The PGA TOUR stays in Florida this week as iconic TPC Sawgrass hosts THE PLAYERS Championship. The course is a shorter par-72 measuring just over 7,200 yards with Bermuda grass greens. The winning score here is usually around the 15-under range.
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 type.
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 that 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, and 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.
Webb Simpson ($9,500 DraftKings)
Webb is about as lock and load as it gets this week. There were some concerns over his post-COVID-19 play, but he’s since silenced the critics with a T-6 at the WGC two weeks ago. He didn’t play Sawgrass well early in his career, but since 2017 he’s been absolute nails, going T-16, win, T-15 respectively. Simpson also was playing well last year before the tournament was canceled, posting an opening-round 68, which was a tie for seventh.
Simpson’s recent rolling numbers look very strong, as well. Over his past four rounds, he ranks fourth in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green, 16th in SG: Ball-Striking and fourth in overall Strokes Gained. Distance is not important this week, and we know Simpson’s one of the best iron players and Bermuda putters in the world, making him a virtual cash game lock this week. He boasts strong win equity and saves a nice amount of salary from the top of the board.
Collin Morikawa ($9,400 DraftKings)
We’re running out of superlatives to describe this young phenom. It’s not normal for 24-year olds to have this much success so early in their careers like Morikawa has thus far. He has both a major championship and a WGC victory to his name before his 25th birthday. The only other player in PGA TOUR history to accomplish this feat was some guy named Tiger Woods, maybe you’ve heard of him. I don’t normally love rostering players coming off a win, but Morikawa is special and the price is strong at just $9,400 on DraftKings.
He’s already arguably a top-three iron player in the world and is currently in superb form. He ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green, Approach and Ball-Striking over his past 24, 16 and 12 rounds. This week’s field boast’s 48 of the top 50 players in the world, just to put in perspective how nonsensically good Morikawa has been. Last year, in what would have been his debut at TPC Sawgrass, he opened with a Thursday 68, which like Simpson and another guy we’ll get to in a moment, would’ve placed him in a tie for seventh. A Simpson/Morikawa pairing may be chalky, but it’s likely the way I’m starting my cash game roster.
Scottie Scheffler ($8,900 DraftKings)
If you’re a frequent reader of my work, you know how bullish I am on Scheffler moving forward. He’s one of the purest ball-strikers on TOUR and is destined for superstardom. As previously mentioned with Simpson and Morikawa, Scheffler also opened last year’s PLAYERS with a 4-under 68, hopefully putting to bed the narrative that debutants can’t succeed at TPC Sawgrass. I get it was only one round, but these youngsters are too talented to let some silly narrative dictate anything moving forward.
The former Texas Longhorn is entering play this week off three consecutive strong finishes (T-7, T-20, fifth) and ranks seventh in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in total strokes gained, both over his past 12 rounds. It still feels like the public is late to recognize how good Scheffler is and we will gladly keep profiting off his strong play.
Will Zalatoris ($7,600 DraftKings)
It’s crazy how much young talent there is on TOUR right now. Add Zalatoris to that list.
Since he graduated from the Korn Ferry Tour to the big leagues, he’s shown he can compete with the big boys at any venue. Over his past 36 rounds in this field, which is almost the entirety of his tenure on TOUR, he ranks third in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Ball-Striking. As previously mentioned, this is likely the strongest field we will see all year. Pretty impressive for a 24-year old with 12 career starts, don’t ya think?
His price tag does not come close to recognizing his talent level, much like Morikawa’s $7,900 price tag at this event last year didn’t either. I have all the confidence in the world that Zalatoris’ ball-striking chops can keep him out of trouble long enough to make the weekend, and then it’s all gravy from there. He’s one of my favorite options in the $7k range this week.
Sergio Garcia ($7,500 DraftKings)
Good ol’ Sergio makes the article this week as he’s simply striking the ball too well right now to ignore. We know he loves this place more than almost anyone on TOUR, having made 16 straight cuts at this event. As usual it’s been his putting that’s held him back of late, because he sits 10th in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green across his past eight rounds,
This isn’t the sexiest pick in the world, but I have a hard time imagining Garcia not putting better this week on the familiar Bermuda grass. He should yet again make the cut and post a solid finish, which is all we’re looking for at just $7,500 on DraftKings.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,100 DraftKings)
Last week, Bezuidenhout was coming in under the radar, largely in part to him spending most of his time on the Euro TOUR. We won’t have that luxury this week, as a seventh place finish at the Arnold Palmer saw his betting odds drop from 125/1 to 75/1 overnight.
Much like the other guys written up in this article, Bezuidenhout came out firing last year, posting an opening-round 65, which put him in a tie for second before the event was canceled.
He boasts one of the best short game’s on the planet, which will help immensely if the wind picks up this week. He’s priced way too low for how he’s been playing and he’s a strong player to round out cash lineups with.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,700 DraftKings)
Matsuyama has finally shown some signs of life lately, posting back to back top-20s his last two weeks. He has some of the best course history in this field, boasting three top-25s and two top-10s in his six starts at the Stadium Course. He also opened last year with a course record 63 before play was halted. When Matsuyama’s price sits in the upper $8k range in these fields he usually makes for a strong play. This week is no different, as it appears his game is back on track just in time for one of his favorite events of the year. Fire him up confidently in all formats.
Pictured above: Collin Morikawa
Photo credit: Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images