The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The Players is jammed with talent, hosting the top 50 golfers in both the FedExCup standings and the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
Let’s dive in!
As always, I backtested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out which have been the most valuable at TPC Sawgrass. Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 50.09 DraftKings points and a -0.45 Plus/Minus with a 46.9% Consistency Rating to the field.
I’m listing only those metrics that tested positively above the baseline:
- Long-Term Par-3 Scoring: +2.56
- Recent Missed Cuts: +2.51
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +2.32
- Recent Scrambling: +2.21
- Recent Par-4 Scoring: +2.00
- Recent Driving Accuracy: +1.46
- Long-Term Tournament Count:1.43
- Recent Par-5 Scoring: +1.43
- Long-Term Par-4 Scoring: +1.41
- Long-Term Eagles: +1.23
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +1.18
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +1.16
- Recent Driving Distance: +1.04
- Long-Term Birdies: +1.03
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation: +0.89
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +0.89
- Long-Term Scrambling: +0.69
- Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +0.51
- Recent Birdies: +0.45
- Long-Term Putts Per Round: +0.35
TPC Sawgrass isn’t a bomber’s paradise. It checks in as a par-72 and 7,189-yard course with doglegs and various water hazards. This is a strong field with excellent plays all over the board, so just about any roster construction strategy is going to work.
Since TPC Sawgrass features smaller than average green sizes, it’s not surprising to see scrambling near the top of the metrics.
Know this: I’ll also be paying attention to Strokes Gained: Approach. With four par 5s and some short par 4s — including four that check in at shorter than 425 yards and other much longer ones — par-4 and par-5 scoring will be among the other metrics I consider.
Key metrics to focus on: Par-4 and par-5 scoring, scrambling, Strokes Gained: Approach
And as usual, I like Long-Term and Recent Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) as a catch-all metric.
Best DFS Plays for The Players Championship
$10,000 and Above (DraftKings Pricing)
Justin Thomas ($11,000 DraftKings; $12,100 FanDuel) will save you $300 over Dustin Johnson ($11,400 DraftKings; $12,300 FanDuel), who is the present co-favorite with Rory McIlroy ($10,800 DraftKings; $11,800 FanDuel).
Thomas leads the field with -6.6 adjusted strokes on par 5s, and his -2.2 adjusted strokes on par 4s trails only DJ and Justin Rose ($10,200 DraftKings; $11,700 FanDuel). Thomas also leads this pricing tier and the entire field in Strokes Gained: Approach this season, ranking first in this metric in 2019.
Rose’s price dropped $500 after last week, and he’s the cheapest he’s been all season. He’s sporting the third-best LT Adj Rd Score in the field, and he’s been dominant over the past 75 weeks on par 4s and par 5s, averaging -2.9 and -5.8 adjusted strokes on them (both top-five marks).
Really, you can make a case every week for this top tier and in tournaments, so it wouldn’t hurt to have exposure to more than one. Brooks Koepka ($10,000 DraftKings; $11,500 FanDuel) will likely come in low-owned after he missed the cut last week. When it comes to cash games, which one I choose will likely depend on how my construction pans out in the lower and mid tiers.
I like John Rahm ($9,500 DraftKings; $11,300 FanDuel) as a tournament play. He’s priced as the No. 8 golfer, but he ranks fourth in the field with 16.8 birdies per tournament, along with ranking third in adjusted strokes on par 4s.
Sergio Garcia ($9,100 DraftKings; $10,900 FanDuel) has been dominant this season with four top-nine finishes in his five tournaments (not including his DQ) this season. Where he could struggle is around the greens as he’s saved for par on just 51.1% of his holes that he’s missed the green on over the past 75 weeks, but he does rank ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach this year.
Xander Schauffele ($9,000 DraftKings; $11,000 FanDuel) hasn’t played since the WGC-Mexico Championship, so he could fly somewhat under the radar in this loaded field. He’s been excellent this year with four top-15 finishes and a 25th at the Farmers Insurance Open. His par-4 numbers aren’t as strong as some of the golfers in this tier, but he does rank 12th in Strokes Gained: Approach and seventh in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green this year.
Jordan Spieth ($8,900 DraftKings; $10,800 FanDuel) … just kidding.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8,800 DraftKings; $10,600 FanDuel) is one of two golfers in this tier who is averaging over 16.0 birdies per tournament, along with leading all of them with his -1.4 and -5.9 adjusted strokes on par 4s and par 5s.
Patrick Cantlay ($8,700 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) is priced as the No. 15 golfer, but he has the ninth-best LT Adj Rd Score in the field. He’s solid on par 4s and par 5s, averaging -1.1 and -4.9 adjusted strokes on them over the past 75 weeks. Outside of his missed cut at the Famers, he’s been excellent with three top-15 finishes in his four tournaments this season. Overall he ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 14th in Strokes Gained: Approach this year.
Tony Finau ($8,400 DraftKings; $10,200 FanDuel) is priced all the way as the No. 18 golfer, but he owns the eighth-best LT Adj Rd Score. He also possesses a top-eight mark in birdies per tournament, top-15 mark in adjusted strokes on par 4s and a top-nine mark in adjusted strokes on par 4s. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Finau’s course history scaring some people off as his last three tournaments at Sawgrass have gone: 57th, MC, MC.
It’s hard not to consider Hideki Matsuyama ($8,300 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel) again. He’s dominating in everything except putting this season. He ranks third in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and third in Strokes Gained: Approach, but just 107th in Strokes Gained: Putting. At some point, the putts will start to drop for Deki.
Paul Casey ($7,900 DraftKings; $9,900 FanDuel) continues his usual trend of being priced rather low in tournaments with a strong field. Casey’s 68.6 LT Adj Rd Score is the 15th-best mark in the field, but he’s priced as the No. 23 golfer. He’s great on par 5s, averaging -5.7 adjusted strokes on them over the past 75 weeks, but he’s also in terrific recent form with his 67.0 recent Adj Rd Score over the past six weeks.
Ian Poulter ($7,600 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) is one of five golfers in the field who is averaging better than -5.0 adjusted strokes on par 5s over the past 75 weeks. But, he’s also in amazing form with his 67.5 recent Adj Rd Score. Poulter’s 23rd-place finish last week was his worst finish since he finished in 33rd at the Sony Open in January. Otherwise, he boasts four top-six finishes this year.
Gary Woodland ($7,500 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) hasn’t been this cheap since he was $6,700 at the PGA Championship in September. Woodland is priced as the No. 31 golfer, but he owns a top-20 LT Adj Rd Score, along with a top-seven mark in adjusted strokes on par 5s and top-15 mark in birdies per tournament.
Woodland’s finishes have been inconsistent this season, but he does rank fourth in Stroked Gained: Tee-to-Green and 19th in Strokes Gained: Approach. His putter and short game have been the primary things holding him back. Still, he’s underpriced for a guy who has potential to win in any given week.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,400 DraftKings; $9,800 FanDuel) is still too cheap for his skill set. RCB has five top-25 finishes this season in his six tournaments.
Keegan Bradley ($7,400 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) is one of the best ball strikers on tour, but the man can’t putt. He ranks eighth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 18th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach this season, but 141st (!!!) in Strokes Gained: Putting.
$6,900 and Below
Sung-jae Im ($6,800 DraftKings; $9,000 FanDuel) has made six of the eight cuts in his 2019 PGA events, including four top-16 finishes. He’s been solid over the past 75 weeks, averaging -5.4 adjusted strokes on par 5s and -0.9 adjusted strokes on par 4s. The 20-year-old also ranks 10th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 15th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in 2019.
Jason Kokrak‘s ($6,700 DraftKings; $9,000 FanDuel) price dropped $1,600 after last week thanks to the strong field for this tournament. Kokrak has been amazing this season with five top-20 finishes in his six tournaments this season, including back-to-back top 10s at very difficult venues in Bay Hill and PGA National.
Kokrak ranks ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach this season, 20th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and sixth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. He’s hard to argue against given his current metrics and price headed into this week.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage!
Note: Strokes Gained data via Fantasy National.
Pictured above: Justin Thomas
Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports