The PGA DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The PGA TOUR heads to South Carolina this week for the CJ CUP. Congaree Country Club will be the host, and it’s a massive par 71, measuring at 7,655 yards with Bermuda grass greens. This will be a 78-man, no-cut event.
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
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
Rory McIlroy ($11,100 DraftKings)
If you are paying up in cash games this week, it has to be for Rory McIlroy. Since winning the TOUR Championship in August, he’s made three starts, all on the DP World Tour, and finished T2, solo fourth, and T4, respectively. He’s playing on another level right now and has both the highest floor and ceiling in this field. He should likely be closer to $12,000 on DraftKings, so they did us a favor in pricing him at just $11.1K.
It’s legit hard to envision Rory finishing worse than T10 in any event he tees it up at right now, which is truly an absurd thing to say. There really isn’t much more to say on this. He’s the best golfer on the planet right now (all due respect to Scottie Scheffler) and needs to be in your lineups.
Viktor Hovland (9,200 DraftKings)
Hovland has really picked up his game lately, posting a pair of top-five finishes across his past three starts, including last week at the ZOZO, where he shot all four rounds in the 60s. The field is incredibly strong this week, which is why we are getting players of Hovland’s caliber for just $9,200. I do like him the best of the golfers in this range, and he makes for a great pairing with Rory or even as the first golfer on your rosters.
Congaree is a massively long course, sitting at 7,655 yards. There are 12 additional courses that the PGA TOUR has played over the past few years that measure over 7,500 yards, and Hovland ranks eighth in this field in Total Strokes Gained per round on those courses.
Despite not being the longest hitter, it’s the Norwegian’s prowess with his long irons that allows him to compete with all these heavy hitters at tracks like Congaree. He ranked third on TOUR last season in proximity on approaches from 175-200 yards, behind only Scottie Scheffler and Tom Hoge (!).
I will not be betting against him this week.
Cameron Young ($8,600 DraftKings)
Young did not have his best game last week at the ZOZO. However, I do not think it warrants his price on DraftKings to drop to $8,600. Based on his betting odds at most sportsbooks, he’s the 10th shortest in the field to find the winner’s circle this week, yet DraftKings has him as the 14th highest-priced golfer. Young led the PGA TOUR in runner-up finishes last season, and I would expect some of those turn into wins this year.
We know he can absolutely send it off the tee, ranking third in driving distance last season, behind only Rory McIlroy and Cameron Champ. Over his past 48 rounds in this loaded field he ranks sixth in SG: Ball-Striking and seventh in Total Strokes Gained. He also ranks ninth in total birdies made in that span as well. He checks a ton of boxes this week and we can get a pretty big discount on him.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,500 DraftKings)
I think I will be on an island here with Hatton this week, as he really did not look great last week in Japan and usually goes overlooked in elite fields like this. However, and I’m not sure that many are privy to this, but Hatton plays well at courses where he’s got elite history. Go take a look at his results at Chapultepec (WGC Mexico) and Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Inv.).
The caveat here is that there’s only been one PGA TOUR event held at Congaree — the 2021 Palmetto Championship — so how can we actually label one start “history.” Hatton finished runner-up to Garrick Higgo at that event and gained a whopping 3.64 strokes tee-to-green per round, which obviously ranks No. 1 of anyone who played the Palmetto.
The point is Hatton obviously liked something about this course, and who am I to argue? At just $8,500, you can be sure we will have some exposure this week.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Tom Hoge ($7,900 DraftKings)
Hoge has been on an absolute tear of late, having posted finishes this Fall season of T12, T4, and then most recently, T9 last week at the ZOZO. As a matter of fact, nobody in this field has been better at striking the ball than Hoge over their past eight rounds, as he ranks No. 1 in that department. Keep in mind we have 19 of the top 30 in the world teeing it up this week.
It’s genuinely hard to poke any holes in his game right now, and we are guaranteed four full rounds from him at just $7,900, which is far too cheap. He’s as safe a cash game option as it gets this week and can be deployed will full confidence.
Cameron Davis ($7,500 DraftKings)
Another bomber we are getting a nice salary discount on this week is the Aussie Cam Davis. He was $8,500 last week at the ZOZO, and while I understand this field is quite a bit better than we had last week, he’s still a tad underpriced for his talent. We know he’s going to score, considering he ranks fifth in this field in total birdies made over his past 48 rounds.
Regardless of where Davis finishes on the leaderboard, we know he is going to outscore his finishing position on DraftKings due to the number of birdies he makes. This is incredibly valuable in no-cut events since we know he’s playing all four rounds, and we have no worry of him missing the cut.
At just $7,500, I really do not see any downside to locking the former Rocket Mortgage Classic winner into your lineups.
Harris English ($6,500 DraftKings)
Last but not least, we have Harris English, who’s basically fallen completely off the grid since his resurgent 2020-21 season. This is because he had hip surgery and has not shown the same form since returning. Finally, however, he’s shown some signs of life this fall, finishing T9 at the Fortinet before posting a T28 at the Shriner’s his last time out. He’ll be teeing it up this week at Congaree, where he finished T14 back at the 2021 Palmetto Championship.
It’s a no-cut event this week, and English costs just $6,500. If you plan on jamming in some studs at the top, you’re going to need some salary relief, and I like that English has both some strong recent form and good course history.