The PGA TOUR heads to South Carolina this week for the second major of the season, as The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort hosts the 103rd addition of the PGA Championship. The course is a monster par-72 measuring at around 7,876 yards with paspalum grass greens, which is in the Bermuda family. This is probably the most difficult course that we will see this season, so I wouldn’t expect the winning score to be very low.
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, which highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course. The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
Being that it’s a Major this week I figured I would expand my cash-game pool a little bit. The pricing on DraftKings is soft, making it incredibly easy to make whatever team you like.
Bryson DeChambeau ($10,200 DraftKings)
We’ll start with the reigning US Open champ, as you’d think he’d have this event circled on his calendar for quite some time now. A 7,900 yard monster couldn’t possibly be more in DeChambeau’s wheelhouse. He leads the PGA TOUR in driving distance by a nice margin over Rory McIlroy and should have a massive edge this week with his length.
Kiawah Island boasts two par-fours greater than 500 yards and four others greater than 484 yards. The shorter hitters will simply be overmatched this week. DeChambeau ranks No.1 in this field in both SG: Off-the-tee and total strokes gained across his past 36 rounds. He finished T-4 at TPC Harding Park back in September and has to be on the short list to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy this week.
Xander Schauffele ($9,600 DraftKings)
Schauffele is one of the most prolific big-game hunters you’ll find on TOUR. He’s made 15 career starts at Major Championships, making the cut in 15 (!) of them while posting eight top-10s (53%) in that span. That’s a pretty ridiculous statistic. It’s only a matter of time before the California native breaks through and wins a major, and it would come as a surprise to no one if that was this week.
Very quietly Schauffele ranks 27th on TOUR in driving distance, which is somewhat surprising considering his frame. He also ranks 22nd in par-four efficiency from 450-500 yards. His $9,600 price tag on DraftKings is a nice discount from the other studs up top and you will be hard pressed to find a better cash game play this week.
Viktor Hovland ($9,300 DraftKings)
Hovland is quickly becoming one of the brightest young stars in the game at just 23-years old. He’s made the cut at all five of his Major starts, finishing no worse than 33rd in any of them. He’s also had little to no issue handling longer courses thus far, posting top-fives at both Quail Hollow and Torrey Pines this season as well as T-13 at Winged Foot.
The Norwegian ranks third in this field in SG: Ball-Striking and second in total strokes gained over his past 24 rounds, and is an elite cash game play at just $9,300 on DraftKings.
Will Zalatoris ($8,800 DraftKings)
Zalatoris is another 23-year old phenom who’s also shown to have ice in his veins. Happy Gilmore’s caddy’s doppelgänger has two top-six finishes in his two major championship starts, as well as a bevy of other top finishes at big boy events in his young career. He ranks fifth in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 24 rounds and get’s a $900 price decrease from last week.
He certainly does not have the resume of an $8,800 player, so we can take full advantage of that this week and plug him in to our cash game teams.
Daniel Berger ($8,700 DraftKings)
Berger has arguably been one of the five best players on TOUR over the last calendar year or so, posting two wins and seven other top-10 finishes in that stretch. He’s coming in hot as well, finishing T-3 at the Byron Nelson after a final round 64. He gained 3.84 strokes on approach during that round which was second to only Will Zalatoris who gained 4.18. Berger has the all-around game to get around any track, evidenced best by him ranking 13th on TOUR in bogey avoidance. He also sits No. 3 in this field in total strokes gained over his past 24 rounds. He was priced very similarly in last September’s PGA Championship where he finished T-13.
The paspalum greens at Kiawah Island resemble bermuda grass, which also happens to be Berger’s preferred putting surface. Overlooking him would be a massive mistake this week.
Tony Finau ($8,600 DraftKings)
I will attempt to keep this one short. Finau is simply always in play at majors, period. He’s posted four top-10s across his past five major starts, which include a pair of top-fives. He’s one of the longest hitters on TOUR which will be a massive edge this week, while also ranking 12th on TOUR in par-four efficiency of >500 yards. He’s missed three of his last four cuts, but the his lone made cut in that stretch was at the Masters where he finished T-10, further illustrating my point to absolutely not look past the Salt Lake City native when the lights get bright.
He probably will go a touch under-owned this week due to his recent form, but is absolutely in play in all formats and one of my favorite plays on the board.
Scottie Scheffler ($8,500 DraftKings)
I love playing Scheffler on long tough courses. He’s made three major championship start’s as a professional, making the cut in all three, including a T-4 at last year’s PGA Championship. Scheffler also ranks fourth on TOUR in par-four efficiency >500 yards and 11th in par four efficiency 450-500 yards. His game is tailor made for majors. I doubt he will be very popular with all the other great plays this week, but make no mistake his upside is sky high and he absolutely could win this event.
At the very least we should get a made cut with massive upside beyond that, and at just $8,500 that will be just fine.
There are four value plays that stand out to me this week. We can start with Louie Oosthuizen ($8,000 DraftKings), who always shows up at major championships. He has a runner up finish in all four majors in his career and has made the cut in each of his past seven PGA Championship starts.
Oosthuizen is great on long par fours and has been putting exceptionally well this season, ranking No. 1 in that department over his past 36 rounds in this field. He will almost assurdely make the cut this week and give us a top-25 finish, which is great for someone who’s just $8,000 on DraftKings.
Next is Adam Scott ($7,900 DraftKings), who much like Oostie, is a major championship cut making machine. The Aussie has made nine of his past 10 cuts at the PGA Championship, including four top-10s in that span. He’s also yet to miss a cut this season as well, going 11/11 thus far.
We don’t have strokes gained data for the Masters, but prior to that Scott’s ball striking numbers looked great at the Honda, as he gained strokes on approach in all four of his rounds. There’s not much else to say here, Scott should make another cut this week and possesses the required distance off the tee to contend. He’s a strong play at just $7,900.
The final two value plays that stand out to me are Paul Casey ($7,700 DraftKings) and Jason Kokrak ($7,100 DraftKings). Casey is having a magical season, finishing inside the top-26 in all five of his stateside starts in 2021, which incude a pair of top-fives at THE PLAYERS and at Pebble Beach.
The Englishman finished in a tie for second at last year’s PGA Championship and has made seven of 10 cuts at this event dating back to 2011. He’s as cheap as he’s ever gonna get this season thanks to the strength of this loaded field, so let’s take full advantage by plugging him onto our cash game rosters.
Kokrak rounds out my list this week, as $7,100 is simply too cheap for how he’s been playing lately. He’s finished inside the top-13 in four of his past five events, which include a T-9 at THE PLAYERS and a T-8 at the API.
The big fella can hit the ball a mile and should be able to handle the length of Kiawah Island this week. He’s a great salary saver that also boasts a considerable amount of upside, so I recommend rounding out your cash game teams with him. I do not see a need to dip below him in cash this week.