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 Japan this week for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. It will be the third time this event has been played at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. The course is a par 70, measuring 7,079 yards with bentgrass 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
Sungjae Im ($10,000 DraftKings)
Sungjae is the best play on the slate for me, checking almost every box. He teed it up in Vegas last week at the Shriners, finishing T7, which was nice to see as it was his first start since the TOUR Championship. We still have not seen Xander Schauffele play competitive golf since East Lake, though he did finish T4, and T3 in his last two starts. I like Schauffele quite a bit this week as well, but I much prefer taking the $800 savings and dropping to Im in cash games.
Im’s T7 last week marked the sixth straight time he’s finished inside the top 15, with three of those resulting in runner-up finishes. During this stretch, dating back 24 rounds, Im ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green, No. 2 in SG: Ball-Striking No. 6 in SG: Putting and No. 1 in SG: Total. The man is on fire right now, and in his lone start at the ZOZO in 2019, he finished T3.
He’s a borderline cash game lock.
Keegan Bradley ($8,900 DraftKings)
Keegan has played very well at this course in the past, finishing T7 and T13 in his two career starts. He’s also coming in hot, finishing T5 at the Sanderson Farms two weeks ago. Long term his numbers look great as well, as he ranks fourth in this field in SG: Total and 11th in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 48 rounds. To the surprise of many, It’s his putting that’s actually improved, as somehow he sits 11th in this field in SG: Putting in the same time frame.
He’s actually a bit underpriced when you consider his history here and recent form, so we will gladly take the discount here.
Keegs is a strong play in all formats.
Tom Hoge ($8,600 DraftKings)
It appears that after a stretch of poor play over the late Spring, Hoge is back to the form we saw when he won his first career event at Pebble Beach last February. He shot a 64 this past Sunday at the Shriners to finish in a tie for fourth, marking his third straight finish inside the top 12. Prior to that, he went T12 at the Fortinet and T10 at the TOUR Championship, a massively impressive feat considering he started at least three strokes back of everyone T10 or better.
In that time frame, Hoge rates out as the best player in this field, ranking No. 1 in SG: Total and No. 2 in SG: Ball-Striking. I think he will go overlooked this week with some of the talent at the top of the board, and that is a mistake. Just as a cherry on top, Hoge played this event one year ago and finished T17, and is now a much better player than he was.
He has actual win equity this week, and I like him both as an outright bet and in all DFS formats.
Mito Pereira ($8,300 DraftKings)
is Mito back? It felt like after that ridiculous meltdown at the PGA Championship that something happened to his game, as he was dreadful over the summer and into the FedEx Cup Playoffs. However, he made his first start of the new season last week in Las Vegas, and finished in a tie for fourth. He led the field in approach play, gaining a whopping nine strokes alone in that category,
When Pereira is at his best it is due to his ridiculously precise iron play, so to see him that locked in last week is a sure sign he could be back to his old self. He’s never played this event before, but is simply too cheap for his talent level at just $8,300 and should be quite popular the higher you go up in stakes this week.
He’s too strong of a play to fade in cash games.
PGA DFS Value Picks
Sepp Straka ($7,900 DraftKings)
Straka is one of the hottest players on the PGA TOUR right now. He got edged out by Mackenzie Hughes in a playoff to barely lose the Sanderson Farms, which marked his third top-seven finish across his previous four starts. Prior to that, he finished T7 at the TOUR Championship and was runner-up at the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs in Memphis. Over this time period he ranks No. 2 in SG: Total, trailing only the wunderkind Tom Kim in that stretch.
Straka has been crushing in every facet of the game as well, ranking fifth in SG: Ball-Striking, 21st in SG: Around-the-Green and sixth in SG: Putting.
When someone is that locked in and costs only $7,900 in a spot where he’s guaranteed four rounds, where do I sign up?
Mackenzie Hughes ($7,600 DraftKings)
We are going to ride the momentum wave that Hughes is on right now, as he’s riding high to Japan coming off his victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship two weeks back. Known normally as a putting/short game specialist, it was his irons that propelled Hughes in Mississippi, as he gained 5.3 strokes on the week. Even before the win he was trending in the right direction with a T25 at the Fortinet.
In addition to his strong recent play, Hughes also played Accordia last year and finished in a tie for fourth. When good course history meets good recent form, we have some combustible elements at play and have to take notice, especially when that player cost just $7,600.
Simply put, I like going back to the Canadian quite a bit in this spot.
Adam Schenk ($6,900 DraftKings)
I love targeting Schenk at no-cut events, as there’s no way he could burn you by failing to make the weekend. His talent level is higher than his $6,900 price tag would indicate, and he’s been playing quite well of late. At the Shriners last week he shot all four rounds in the 60s while gaining 5.6 strokes on approach in the process. This will be his third time making the trek to Japan to play the ZOZO, and in his previous two stops, he’s crushed, finishing T28 and T22.
I see absolutely no reason to go right back to him here at a course he’s had success at. With four full rounds guaranteed, Schenk’s floor is pretty high, and at his price, we’re basically just looking for a top-30 finish in this spot, something he’s done twice now.