The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The TOUR stays in Las Vegas this week as the Summit Club hosts the CJ Cup. The course is a par-72 that measures at 7,431 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
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.
Xander Schauffele ($10,600 DraftKings)
We’ll begin with the no-cut king himself. After winning the gold medal at the Olympics, Schauffele hit a bit of a wall for a few weeks, naturally. He rebounded at the TOUR Championship, however, he finished T-5. He’s since had about six weeks to regroup and get ready for this event, so I expect him to show up big time for us this week.
Schauffele has been locked in with his irons of late, ranking 10th in this strong field in SG: Approach over his past 24 rounds. There is something about having four guaranteed rounds that brings out the best in the X man, as some of the best finishes of his career have come at no-cut events. He finished second at this event last year, albeit at a different course, but in the same area and at another Tom Fazio design. There’s nothing to love really above $10,000 this week on DraftKings, so locking in some safety here makes sense.
Louis Oosthuizen ($9,300 DraftKings)
Nobody in this field has gained more total strokes than Louie over the past 48 rounds, as the South African sits 10th T2G, 12th on approach, and fifth in putting over that stretch. He’s been the most consistent player on TOUR for the better part of six months now and has a very reasonable price this week at just $9,300.
Oosthuizen has posted four top-17 finishes across his past five events and is coming off a T-14 last week at the Shriners. Many will look to stack two $10K players this week with all the value available to us, so Oosthy might go a bit overlooked. He has the seventh shortest odds to win this event in most sportsbooks this week but is the 13th most expensive player on DraftKings. We need to be taking advantage of this type of pricing error.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,400 DraftKings)
Hatton is quietly the 17th ranked player in the world right now, and yet most people still have no clue as to how good he actually is. He’s taken a huge liking to this event, placing T-14, T-6, and T-3 in three starts. Obviously, it’s not been held at the same venue due to COVID, but he did play extremely well last year at Shadow Creek, which was also designed by Tom Fazio.
That’s not the only Fazio design where Hatton has had success, as he finished runner up at Congaree back in June. He sits 10th in this field in total strokes gained over his past 48 rounds and has a very palatable $8,400 salary this week on DraftKings. He makes for a rock-solid cash game option.
Joaquin Niemann ($7,400 DraftKings)
We’ll go right back to the Niemann well after a somewhat disappointing 40th place finish last week. He was dreadful on Thursday but rebounded to shoot a bogey-free 64 on Friday to sneak through the cut. He couldn’t get much going on the weekend, however.
We look to target Niemann on easier tracks with wide open fairways and bentgrass greens. All three of those boxes can be checked off this week, and his $7,400 price tag is a bit disrespectful considering the type of talent we’re dealing with here. He will likely be chalky, but he’s too strong a value to be faded and is as safe of an option as they come this week.
Maverick McNealy ($7,300 DraftKings)
It will be stated multiple times this week by many in the industry, but McNealy currently resides in Las Vegas and is a member at Summit. He’s likely played this course north of 50 times in his life and is coming in playing the best golf of his young career. He missed the cut on the number last week at the Shriners, but that was due to some bad putting variance, as he struck it well both off the tee and with his irons.
We know McNealy can score like it’s nobody’s business and he ranks 22nd in this loaded field in Total Strokes Gained over his past 36 rounds. We’re guaranteed four rounds from him this week, and with his propensity for making birdies (11th in this field past 48 rounds), he makes for a great value option when rounding out our cash teams. It also helps that bentgrass is his preferred putting surface.
Alex Noren ($7,100 DraftKings)
Noren is coming in on fire, posting two top-10s across his past four events while adding a T-12 two weeks ago at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He ranks No.1 in this field in SG: Putting across his past 48 rounds and has positive splits on bentgrass, making this a layup at his bargain bin price tag.
You can bet him at close to 40/1 at some sportsbooks, making his $7,100 price tag somewhat of a joke here. With wide fairways and non-penal rough, Noren is a good of a bet as any to make a bunch of birdies this week with the way he putts. He’s one of the best values of the week.
Jhonattan Vegas ($6,300 DraftKings)
Maybe the most mispriced player on the board this week, Vegas comes in with three top-16 finishes over his past five events and sits fifth in this field in SG: Ball-Striking and 14th in Total Strokes Gained over his past 48 rounds. He is always someone to target at easy tracks that should yield tons of birdies, and his distance off the tee will be a huge advantage this week.
There’s no reason for him to be this cheap at an event like this, so he should be incredibly popular, particularly in stars-and-scrubs type builds.