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 is back and heads to the sunny shores of Maui, Hawaii this week for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Plantation course at Kapalua will be the host and is a par 73, which measures at 7,596 yards and boasts Bermuda grass greens. The TOC is a small-field, no-cut event featuring just 39 players.
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
Jon Rahm ($10,000 DraftKings)
Rahm is a no-brainer start in all cash games/single entry GPP formats this week, as he’s the odds-on betting favorite among most sportsbooks and yet is only $10,00 on DraftKings. His price looks even more ridiculous when you take into account that Rory McIlroy will not be teeing it up this week. Rahm has yet to finish outside the top 10 at this event in six career trips to Kapalua and is coming off a ridiculous fall swing where he basically took over the DP World Tour.
He finished T2 at the BMW PGA Championship before winning the Open De Espana four weeks later. Shortly after that he took down another event, shipping the DP World Championship Dubai in mid-November. There’s no way I’m fading an in-form Jon Rahm at a course he clearly loves.
He ranks No. 1 in driving distance and No. 8 in greens in regulation over his past 48 rounds in this field and should absolutely tear up Kapalua again this week. If you take a more short-term view, Rahm also ranks No.1 in this field in total birdies made over his past eight rounds and second when you stretch it out to the last 12 rounds.
This write-up did not need to be this long, it’s Jon Freaking Rahm at $10,000.
Xander Schauffele (9,500 DraftKings)
We’ll go next to the no-cut king, as the X man also had himself a nice fall. He’s coming off a T4 at the Hero World Challenge, which might seem meaningless to some, but it shows that his game is where we need it to be heading into the new season. Xander has been a scoring machine over his past 48 rounds, ranking No. 1 in this field in eagles made and seventh in birdies made while making the eighth fewest bogeys as well in that time frame.
He also ranks fourth in SG: Approach and No. 2 in Total Strokes Gained, behind only Tony Finau. Schauffele is also a bit underpriced for his talent, even in a field this strong. Oh, by the way, he won this event in 2019, finished runner up in 2020 and then went T5 in 2021.
It’s likely going to be an extremely chalky move in high stakes stuff this week, but I do not see any reason to not start Rahm/Xander in any contest you’re serious about winning this week.
Tony Finau ($9,300 DraftKings)
What a run it’s been for Jabari Parker’s cousin these past few months. Finau won the 3M Open in late July and then followed that up with a wire-to-wire win the very next week at the Rocket Mortgage. He had to ‘settle’ for a T5 at the St. Jude Championship in the first round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs before picking up his third win in seven starts at the Houston Open. He then rounded up the year with a disappointing T7 at the Hero. Just incredible stuff.
It probably won’t come as a surprise, but Finau ranks No. 1 in this field in pretty much every Strokes Gained category across his past 48 rounds; that includes SG: T2G, SG: ARG, SG:P, and SG: Total. His ball striking has been okay, too, as he sits third in that department in the same time frame.
Finau does not boast the best course history at Kapalua, but he did post a T9 back in 2017, and as Cameron Smith showed last year, course history can be irrelevant at this event. No one on earth has played better golf than Finau across the past five months, and we can roster him this week for just $9,300.
Sungjae Im ($8,300 DraftKings)
Another guy who seems mispriced is Im. In two career starts at Kapalua he’s gone T8, and T5. And yes, I am aware I just preached about course history not meaning a ton for Tony Finau, however, the guys that have consistently played well here in the past seem to always play well here, and I’m betting Im does not buck that trend this week.
His Fall Swing wasn’t anything to write home about, but he finished T8 at the Hero (yes, I’m aware its a 20-man field) and T7 at the Shriners back in October. He’s been doing everything well lately, which reflects in his rolling numbers, as he sits fifth in this field in Total Strokes Gained across his past 48 rounds. Im is elite off-the-tee and good with both his short game and putter, so it’s not a huge surprise to see him rank so highly. He pops for huge finishes when his irons cooperate.
We are in no danger of him missing the cut this week, so for just $8,300, we’re getting an elite all-around player who has win equity.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Aaron Wise ($7,400 DraftKings)
Wise is absolutely going to win on TOUR this season, I have little doubt about that. This price for him is a joke. Also, he’s shorter on most sports books than guys priced $600 above him on DraftKings. Wise has one of the best short games in the world, both on and around the green, and ranks fourth in SG: Putting across his past 48 rounds. His elite flat stick has him sitting 11th in Total Strokes Gained in the same time frame.
In addition, Wise sits 16th in birdies made and fourth in eagles whilst also ranking seventh in bogeys avoided all that same stretch. We’re looking at a massive birdie fest this week at Kapalua, so rostering a guy who can roll the rock like
Wise can, who’s guaranteed four full rounds, makes this a layup at just $7,400.
Tom Hoge ($6,500 DraftKings)
Hoge had a very up-and-down fall, which started with four straight top-13 finishes at the Fortinet, Shriners, ZOZO, and CJ CUP. He then missed his final two cuts at the RSM and Mayakoba. The good news for us this week is that he’s in no danger of missing the cut at Kapalua because there isn’t one!
Another feather in Hoge’s cap is that mostly all of his struggles in this time frame came around the green, as he was absolutely dialed in with his irons and putter. We have no Strokes Gained data for Mayakoba, but dating back his past 12 rounds before that, Hoge ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Approach and fourth in both SG: Putting and Total Strokes Gained. He also ranks third in eagles made and eighth in birdies made during this stretch.
At just $6,560, we are getting an in-form birdie maker who actually has win equity, as Hoge took down the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last season.
He’s a great value play on a week where we want to jam in multiple studs up top.