tournaments. He has the 14th-best LT Adj Rd Score, but he’s priced as the No. 21 golfer. I wouldn’t expect him to come with much ownership given his back issue earlier in the season, and his recent form.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,900 DraftKings; $9,700 FanDuel) is another golfer who has a top-15 LT Adj Rd Score but is priced as the No. 22 golfer. Not to mention his 15.0 birdies per tournament is the 11th-best mark in the field. He’s been excellent with his irons over the past 50 rounds, ranking 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach and ranking third in proximity from 175-200 yards.
Lucas Glover ($7,800 DraftKings; $9,600 FanDuel) has missed just three cuts this season and has a nice balanced game for this venue. His adjusted strokes on par 5s and par 4s are nothing to write home about, but he’s relatively cheap for someone who ranks in the top 17 in Strokes Gained: Approach, Ball Striking and Tee-to-Green this year.
Keegan Bradley ($7,600 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) fits the usual bill of a guy with an elite approach game, who struggles with the putter. He should be able to survive some of the long approach shots since he ranks 39th and second in proximity from 175-200 and 200-plus yards.
The par 4s will be a concern for Luke List ($7,600 DraftKings; $9,300 FanDuel) as he’s averaged +1.0 adjusted strokes on them, but he should do well on the par 5s with his -5.1 adjusted strokes, which is the 13th-best mark in the field.
$6,900 and Below
Corey Conners ($6,900 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel) should just be reserved for tournaments if you need a punt option. He ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Approach and ninth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his past 50 rounds. But he also carries the highest top-10 odds in this price range.
Per our Trends tool, golfers with comparable salaries and top-10 odds have averaged a +1.13 DraftKings Plus/Minus.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage!
Note: Strokes Gained and efficiency data via Fantasy National.
Pictured above: Justin Thomas
Photo credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports