The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The TOUR heads to the beautiful shores of Maui, Hawaii, this week as the Plantation Course at Kapalua hosts the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Plantation Course is a long par-73, measuring 7,596 yards with Bermuda grass greens.
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.
Justin Thomas ($10,600 DraftKings)
JT has an impeccable record at Kapalua, posting a pair of wins, as well as two additional solo third-place finishes. After a very subpar 2021 season, Thomas closed strong, finishing fifth at the Hero World Challenge and third at Mayakoba. It was only a matter of time before JT found his game again, and the fact that he stayed active during the fall season tells me he’s ready to come out guns blazin’ in 2022.
Outside of Collin Morikawa, you would be hard-pressed to find a better iron player on the planet than Thomas. He ranks third in this field in SG: Approach across his past 48 rounds. There’s no track he loves more than Kapalua, and all the contextual factors are in place for him to get back in the winner’s circle. JT is basically the co-favorite with Jon Rahm in most sportsbooks but is just the third-highest-priced golfer in this field on DraftKings. Being that this is a no-cut event, paying up in cash games is usually the way to proceed, and starting your roster with the JT is as safe as it gets this week.
Xander Schauffele ($9,500 DraftKings)
Not much to say here, really. We have the no-cut king coming back to a course where he’s gone T-5, T-2, WIN in three of his four trips, all while being priced under $10,000 on DraftKings. The Olympic Gold Medalist is also coming off a subpar 2021 but remains one of the game’s elites.
Schauffele has no blemishes in his game. He’s both accurate off the tee and with his irons and boasts a silky smooth short game that allows him to contend at the toughest of tracks. Having won this event before, as well as a WGC and a TOUR Championship, he must not be overlooked in any capacity and should be a cash game staple at his discounted price tag.
Sam Burns ($9,100 DraftKings)
Likely the hottest player on the planet coming into this event, Burns absolutely tore up the fall swing. He won at Sanderson Farms, following that up with a T-14 at Shriners, T-5 at the CJ Cup, T-7 in Houston, and most recently a T-3 at the Hero, which featured a similar field to what we’ll have this week at the TOC.
Burns ranks No. 3 in this field in total strokes gained across his past 48 rounds, trailing only Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay. That seems good.
He’s earned the moniker ‘Bermuda Burns’ because of his proclivity to play well at Bermuda tracks and is statistically the best Bermuda putter in this field by a pretty wide margin. It’s no longer weird seeing Burns priced above $9k on DraftKings, and it would surprise no one to see him start 2022 with a bang and win at Kapalua. Fade this man at your own risk.
Daniel Berger ($8,400 DraftKings)
Berger has morphed into one of the game’s elites and is now up to No. 19 in the official world golf rankings. He posted 10 top 10s in 2021 in his 20 starts, including a win at Pebble Beach back in February, which got him into this field. This will be Berger’s fourth start at Kapalua, having finished inside the top-14 in each of his previous three.
Berger is one of the best ball-strikers on the planet and actually ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Approach across his past 48, 36, 24, 16, and 12 rounds, a pretty ridiculous feat when you consider who’s in this field. I love targeting Berger on Bermuda greens, and with all the big names at the top, we get a really nice price discount here.
Sungjae Im ($8,200 DraftKings)
Sungjae seems to show up at strong field events quite often, evidenced most recently by his third-place finish at the BMW Championship during the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs. Im ranks fifth in this field in total strokes gained across his past 36 rounds and has been on a tear recently. He won the Shriner’s and followed that up with a T-9 at the CJ Cup.
He finished T5 here last year in his debut and is notoriously a better putter on Bermuda. While everyone will try and stack two of the big names at the top this week, I like this middle range a lot. Im’s $8,200 tag on DraftKings is a really nice bargain, and he makes for a rock-solid cash game option.
Patrick Reed ($7,900 DraftKings)
It was a really poor 2021 season for Captain America as he fell all the way to No. 25 in the world. He did, however, show some signs of life during the fall swing, finishing T-2 at Bermuda and T-3 at the Hero. Both are resort courses that bare a striking resemblance to Kapalua. Reed boasts incredible history at this event, posting a win, two runner-ups and an additional T-6 in his seven trips. He has the short game to compete anywhere and usually gets up for big-time events like this one. It’s not too often we get to roster Reed for under $8k on DraftKings, so let’s take the value this week and run with it.
Joel Dahmen ($6,100 DraftKings)
Dahmen has had some success in the past at resort courses, most recently in Punta Cana, where he won this past March. He should benefit from the wide fairways at Kapalua and has been known to show up at big-time events. He has a T-12 at the PLAYERS, T-10 at the PGA Championship and a pair of T-5’s at both the Genesis and the Arnold Palmer. Dahmen is a pure punt play this week, and I like him considerably more than the other options in this range. You will likely need to roster someone below $7k this week to fit multiple studs, and Dahmen stands out.