The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and other industry metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The first leg of the FedExCup Playoffs has arrived. The first event will feature 122 players and the top 70 and ties will advance to the next round.
Let’s get right into it.
I did a full breakdown of the course. Check it out.
Key metrics: Par-4 and par-5 scoring, greens in regulation, Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, scrambling.
And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.
DFS Breakdown for 2019 Northern Trust Open
Patrick Cantlay ($9,200 DraftKings; $11,300 FanDuel) will be one of the first golfers into my cash lineup. Over the past 75 weeks, Cantlay has averaged -1.1 and -4.7 adjusted strokes on par 4s and par 5s, along with a 61.9% scrambling rate.
Additionally, over his last 50 rounds, Cantlay ranks eighth in par-4 efficiency from 450-500 yards, and 11th and 13th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. He checks all the boxes we’re looking for.
With how well Colin Morikawa ($8,500 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel) is playing, I’m just going to go right back to him, and he’s $1,900 cheaper than he was last week now that there’s a stronger field.
In his last nine tournaments, Morikawa’s 68.2 LT Adj Rd Score is tied with Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson. His young PGA career is off to a tremendous start thus far, and I’ll continue to ride his excellent form as Morikawa’s 67.5 recent Adj Rd Score is the second-best mark in the field.
Furthermore, over his last 24 rounds, he ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach and fifth in Total Strokes Gained. He shouldn’t have any issue finding the fairways at Liberty National considering how accurate he’s been off the tee, hitting 70.6% of fairways in his nine tournaments.
Last but not least, Rory Sabbatini ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,500 FanDuel) has been incredibly consistent this year. He gained 4.1 strokes on approach at the Wyndham last week, and he’s gained strokes on approach in eight of his past 10 tournaments. While his approach game isn’t always the strongest, he has a fairly consistent putter and has a decent short game to recover from any errant approach shots.
Over his last 50 rounds, Sabbs ranks 19th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 11th in Total Strokes Gained.
I think Dustin Johnson ($10,700 DraftKings; $11,900 FanDuel) could be one of the lowest-owned golfers among the top-tier players on DraftKings. He hasn’t been great of late, finishing 20th or worse over his last five tournaments, including a missed cut at the Rocket Mortage Classic. However, I’d have to think he’ll bounce back at some point.
DJ’s 67.7 LT Adj Rd score leads the field, and he’s averaged -2.2 and -5.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s over the same time frame. Coming in at $700 cheaper than Rory and $1,300 cheaper than Koepka makes him an intriguing target despite his recent poor play.
Jason Kokrak ($7,400 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) has a strong approach game, but he typically struggles with his putter and around the greens. That said, if his irons are dialed in, then the short game shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
He managed to hit 76.4% of GIR at Wyndham last week, and he’s pretty good at keeping the ball in play off the tee, which should set him up for success when hitting into these greens. He won’t be near my cash game rosters, but I like him in for tournaments, and I’ve placed a longshot bet at 100-1 on him.
Other tournament considerations: Lucas Glover, Shane Lowry, Danny Willett, Scott Piercy
- Justin Thomas ($10,000 DraftKings; $11,400 FanDuel) leads the field with his -6.0 adjusted strokes on par 5s, and his -1.5 adjusted strokes on par 4s is the sixth-best mark in the field. His form has been coming around for the last few tournaments as he’s gained 4.5 or more strokes on approach his last three outings.
- Normally in these packed fields, Webb Simpson ($9,400 DraftKings; $11,200 FanDuel) is a bit a cheaper, but I still like him at this price. He has an excellent 64.6% LT scrambling rate over the last 75 weeks, and in that same time frame, he’s averaged -1.6 and -4.6 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. Simpson is just in tremendous form with back-to-back second-place finishes and a 68.2 recent Adj Rd Score.
- Rickie Fowler ($9,300 DraftKings; $11,100 FanDuel) isn’t in the best form with his 69.4 recent Adj Rd Score, but if he can progress back to his long-term form, he’s another guy I like in the $9,000 range. Fowler owns a pretty balanced game, and he’s averaging -1.1 and -4.7 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s, and he’s got an excellent short game.
- Bryson DeChambeau ($8,600 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) has been sporadic of late, losing 2.5 or more strokes on approach in his last two tournaments, but gaining 2.8 or more in the previous three. He’s found his putting strokes over that span, and if he can get his irons dialed in, he could make some noise this week.
- Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400 DraftKings; $10,300 FanDuel) missed the cut last week on the number, but he still gained strokes on approach. Josh Perry and I both like him as an outright bet this week.
- Patrick Reed ($8,100 DraftKings; $9,900 FanDuel) has hit 72.2% of GIR over his last seven tournaments and ranks 24th in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 24 rounds. If he can keep the irons going, he should fair well here with his elite short game and putting.
- Billy Horschel ($8,000 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) is a solid value at this price tag. He owns three top-10 finishes over his last six tournaments and has gained strokes on approach in eight of his last nine tournaments.
- Matthew Wolff ($7,700 DraftKings; $9,400 FanDuel) has hit 72.6% of GIR over the last six weeks and is averaging -3.9 and -5.1 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s over that time frame. He hasn’t lost strokes on approach since the Travelers Championship, and he gained 5.6 strokes on approach last week at the Wyndham Championship.
- Charles Howell III ($7,500 DraftKings; $9,000 FanDuel) is just a consistent grinder who has made five-straight cuts. He’s been decent over those rounds, sporting a 68.8 recent Adj Rd Score.
- Joaquin Niemann ($7,500 DraftKings; $9,100 FanDuel) has averaged -1.2 adjusted strokes on par 4s over the last 75 weeks, and he’s in solid form right now, ranking 10th in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 24 rounds.
- Sungjae Im’s ($7,500 DraftKings; $9,300 FanDuel) -5.4 adjusted strokes on par 5s is the fifth-best mark in the field. He finally got his irons going last week, gaining 4.2 strokes on approach. While he isn’t always gaining strokes on approach, he’s managed to hit 75.3% of GIR over the last six weeks. If he can keep hitting GIR, he should at least have a good chance to make it to the weekend.
Jordan Spieth ($8,000 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) might not be the best fit. Over the last 75 weeks, he’s averaged +0.3 adjusted strokes on par 4s and has hit just 65.2% of GIR. He had a meltdown on Saturday last week and ended up losing 6.2 strokes on approach and 3.9 strokes off the tee overall at the Wyndham Championship.
Furthermore, over his last 50 rounds, he ranks 115th and 119th in Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. If his struggles continue outside of his putting and short game, it could be a long week for him.
Phil Mickelson ($7,100 DraftKings; $8,600 FanDuel) has been playing some of the worst golf imaginable. Over his last five tournaments, his 73.8 recent Adj Rd Score is the third-worst mark in the field, trailing only Cameron Champ (74.0) and Chesson Hadley (73.9). Over that time frame, he’s averaged +4.6 adjusted strokes on par 4s and +0.4 on par 5s.
And over the past 75 weeks, he’s averaging a woeful +1.1 and -3.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. His par-5 scoring is 10th-worst mark in the field this week.
Phil hasn’t gained strokes on approach since the U.S. Open and hasn’t gained strokes tee-to-green since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March. Unless he’s made some dramatic improvement since the St. Jude when he last played, it’s hard to see him doing much of anything here.
Note: Strokes Gained and efficiency data via Fantasy National.
Photo credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Webb Simpson