The PGA TOUR remains on the West Coast for another beautiful week by the Pacific. As far as courses go, Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the most well-known on the PGA TOUR, but this week’s tournament will be very different from the last several years at this event. Find out what’s changing, what’s staying the same and who should be in your lineups in my preview for this week.
The changes this week are due to the event’s status as a Signature Event. Since it’s a signature event, the tournament will use just two courses instead of three in the rotation. The amateurs (mostly athletes and CEOs) will only play the first two rounds before the pros get down to the serious business over the weekend.
Each of the pros will play one round on Pebble Beach and one round at Spyglass Hill Golf Course before playing the weekend at Pebble Beach. With just 80 players in the field, there is no cut for this event, which allows us to swing for the fences without having to worry about lineups that wash out early.
As a Signature Event, the field is outstanding. The 80 players include all of the Top 25 in the World Rankings including World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who is playing this event for the first time. Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are set to make their 2024 PGA TOUR debuts. The winners from the last few weeks who are in this field include Grayson Murray, last week’s winner Matthieu Pavon, and Nick Dunlap, who will be making his first start as a Pro after shocking the PGA TOUR with a win as an amateur two weeks ago at The American Express.
In this post each week, we’ll focus on players who are strong GPP options. That means they have lower ownership projections than their potential performance. Finding this kind of high-leverage play is critical for GPP success. The picks here go against the grain to take advantage of players who may be overlooked and under-owned.
Since these are GPP picks, we can accept more risk if it raises the lineup’s ceiling. High-risk, high-reward options with low ownership create the “boom-or-bust” style lineups that can lead to large-field success.
GPP contests are contests that have large numbers of entries and pay out huge prizes to the top few percent. This week, the largest GPP on DraftKings is the $700K Pitch + Putt, which awards $200,000 to first place and is $20 per entry.
The players highlighted will be good options in all formats if they deliver, but they come with risk factors that usually keep them from being safe plays. Consistency and reliability should be the focus of lineups in cash and double-up contests, where finishing in the top spot isn’t quite as important, but in GPP tournaments, we can “swing for the fences.” To find specific guidance for all contest types, check out our full Daily Fantasy Golf coverage each week.
No matter what type of format you prefer, be sure to use the FantasyLabs PGA Models to help you make the best choices. These models use stats and simulations to highlight different players’ strengths and weaknesses. A few critical new stats for GPP play are Perfect% and SimLeverage, which are further explained here.
Usually, I rely on the Stroked Gained Model, which is very predictive of results. I also tend to lean into players that gain shots on approach since week-to-week putting performance can be highly volatile, even for the best players on the PGA TOUR.
As you dig into the numbers, you can enjoy the many tools that FantasyLabs offers, including the Lineup Optimizer, which effortlessly creates up to 300 lineups. Alternatively, you can use the Lineup Builder if you prefer a more hands-on approach.
Check out my top picks in each price range listed below.
Editors note: SimLeverage and Perfect% numbers may change after this piece is published. Be sure to check the PGA Models for any updates to the sims.
High-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Rory McIlroy $11,500
Rory will be making his first start of 2024 on the PGA TOUR, but he’s coming off a strong start to the year on the DP World Tour. He finished second at the Dubai Invitational after an ill-timed drive into the water gave the title to Tommy Fleetwood. The veteran bounced back the following week though, finishing with a big weekend to successfully defend his title at the Dubai Desert Classic.
He comes into this week as the betting favorite and also has the best odds for a top-10 finish, according to Vegas. Rory also matches the most Pro Trends of any golfer in the tournament. Although he has the highest DraftKings salary, he also has one of the highest Perfect%, which means he shows up in many optimal lineups in our thousands of sims. Rory has the third-highest Perfect% of all golfers in the field.
However, Rory doesn’t have the highest ownership projection. He’s not even in the top 10. As a result, he has the fourth-highest SimLeverage on the slate. His lower ownership percentage makes him a great leverage play if you can make his salary work under your cap.
While he hasn’t played this event since 2018 and missed the cut in both of his previous trips to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he does have some good course history at Pebble Beach. This course hosted the 2019 U.S. Open when Rory finished in the top 10.
Xander Schauffele $10,000
Max Homa was my top pick last week to defend his title at Torrey Pines, and I’m high on him again this week, but his ownership projections have sky-rocketed over the past few days, and he has the highest projected ownership and one of the worst SimLeverages in the field. As a result, I’m pivoting this GPP pick to Schauffele even though I think Homa will have a good week.
Schauffele has posted three top-10 finishes to start 2024, although a disappointing weekend at Torry Pines has him coming off a T9 rather than a higher finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Schauffele’s tee-to-green game has been on point, but his putter has been cold. If a return to Pebble Beach helps him flip his flat stick, he’ll be in contention on Sunday with how solid the rest of his game has been.
In addition to his great form, Schauffele has a good course history with a third-place finish at the U.S. Open in 2019 at Pebble. He has the second-highest Perfect% in the field this week and the highest median and ceiling projections. He has the fifth-highest ownership projection in the field, but since he brings such a high ceiling and Perfect%, he still offers good leverage and SimLeverage.
Mid-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Ludwig Aberg $9,000
Aberg is one of 11 golfers in the field at Pebble Beach for the first time in his PGA TOUR career. While his course fit is a bit of an unknown, that keeps his ownership projection low enough to give him a strong SimLeverage.
Of all the golfers with salaries of $9,000 or below, Aberg has the second-highest ceiling, median, and floor projections and the highest Perfect%. Aberg stands out in this price range as a strong source of leverage while public sentiment chases other options in the $8,000 range.
Aberg’s approach game was outstanding last week, but he struggled putting. He still managed to finish in the top 10 despite some major struggles with the flat stick. Like Schauffele, if he can flip his putter, he could contend at Pebble Beach this week.
Last week’s top 10 was his 11th straight tournament exceeding salary-based expectations dating back to last July. During that span, he won The RSM Classic and the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
Nicolai Hojgaard $8,100
Hojgaard is another young European on the rise in this salary bracket who brings good form and leverage. Hojgaard has the second-highest SimLeverage in the entire field. He’s projected for just under 5% ownership but shows up in the sixth-most Optimal Lineups in our sims of all players with salaries under $9,000.
Hojgaard will also be making his competitive debut at Pebble Beach but is coming off an impressive runner-up finish last week at Torrey Pines after winning the DP World Tour Championship last fall, which was his fourth top 10 in three months.
The 22-year-old Dane brings a very high ceiling at low ownership, and he has done enough internationally to show that last week’s result is no fluke.
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Value PGA DFS Picks
Beau Hossler $7,800
Of the 58 players under $8,000, J.T. Poston and Eric Cole have excellent ceiling projections but ownership projections over 10%. I think Beau Hossler is a strong pivot play that can bring just as much ceiling with less than half the ownership projection.
Hossler has exceeded salary-based expectations in eight straight tournaments dating back to just before the start of the FedExCup Fall. He tied with Cole as runner up at the ZOZO Championship in Japan last October and has started 2024 with a T47 at The American Express and a strong T6 last week at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Pebble Beach has been a great stop for him throughout his career, and he finished in the top 12 each of the last two years with a third-place finish two years ago. He’s been on such a roll coming to a course he’s comfortable with, so getting him at this ownership projection feels like a steal.
Matthieu Pavon $7,100
Pavon’s win last week was a continuation of an impressive run for the 31-year-old from France, who still brings plenty of leverage from this extremely affordable salary. It’s his first full season on the PGA TOUR and his first time playing in this event, but he still brings a very strong SimLeverage and an ownership projection under 4%.
Before last week’s win, Pavon notched a top 10 at the Sony Open in Hawaii to start his 2024 PGA TOUR season. He made it into that event by winning in the fall on the DP World Tour at the Open de Espana and following that with another top 10 the next week at the Andalucia Championship. He also closed out 2023 with a top 5 at the DP World Tour Championship.
Pavon is quickly rising up the World Rankings and will likely end up representing France at the Olympics later this summer. He proved last week he has the game to compete on the PGA TOUR, and he will look to build on that win just like he did in his European win last fall. He’s a strong option at this salary given his current form.
Sleeper PGA DFS Picks
Cameron Davis $6,700
Davis stands out as a very underpriced play on this slate, checking in all the way under $7,000. He has the third-highest Perfect% of all plays under $7,000 behind only Dunlap and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and he brings the highest ceiling and median projections by a significant margin from the players in that price range. He also has the highest Projected Plus/Minus in the entire field.
The Aussie has made the cut in three straight trips to Pebble Beach, culminating in a top-15 finish in his most recent appearance, which was in 2021. Davis started 2024 with a solid two weeks in Hawaii but missed the cut at The American Express. Since he played three rounds due to the format, he still exceeded salary-based expectations in that event, which he has now done in eight of his last 10 events.
While he can be a boom-or-bust play, Davis has shown he can go extremely low in any given round, making him an attractive low-priced option in events where he’s guaranteed four rounds. His ownership projection isn’t as low as I wish it was, but I’m willing to eat a little chalk to get Davis’ upside at this salary.
Brandon Wu $6,300
If you opt to go even cheaper with basically a punt play, Wu actually brings a lot of potential for a player priced so close to the minimum. Like Davis, he exceeded salary-based expectations at The American Express despite a missed cut. He started 2024 with a top-20 finish at The Sony Open in Hawaii and has exceeded salary-based expectations in nine of his last 10 events. He hasn’t had a top 10 but could surprise people with a strong finish this week.
During his career, Wu has shown a tendency to consistently contend on specific courses. Pebble Beach is one of those places. He has made the cut in three of his four appearances including a runner-up finish behind Justin Rose last year.