The PGA DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
We remain in Scotland this week as The Old Course at St. Andrews hosts the 150th Open Championship. The course is a par 72, measuring 7,305 yards with greens featuring a mixture of bentgrass and poa.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My 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.
Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories 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
Also, our new Perfect% metric is a great data point to use with your roster construction.
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.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
PGA DFS Core Picks
Jordan Spieth ($10,000 DraftKings)
Spieth is very likely the premier links golfer on TOUR right now. The man absolutely loves this style of golf and more specifically, the Open Championship. He won this event at Royal Birkdale back in 2017, outlasting Matt Kuchar as a 23-year-old to take home his third career Major.
He’s been stuck on three ever since, but is absolutely on the short list to win here at The Old Course this week.
Links golf is way different than what we see in the states on a daily basis, and it requires a specific skill set. There are tons of hills and bunkers littered throughout the course and knowing how to shape your shots — as well as having an elite around-the-green game — is basically a prerequisite.
When you think of those two skills, Spieth immediately jumps to the top of the list. His record at this event has been great, as since his win, he’s gone T9, T20, 2nd. These finishes also came in his “down years,” so it’s clear even when he’s not firing on all cylinders that he can still dominate a links course in his sleep.
He shook off the rust from his MC at the Travelers with a T10 last week at the Scottish Open, and he should be ready to rock this week. Spieth also finished T4 at this very course in 2015 — the last time The Open was held here.
He checks every box for me this week, and I really believe he could take this thing down. Fire him up in all formats.
Xander Schauffele ($9,900 DraftKings)
After not winning a PGA TOUR event in four years, Schauffele has now won each of the past three times he’s teed it up. Golf is a funny game that way.
After his win at the Travelers, he then won the JP McManus Pro-Am last week in Ireland. That technically doesn’t count as a real win, but it was a pretty stacked 50-man field that he took down.
Of course, he would then go on to win the Scottish Open in pretty impressive fashion, taking the outright lead on Friday and never relinquishing it.
This will be Schauffele’s fifth Open Championship, having made each of his previous four cuts here with a T2 sandwiched between a pair of T26s. There’s really not much else to say here, the X man is the hottest golfer on planet earth right now, and fading him solely because you don’t think he can win three (four?) events in a row is silly.
That was the exact thought process with Scottie Scheffler at the Masters, and look how that turned out. Scottie was also $11,000 at Augusta, while Schauffele is an egregious $9,900.
Fade this man at your own risk.
Cam Smith ($9,500 DraftKings)
It was between Smith and Shane Lowry for me here, and I decided to side with the Aussie after checking weather reports. The wind — which we know plays a major factor at Open Championships — is surprisingly supposed to be a non-factor this week, meaning we could see quite a few low scores.
There’s way less penalty for spraying it off the tee at links courses, and we know Smith’s short game is Spieth-esque if not better.
The man is a birdie machine, ranking second on TOUR only to Justin Thomas in birdie or better percentage this season. While not elite, Smith still boasts a decent Open record, having made three of four cuts, with a T20 mixed in.
However, he’s now at the peak of his powers, and has to be considered a legit threat to win this event.
It’s also been noted that St. Andrews is a bit of a corollary to Augusta, where we know Smith has a sterling track record. If this does indeed turn into a bit of a birdie fest, give me all of the Smith shares.
Tommy Fleetwood ($8,600 DraftKings)
Fleetwood has turned his career around after looking pretty lost for the better part of the last two years. He’s made 14-of-16 cuts on the season across both the PGA and DP World Tour, and is coming off a great showing last week at the Renaissance Club, finishing T4 after a final round 67.
After starting his career with three straight MC’s at The Open, he’s since made four straight, going T27,T12, solo 2nd and T33, respectively. If he were ever going to win a major, this would be the one. Growing up in the UK, Fleetwood is comfortable on links courses and definitely has the short-game to excel here.
He’s simply been playing too well to be ignored, and is a very palatable $8,600 this week, making him an elite cash-game play.
Tony Finau ($8,400 DraftKings)
After Finau burned me at the U.S. Open, I texted my cousin and said never again with this guy. I guess I lied, as I find myself drawn to the Utah native again this week.
His Open Championship record is really tough to ignore, as he’s played this event five times since 2016 and finished T18, T27, T9, solo 3rd and T15. For whatever reason, the man loves links golf.
His MC at the U.S Open has been his only poor showing since March, so begrudgingly, I’m willing to give him one last chance. His $8,400 salary on DraftKings essentially removes the risk, as we don’t need him to win at that price.
I’d like to believe he’ll make the cut in this spot, and obviously we know what his upside is beyond that. It’s tough to make a counter argument to Finau being a great play this week. God help us.
Joaquin Niemann ($8,000 DraftKings)
Niemann is tough to figure out sometimes. At 23 years old, he’s one of the best ball-strikers on the planet and has two PGA TOUR titles to his name. However, he’s yet to really show out at a Major Championship.
Thankfully all of that is baked into his salary, because at $8,000 we’re not asking for a whole lot more than a made cut, which we should be able to count on. The Chilean has made the cut in all three of 2022’s majors thus far, and I’d firmly expect him to keep that streak alive this week.
He looked great last week in Scotland — finishing T16 at the Renaissance Club — and this is basically a complete bet on talent. Niemann is 14th on TOUR in birdie or better percentage and also ranks 14th in this field in Total Strokes Gained over his previous 36 rounds.
Simply put, he’s too cheap for his talent level and needs to be in your cash-game lineup. Period.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Max Homa ($7,900 DraftKings)
Homa has really turned himself into one of the best golfers in the world. He’s up to No. 20 in the OWGR and is having a magical season that includes two wins, four top-10’s and 14 made cuts in 16 starts. As a matter of fact, Homa has not missed a cut since the Farmers Insurance Open back in January, which was 12 starts ago.
Over his past 36 rounds in this field, he ranks sixth in Total Strokes Gained, sixth in SG: Ball-Striking and 25th in SG: Putting. His game is as well rounded as it comes right now, and he’s seemed to get over his Major Championship yips — he’s made the weekend in each of the year’s first three.
Homa finished T16 in Scotland last week, but also reportedly played an additional 18 holes at North Berwick after his Friday round. That course strikes more of a resemblance to St. Andrews than the Renaissance Club.
Homa should be ready to roll this week and has been grouped with Tiger this week, which he’s already waxed poetic about. This price is a complete joke for him based on how he’s been playing, and he’ll be a cash game staple for me.
Seamus Power ($7,400 DraftKings)
Power has been a monster at Major Championships this season, going T12, T9, T27 at the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Masters, respectively. He has 12 top-25 finishes in 22 starts this year, as well, and has gotten himself up to No. 37 in the world. This will be his first career start at The Open, but being that he was born in Ireland, I’m sure he’s comfortable playing links golf.
He finished T30 two weeks ago at the Irish Open and should be ready to roll this week at St. Andrews. There’s absolutely no way he should be priced below Tiger, Marc Leishman, Paul Casey, Robert MacIntyre or Abe Ancer in this spot. He’s been way better than all those guys and his $7,400 salary is something we should take advantage of.
Ryan Fox ($7,100 DraftKings)
When I opened up DraftKings to take my first look at pricing for The Open, Fox’s salary absolutely stood out as most egregious. They dropped salaries before the Scottish Open concluded, and Fox’s finishes across his previous 10 starts prior to last week read:
2nd, 3rd, MC, 2nd, 54th, T2, T8, T9, T15, WIN
The guy — albeit, spending mostly all of his time on the DP World Tour — has been an absolute monster this season and is priced the same as freaking Ian Poulter. Give me a break.
He’ll absolutely be chalky, but I don’t see how there’s any way we can fade him in cash this week. His Open record has also been pretty decent, making four of five cuts, including a T49 at this very course in 2015. Sometimes it actually is this easy.