The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The PGA Tour stops in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for the 2017 Greenbrier Classic. This event was canceled last year due to severe flooding in the region, and not many of the world’s top golfers are joining this year: Patrick Reed is currently 21st in the World Golf Rankings and the highest-priced golfer at $11,200 on DraftKings, $10,100 on FanDuel, and $17,800 on FantasyDraft.
The Greenbrier Classic has been played at The Old White TPC since it became a tournament in 2010; it is a Par 70 course distanced at a long 7,287 yards. Because of the devastating flooding last June, the course had to undergo some repairs and restoration. Golf course architect Keith Foster was brought in, and as detailed in this week’s Course Breakdown, notable changes were made to the course: Greens were rebuilt and new, different grass was added in some areas.
On this week’s PGA Daily Fantasy Flex podcast, Colin Davy and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) agree that while the course changes should be noted they do not significantly impact course fit. It could be wise to limit the weight of course history, but don’t go overboard: Course fit and history are still important. As you might expect given the yardage and the fact it’s a Par 70, distance rules the day. In the Course Breakdown Kelly McCann notes that players ranked in the top 20 percent in Long-Term Driving Distance (DD) have historically averaged a +1.92 Plus/Minus at this course. That mark is bested only by golfers in the top 20 percent in Long-Term Adjusted Round (+3.96) and Long-Term Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (+5.49). The ability to hit the ball far off the tee is correlated with birdies, which always dominate scoring in DFS contests. Focus this week on golfers who are long, but of course always heavily weight LT Adj Rd and birdie potential.
Again, Reed is the highest-priced golfer, but this week is especially intriguing because of the weak overall field. Many tournaments on tour boast at least one of the top-10 golfers in the world, and they always soak up a massive amount of ownership compared to the studs around them. Reed is a fine play — his 69.1 LT Adj Rd is fourth in the field, and he’s been in the top 25 in six of his last seven events — but he’s not a typical $11,000 golfer on DraftKings. We can measure this by using the Trends tool to see odds to win for golfers in that salary range. There have been 325 golfers priced at $11,000 or more on DraftKings since 2013 on the PGA Tour. Of those golfers, 140 have had implied odds to win of less than 7.0 percent:
Reed is at 6.7 percent this week, so he’s essentially in the bottom third of golfers historically at that price point.
Because of that dynamic, ownership levels are projected to be fairly even among many of the high-priced guys. Not until James Hahn at $8,800 on DraftKings — he has the 14th-highest salary in the field — do we find someone projected for potential single-digit ownership at nine to 12 percent. Sung Kang is the first golfer below that; he’s $8,600 and is currently projected for five to eight percent ownership.
For that reason, it’s probably wise to ignore ownership for players above $8,500: Simply take the best golfers and find contrarian plays with cheaper salaries. Some intriguing golfers at the top of the salary range are Bill Haas, Charles Howell III, and Tony Finau. Haas has been on an impressive streak of late, posting four straight top-25 finishes; his 67.5 Recent Adj Rd is the second-best mark in the field only behind Howell’s 66.8. Howell does have a small sample, but it’s a notable sample: He’s played just once (last week) since The Heritage in mid-April, but he came in second after losing in a playoff to Kyle Stanley. Finau is cheap this week at $9,100 and has been especially impressive this season. He should be quite chalky:
Pro subscribers can review ownership trends via our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after lineups lock.
The Value Plays
Gary Woodland is one of the most intriguing players of the tournament, as he’s incredibly mispriced at $7,500 on DraftKings, at least compared to his elite 69.0 LT Adj Rd, which is the second-best mark in the field behind Phil Mickelson‘s 68.5. (By the way, we spent a good chunk of time discussing Mickelson’s caddie situation in the pod, so I’ll let you hear my thoughts on that there.) Despite Woodland’s great LT metrics, he hasn’t been great in the short term. He’s finished 50th, 49th, and 40th over his last three events, and prior to that he missed cuts at THE PLAYERS Championship and The Masters. He has long-term talent and is long with a 304.0-yard LT DD; that’s probably enough to make him a chalky value option despite his recent struggles.
Stewart Cink is another player who seems mispriced at $6,900 on DraftKings; his 69.5 LT Adj Rd is easily the best mark among golfers priced below $7,500. He’s older at 44 years of age, but he’s been in excellent form of late, averaging a +9.13 Plus/Minus and 80 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 tournaments. Perhaps more importantly, he’s been longer off the tee of late, averaging a Recent DD of 305.2 yards. Cink doesn’t have any history at this course, but he allows you to take a stars-and-scrubs lineup approach.
A guy with another good combination of LT Adj Rd and LT DD is J.B. Holmes, who has finished 68th, 12th, and 52nd over his last three tournaments; he’s a volatile player perfect for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs). Holmes has a massive 315.4-yard LT DD, and his 13.7 Long-Term Birdies Per Tournament is the fourth-best mark in the field. He has respectable odds to win the tournament at 2.4 percent, which isn’t bad for his $8,500 price tag on DraftKings. He’s been between 22nd and 27th in each of his last three trips to the Greenbrier, but he has the capability to win.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
David Lingmerth: He put up a ‘disappointing’ 73 on Sunday last week to fall to fifth after leading, but he’s continued his hot streak: He’s averaged a +7.18 Plus/Minus with a 70 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 tournaments. He has the best history of any player here, as evidenced by his 68.9 Course Adj Rd.
Luke List: He’s my Martin Laird of the week. In other words, he’s the most intriguing golfer projected for under five percent ownership. He’s super long off the tee — his 309.8-yard LT DD is one of the best marks in the field — and he’s shown the ability to go after Par 5s: He has a nice -4.2 scoring average over the past 75 weeks.
Good luck this week, and be sure to do your own PGA research with the FantasyLabs Tools!