The PGA TOUR heads to Texas this week as TPC Craig Ranch hosts the AT&T Byron Nelson. The course is a par-71 measuring at around 7,400 yards with bentgrass greens. This is the first time ever this event will be held here, so we do not know what to expect as far as the winning score goes. However, it should be somewhat low-scoring.
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, which highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course. The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
Jon Rahm ($11,00 DraftKings)
Rahm really torpedoed his entire tournament last week in Round 1, shooting a nonsensical five-over par. He naturally came back on Friday and looked like the Rahm we know, gaining 2.89 strokes off-the-tee and 1.68 on approach. He could not get a putt to drop, however, and looked very suspect around the greens. It was his first missed cut of the season, so I think we can give him a pass.
He recently became a father, so the fact he’s teeing it up the week before a major in addition to playing last week means he should be focused and not just here for a tune-up.
Rahm seems to always carry momentum from one week to another, so the fact he ranks both No. 1 in this field in SG:Tee-to-Green and SG: Ball-Striking over his last round played is a good sign for his prospects this week. With DJ withdrawing, Rahm is now the betting favorite on the week, and his $11K price tag is not unreasonable at all. If you decide to pay up in cash this week, I much prefer Rahm to DeChambeau or Spieth.
Daniel Berger ($10,100 DraftKings)
If you do not use Rahm in cash, I recommend starting your teams with Berger, who’s been a paragon of consistency for the better part of a year now. He’s made 10-of-12 cuts on the season and finished inside the top 23 in seven of his past 10 events, including a win at Pebble Beach back in February.
Berger ranks ninth in SG: Tee-to-Green, third in SG: Ball-Striking and sixth in total strokes gained across his past 16 rounds in this field. We get a strong discount on him from the top guys without losing any upside whatsoever. He is as safe a cash play as they get this week, and he should be rostered with confidence.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,500 DraftKings)
There is a major talent drop-off after you dip below $9,400 this week.
It’s extremely weird to pay only a few hundred dollars less for golfers like Sam Burns, Marc Leishman, Ryan Palmer and Sergio Garcia when you have Fitz and Scottie Scheffler right there. While I do like Scheffler quite a bit this week, I prefer Fitzpatrick in cash games despite the former’s connection to the Lone Star State. Very much like Berger, Fitz is as consistent as they come, making each of his last seven cuts with five top-11 finishes in that span.
He ranks No. 1 in this field in both SG: Putting and SG: Short Game over his past 16 rounds while also sitting No. 2 off-the-tee and No. 4 in total strokes gained as well. Basically, he’s locked in right now and presents a strong bit of value this week when you consider guys like Zalatoris and Brooks Koepka are priced above him. Starting your teams with Berger and Fitz is as safe as it gets and should be a popular strategy.
Talor Gooch ($7,900 DraftKings)
I think DraftKings messed up some of the pricing in the $7K range this week.
Gooch, as well as the next two guys I’ll be discussing below, should not be priced below guys like Lee Westwood, Aaron Wise, Luke List, Cameron Champ, Keith Mitchell, Charl Schwartzel, etc.
Gooch ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Approach and 13th in total strokes gained over his past 16 rounds in this field. He also gains .11 strokes more per round on bentgrass compared to other putting surfaces. If he was in the mid-$8K range this week, I don’t think we would bat an eye, so I’ll gladly take the value here.
Carlos Ortiz ($7,800 DraftKings)
Ortiz was rolling along last week until a final round 79 blew up any chances of placing. It pretty much came out of nowhere, as he gained strokes off-the-tee in the three rounds prior before losing a ridiculous 3.94 on Sunday.
Sportsbooks have much more faith in Ortiz than they do in the crop of players priced above him, as he has shorter top-20 odds than everyone in this field below $8,600. I don’t like to fade Vegas in these instances, as oddsmakers usually know more than we do, so at just $7,800, Ortiz is one of the better plays on the board for me this week.
Doug Ghim ($7,500 DraftKings)
Ghim is my favorite play in the $7K range this week. Sans Ortiz, Ghim also boasts the shortest top-20 odds in this field of everyone $8,600 and under. Unlike Ortiz, however, he’s been absolutely locked in with his ball-striking. He ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green and No. 3 in SG: Approach, both over his past 16 rounds. The caveat, though, is he also ranks 147th out of 156 in SG: Putting in the same time frame.
The good news is he actually gains (albeit very few) strokes putting on bentgrass compared to other surfaces, where he loses .33 strokes per round. In addition to all of that, Ghim also played his college golf at the University of Texas, so it’s possible he’s seen this course before. Any way you slice it, he’s way too cheap compared to some of the lesser players above him, and we should take full advantage of that this week.
Thomas Pieters ($8,600 DraftKings)
We don’t see Pieters much on the PGA TOUR outside of majors and alternate events, but he has been very good on the Euro Tour this season, making seven out of seven cuts, which include both a T-23 at the US Open and a T-13 in Puntacana.
Being that no one in this field has seen this course before, he’s at no real disadvantage this week. He is an extremely gifted player, especially when you compare who he’s priced around. I probably wouldn’t go there in cash, but he makes for an elite tournament play this week.
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
Pictured: Jon Rahm.