Golf isn’t normally a team sport, but for a few events, exceptions are made. There are a few two-man team events mixed into the PGA calendar, but the pinnacle of team golf is the Ryder Cup, which takes place every two years and pits a team of the top USA golfers against the top golfers from Europe.
The first Ryder Cup took place back in 1927 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and was a Match Play showdown between golfers from the United States against golfers from Great Britain. In 1979, the competition expanded to include golfers from Continental Europe as well. The most recent Ryder Cup was held at Whistling Straits in 2021, and the United States team set a new record for margin of victory in a dominant 19-9 victory.
The teams are each made up of 12 players who are teamed up by their captain for the first two days of the three-day competition. Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of fourball (best ball) and one four-match session of foursomes (alternate shot). The final day is reserved for 12 singles matches. Each match is worth one point, with tied matches earning 1/2 point for each side. The first team to earn 14 1/2 points wins the Ryder Cup. If the score for the week is tied, the team that previously won retains the Ryder Cup, in this case, the U.S. team.
DFS for this week is a little different as well since the scoring follows the Match Play format. Since not all 12 golfers will play the same amount of matches, you want to be sure to lean towards players who will play as much as possible. You can find all the scoring details on DraftKings under “Cup Golf.” The other very important factor is that you’ll need to pick a Captain and that Captain will earn 1.5x the standard fantasy point total. Nailing the right Captain is key to building a successful lineup and can also help compensate if you have a player who struggles.
The course this week is definitely one factor that plays to the European’s advantage. The Marco Simone Golf & Country Club plays host this week and is a par-71 layout situated just outside of Rome. It regularly hosts the DP World Tour’s Italian Open, and some of the players on the European side have fared very well in that event. None of the American team has traveled to Rome for the event, so they’ll be playing the course for the first time. Overall, the course sets up to be a perfect track for this match-play setup with plenty of risk and reward available for players to consider.
As usual, this GPP post focuses on players with lower ownership projections than their potential performance. Finding high-leverage plays is critical for GPP success. The picks here are designed to go against the grain and take advantage of players who may be overlooked or not selected due to risk factors.
Since these are GPP picks, we can accept more risk if it raises the lineup’s ceiling. High-risk, high-reward options with low ownership create the “boom-or-bust” style lineups that usually lead to large-field success.
GPP contests are contests that have large numbers of entries and pay out huge prizes to the top few percent. Since this week is a major, the largest GPP on DraftKings is the $600K Ryder Cup Special, which awards $200K to first place.
Check out my top picks in each price range listed below.
High-Priced PGA DFS Pick
Rory McIlroy $9,600
The most experienced member of the European Team, McIlroy will be playing in his seventh Ryder Cup. His 12-12-4 overall record isn’t incredible, but there’s no substitute for experience in the Ryder Cup. The European team also doesn’t have a ton of depth, so Rory is almost guaranteed to play the max of five matches.
Rory comes into this event after a steady string of strong results. Since late May at the PGA Championship, Rory played 10 events and finished in the top 10 in every single one of them, including a win at the Scottish Open. Since finishing in the top five at the TOUR Championship, he played two DP World Tour events and posted top-20 finishes at the Irish Open and the BMW PGA Championship. He posted a seven-under final round in his most recent round to climb the leaderboard at Wentworth.
McIlroy also has a little bit of history on this track, playing the Italian Open in 2022. He finished fourth that week.
I don’t think this week’s event in Rome will end up as a blowout either way and if the contest is close, it will be most likely because Europe’s stars play like superstars. I think Rory will be leading the charge to defend Europe’s “home turf” and makes a strong consideration as a Captain if you’re willing to piece together some low-cost options across the rest of your roster.
Mid-Priced PGA DFS Pick
Viktor Hovland $8,800
No one finished the PGA TOUR season hotter than Hovland, who caught fire at the BMW Championship to win the second-to-last event of the playoffs. He built on that the following week to claim his first career TOUR Championship and the FedExCup. He tuned up his game two weeks ago at the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour and finished solo fifth.
Hovland made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago and had a rough go of it with an 0-3-2 record. His game is in a much better spot now, though, than it was two years ago, and he’ll be looking to show he can be part of the next wave of young Europeans to make a big impact. He should have gotten the first-time nerves cleared out of his system and be poised to post a much better showing this time around.
Like McIlroy, Hovland will probably be tapped to play in the max of five matches, which gives him a slightly higher ceiling than some of the other players in this price range. He’s also one of the European stars who will need to rise to the occasion to make this week competitive, and that’s how I think it’s going to play out.
His game fits the course well, and he did play the Italian Open once in his career, posting a T34 in 2022.
If you want to go with an American in this price range, my favorite option is Xander Schauffele at $8,000.
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Value PGA DFS Picks
Max Homa $7,600
Homa is a high-risk play since this will be his first Ryder Cup, but of the U.S. debutants, I think he brings the highest ceiling. While he hasn’t played in the Ryder Cup, he did go a perfect 4-0-0 in last fall’s Presidents Cup.
A six-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Homa is much more established than many rookies at this event and has worked his way into the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings. He hasn’t challenged for a major championship yet, but he did post his first career top-10 at a major at The Open Championship this past summer and then followed that with T6, T5, T9, and T7 in his four starts since then.
He’s a little boom-or-bust, but he’s a nice differentiator in this price range. His demeanor and steady putting stroke, specifically under pressure, make him a good fit for this style of play. It’s a bold strategy, but playing him at Captain gives you lots of room to get other top names on your roster, and if he can have another big week like he did at the Presidents Cup, he could end up carrying your squad (and the U.S.) to victory.
Sleeper PGA DFS Picks
Justin Rose $6,000
Rose is the second-most seasoned European option on the team, and getting him at just $6K is a little surprising.
His recent form is a little shaky, but he has had a career resurgence over the past two years since being left off the European team in 2021. He won at Pebble Beach earlier this season, and he bounced back from missed cuts at the U.S. Open, Scottish Open, and The Open Championship with top-25 finishes at the FedEx St. Jude Championship and the BMW Championship.
Where Rose really stands out, though, is his experience. In five previous Ryder Cups, he has a sparkling 13-8-2 record and is an even more impressive 7-2-1 in foursome (alternate shot) matches.
Like all the Americans, Rose hasn’t played this course competitively yet, but his specialty and experience in the format are enough to make him my favorite cheap play of the week.