The PGA TOUR heads to New Jersey this week as the 2021 FedExCup Playoffs begin with The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club.
The course is a par-71 measuring at just over 7,350 yards with bentgrass greens. The last time this event was held at Liberty National in 2019, Patrick Reed won the event by shooting 16-under par.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My analysis will frequently reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories you need to know include:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (SG: Around-the-Green)
- Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: Putting)
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, check out this article from Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which unpacks each of the above metrics in detail. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column after each round of that week’s PGA TOUR event, which highlights golfers to buy and fade, along with Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly “Stats That Matter” column that highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
Bryson DeChambeau ($9,600 DraftKings)
DeChambeau is one of the more polarizing players in recent memory and is seen as a volatile type player, but oddsmakers think he is going to play very well this week. At certain sportsbooks he is a pretty sizable head-to-head favorite over Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay, Daniel Berger, Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler.
When stuff like this happens we need to take notice.
DeChambeau’s game is coming together nicely after an eighth-place finish two weeks ago at the FedEx-St. Jude. His $9,600 DraftKings price tag is far below where his odds suggest he should be and this presents us with major value this week.
DeChambeau ranks No. 1 in this field (obviously) in SG: Off-the-Tee and seventh in total strokes gained across his past 48 rounds. He’s priced around Abraham Ancer and Viktor Hovland. No disrespect to them, but this is an eight-time PGA TOUR winner we’re talking about here who should absolutely be priced closer to the likes of Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.
The 2020 U.S. Open winner’s length will come in handy this week on the longer par fives, and he should make plenty of birdies. We’re getting a nice discount here on the No. 6 player in the world so let’s take advantage.
Scottie Scheffler ($9,300 DraftKings)
It’s gotten to the point with Scheffler that he needs to be rostered in almost every big time event on the calendar. He simply shows up when the lights are brightest, very much Brooks Koepka-esque.
Scheffler has been on a really nice run of late as well, coming off a T-14 at the WGC and T-8 at the British. He’s firing on all cylinders right now, ranking 17th in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green and 16th in SG: Putting over his past 16 rounds.
Scheffler finished T-4 at this event last year, albeit at a different course, but as previously stated he has a knack for the big moment. It would come to nobody’s surprise to see him notch his first career PGA TOUR title this week, which is even nicer when you consider he’s only $9,300 on DraftKings.
Daniel Berger ($9,100 DraftKings)
Berger is playing the best golf of his career and has yet again been overlooked by DraftKings this week, coming in at just $9,100. He has posted three top-10s in his past four events, two of which came at the British and U.S. Opens.
For the long haul, he looks great as well, sitting seventh in this field on approach, 10th tee-to-green and sixth in total strokes gained. Just for clarity on how impressive that is, this is statistically the strongest non-major field of all-time, per the OWGR. That’s how good Berger has been this season.
Berger has made 17-of-19 cuts this season with eight top-10s and a victory, making him simply too cheap for both his talent and recent form. He will be popular this week and for very good reason.
No reason to get cute here, just play the man in cash games.
Tyrrell Hatton ($7,800 DraftKings)
Hatton for the second week in a row is coming in severely underpriced. He was $7,400 in Memphis and again sits in that range, coming in at $7,800 this week. He’s currently the No. 13 ranked player in the world and is the only one in the top-20 priced below $8,000 on DraftKings. It simply makes no sense.
Hatton gained strokes on approach in all four of his rounds at the WGC his last time out and gained both off-the-tee and with the putter in three of four. He can easily contend this week, but at his price all we basically need from him is a made cut. He made the cut here in 2019 and finished T-59, a finish he should certainly build on this week.
It’s really hard to pass on the value here.
Jason Kokrak ($7,700 DraftKings)
Kokrak has had a great season but has been in somewhat of a mini slump since his victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May, missing two cuts in his last five starts. He has, however, shown a liking to Liberty National, finishing T-12 and T-9 in both appearances here. Sometimes all it takes is a familiar track to get some of these guys to flip a switch, and I believe that’s what will happen with Kokrak this week.
We don’t have to pay too much for it even if we’re wrong, as his $7,700 price tag is very palatable considering his talent and upside. He’s a very good bentgrass putter and is one of the longer hitters on TOUR, so it’s not hard to see why he’s had success at this track.
I’m not sure how popular he will be but in my eyes, Kokrak provides some safety even if he’s been somewhat shaky of late.
Ian Poulter ($7,700 DraftKings)
Poulter must know the Ryder Cup is coming soon, which is why he’s gone on such a tear of late. He’s posted three top-10’s across his past seven events and is another guy with strong course history at Liberty National, finishing T-10 and T-9 in two of his three trips. We know he’s got one of the best short games on TOUR, which is always handy at these tougher tracks come playoff time.
There is not a whole ton to like in the $7,000 range this week, and it’s hard to envision Poulter missing the cut this week after making nine of his past 10. He will get up and down when he needs to and if he gets the putter rolling, he can easily contend here.
Sign me up at this price.
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,100 DraftKings)
The big Venezuelan has been on fire of late, posting top-16 finishes in six of his last 10 events, which include a pair of runner-up finishes at the 3M and Palmetto.
I get this is a really strong field, but under no circumstance should Vegas be this cheap after the run he’s been on. He ranks 16th in this field in SG: Ball-Striking and 14th in total strokes gained over his past 16 rounds. He’s a punt play that comes with elite upside, which is something that doesn’t happen too often.
You may not have to dip down this low in cash, but Vegas is the most logical option if you do.
Pictured above: Bryson DeChambeau
Credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images