This week the PGA TOUR heads to Louisiana for its annual team competition at The Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The 160 players will form 80 teams of two looking to work together to claim a PGA TOUR win.
After The Masters and last week’s elevated event at the RBC Heritage, many of the top players on the PGA TOUR opted to take the week off, but there’s still a pretty strong field, including nine of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings. The team of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are the defending champs and the favorites on paper by many metrics, but they’re also the highest-priced options and are expected to have the highest ownership.
Last year’s runners-up, Billy Horschel and Sam Burns are back in action, and Collin Morikawa and Max Homa will be a new pairing of elite talents. Last week’s winner, Matthew Fitzpatrick, is playing this week alongside his brother Alex Fitzpatrick.
This will be the sixth straight Zurich Classic that used a team format, dating back to 2017, with a break in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Since 2018, the tournament has used four-ball (best ball) scoring for Round 1 and Round 3 while using foursomes (alternate shot) style scoring for Round 2 and Round 4. The event also has a cut, with only the top 33 teams and ties (about 41% of the field) playing Rounds 3 and 4.
Due to the format the main change in DraftKings’ format is that both players from the same team cannot be used in the same lineup. Each member of the team will receive the same statistics and fantasy points in both four-ball and foursomes. As a result, each entry basically consists of six teams.
The course for the event is also the same as the last several years. The Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana has hosted the event every year since 2007.
In this post, we focus on players with lower ownership projections than their potential performance. Finding these high-leverage plays with low ownership is critical for GPP lineups. I’ll try to highlight ways to go against the grain and take advantage of golfers who many fantasy players won’t be watching as closely.
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 large numbers of entries and pay out big prizes to the top few percent. The biggest example this week is the DraftKings $700K Pitch and 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.
Editors note: SimLeverage and Perfect% numbers may change after this piece is published. Be sure to check the PGA Models for any updates to the sims.
High-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Justin Suh and Sahith Theegala, $10,000
There are four teams in the competition with salaries of at least $10K, and each of them is expected to be highly owned, except for the team of Suh and Theegala. They may be a little overpriced and underhyped, though, and can actually bring some exceptional leverage if they get their games going this week.
Suh played this event two years ago, partnering with Doug Ghim to finish T11. He made the cut but faded badly at the RBC Heritage last week but still exceeded salary-based expectations for the 12th time in his 13 most recent events on the PGA TOUR. Suh is an exceptional shotmaker, and the team competition may help cover for some of his putting issues.
Suh’s new teammate this year, Sahith Theegala, is still in search of his first official PGA TOUR win, but he did already win an unofficial event team competition at the QBE Shootout last December alongside Tom Hoge. Theegala finished T5 last week with a sizzling 67-65 over the weekend and also placed in the top 10 at his debut at the Masters. He has made the cut in 15 of his 16 events this season and has exceeded salary-based expectations in 10 of his past 11 games.
These two rising stars played together on the 2018 Palmer Cup team and will look to break through for their first official PGA TOUR win this week. They come in with outstanding form, having combined to make 29 consecutive cuts with seven top-10 finishes between them.
They won’t be nearly as popular as other top plays, but if you’re looking for “who’s next,” this tandem tops the list.
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Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim $9,700
Another team coming in a little under the radar with lots of upside this week is Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim. The twosome doesn’t have nearly the form that Theegala and Suh have, but they do have a more proven track record of success. The two played together in the President’s Cup and outdueled Schauffele and Cantlay in one of the most memorable matches of the competition.
Tom Kim had made six straight cuts since the PGA TOUR came stateside in 2023 before missing the cut at the RBC Heritage last week. Just before that missed cut, he turned in a solid T16 in his first appearance at the Masters.
Si Woo Kim finished 29th at the Masters and also left early last week after making eight of nine cuts dating back to the start of 2023. Si Woo Kim has already won four times on the PGA TOUR, including the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this season, and Tom Kim has won twice in the past calendar year.
Since both Kims showcase great shotmaking skills and creativity from tee to green, this duo should have plenty of scoring opportunities. The only problem is that each of them can be streaky on the greens. If their flat sticks go cold, they could miss the cut, but if they get things rolling on the green, they could be the team to beat.
That kind of volatility works perfectly in GPP contests where their upside makes them worth the risk.
Mid-Priced PGA DFS Picks
Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore $8,700
When salaries dropped, I was a little afraid this group would draw too much attention to be a GPP option, but their projected ownership is actually surprisingly low at under 11%. Last year, these two teamed up and finished in the top five. They especially excelled at four-ball, posting rounds of 60 and 64 in Round 1 and Round 3, respectively. That finish was the first time Moore had played the event, while NeSmith missed the cut the previous season.
The two friends will tee it up again this week and hope to build on Moore’s recent run of success. He broke through for his first PGA TOUR victory at the Valspar Championship a month ago and then finished T39 at The Masters and T11 last week. He has exceeded salary-based expectations in nine of his past 10 events.
NeSmith’s form hasn’t been nearly as good, but the SG: Approach specialist did flash upside with a pair of top 10s last fall. He made the cut at the RBC Heritage last week but missed the cut in four of five prior events.
The two players have different skill sets, and last year they blended very well. If they can do that again this year, they’ll bring great leverage from the mid-range.
Doc Redman and Sam Ryder $8,300
Another duo that has had success in the past and comes in with surprisingly low projected ownership is Redman and Ryder. They have teamed up for the past two years at this event and finished T17 in 2021 and solo third last year.
Redman hasn’t been able to find his rhythm this season, missing the cut in six of his past seven events with a T16 at the Valspar, the only positing exception to that trend. Ryder, on the other hand, comes in with very good form, having exceeded salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine events, including a third-place finish at the Texas Open before missing the cut last week.
He had five top 20s in his previous seven events before last week’s letdown, and now he’ll look to get back on track by teaming up with Redman.
Their past success and Ryder’s recent rise are enough to give them a high enough ceiling to be a GPP option at this price.
Value PGA DFS Picks
Matt Wallace and Callum Shinkwin $7,300
The pairings under $8K all come with major risk factors, but some of them also bring nice upside. Some of the more popular options near the top of the $7K range are more established options. However, you shouldn’t overlook this English tandem, who are a little more off the radar with an ownership projection under 12%.
Wallace turned his season around with a T7 at the Valspar Championship and a breakthrough win at the Corales Puntacana Championship in an alternate-field event last month. He finished T28 at the Valero Texas Open before missing the cut last week at the RBC Heritage. He has finished in the top 25 at this event each of the past two years with two different partners–Graeme McDowell and Sam Horsfield.
The real wild card in this pairing is Shinkwin, who is a 29-year-old English golfer who will be playing in his first career PGA TOUR event. Wallace and Shinkwin have played together many times in England and have also competed in the Hero Cup for Team Great Britain & Ireland. Shinkwin will be making his PGA TOUR debut but has a solid track record on the DP World Tour, including a pair of wins, most recently last June in Wales.
How he’ll fare here and whether he can contribute enough to help Wallace to a third straight top-25 is unknown, but the potential is definitely there if the duo feeds off the energy of getting to compete together.
European golfers typically play more team events which often gives them an edge at the Zurich.
Ryan Brehm and Mark Hubbard, $7,200
Brehm and Hubbard will present a very interesting contrast in styles as they take on TPC Louisiana. Hubbard is an approach and around-the-green specialist, while Brehm is one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR. Neither is having a ton of success this season yet, but they have had a few tournaments of good production.
They teamed up for a top-15 finish last season at this event and hope a strong showing again can jumpstart their seasons. Hubbard has played the event four times and made the cut three times, with last year’s T14 being his strongest showing. That was Brehm’s debut on this track.
Brehm won last year’s Puerto Rico Open, but a T14 at the Honda Classic is his only notable showing this season. Hubbard has never won on the PGA TOUR but has posted four top-25 finishes this season and is coming off a strong T11 last week at the RBC Heritage. Hubbard comes in with the better form of the twosome, making four of his past six cuts.
However, this could be an example of the styles of the teammates being so complementary that they truly are better together since they can lean on the strengths of the other to cover their own deficiencies.
Sleeper PGA DFS Picks
Austin Eckroat and Scott Harrington $6,700
The projections and the sims clearly point to Eckroat and Harrington as standing out from the sea of players under $7K. They have the highest ceiling and median projection of all players $7K or under and the second-highest floor projection of players in that range. They also have the fourth-highest Projected Plus/Minus in that salary range.
Eckroat will be making his debut on this track, and Harrington missed the cut in his previous appearance two years ago alongside Andrew Putnam. Harrington has been playing the better of the two players lately, with four made cuts in seven events, including top 30s at the Puerto Rico Open and the Honda Classic. Eckroat hasn’t had as much sustained success but caught fire for a fifth-place at the Corales Puntacana Championship.
Both players have shown they can compete in the right conditions, and our projections think this week lines up to be one of those chances. They also come with a very nice low projected ownership of under 5%, which is extremely low given the limited options in the field.
Aaron Baddeley and Harrison Endycott, $6,600
Aussie duos have done well at this event in the past, and both Baddeley and Endycott have flashed potential, although consistency has been a challenge. If you need a punt play that has some interesting upside, they’re my favorite option.
Baddelley is the seasoned vet on this track, although most of his experience comes from before this was a team event. He missed the cut two years ago and teamed up with Roger Sloan. His career has had a bit of a resurgence lately, and he has exceeded salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine events, including a top 10 early in the season at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He has made the cut in each of his three most recent events as well and climbed to 100th in the FedEx Cup Standings.
Endycott will be making his debut at the Zurich. He’s 15 years younger than his countryman but has also been putting together a solid season and sits 109th in the FedExCup Standings. After a strong fall and international season, he got off to a slow start when the PGA TOUR was on the West Coast. He has made the cut in three of his last five events, though exceeded salary-based expectations in each of those three contests.
If you have to go with a flier play to balance out your spending, these Australians have a good shot to outproduce their minimal salaries.