The top 124 players on the PGA TOUR this season tee it up Thursday for the first playoff event of 2020. It is now 124 after Brooks Koepka withdrew on Wednesday citing knee injuries, ending his current season as he is outside of the top 70 ranking needed for playing in next week’s BMW Championship. I am sure he will have eyes on returning for next month’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
DraftKings gives us a solid Showdown slate for round one, with the main tournament a $10 buy-in and $20,000 awarded to first place. This article will focus on plays for that tournament.
As I have noted in previous articles, I first look for any weather or other edge for Showdown to start each tournament. There isn’t anything this week to lead to a wave stack or elimination of any significant portion of the player pool. I will lean on my favorite plays for the full tournament through the first two Showdown slates, with a slight preference to the morning tee times.
If you need a further tie-breaker between players, there’s an interesting angle for those teeing off on the 10th hole. Players turning from the back nine to the front will get to play the Par 5 18th, Par 4 1st, then Par 5 2nd consecutively. These three holes all ranked within the 5 easiest holes on the course in previous tournaments at TPC Boston, and would be the most conceivable stretch for the coveted birdie streak on DraftKings. I wouldn’t go overboard on it, but as mentioned it can be a tie-breaker when splitting hairs between similar players in Showdown.
Now to my picks.
Justin Thomas $10,300
Justin Thomas is my favorite play for the tournament and my pick to win The Northern Trust. In the model I run personally, he is the top player on the board, and it’s not particularly close. Thomas is a top player in many of the key stat categories that Dustin highlighted in his article. He ranks 1st in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 3rd in Birdie or Better Percentage, and 1st in Par 5 Birdie or Better Percentage on the season.
He also has a great history here at TPC Boston, having won the Dell Technologies Championship on this course in 2017. Add to it that he has the preferred morning tee time, off the 10th tee, and you can see why he is a near lock for me on this slate.
Daniel Berger $8,800
Daniel Berger has had a resurgence in his career this season, now fully over his wrist injury that set him back the past couple of seasons. He won the first tournament back at the Charles Schwab Challenge back in June, and has two additional top 5 finishes since that win. Berger ranks 4th in Par 5 Birdie or Better Percentage and 6th in overall Birdie or Better Percentage. He’s also 12th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green for the 2020 season.
I like Berger to be in contention throughout the week, and I expect his tournament to be kick started with a strong first round on Thursday.
Scottie Scheffler $8,000
Scottie Scheffler is a player that came out of the restart in poor form, missing the cut in 3 of his first 4 events after the break. He’s followed it up since then with 3 straight top 22 finishes, including a 4th place at the PGA Championship. He has certainly found the form and game that made him one of the top young players in the game before guys like Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff stole that spotlight.
Scheffler is a known scorer, and often starts fast. He ranks 8th in Round 1 Scoring Average and 8th in Birdie or Better Percentage on the season. He gained 7.3 strokes on the top flight field at TPC Harding park two weeks ago, and I’ll look for him to continue his strong play this week.
Sungjae Im $7,600
Sungjae Im also came out of the break without having much of his game. He struggled to find anything until last week at the Wyndham Championship where he gained 8 strokes Tee to Green on his way to a 9th place finish. Im is a streaky player that I will look to ride on hot streaks and avoid when he starts to lose form. He appears to be ready to go on another run of good golf, and I will look to capitalize on that opportunity.
He has done well at the start of events this year, ranking 12th in first-round scoring average. Sungjae can rack up birdies when he is on his game as noted by his 20th ranking in Birdie or Better Percentage and 27th in Par 5 Birdie or Better Percentage. These two stats create a great combination for Showdown, especially off of the strong form he showed last week.
I like Im’s form coming into the slate tomorrow and expect to get him at low ownership with some of the bigger names around him.
Cameron Davis $6,400
As I noted on Sunday for the final round of the Wyndham Championship, Cameron Davis is just flatly a birdie maker. The 25-year-old Australian can score in bunches as noted by his 29th ranking on the season in Birdie or Better Percentage. He comes into the playoffs in great form off of a 15th place finish last week in Greensboro, where he gained 3.4 strokes Tee to Green on the field.
He has a tendency to throw in an ugly bogey or double, but you won’t find his upside elsewhere at this price. I’ll continue to ride the hot hand.
Pictured above: Justin Thomas (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)