The PGA DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The TOUR heads to Massachusetts this week as the Country Club at Brookline Golf hosts the U.S Open. The course is a par 70, measuring at 7,264 yards with poa annua 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
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.
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)
This one should be fairly straightforward.
McIlroy is the hottest golfer on the planet right now, fresh off his emphatic victory last week at the RBC Canadian Open. He shot a final-round 62 to hold off both Tony Finau and Justin Thomas and claim his 21st PGA TOUR title. The win was McIlroy’s third top-five finish across his past five starts. In that stretch, the Northern Irishman ranks. No. 1 in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green, No.1 in SG: Ball-Striking, and No. 1 in Total Strokes Gained.
It’s hard to believe McIlroy hasn’t won a major in eight years, but I do fully expect that to change sooner rather than later. He’s firing on all cylinders right now, and his wedge game looked as pure as ever last week, which has been a nemesis for him recently. McIlroy has gone T7, T8, and T9 in each of the last three U.S Opens, and he’s playing at peak levels right now.
He’s firmly on the shortlist to win this week and is the odds-on betting favorite among sports books.
Will Zalatoris ($9,300 DraftKings)
Willy Z, in his brief stint on the PGA TOUR thus far, has absolutely crushed major championships. In six career starts, when you don’t count his withdrawal at the 2021 Open Championship, he’s posted a pair of T2s, a pair of T6s, and a T8. Ridiculous.
He’s one of the best ball-strikers on the planet, ranking third in that department across his past 48 rounds in this field, which features 49 of the top 50 in the world. The small greens this week will mitigate some of his putting woes, which is basically his only flaw at the moment.
He’s about $500 too cheap considering his history at majors and is one of the safest cash plays on the board.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,200 DraftKings)
Cantlay has disappointed in majors recently, but sports books never seem to care as he always ranks among the best value plays in the $9,000 and above range. This week is no different, as most books have him as the fifth shortest in this field to top 20 this week despite being the 12th most expensive player on the slate. This is the type of stuff winning DFS players look at.
In four career U.S Open starts, he’s yet to miss a cut and boasts a pair of top-20 finishes. His lack of success in majors is truly an enigma because Cantlay is one of the most talented golfers on the planet and has virtually no weaknesses in his game. He’s good both on and around the greens to go along with his elite ball-striking, which is quite rare. He sits No. 4 in this field in Total Strokes gained over his past 48 rounds.
Cantlay does some of his best on work shorter tracks, evidenced best by his success at Sherwood, TPC Summerlin, and Harbourtown. This week we get a 7,200-yard par 70, and I’m expecting big things from the fourth-ranked player in the world. He should also be quite comfortable with these poa greens, being a California native.
This could very well be the week Cantlay captures his first career major.
Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,500 DraftKings)
Fitz simultaneously feels like one of the most underrated and overrated golfers on TOUR, which is quite a difficult feat. He is supremely talented and consistently contends week in and week out but has yet to ever win stateside. I am not one to put much stock into silly narratives that certain guys “can’t close” because no one has ever won an event until they win. He will break the seal eventually.
This is the sweet spot for Fitzpatrick when he’s in the mid $8,000 range in tougher fields. He’s missed two cuts (not including THE PLAYERS) since 2022 began, but in the other eight starts where he made the weekend, his worst finish was T14 (Augusta). He has seven top 10s in that stretch, including three top-fives, and ranks ninth in this field in Total Strokes Gained.
For whatever it’s worth, Fitz also won the U.S Amateur Championship at this very course as an 18-year-old kid back in 2013. Obviously, that was nine years ago and very difficult to use as a comparison, but you will hear about it a ton this week, and it certainly can’t hurt that he has familiarity with the course.
He fits any build and makes for an elite play in all formats.
Sam Burns ($8,300 DraftKings)
Burns is one of the best players in the world (ninth in OWGR), and it feels the public has yet to grasp this concept. He’s already won three times this season, matching Scottie Scheffler as the only golfer on earth who has accomplished such a feat. He’s posted five additional top 10s, including last week’s T4 in Canada, where he gained a ridiculous 9.4 strokes on approach.
Burns sits fifth in this field in Total Strokes Gained across his past 48 rounds — trailing only JT, Rory, Rahm, and Cantlay — in case you needed more proof of how elite this man is at golf. The best part of all this is that he costs just $8,300 on DraftKings this week, which is an egregious misprice. He’s got the seventh shortest odds in this field to top 20 this week and is the 21st most expensive golfer on the slate.
I can assure you he will be one of the chalkiest players in high stakes cash on the week and is an absolute must-play.
Tony Finau ($8,200 DraftKings)
Finau has been coming on strong of late, most recently last week at the Canadian Open, where he finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy. That was his third top-five finish across his past five starts, and in that stretch, he ranks 10th in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green, 11th in SG: Putting, and fifth in Total Strokes Gained.
We know he’s had a ton of success in majors in his career, especially the U.S Open, where he’s got a pair of top-eight finishes across his past four starts. Quick anecdote: had I just played Finau instead of Matt Kuchar (identical salaries) at the 2018 U.S Open at Shinnecock, I ship the Milly Maker on DraftKings with two other people and cash $333k, but no one is here for my bad beat stories. It still haunts me to this day, however.
Finau’s $8,200 price tag is way too cheap for the way he’s been playing of late, and I expect him to also be quite chalky this week. We also know he putts his best on poa, which is just the cherry on top.
At the very minimum, he should make the weekend in this spot, which is enough for me at his price.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Corey Conners ($7,900 DraftKings)
Conners, outside of his missed cut at the PGA Championship, has been incredibly consistent of late, finishing inside the top 35 in eight of his past nine starts. He’s posted five top-13 finishes in that stretch, including a pair of T6s at the Masters and most recently in Canada last week. Conners’ long-term numbers look great, as he ranks eighth in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 48 and 17th in Total Strokes Gained as well.
He’s incredibly cheap for his talent level this week, which obviously is par for the course (pun intended) when we have deep fields like this. Based on my model, he shows up as the seventh-highest exposed player in 150 lineup sims. His lack of distance won’t hinder him much this week with it being a 7,200-yard track, and his pinpoint approach play will come in quite handy on the small greens at Brookline.
Any way you slice it, Conners is a great play.
Sungjae Im ($7,600 DraftKings)
This one is self-explanatory and doesn’t require much explanation. Im is the most underpriced player in the field by quite a bit and should theoretically be 100% in cash games, even know we know that won’t be the case. He’s missed the cut in just two of his past 15 standard stroke-play events on TOUR and has a win and six additional top-11 finishes in that stretch.
Per most sports books, he’s got the eighth shortest odds in the field to finish inside the top 20 this week but is egregiously the 30th most expensive player on DraftKings.
If you care about making money and take yourself seriously as a DFS player, then you will be playing Sungjae Im in cash games this week; it’s that simple.
Russell Henley ($7,300 DraftKings)
The bottom of the $7,000 range is quite barren this week, but Henley stands out quite a bit at $7,300. He’s made 14 of his past 15 cuts and ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Approach across his past 48 rounds. It’s pretty wild to think that Russell Freaking Henley is the best approach player in this field, but numbers do not lie.
Some other good news: Henley has pretty solid history at the U.S Open in his career, as he’s made each of his past three cuts dating back to 2017, finishing T27 or better in each.
Many will flock to the new shiny toy in Davis Riley at the same price, which I certainly have no problem with, but I much prefer going with the grizzled veteran in spots like this.