The PGA DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The PGA TOUR heads to Fort Worth, Texas this week for the Charles Schwab Challenge. Colonial Country Club, as it has forever, will host and is a 7,209-yard par 70 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
If you missed it, we added two new metrics in our models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.
The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is great for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
PGA DFS Conviction Plays
Scottie Scheffler ($11,500 DraftKings)
You’ll never believe this, but we are going right back to the Scheffler well this week. He disappointed after finishing T2 last week at Oak Hill, and no, that’s not hyperbole. It just goes to show how ridiculous the standard is for him right now. Despite not taking home his second career major, Scheffler played amazing golf over his final 27 holes, making just one bogey compared to seven birdies.
He finished second on the week in SG: Ball-Striking behind only Bryson DeChambeau, gaining 11.66 strokes. This, of course, isn’t surprising, as Scheffler sits No. 1 in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green, Off-the-Tee, Approach, and Total over his past 24 rounds. He’s got 10 top-10 finishes in 14 starts this season and hasn’t finished worse than 12th place since October.
He also would have won this event last year if Sam Burns didn’t go nuts on Sunday and beat him in a playoff. Even with him costing $800 more than any other golfer in the field, there’s more than enough value to fit him, and that’s exactly how I’ll be starting my roster.
Brian Harman ($8,200 DraftKings)
Harman has been horrible of late, missing seven of his past 10 cuts. At face value, he seems like an awful play, but I was pretty encouraged by what I saw in his two rounds at Oak Hill despite him missing the cut. Harman gained strokes on approach in both of his rounds but lost 1.13 strokes putting on Friday to miss the cut on the number. He usually plays well the week after a major, and it’s an added bonus that we’re headed to one of his favorite courses on TOUR.
He missed the cut at Colonial last season, but prior to that, has finished no worse than T31 in eight starts while posting three top 10s and three other top 25s. Colonial is not a spot to get cute and start playing first-timers or rookies.
Harman will get back on track this week and has quite a bit of upside for just $8,200.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,700 DraftKings)
Grillo also missed the cut at Oak Hill thanks to an awful first round, where he shot a 78. He did bounce back on Friday with a 71, but it was too little too late. I am not going to hold this against him, as he had been playing great golf prior to the PGA Championship.
Grillo’s rolling numbers look great, ranking 12th in SG: Approach, 14th in SG: Tee-to-Green, and 15th in SG: Total over his past 24 rounds. The Argentine is also a much better putter on Bent grass, gaining .27 strokes per round more than on other surfaces.
This will be his eighth start at Colonial, with his first seven resulting in six made cuts and a pair of top-eight finishes. At $7,700, we’re getting an established veteran with elite course history and rolling numbers. This is how we get to Scottie Scheffler.
Additional PGA DFS Cash/GPP Thoughts
I’m taking the same approach to single entry/cash games as I did last week by starting with the most obvious play on the board in Scheffler. There are plenty of other good players in this field, but I mean, come on. This guy is an automatic top-five right now, and there’s no one else on earth outside of Jon Rahm you could make that argument for. There are also quite a few strong plays in the $7k range, as mentioned above.
Before we get to those, we can touch on my other favorite play above $9,000, Jordan Spieth. He would absolutely be the guy I play at the top if fading Scheffler, as he’s simply owned Colonial over the course of his career, posting a ridiculous eight top-10 finishes in 10 starts, including a win in 2016. He also has three runner-up finishes in that stretch as well. Spieth usually dominates on Spieth courses, i.e., Augusta, Pebble Beach, any British Open course, etc. The issue that most will bring up is his nagging wrist injury, which I will admit is a minor concern. However, he shot a final round 69 at Oak Hill last week and gained 8.4 strokes ball-striking for the tournament en route to his T29 finish. He’s in the field this week, and that’s enough for me. I don’t think we should expect any limitations.
There are two plays in the $8,000 range outside of Harman that have caught my eye. Denny McCarthy and Cam Davis stand out amongst the crowd. McCarthy has quietly put together his best season as a professional thus far, having posted three top 10s while making 14-of-17 cuts. Oak Hill would be the stone opposite of a course you’d expect him to have success at, but he still finished T29. McCarthy was especially good on approach, gaining 3.96 strokes with his irons for the week. Unfortunately, his usually flawless short game failed him, as he lost 2.21 strokes around-the-green. I would not expect that to continue. McCarthy will be making his fifth career start at Colonial and is coming off his best career finish of T27 here last year. He ranks sixth in the field in SG: Total over his past 24 rounds and is rolling right now with four top-25 finishes over his past five starts.
As for Davis, he surprised a lot of people last week with his T4 finish. He gained 9.87 strokes ball-striking, which ranked him seventh in field. The T4 also marked his third top-seven finish across his past five starts. Davis has always been a mega talent but was struggling mightily early in the year due to an illness, which he appears to be fully over now. During this run, the Aussie ranks eighth in SG: Tee-to-Green and 14th in SG: Total in this field. He’s a better putter on Bentgrass as well and is coming off a T7 finish at this event last year. Everything is coming up roses for the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic champ.
Moving down the board a bit, two guys in the upper $7,000 range stand out like sore thumbs and could have easily been conviction plays, and they are Christiaan Bezuidenhout and the Toddfather, Brendon Todd.
This course is tailor-made for Todd, as it rewards driving accuracy and strong putting, both of which he excels at. To no one’s surprise, he’s coming off back-to-back top-eight finishes at this event the past two years while posting an additional T5 here in 2014. As I said above, there’s no reason to get cute this week. These boring veterans who have played Colonial 100 times are going to be our bread and butter. Let the fish chase all the shiny new toys. Prior to Todd’s MC last week, he was coming off a T8 at Wells Fargo, and a string of five consecutive cuts made.
Bezuidenhout is simply a professional. That’s my best characterization of him. And while I do prefer to play him on birdie-fest-type events, he did post a T15 here last season and has been on fire with his irons of late. Bez missed the cut on the number at Oak Hill but gained 3.99 strokes on approach in his two rounds, which is extremely encouraging. He sits fifth in this field in that department over his past 24 rounds to go along with his always elite putting. At $7,700, just lock him in and don’t think about it. That’s the approach I am taking. If he misses the cut, it would be a surprise, and we simply move on to Memorial.
Hayden Buckley, Beau Hossler, and Eric Cole are likely going to be chalk in the low $7,000 range this week, and of this group, i like Cole the most despite him making his debut here. Buckley shot eight-over par last year in his debut, and I do not trust him or the visor-wearing Beau Hossler in any capacity. Hossler is a Texas guy and has played decent here before, but I’ll let others chase that. Buckley is lethal off-the-tee but offers very little elsewhere, and as a result, I usually avoid it.
Cole is underpriced for how he’s been playing and is coming off a very impressive T15 at Oak Hill after making just seven bogeys all week. It’s clear his runner-up at the Honda Classic was no fluke. I will be fading him because I really don’t love the spot, making his debut at a tough course the week after overachieving at a major. However, there’s nothing in the data to suggest a fade is warranted, so feel free to play him.
My favorite play down here is Andrew Putnam, who’s had quite a bit of success at Colonial in his career, having posted a pair of top 20s and a T3 in five career starts. He missed the cut on the number last week at Oak Hill, on the heels of a WD at Wells Fargo, so it’s likely people just don’t click him. He did gain 1.8 strokes from tee-to-green during his second round, which bodes well for this week. Putnam played well in Texas two months ago with his T28 at Valero. On the year, he’s made 12-of-18 cuts, and I expect that to be 13-of-19 after this week.
At $7,100, he’s a great value play.
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Best of luck this week!
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