The PGA TOUR heads to Minnesota this week as TPC Twin Cities hosts the 3M Open. The course is a par 71 measuring at 7,400 yards with bentgrass greens. The winning scores in the two years this event has been held have been 19- and 21-under par, so we should definitely be targeting some birdie-makers this week.
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
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, check out this article from Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which unpacks each of the above metrics in detail. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column after each round of that week’s PGA TOUR event, which highlights golfers to buy and fade, along with Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly “Stats That Matter” column that highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
Tony Finau ($10,700 DraftKings)
Finau got back on track like we thought he would at the Open Championship, finishing in a tie for 15th place.
We don’t have strokes gained data from last week being that it wasn’t a PGA event, but based on what I saw from him, his ball-striking looked to be in good form. Finau will tee it up for the third year in a row at TPC Twin Cities, with the first two trips resulting in a T-23 and T-3 (last year).
This is not the worst field we’ve ever had, but outside of DJ and Patrick Reed, Finau is still the class of it at the top, and he’s shown to have a real affinity for this Arnold Palmer design.
I definitely do not want to overthink this. Finau is one of the strongest plays on the board in all formats, even at his elevated price.
Cameron Tringale ($9,500 DraftKings)
If you prefer not to pay up for Finau, it’s completely viable to start cash game rosters with Tringale, who’s also playing this event for the third time. He’s gone T-3 and T-42 in his first two trips and has averaged a strong 1.32 strokes Tee-to-Green per round at this course.
After a brief stretch of poor play, Tringale has now made four of his past five cuts with three top-26 finishes in that stretch. He’s having a really strong season, and there’s virtually nothing in the data to suggest he won’t keep that rolling this week.
Charl Schwartzel ($8,200 DraftKings)
I love Schwartzel’s price this week, as it feels like both DraftKings and the betting market have yet to adjust to how good the South African has played this season. He’s now made 17-of-23 cuts on the year with four top-10s. He’s coming off a very strong T-26 at the Open last week off the heels of a T-14 back at the Rocket Mortgage.
He ranks 19th in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green and 26th in total strokes gained over his past 48 rounds. Schwartzel also ranks ninth in this field in total strokes gained per round at TPC Twin Cities, gaining over 2.5 per.
He’s simply been playing too well of late to fade at this price, and you can fit him in both balanced builds or in stars and scrubs-type lineups.
Doug Ghim ($7,900 DraftKings)
The Ghim Reaper has been one of the best ball-strikers on TOUR this season and ranks eighth in that department in this field over his past 48 rounds. He also sits sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green and 18th in total strokes gained in that same frame.
Ghim finished in a tie for 18th place here a year ago in his lone start. He’s been in a solid groove of late, making four of his past five cuts with a pair of top-20s at the John Deere and Charles Schwab.
He’s probably underpriced by a few hundred in this field and is one of the better values for us in cash games.
Hank Lebioda ($7,900 DraftKings)
Hammerin’ Hank is coming into play this week red-hot, posting three consecutive top-10s, including a T-4 at the Rocket Mortgage and a T-5 at the Travelers. I
n that time frame, he’s been getting it done in all facets of the game, ranking 38th in this field SG: Ball-Striking and No. 1 in SG: Putting. He’s one of a handful of players who have made the cut in both years this tournament has been held, posting a T-26 and T-34, respectively.
With his recent elite form, rolling numbers and course history all lining up, everything is pointing to Lebioda posting another strong finish this week at a price we can exploit. The goal of cash games is to simply make fewer mistakes than our opponents, and fading Lebioda this week would constitute as a major mistake.
Charles Howell III ($7,700 DraftKings)
Another week and another Chuckie Three Sticks write-up, as I just cannot seem to quit this guy. In my defense, he is coming off a top-25 at the John Deere Classic two weeks back and has a T-23 and T-3 in two trips to TPC Twin Cities.
He may be getting a little older, but I still believe he’s always one of the stronger bets to make the cut in these subpar fields.
He gained strokes putting and on approach in three of his four rounds at the JDC and should hole enough putts this week to make the weekend and give us a decent finish for his price tag.
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,500 DraftKings)
Vegas has been on quite the roll of late, making nine of his past 10 cuts with three top-11 finishes in that span.
He usually thrives at easier courses, and with another one of those on tap this week, we should go right back to the big Venezuelan. DraftKings inexplicably made him $7,500 in this field, which is just silly.
He missed the cut right on the number at this course one year ago, so there’s nothing to really read into there. Vegas ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Off-the-Tee over his past 48 rounds and is an absolute steal at this price.
Kyle Stanley ($7,300 DraftKings)
Stanley doesn’t actually fit the mold of a punt play at $7,300, but he’s still way underpriced for the way he’s been hitting the ball of late. He ranks fourth in SG: Ball-Striking and sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green over his past 16 rounds in this field and has made eight of his past nine cuts.
Stanley played this event last year, finishing in a tie for 32nd, so he has seen the course before. He makes for an easy selection when rounding out lineups and is a strong play in all formats.
Photo Credit: Charlie Crowhurst/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.
Pictured: Tony Finau.