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 back to California this week for the Genesis Invitational. Riviera Country Club will be the host and measures as a 7,322-yard par 71 with Poa greens.
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.
And don’t forget to utilize our various PGA DFS tools like our Lineup Optimizer, Lineup Builder, PGA Correlation Dashboard, and our Trends tool.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
PGA DFS Core Picks
Rory McIlroy ($10,500 DraftKings)
We are going right back to McIlroy this week after his T32 finish last week in Phoenix. As usual, he struck the ball great but just could not make a putt to save his life. He ended up losing 3.17 strokes putting last week while gaining five ball-striking. Even the best player in the world can have an off putting week, so we should expect him to find his way into contention this week at Riv.
McIlroy’s history here is fantastic, having posted a T10 and two top-five finishes across his past three years. Outside of his lone missed cut in 2021, his worst finish at this event is T20. Only Tony Finau has gained more total strokes than McIlroy over the past 48 rounds, and only Scottie Scheffler has gained more strokes ball-striking.
Thanks to McIlroy’s off week at the WMPO, his price dropped to just $10,500, which I still believe is ridiculous for the way he’s been playing overall. Rahm and Scheffler have been great, but I will gladly take the savings on the No. 1 player on earth at a course where he’s dominated.
Using our PrizePicks promo code LABS ($100 sign-up bonus), you could bet Rory to finish under 68.5 strokes in Round 1 if you’re feeling bullish about him.
Xander Schauffele ($9,900 DraftKings)
Schauffele finished T10 last week at the WMPO, which was his sixth top-10 or better across his past eight starts. The man is a machine, and with the stacked field we have this week, DraftKings left him at just $9,900. Schauffele has played Genesis five times in his career and has yet to miss a cut, with his worst finish being T23 in that stretch. Among players in this field who have played Riviera more than once, Schauffele ranks sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green per round and fifth in SG: Total per round.
He’s about as safe a play as it gets and looks to be all the way back from his lingering back injury. There are going to be more approach shots from the 150-175 yard range than normal this week, and Schauffele ranks sixth on TOUR in proximity from that distance. In addition, the California native unsurprisingly is a much better putter on Poa compared to other surfaces, gaining .29 strokes more than Bermuda and Bent combined.
The No. 6 player in world is checking a lot of boxes for just $9,900, and he makes for an elite starting point for your rosters or a second golfer if you’d like to pair him with McIlroy.
Adam Scott ($8,000 DraftKings)
Scott absolutely adores Riviera. The Aussie has played here eight of the past 10 years, having never missed a cut, while posting a win, two top fives, and two top 10s in that stretch. It is obviously no surprise then to see that he ranks third in this field in SG: Total per round at this event. After playing some DP World Tour events in the fall, Scott played both the Sentry and the Sony Open during the Hawaiian swing while finishing T21 at the latter event.
I don’t think it’s wise to look at rolling stats for Scott because he usually plays so sparingly. However, there are just some courses you could pencil him in for a made cut, and Riviera is clearly one of them. He will likely not pop in projections this week, but I don’t care.
Some things are unexplainable in golf that won’t show up in data sets, like knowing how to shape shots. This is why we usually see debutants struggle at the Masters every year. I went off on a bit of a tangent here, but I absolutely believe Scott is a phenomenal play at just $8,000 this week.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Wyndham Clark ($7,800 DraftKings)
Clark has been coming on of late after a T10 finish last week in Phoenix. The most encouraging sign to come from this was his iron play, which is usually what prevents him from truly contending. He gained 4.40 strokes with his irons at TPC Scottsdale and quietly ranks 23rd in this field over his past 12 rounds in SG: Approach. Clark is beloved by sharp DFS players due to his massive length off-the-tee and ability to both putt and score on par 5s. So when he adds good iron play to that, you get a top-10 finish like we saw last week. It’s not rocket science.
Clark has played Riviera three times in his career and was disqualified after the first round last year for signing an incorrect scorecard. However, the prior two times he played, he finished T8 and T17, so clearly, something fits his eye here. It also helps that he’s .43 strokes better on Poa than on other surfaces.
If Clark’s irons show up as they did in Phoenix, this $7,800 price tag will end up looking really silly.
Russell Henley ($7,400 DraftKings)
Henley has been a mixed bag of late. He won the Mayakoba Classic back in November while then missing the cut in his next start before going T30, T32, and MC across his past three. His MC in Phoenix was really a tale of two days, as he lost 5.63 strokes on Thursday before gaining 3.35 on Friday. Thankfully, Henley has made five consecutive cuts at Riviera, so I am willing to bet last week was more of a blip than trend.
Riviera is a ball-strikers course — though that term gets thrown around a lot — Henley ranks 11th in this field in SG: Approach over his past 48 rounds. His $7,400 price is too enticing to pass up, especially when you look at some of the options surrounding him (excluding this next guy below).
Alex Noren ($7,300 DraftKings)
Noren missed the cut on the number last week, but I am honestly not putting too much stock into it due to the constant suspensions of play and early morning restarts. Noren is never going to wow you with his ball-striking, as he makes his money on and around the greens, but he has been hitting it okay of late. He actually gained 1.65 strokes on approach in his second round at the WMPO, which bodes well for his prospects this week.
Noren has yet to miss a cut in four starts a Riviera, with a pair of top-16 finishes in that stretch. Prior to last week’s mishap, Noren had posted two straight top-fives, so I will gladly go right back to him this week and hope his made cut stretch at the Genesis continues.
It’s really hard to argue Noren not being a good play at just $7,300.
Jhonathan Vegas ($6,900 DraftKings)
Vegas is my punt play of the week after he’s posted back-to-back top-25 finishes at the WMPO and Farmers. The big fella rates out as one of the better ball-strikers in this field both long and short term, ranking 11th in that department over his past eight rounds and 21st over his past 48. Vegas has shoddy history at Riviera but has made four of seven cuts with a T15 in 2017.
He is unlikely to truly contend due to his egregious putting, but there’s no reason we can’t get a T30 out of him. Sitting at a very nice $6,900 on DraftKings, he could very well be popular among DFS sharps this week.