The second major of the year is finally here as the best players in the world get set to tee it up at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This week’s PGA Championship will not feature the defending champion, though, as Phil Mickelson withdrew over the weekend, but it will be the second event of the season for Tiger Woods. He is always a headline, but alongside him will be the story of Jordan Spieth, playing some of his best golf in recent years and seeking the career grand slam.
In DFS, we get another Millionaire Maker from DraftKings as they have set up a $25 buy-in with $1,000,000 of the $3,000,000 prize pool going to first place with just over 142,000 entries. It’s an extremely top-heavy GPP payout structure, but it will be our focus this week as we look to build lineups for that contest.
As is always the case, we have you covered here at FantasyLabs and Action Network with a plethora of write-ups about the breakdown of the course, top picks in DFS, and betting. Our Lineup Optimizer is one of the best in the industry, allowing you to build up to 150 lineups at a time, and sort through a number of models to build your lineups.
One factor to keep an eye on this week as we get closer to Thursday is the weather. High winds are expected in the area, and there could be a wave edge for those going off in the morning on Thursday. It could certainly flip one direction or another before lock and change the slate in a big way. I’ll be playing into that wave split to some extent with my picks, but I don’t think we want to cut out the other side, especially with the elite players.
You can also wave stack, or pick and choose how you want to stack certain waves in our optimizer by changing some of the dropdowns:
If you missed it, we added two new metrics in our models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.
The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is great for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.
And don’t forget about the tools that FantasyLabs has to offer, like our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.
High-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Jon Rahm $11,200
If all is equal on the weather side, Jon Rahm will be my favorite play to start the really large-field GPP builds like the Milly Maker, as I think he will go woefully under-owned. Right now, our friends at FanShare Sports have him below the teens in ownership and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that shrink further as we get closer to lock. My feeling is that if people are paying up to his level, they will go to Justin Thomas just below or go all the way up to Scheffler. This game is one of heavy recency bias, and most are brushing off the win in Mexico for the Spaniard especially compared to what Scottie has done this year.
Rahm can be a great fit for this course as well, he has one of the best all-around games on TOUR when he is really dialed into things. His around-the-green game is much better than he has displayed early this year, and even the putter can come alive at times.
If we get peak Rahm, at low ownership, that could be all the leverage we need to be in a position to win a big GPP.
Cameron Smith $9,700
All of the hype and buzz around Jordan Spieth has done wonders for the ownership for Cameron Smith. If you remember, back to the Masters, he was just about this same price tag and one of the chalkiest players on the slate. He finished in the top 5 and was in the final group as really the player with the best spot to take down Scheffler until the 12th hole.
Fast forward a month, and he’s half the ownership at the same price because Spieth has come alive over that span. It’s not that anything has really changed with the Australian, but really a quick turn towards one of the most popular players in the world.
I love the leverage we get going to Smith here as he clearly has the upside to win this event and has the complete type of game we are looking for. Smith is likely to come in around half of the ownership of Spieth and he also gets what looks to be the favorable wave to start the week.
Mid-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Will Zalatoris $8,900
Willy Z has established himself as one of the premier players and ball-strikers on TOUR, especially in big events. He continues to put his name in the mix even as he awaits his breakthrough victory at this level. The missed cut last week seems to have turned some away as he is projected for single-digit ownership this week even from the potentially more favorable Thursday morning wave.
If you look back at what Zalatoris did at the Byron Nelson, there were no ball-striking issues, it was just that balky putter that bit him again. Eventually, he may get hot for a full week and really make a run to win a tournament, and this week where ball-striking and specifically approach play are so important, he gets the nod from me. He may also benefit from the fact that this is likely a tough scoring event, where par is just fine, and if he can just make the short ones to save par, he may be in the mix throughout the weekend.
Tiger Woods $8,200
As I am going through this list I am tending to favor the AM/PM wave and that is right where Tiger Woods sits. He gets the ultimate group on Thursday alongside Rory and Spieth, which you know will add some motivation for him to show the guys he is/has passed the torch to that he can still compete with them. I also think this course and its difficult nature may allow him to use his experience and knowledge of the course to contend this weekend.
I think we can expect him to have a better week this week than he did back at Augusta and at low ownership he is worth a gamble in large GPPs for having a week we would all remember if he finds a strong finish.
Value PGA DFS Picks
Tony Finau $7,900
I’m riding or dying with the ship on Tony Finau this week, as I think his play has been greatly understated. Yes, I know he lost 7.7 strokes on approach at the Wells Fargo, but that was a slop fest that for my money can be mostly ignored. If you want to buy into it, then let me tell you that he has a tendency to bounce back strong after poor iron performances, and ironically the last time he lost more than seven shots with his irons was the week before the 2020 PGA.
He bounced back at that major with more than seven shots gained on approach and a top-5 finish. He seems to have figured out his issues around the greens, and, I believe has the entire game heading in the right direction. I’m in on Finau this week in every sense of it and the mid-teens ownership projection won’t deter me there.
Alex Noren $7,000
Noren has grown into one of my favorite plays of the week, and I even added a sprinkle on him outright. If you’ve been reading this column for any amount of time this season, you know I’ve been all over this Swede throughout the year as he continues his return to form. He is headed now to an event where he won’t need a bunch of birdies or low scores to contend, which is right up his alley. When I add to it that his preferred putting surface is the same bentgrass he will see this week at Southern Hills, he becomes a core staple for me this week.
Sleeper PGA DFS Picks
Mito Pereira $6,700
I love that some of my favorite guys this year are getting the good draw this week as Mito will join those above (outside of Rahm) in the AM/PM split. He is starting to put it all together at the TOUR level and has shown to be a little better suited for the tougher scoring events where he doesn’t have to make every putt he looks at to contend.
The Chilean has also shown a preference for these green surfaces this week as some of the wins he had on the Korn Ferry last year came on bentgrass as well. He’s my clear favorite play for the PGA Championship in this price range.
Ryan Fox $6,300
My last pick down deep was a split between Lanto Griffin and Ryan Fox. I went with Fox frankly because Griffin’s around the green game has me worried he may never get back on the green when he misses them, but I will throw that dart in a few lineups. I’ll instead go with the Australian here as he will be well suited for any weather and comes in off a runner-up finish last week on the DP World Tour.
He is a player that is familiar with the big stage of majors and larger PGA tournaments, so the event will not bother him one bit, and clearly, with his finish last week he is bringing with him some good form.