After four weeks in Florida, the PGA TOUR is in the Lone Star state for a couple of weeks before The Masters. The Texas two-step starts this week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. It’s the PGA TOUR’s version of March Madness, as the 64 players are placed into 16 groups for a Match Play tournament. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are dedicated to play within the group before the knockout stage begins Saturday and Sunday.
For DFS purposes, the scoring is a little different since, instead of strokes, this week is all about winning holes in head-to-head play and surviving to advance. As you build your lineups, you’ll want to make sure to separate your picks to come out of different groups, and different quadrants since the lineups with the most upside will have their players advance to the Elite Eight and the Final Four.
Even more than the college basketball tournament, this tournament is typically rife with upsets. Lowly-seeded players have historically made deep runs and even gone on to win the tournament. There are always plenty of upsets, so for GPP play, it makes sense to take some long shots and play plenty of underdogs.
The tournament returns to Austin Country Club for the final time the event is held in this format. As part of the PGA TOUR’s new-look schedule, the plans for an event in Austin are still unclear. The course is a great one and one that the pros should know well since it has hosted this Match Play tournament for each of the last six tournaments dating back to 2016.
For more on the course and what stats to be on the lookout for, check out the stats preview from Matt Vincenzi.
The field for this week is extremely strong with only Justin Thomas and Justin Rose qualifying but opting not to play this week. All 64 players will play three matches Wednesday through Friday, and the winner from each pool will get the chance to rack up points throughout the weekend. For this week’s picks, I’ve highlighted one of my favorite GPP plays in each quadrant below.
Since these are GPP picks, we also can accept a little more risk if it raises the ceiling of the lineup. High-risk, high-reward options with low ownerships create the “boom-or-bust” style lineups that usually lead to large-field success.
This weekly post focuses on players who are strong plays in GPP contests. These contests usually have lots of entries and pay out big prizes to the top few percent. The biggest example this week is the DraftKings $750K Pitch + Putt, which pays out $200K to the winner. In large contests like this one, it is critical to try and target players who have a chance to outperform salary expectations and come with low projected ownership.
The players highlighted will be good options if they deliver in all formats, but they come with risk factors that usually keep them from being the safest plays. Safety and reliability should be the focus of lineups in cash and double-up contests, where finishing in the top spot isn’t quite as important. On the other hand, GPPs call for high-risk, high-reward options with high ceilings and low projected ownership. To find specific guidance for all the different kinds of contests, check out our full Daily Fantasy Golf coverage each week.
No matter what type of format you prefer, be sure to use the FantasyLabs PGA Models to help you make the best choices. These models use stats and simulations to highlight different players’ strengths and weaknesses. A couple of key new stats to specifically use for GPP play are Perfect% and SimLeverage, which are further explained here.
Usually, I rely on the Stroked Gained Model, which is very predictive of results. I also tend to lean into players that gain shots on approach since week-to-week putting performance can be extremely volatile, even for the best players on the PGA TOUR.
As you dig into the numbers, you can enjoy the many tools that FantasyLabs offers, including the Lineup Optimizer, which effortlessly creates up to 300 lineups. Alternatively, you can use the Lineup Builder if you prefer a more hands-on approach.
Check out my top picks in each price range listed below.
Quadrant 1: No. 32 Jason Day $9,100
Day is in Group 9 with Collin Morikawa ($9,500), Adam Svensson ($6,700), and Victor Perez ($6,400), and I think he’s a very solid option to emerge from the upper-left corner of the bracket. Day has won this event twice in his career, in 2014 and 2016, the first year it was held in Austin. He hasn’t advanced out of the group stage since then, though, as his career has been derailed by a series of injuries, and he fell from the top spot in the World Golf Rankings back into the back.
He has rediscovered his game, though, to this point in the season, with six top-20 finishes already in 2023, including four top-10s. His best finish of the season was a fifth-place finish at the WP Phoenix Open, but he also finished in the top 20 at THE PLAYERS and the Arnold Palmer Invitational during the PGA TOUR’s stop in Florida.
Day has been exceptional on and around the greens lately, ranking second in SG: Putting over his past 24 rounds. If he can continue to put pressure on with his short game, he’ll be a formidable opponent for anyone in this match-play format, where experience and steady play usually lead to success.
The only slight drawback to Day in GPPs is that he may end up being pretty chalky. So many things point to his success that he may bet too much attention to be a sleeper play. However, I’m willing to eat a little chalk to get this much upside in the first bracket. If his ownership projections get too high for your liking, some alternatives from this quadrant that I also like are Tommy Fleetwood ($8,300), Maverick McNealy ($6,800), and Matt Kuchar ($7,100).
Our Lineup Optimizer comes fully ready to optimize for this match-play event. All you need to do is load the template from our optimizer settings:
This feature allows you to make sure you have a golfer from each quadrant in your lineup — making it optimal to maximize points in your lineup as the tournament progresses.
Quadrant 2: No. 36 Corey Conners $7,900
Conners has the kind of ball-striking that plays at almost any venue and format, but he definitely makes sense on this track in match play. He is in Group 15 along with Cameron Young ($9,200), Sepp Straka ($6,100), and Davis Thompson ($6,200). It’s one of the easiest draws according to DraftKings salaries since both Straka and Thompson aren’t considered extremely difficult matchups, and Young is the second-lowest seeded player on the top line of any group.
Conners did not fare well at the President’s Cup last fall in a similar match-play format, but he did have success last year at this event, finishing third after defeating Dustin Johnson in the consolation match. He ended up going an impressive 7-1 and only lost to runner-up Kevin Kisner. He can definitely play this format and understands the strategy and the layout.
The question with Conners is always whether his putter will cooperate enough for him to take advantage of his exceptional approach game. Recently, he has been putting together some solid showings, including a top 25 at the API three weeks ago. He did miss the cut at THE PLAYERS, but he should be set up for a bounce-back week in Austin.
Other GPP options to consider from this quadrant include Tony Finau ($9,800) and Keith Mitchell ($8,100).
Quadrant 3: No. 26 Sahith Theegala $8,000
In this section of the bracket, I was torn between Theegala and Min Woo Lee ($7,600), who I’ve highlighted multiple times in this post already this season. Ultimately, Lee seems to be getting a little more attention, so Theegala will probably be a slightly better play for GPPs due to lower ownership.
Theegala is still in search of his first official PGA TOUR win and his first solo championship, although he did win alongside teammate Tom Hoge in the QBE Shootout last December. That was right after finishing runner-up at the RSM Classic to finish out 2022’s official schedule. In 2023, he has made the cut in all seven of his events, highlighted by top-10 finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and The Genesis Invitational.
He and Lee drew into a favorable group with Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,500) as the highest-ranked player in the group but not in good form recently and J.J. Spaun ($6,000) as one of the lowest-ranked players in the entire field. The matchup between Lee and Theegala will be one of the most fun matchups of young emerging stars on Wednesday, and I think whoever wins will be poised for a deep run.
While this is Theegala’s first WGC Match Play appearance, he did have a very impressive Amateur career, winning all three major college golf awards during his time at Pepperdine. Since many amateur events use a match play format, he should quickly feel comfortable in the format. He has the kind of balanced game and the ability to pile up birdies in a way that could lead to a long run this week.
In addition to Lee, the other GPP options I like from this section include Tyrell Hatton ($9,000) and Keegan Bradley ($7,700).
Quadrant 4: No. 63 Justin Suh $7,300
Even though he was one of the last few players to get into the field, Suh comes in hot enough to make some noise this week. He’s in an absolutely brutal group with Max Homa ($10,100), match-play savant Kevin Kisner ($7,200), and Hideki Matsuyama ($8,600). With so many heavy hitters just in the round-robin play, Suh could totally crash out and go 0-3 and no one would even be that surprised. With such low expectations, though, there’s definitely a chance to get good leverage if Suh can continue his recent form.
He posted top-10 finishes at the Honda Classic and at THE PLAYERS Championship during the Florida swing and is one of only a few golfers in this field that chose to tee it up in all four events over the past month. He has made the cut in 12 of his past 13 events overall and had success at TPC Sawgrass, ranking fourth in SG: Around-The-Green and 17th in SG: Tee-To-Green on the week on that Pete Dye design. If his approach game stays strong on this Dye design, he could definitely surprise some people.
Like Theegala, Suh will be making his debut here but did have success in the college ranks as an amateur. He excelled at USC and was also a member of the 2018 USA Palmer Cup Team alongside Theegala, Davis Riley, and Collin Morikawa. Suh went 3-1-0 in match play to help the US to win in that contest.
If Suh is more of a long shot than you need to take, other GPP options I like in this section of the bracket are Taylor Montgomery ($7,400), Nick Taylor ($6,600), and Jordan Spieth ($10,200), who is always a popular option with the fans in Austin.