The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
There’s a short break between the British Open and the fourth major of the year, the PGA Championship, and the tour will stop this week in Canada for the 2017 Canadian Open. It’s a much weaker field than last week’s, but we do have world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the top at $12,200 on DraftKings.
Kelly McCann has posted a course breakdown of Glen Abbey Golf Club, and we also discussed course fit on the PGA Daily Fantasy Flex podcast. It is a Par 72 course that plays at 7,253 yards, although Kelly noted that it has four Par 5s that all play less than 560 yards. The course isn’t short, but it is short in terms of Par 5s, which play to birdies and eagles. On the podcast, we discussed that the course fit here is very weak; it played as a distance course last year but accuracy the prior two years.
I have a hypothesis on that: We know that distance has a strong correlation with birdies, so it’s no surprise that players who can get to Par 5 greens in just a couple strokes have a better chance of putting up fantasy points. But distance is not an accurate reflection of current form; Recent Greens in Regulation (GIR) and Driving Accuracy (DA) are likely better indicators of that. As a result, I think you want golfers who make birdies, especially on the Par 5s (and distance guys typically rate higher in that regard), but you also want golfers who aren’t in terrible form. The metrics that have most strongly correlated with production at Glen Abbey fit this narrative. Per Kelly, here are the five most valuable metrics (per the PGA Trends tool) and how the top quintile of golfers in each metric has performed in terms of Plus/Minus:
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +7.35
- Long-Term Birdies Per Tournament: +21.05
- Recent Greens in Regulation: +10.04
- Recent Driving Accuracy: +9.83
- Recent Birdies Per Tournament: +12.91
First of all, look at that Plus/Minus for golfers in the top 20 percent of LT Birdies. That’s ridiculous.
Because of DraftKings scoring, birdies always rule in daily fantasy golf, and that’s especially true this week. This isn’t incredibly groundbreaking information, but you’ll want to roster golfers who can take advantage of the short Par 5s and who are in good recent form in terms of accuracy.
While there are three guys priced above $10,000 this week, they’re all spread out: Dustin Johnson is at $12,200 on DraftKings, Matt Kuchar is at $11,400, and Charley Hoffman is at $10,300. Of note, because of the weaker field, DJ’s price tag is relatively in line with most weeks — he was $12,000 last week at the British, for example — whereas Kuchar and Hoffman have price increases of $4,200 and $3,600, respectively. They’re historically pricey while DJ is around his average; that should affect ownership, and indeed DJ is projected for the most ownership this week at 26-30 percent in our Models. Pro subscribers can review exposure trends across various buy-in levels in our DFS Ownership Dashboard shortly after the tournament starts.
DJ showed signs of returning to form last week, making the cut and shooting an impressive 65 on Saturday before dropping back to 54th on Sunday thanks to a poor round of 78. He’s been a negative fantasy asset over his last 10 tournaments, posting a -3.83 Plus/Minus with just a 40 percent Consistency Rating:
He has a poor 70.1 Recent Adjusted Round Score, and what’s even more concerning is his Recent GIR of 56.3 percent. That’s one of the important metrics identified above, and he has one of the worst marks in the entire field. That’s an ominous sign, and he didn’t even hit greens well last week when he made the cut, posting a 45.0 percent GIR through his four rounds. That said, he’s been excellent at Glen Abbey, finishing second in his two starts in 2016 and 2013. He’s the world No. 1 for a reason, and it’s only a matter of time before he returns to his dominant form.
Both Kuchar and Hoffman will be popular, too, and it’s much easier to build lineups around them and Tony Finau at $9,500 given the value in the mid-$7,000, low-$8,000 range this week. Kuchar is difficult to fade after finishing second at last week’s British Open, especially since that doesn’t seem to be an outlier performance:
He has three top-10 finishes over his last three events here, and his Course Adj Rd (68.1) and Recent Adj Rd (67.4) are about as good as it gets any week, let alone in this weaker field. He has averaged 17.0 birdies per tournament over his last three events, which is quite a bump up from his long-term mark of 13.6.
Finau is an especially intriguing player given his length off the tee: He’s averaging a DD of 309.7 yards over the past year. He’s posted 13.1 birdies per tournament during that span, and his -4.1 average adjusted strokes on Par 5s is one of the better marks of the week. He’s averaged a robust +13.35 Plus/Minus with a 90 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 tournaments and hasn’t missed a cut since mid-May at THE PLAYERS. He’s projected for a chalky 26-30 percent ownership and leads all golfers this week with 11 Pro Trends.
The Value Plays
Perhaps the most intriguing golfer in the field this week is Patrick Cantlay, a 25-year-old golfer who was formerly the world’s No. 1 amateur. He has faced a lot of personal injury and tragedy over the last couple of years, but he’s back to golf and looks to be in impressive form again. He’s played in only six tournaments over the last year, which is a small sample, but he’s also crushed in those six tournaments:
He probably deserves to be dinged a bit because of his low tournament count, but hasn’t he done exactly what you’d want from a guy with a small sample? His data suggests he’s a prime play this week: He leads all golfers in the field with an average of 16.3 birdies per tournament — 0.8 more than any other golfer. He’s averaged -5.0 adjusted strokes on Par 5s, which is the best mark in the field. In his last tournament at the Memorial Tournament in early June, he posted a -12 score across four rounds on Par 5s and hit 66 percent of Greens in Regulation. He’s long, accurate, and eats birdies for lunch. Unfortunately, he’s also going to be quite chalky: He’s tied with DJ and Finau for the highest ownership range of the week at 26-30 percent.
We’re admitted Chez-ealots on the PGA Flex pod, and Chez Reavie is at a nice price at $7,500. He and Chad Campbell, who is also $7,500, are likely underpriced given their LT Adj Rd scores of 69.6 and 69.8. For reference, Reavie’s LT Adj Rd is the same as that of Keegan Bradley, who costs $8,900 on DraftKings. Chez has ridiculous recent accuracy marks: Over his last three tournaments, he’s hit 75.9 percent of greens and 85.1 percent of fairways. He last played at the John Deere Classic two weeks ago, and he hit 80 percent of greens and 91 percent of fairways on the weekend. He has excellent course history here as well, as evidenced by his 69.3 Course Adj Rd score over his last three visits. Campbell is a very similar golfer: He’s posted a 76.4 percent Recent GIR and a 75.6 percent Recent DA, and he has a Course Adj Rd score of 69.3 over his previous three visits. Both of these guys are strong cash-game plays and can form a nice core if you’re using the Lineup Builder to mass enter lineups this weekend.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Jim Furyk: He’s been about as bad as you can be over his last 10 events save for two nice weeks recently.
That, combined with his high price tag of $9,100, should keep his ownership in the single digits. He’s hit at 70-plus percent of greens and 78-plus percent of fairways in each of his last two tournaments, and he has some of the best course history at Glen Abbey, posting a Course Adj Rd score of 68.2 over his last three.
Gary Woodland: He’s underpriced at $7,900 given his 69.1 LT Adj Rd score, and he’s a birdie-maker. He’s averaging 13.2 birdies per tournament over the last year, and his -4.7 average adjusted strokes on Par 5s is one of the five best marks in the field. He didn’t finish the weekend strong at the British, but he posted Thursday and Friday opening rounds of 70 and 71 in terrible weather conditions.
Adam Hadwin: This one’s easy. He’s been in bad form lately, as evidenced by his 71.2 Recent Adj Rd score, but his 69.4 LT Adj Rd score is one of the best marks of any golfer at any price tag, and he’s only $7,400. He’s too talented not to see some positive regression soon.
Trey Mullinax: The 25-year-old All-American from Alabama is playing well right now, posting a 69.2 Recent Adj Rd score over his last five tournaments. He’s done it in just about every way, too: He’s hit 73.9 percent of Greens in Regulation but also has been crushing the ball, averaging a Driving Distance of 322.1 yards. He’s averaging 13.6 birdies per tournament over the last year, which is elite for a golfer at $6,900.
Luke List: He’s long off the tee and has a 69.8 LT Adj Rd score. He crushes Par 5s with a -4.4 adjusted average, and he’s finished 14th and 21st in his two trips to this course. He has averaged a putrid -11.84 Plus/Minus over his last 10, but that’s mostly because of a bad putter: He has a Recent PPR of 31.6. At only two to four percent projected ownership, it’s worth seeing if he can read the greens a little better here.
Good luck this week!