This week, the PGA TOUR continues in Las Vegas as Shadow Creek Golf Course hosts The CJ Cup. The course is a par-72 that measures 7,527 yards with bentgrass greens. This event is normally held in South Korea but has been moved stateside due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no real course history to speak of here, as this will be the first PGA TOUR event ever at Shadow Creek. We have a 78-man, no-cut event with plenty of the world’s top players making their first start of the new season.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate; however, these players are great options in any contest type.
Note: My forthcoming 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. There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories that 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.
Daniel Berger ($9,300 DraftKings; $10,400 FanDuel)
We’ll begin in the low $9,000 range in cash this week with Berger. You can make the case he’s been one of the five best ball strikers in the world since the TOUR came back. We prefer to target Berger when he’s priced below all the studs up top because we get a massive discount without sacrificing any upside.
Berger ranked fourth in par-5 scoring during the 2019-20 season, and that’s pretty noteworthy considering the four par 5s this week that players will have to contend with. His long-term form is something to marvel, as he ranks both 12th in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in total Strokes Gained in this field over his past 36 rounds. He makes for a great anchor on a cash team.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,200 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel)
Matsuyama disappointed big time last week with a brutal missed cut at a course he’s had success at in the past in TPC Summerlin. We have to have very a short memory, meaning we’ll be going right back to him this week at a course that should suit his game.
There are a lot of similarities between Shadow Creek and Muirfield Village, where the Memorial Tournament is played. Matsuyama has elite history at Muirfield, despite missing the cut this past season. Long term, he ranks only behind Sergio Garcia and Patrick Cantlay in SG: Tee-to-Green at Jack’s place.
Prior to last week’s mishap, Matsuyama had been playing elite golf, ranking in the top 20 in pretty much every ball-striking category over the past two months. Much like Berger, we like to target Matsuyama when he’s in this lower $9,000 range. Much of his value comes from his cut-making ability but even in a no-cut event, it’s hard to ignore his upside at this price.
Viktor Hovland ($9,000 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel)
Hovland has become one of the world’s best ball strikers at 23 years old, a pretty impressive feat when you consider the caliber of players on TOUR right now. Over his past eight rounds, the Norwegian ranks sixth in this field in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Ball-Striking. He played exceptionally well last time out at the U.S Open, as well, finishing 13th.
He’s been in great form for a while now and we’re getting a great price on him this week at just $9,000 on DraftKings. He made the cut at both events at Muirfield Village this season, including a solo third place finish at the Workday Charity Open.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of similarities between Muirfield and Shadow Creek. It should be no surprise to see Hovland on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.
Scottie Scheffler ($8,800 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel)
We should be thankful that Scheffler missed the cut last week on the number because had he made the weekend, he’d easily be about $500 more expensive this week. It was just his second event back after testing positive for COVID-19, so we can give him a pass on being a little rusty.
Despite not operating at full strength, Scheffler still ranks ninth in this field in SG: Off-the-Tee over his last eight rounds. He also finished 22nd at the Memorial this season. We know he can score with the game’s elite when he’s locked in, and I’m willing to make that bet this week knowing we get four full rounds of golf from him.
Scheffler can carry a roster on his own, but this price allows us to slot him in as our second or third golfer and that’s something that can’t be ignored in cash games. Lock him in.
Abraham Ancer ($8,200 DraftKings; $9,400 FanDuel)
This $8,200 price tag is way too low for Ancer, who’s coming off a fourth place finish at the Shriners. We know he’s one of the more streaky players on TOUR, and we need to be targeting him when he’s playing well.
Last week was primarily his putter carrying him, but knowing we get four full rounds this week at this price is pretty enticing despite his so-so ball striking numbers of late. Ancer made the cut at the Memorial before a horrid Sunday cost him a shot at contending. We’ve seen him dominate strong fields in the past, and it would surprise no one to see him perform well at Shadow Creek.
Joaquin Niemann ($7,500 DraftKings; $8,800 FanDuel)
I seem to never get Niemann right. However, he’s been playing too well to ignore over the last month or so, finishing no worse than 27th since the BMW Championship.
The young Chilean is one of best iron players in the world, ranking 14th in SG: Ball-Striking over his last 48 rounds. He’s also a much better putter on bentgrass, which is what we have at Shadow Creek. His price is very strong this week and can fit any type of roster construction you’re into.
Corey Conners ($6,900 DraftKings; $8,100 FanDuel)
Watching Conners putt will make you want to pull your hair out. However, his ball striking can rival that of any elite player on TOUR. He’s certainly one of the more frustrating players to roster.
Thankfully, with a no cut this week, we don’t have to worry about potentially getting just two rounds from him. He can score plenty and should carve up the par 5s this week. Conners sits third in overall ball striking in this field over his last 16 rounds, which is quite good when you consider all the high-end talent we have this week.
To top everything off, Conners made the cut at both the Workday and Memorial last season. You can do a lot worse for $6,900 on DraftKings this week.
Xander Schauffele ($10,300 DraftKings; $11,500 FanDuel)
Schauffele is the no-cut king, and I’d be remiss not not write him up this week. $10,300 is a little more than I like to pay in cash games. However, I certainly won’t talk you off rostering the No. 8 player in the world. He’s viable in any format this week.