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PGA DFS Tips, Strategies for 2019 CJ Cup: Pay Up for Justin Thomas

The PGA Course Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Trends Tool and metrics to highlight stats for the upcoming tournament.

We finally have a decently strong field on tap for the start of the Asian swing. This event will feature just 78 players, which means we don’t have a cut to worry about.

Also, don’t forget they’re in South Korea, which means roster lock is Wednesday night in the states, not the typical Thursday morning.

Let’s dive in.

The Course

As always, I back-tested various metrics in our PGA Models to discover those that have been the most valuable at the Club at Nine Bridges, host of this week’s CJ Cup. 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 66.31 DraftKings points and a -3.54 Plus/Minus with a 41.2% Consistency Rating to the field.

Metrics that tested with at least a +1.00 Plus/Minus:

  • Course Adjusted Round Score: +4.97
  • Long-Term Eagles: +4.89
  • Recent Scrambling: +4.07
  • Recent Bogeys: +3.74
  • Recent Greens in Regulation: +3.71
  • Recent Driving Accuracy: +3.66
  • Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +3.26
  • Long-Term Scrambling: +2.42
  • Long-Term Missed Cuts: +2.41
  • Long-Term Driving Distance: +1.90
  • Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +1.50
  • Long-Term Birdies: +1.39
  • Long-Term Putts Per Round: +1.34
  • Recent Adjusted Round Score: +1.30

Key metrics: Par-5 scoring, scrambling, birdie or betting scoring, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Strokes Gained: Approach.

And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.

DFS Breakdown for 2019 CJ Cup

Core Plays

With no cut this week, I’ll likely spend up for some of the top-priced guys rather than rolling out a balanced roster.

If running a single lineup, I’ll start it with Justin Thomas ($11,700 DraftKings; $12,000 FanDuel). The reasoning is simple: He’s top-six in the field in every metric that I am looking at this week except for scrambling. But, if he’s hitting greens in regulation (GIR) and gaining strokes on approach, he shouldn’t have much reason to scramble to begin with.

The other top-priced guy I want some exposure to is Vikor Hovland ($10,500 DraftKings; $10,800 FanDuel). Hovland leads the field in greens in regulation over the last 75 weeks, including averaging an excellent -2.1 adjusted strokes on par 4s. He’s one of four players in the field to average at least -2.0 adjusted strokes over that time frame. Additionally, over his last 24 rounds, he ranks second in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, trailing only JT.

You always know what you’re getting with Corey Conners ($7,800 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel). You’re getting a terrible putter, but an elite ball-striker. His 72.9% of GIR over the last 75 weeks, trails only Hovland, but his 30.3 Putts Per Round (PPR) is near the bottom of the field. Furthermore, he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds, trailing the only the two guys I mentioned above. With no cut involved, we won’t have to sweat his terrible putter as much.

Harold Varner III ($7,100 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel) is one of the golfers I’ll be using for salary relief. His metrics don’t jump off the page, but he’s in good form, averaging 17.7 birdies per tournament and -6.3 adjusted strokes on par 5s over the last six weeks. He also ranks ninth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds.


Tournament Targets

Danny Willett’s ($8,900 DraftKings; $9,700 FanDuel) 68.0 recent Adj Rd Score is the third-best mark in the field. Over that time frame, he’s averaged 18.7 birdies per tournament and -7.0 and -4.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. And over his last four tournaments, he’s finished inside the top 25 four times. I’d expect Willett to have fairly low ownership for a small-field event.

Abraham Ancer ($7,400 DraftKings; $8,400 FanDuel) has been disappointing of late, missing his last two cuts, but we won’t have the cut to worry about this week. He’s solid scrambler, saving par on 62.2% of holes over the last 75 weeks. And over his last 24 rounds, he at least ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. If he can get his putter and irons going a bit, he could be in good shape this week.

Billy Horschel ($9,300 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) is slightly undervalued, sporting the sixth-best LT Adj Rd Score, but he’s priced as the No. 12 golfer. Horschel can fit into any roster build this week. Whether you want to pay up for JT or Hovland, or take a more balanced approach.

Matt Jones ($6,500 DraftKings; $7,700 FanDuel) may not carry much ownership since he has two withdrawals in his last three events, but he’s mildly intriguing as a one-off GPP play. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 22nd in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and he carries the third-best scrambling rate in the field.


Quick Hits

  • I’m always on board with Collin Morikawa ($10,100 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel). He carries the fourth-best LT Adj Rd Score in the field, and he’s crushed par 4s and 5s in the limited data set we have for him.
  • Sungjae Im ($9,700 DraftKings; $10,300 FanDuel) is second in the field in scrambling and has a solid game all around, averaging -0.9 and -5.5 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s.
  • Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($9,600 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) has been tearing it up overseas with two top-six finishes over his last three starts. He’s also played well at this course, owning a third and 11th-place finish.
  • Matthew Wolff ($8,800 DraftKings; $9,300 FanDuel) has tremendous upside. Overall, he ranks inside the top three in the field in eagles and birdies per tournament, along with adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. And over his last 24 rounds, he ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
  • Joaquin Niemann ($8,700 DraftKings; $9,500 FanDuel) should be able to capitalize on these par 4s as he’s averaged -1.7 adjusted strokes on them over the last 75 weeks. He’s also in good form overall, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach.
  • Chez Reavie ($8,300 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) doesn’t have any metrics that jump off the page, but he does rank fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 24 rounds.
  • Joel Dahmen ($7,100 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel) is reasonably cheap for someone who ranks 16th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over their last 24 rounds.
  • Vaughn Taylor ($6,500 DraftKings; $7,200 FanDuel) is an intriguing punt option at his low cost. He’s one of the more consistent putters in the field, and he ranks 25th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage or where to bet on golf!


Note: Strokes Gained and efficiency data via Fantasy National.

Pictured above: Justin Thomas

Photo credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Course Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Trends Tool and metrics to highlight stats for the upcoming tournament.

We finally have a decently strong field on tap for the start of the Asian swing. This event will feature just 78 players, which means we don’t have a cut to worry about.

Also, don’t forget they’re in South Korea, which means roster lock is Wednesday night in the states, not the typical Thursday morning.

Let’s dive in.

The Course

As always, I back-tested various metrics in our PGA Models to discover those that have been the most valuable at the Club at Nine Bridges, host of this week’s CJ Cup. 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 66.31 DraftKings points and a -3.54 Plus/Minus with a 41.2% Consistency Rating to the field.

Metrics that tested with at least a +1.00 Plus/Minus:

  • Course Adjusted Round Score: +4.97
  • Long-Term Eagles: +4.89
  • Recent Scrambling: +4.07
  • Recent Bogeys: +3.74
  • Recent Greens in Regulation: +3.71
  • Recent Driving Accuracy: +3.66
  • Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +3.26
  • Long-Term Scrambling: +2.42
  • Long-Term Missed Cuts: +2.41
  • Long-Term Driving Distance: +1.90
  • Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +1.50
  • Long-Term Birdies: +1.39
  • Long-Term Putts Per Round: +1.34
  • Recent Adjusted Round Score: +1.30

Key metrics: Par-5 scoring, scrambling, birdie or betting scoring, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Strokes Gained: Approach.

And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.

DFS Breakdown for 2019 CJ Cup

Core Plays

With no cut this week, I’ll likely spend up for some of the top-priced guys rather than rolling out a balanced roster.

If running a single lineup, I’ll start it with Justin Thomas ($11,700 DraftKings; $12,000 FanDuel). The reasoning is simple: He’s top-six in the field in every metric that I am looking at this week except for scrambling. But, if he’s hitting greens in regulation (GIR) and gaining strokes on approach, he shouldn’t have much reason to scramble to begin with.

The other top-priced guy I want some exposure to is Vikor Hovland ($10,500 DraftKings; $10,800 FanDuel). Hovland leads the field in greens in regulation over the last 75 weeks, including averaging an excellent -2.1 adjusted strokes on par 4s. He’s one of four players in the field to average at least -2.0 adjusted strokes over that time frame. Additionally, over his last 24 rounds, he ranks second in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, trailing only JT.

You always know what you’re getting with Corey Conners ($7,800 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel). You’re getting a terrible putter, but an elite ball-striker. His 72.9% of GIR over the last 75 weeks, trails only Hovland, but his 30.3 Putts Per Round (PPR) is near the bottom of the field. Furthermore, he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds, trailing the only the two guys I mentioned above. With no cut involved, we won’t have to sweat his terrible putter as much.

Harold Varner III ($7,100 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel) is one of the golfers I’ll be using for salary relief. His metrics don’t jump off the page, but he’s in good form, averaging 17.7 birdies per tournament and -6.3 adjusted strokes on par 5s over the last six weeks. He also ranks ninth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds.


Tournament Targets

Danny Willett’s ($8,900 DraftKings; $9,700 FanDuel) 68.0 recent Adj Rd Score is the third-best mark in the field. Over that time frame, he’s averaged 18.7 birdies per tournament and -7.0 and -4.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. And over his last four tournaments, he’s finished inside the top 25 four times. I’d expect Willett to have fairly low ownership for a small-field event.

Abraham Ancer ($7,400 DraftKings; $8,400 FanDuel) has been disappointing of late, missing his last two cuts, but we won’t have the cut to worry about this week. He’s solid scrambler, saving par on 62.2% of holes over the last 75 weeks. And over his last 24 rounds, he at least ranks 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. If he can get his putter and irons going a bit, he could be in good shape this week.

Billy Horschel ($9,300 DraftKings; $10,000 FanDuel) is slightly undervalued, sporting the sixth-best LT Adj Rd Score, but he’s priced as the No. 12 golfer. Horschel can fit into any roster build this week. Whether you want to pay up for JT or Hovland, or take a more balanced approach.

Matt Jones ($6,500 DraftKings; $7,700 FanDuel) may not carry much ownership since he has two withdrawals in his last three events, but he’s mildly intriguing as a one-off GPP play. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 22nd in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and he carries the third-best scrambling rate in the field.


Quick Hits

  • I’m always on board with Collin Morikawa ($10,100 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel). He carries the fourth-best LT Adj Rd Score in the field, and he’s crushed par 4s and 5s in the limited data set we have for him.
  • Sungjae Im ($9,700 DraftKings; $10,300 FanDuel) is second in the field in scrambling and has a solid game all around, averaging -0.9 and -5.5 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s.
  • Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($9,600 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) has been tearing it up overseas with two top-six finishes over his last three starts. He’s also played well at this course, owning a third and 11th-place finish.
  • Matthew Wolff ($8,800 DraftKings; $9,300 FanDuel) has tremendous upside. Overall, he ranks inside the top three in the field in eagles and birdies per tournament, along with adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. And over his last 24 rounds, he ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
  • Joaquin Niemann ($8,700 DraftKings; $9,500 FanDuel) should be able to capitalize on these par 4s as he’s averaged -1.7 adjusted strokes on them over the last 75 weeks. He’s also in good form overall, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach.
  • Chez Reavie ($8,300 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) doesn’t have any metrics that jump off the page, but he does rank fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 24 rounds.
  • Joel Dahmen ($7,100 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel) is reasonably cheap for someone who ranks 16th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over their last 24 rounds.
  • Vaughn Taylor ($6,500 DraftKings; $7,200 FanDuel) is an intriguing punt option at his low cost. He’s one of the more consistent putters in the field, and he ranks 25th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds.

Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage or where to bet on golf!


Note: Strokes Gained and efficiency data via Fantasy National.

Pictured above: Justin Thomas

Photo credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports