The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The Honda Classic will feature 10 of the top 30 golfers in the FedExCup Standings, along with eight of the top 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). We have the cut back in play this week with top 70s and ties making it to the weekend.
Let’s dive in!
As always, I backtested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out which have been the most valuable at PGA National. Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 39.13 DraftKings points and a -9.57 Plus/Minus with a 38.8% Consistency Rating to the field.
I’m listing only those metrics that tested positively above the baseline:
- Recent Bogeys: +4.23
- Long-Term Bogeys: +2.28
- Recent Eagles: +1.61
- Long-Term Tournament Count: +1.21
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +0.99
- Long-Term Eagles: +0.81
PGA National is consistently one of the toughest courses on tour, allowing just 39.13 DraftKings points per tournament along with a -9.57 Plus/Minus on average. Golfers will especially be tested at The Bears Trap (Holes 15, 16 and 17). In reality, they’ll be tested on this whole course, with bunkers and water hazards littered throughout this venue.
The cut line is normally above par at PGA National, and last year the cut line checked in at +6! On the bright side, winds look relatively mild (for now).
Given the tough nature of the course, just six metrics backtested favorably here. The key this week will be bogey avoidance as both long-term and recent bogeys backtested the highest. One metric that tested just below the baseline was greens in regulation (GIR), which I’ll also be weighing since ball striking will be important here.
Key metrics to focus on: Bogey avoidance, GIR, birdie or better scoring, par-4 and par-5 scoring.
And as usual, I like Long-Term and Recent Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) as a catch-all metric.
Best DFS Plays at 2019 Honda Classic
$10,000 and Above (DraftKings Pricing)
Justin Thomas ($11,900 DraftKings; $13,000 FanDuel) is hands down the best play on the board. He leads all golfers in the field in odds to win, Pro Trends (10), LT Adj Rd Score, recent Adj Rd Score, eagles per tournament, birdies per tournament, par-4 scoring and par-5 scoring. The trouble with Thomas is his $11,900 tag, which forces you into an average salary of $7,620 on DraftKings for the remaining roster spots.
It’s not impossible to make a tolerable roster with Thomas, but as of writing, roster construction has me leaning toward the lower end of this tier or into the tier just below.
Sergio Garcia ($10,000 DraftKings; $11,200 FanDuel) has historically done well at PGA National, making the cut every year since 2009, along with four top-15 finishes. Garcia is an excellent ball-striker, hitting 71.8% of GIR over the past 75 weeks and 75.8% of GIR over the past six weeks. Additionally, he’s averaged just 7.7 bogeys per tournament, which trails only Rickie Fowler in this pricing tier.
If I don’t dip into the $10,000 range on DraftKings for cash games, I’ll likely be starting my rosters with Gary Woodland ($9,800 DraftKings; $11,000 FanDuel) and Webb Simpson ($9,300 DraftKings; $10,600 FanDuel).
Simpson and Woodland are priced just outside the top tier, but you’re getting a generous amount of savings off the likes of Thomas and a little bit of a discount from Sergio. Further, Simpson’s 68.3 LT Adj Rd Score and Woodland’s 68.8 LT Adj Rd Score check in as the third and fifth-best Adj Rd Scores, respectively. Webb seems like a safe play given his -2.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 0.7 eagles per tournament trails only Thomas.
The knock on Woodland is his 9.1 bogey per tournament over the past 75 weeks, but he’s in terrific recent form, sporting a 67.4 recent Adj Rd Score — the second-best mark in the field behind Thomas.
Emiliano Grillo ($8,900 DraftKings; $10,300 FanDuel) got throttled last week, finishing 58th after shooting 73 or worse in three of his four rounds. His outing wasn’t as bad as it appears: He hit 70.8% of GIR, but his putter was ice cold, averaging 32 Putts Per Round (PPR), which is 2.6 putts worse than his 75-week average.
Grillo has made three-straight cuts at PGA National, which isn’t surprising since he’s normally a solid cut-maker, possessing an 8% missed-cut rate — tied with Simpson for the third-best mark in the field and trails only Thomas and Brooks Koepka. Grillo will need his putter to come back down to earth to make the cut, though.
Michael Thompson ($8,000 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) owns the fifth-best recent Adj Rd Score in the field, finishing inside the top 13 in each of his past four tournaments. Over that span, he’s hit 72.2% of GIR and averaged 19.5 birdies per tournament, along with just 7.3 bogeys per tournament. The 7.3 bogeys over his past four outings likely isn’t a fluke either since his 75-week average is 7.7 bogeys per tournament.
Cheng-Tsung Pan ($7,800 DraftKings; $8,600 FanDuel) hasn’t missed a cut since June at the Travelers Championship. He’s familiar with PGA National, finishing 17th in 2018 and 37th in 2017 in his only two appearances. That said, Pan’s primary concern is his recent form since he’s hitting just 65.6% of GIR and averaging a robust a 9.8 bogeys per tournament. If he can progress to his 75-week averages in those categories, he could still make for a serviceable DFS play.
Russell Knox ($7,800 DraftKings; $9,700 FanDuel) might be a better alternative to Pan at the same price tag on DraftKings. Knox has higher odds to win, and he’s in better recent form, possessing a 68.6 recent Adj Rd Score while hitting 72.6% GIR and averaging just 7.2 bogeys per tournament.
Sung-jae Im ($7,300 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel) has missed the cut in two of his past four events due to his cold putter, averaging over 30 PPR at both Genesis and Pebble Beach — although it’s also worth noting that Genesis and Pebble had rather poor conditions. Despite the missed cuts, he managed to keep his bogeys to a minimum, averaging just 6.8 per tournament over the past five weeks.
Additionally, over the past 75 weeks, Im is hitting 71.2% of GIR and averaging a solid 14.8 birdies and 7.8 bogeys per tournament. And Im’s -1.0 adjusted strokes on par 4s and -5.4 adjusted strokes on par 5s both rank in the top seven in the field.
Jason Kokrak ($7,300 DraftKings; $9,400 FanDuel) has comparable odds to Knox, but he’s $500 cheaper. Kokrak enters this tournament with a 68.3 recent Adj Rd Score — tied for the sixth-best mark in the field. During that timeframe, he’s hitting 72.6% of GIR and averaging just 8.0 bogey per tournament. He’s also been a solid cut-maker of late as his last missed cut came in July of last year at the British Open.
Sporting a 69.5 LT Adj Rd Score, Kokrak has the 18th-best LT Adj Rd Score, but he’s priced as the No. 39 golfer on DraftKings.
$6,900 and Below
Outside of tournaments, I won’t be dipping into this price. However, Denny McCarthy ($6,200 DraftKings; $7,900 FanDuel) is somewhat intriguing. He’s one of seven golfers in the field who has gained strokes on par 3s, 4s and 5s over the past 75 weeks, and his 7.3 bogeys per tournament are tied for the seventh-best mark in the field. However, McCarthy is a volatile option with a 33% missed-cut rate during that timeframe.
Good luck, and be sure to check out The Action Network if you’re looking for more golf coverage!
Pictured above: Webb Simpson
Photo credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports