When filling out a DraftKings lineup, picking among the favorites is a fairly safe proposition. It’s when you have to choose between a pool of golfers down the line is where you make or break your chance to win big.
Here’s the critical decisions you’ll face as you fill out your lineup this weekend.
Golfers Valued $8,000-$8,900
- Bryson DeChambeau – $8,900
- Tony Finau – $8,800
- Matt Kuchar – $8,700
- Jordan Spieth – $8,600
- Hideki Matsuyama – $8,500
- Patrick Reed – $8,400
- Paul Casey – $8,300
- Patrick Cantlay – $8,200
- Adam Scott – $8,100
- Bubba Watson – $8,000
- Phil Mickelson – $8,000
Last Friday after watching Hideki Matsuyama squander away several good looks at birdie from short range, I aired a few grievances on twitter dot com:
Almost every tournament I pump up Hideki Matsuyama on @GamblingPodcast as this ball-striking monster who's due to have a good putting week. And every time he goes out and shows me who he truly is. Over, and over, and over… pic.twitter.com/9EjuEMqiZJ
— Steve Schirmer (@SteveSchirmer) May 10, 2019
I told myself there was no chance in hell I was going to have any capital invested in him for the PGA Championship. Not in DFS, not on a matchup prop, and not on a futures bet to claim the Wannamaker Trophy.
But Hideki sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers over the weekend and a note that reminded me that long ball-strikers who hit the ball straight and hit a lot of greens will fare quite well at Bethpage Black, and he sucked me right back in for one more go of it.
If you’ve been following this space, I don’t need to rehash all the statistics of just how good Hideki is striking the ball this year. At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to how he putts. So far Hideki has shown that he can’t really putt on fast surfaces, slow ones, or ones with significant undulation. But the greens at Bethpage Black are relatively flat without a lot of break. That hopefully should help simplify things for him on the greens, and then it’ll just come down to getting the speed right.
With how well he’s striking the ball, he doesn’t need to have an all-world putting week to be a contender this weekend – he just needs to be passable. If that happens, then he’ll finally live up to his DraftKings price.
In Paul Casey’s last two appearances in big time events, he spectacularly fell flat on his face. At the Players Championship and The Masters, Casey lost a combined 15.75 strokes to the field. In all other events since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he’s gained a combined 58 strokes on the field in a stretch that includes a victory and three other Top 5 finishes. Casey is just long enough off the tee not to be too far back for his second, and he’s been hitting greens from approach shots 175+ yards at a fairly good clip this year. He’ll have to avoid being in the bunkers at Bethpage Black, as that’s an area he’s struggled throughout his career. But as long as Good Paul Casey shows up to the first tee, his form suggests he’ll be a serious contender.
As I’ve beaten over the readers heads over and over this week, long hitters are going to have a tremendous advantage at Bethpage Black. While a bomber like Tony Finau will likely get most of the attention in this group, I’m instead opting for Bubba Watson who, quite frankly, is playing much better and $800 cheaper. Over his last three ShotLinked measured events he’s averaging over 1.3 Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green on the field. That clip doesn’t even include his performance at the Masters where he gained a total of 10.2 strokes on the field that weekend. Bubba also fared well in both FedEx Cup events held at Bethpage Black, so as long as he performs on par with his recent form he should be in for another good weekend on a track he’s found success at.
Golfers Valued $7,500-$7,900
- Henrik Stenson – $7,900
- Sergio Garcia – $7,900
- Louis Oosthuizen – $7,800
- Marc Leishman – $7,800
- Kevin Kisner – $7,700
- Gary Woodland – $7,700
- Ian Poulter – $7,600
- Webb Simpson – $7,600
- Jason Kokrak – $7,600
- Cameron Smith – $7,500
- Brandt Snedeker – $7,500
- Haotong Li – $7,500
Henrik Stenson will be behind the eight ball off the tee because of his lack of length and his preference to hit three wood. But because Stenson is so good on long approach shots he should be able to overcome that at Bethpage Black. On approach shots 175-200 yards, Stenson has hit the green on 59% of his attempts. On approach shots 200+ yards, he’s hit the green on 65% of his attempts. That’s good for 45th and 2nd, respectively on the PGA Tour this season, and those are approach shot distances he’ll likely have 11 times per round at the PGA Championship. As long as he’s hitting greens at this high of a clip in relation to the field, it doesn’t matter how far back he is after his tee-shot.
Sergio Garcia is going to be a popular DFS pick this week due solely to his course history at Bethpage Black. Sergio finished 4th there at the 2002 U.S. Open, T10 at the 2009 U.S. Open and T3 at the 2012 Barclays. But the stats back up his hype this week as he’s both long off the tee and hits greens on long approaches at a fairly respectably sized clip. Garcia’s form entering the PGA Championship is also on point, as he’s averaged 1.25 Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and over a stroke gained on his approach shots over his last six ShotLink measured events. Though chalky, he should be a worthy addition to a lineup and a contestant can differentiate themselves at other spots in larger GPP’s.
He’s cooled off a bit of late, but Jason Kokrak checks a lot of boxes of golfers primed to play well at Bethpage Black. He’s long off the tee, he hits greens at a high rate from long approach distances and he’s a good scrambler out of bunkers. Like Hideki Matsuyama, the question always comes down to how well he’ll putt. I’m banking on the flatter greens simplifying things for him as well, and if he can feel comfortable with the slow speeds he could be a surprise Top 15 finisher by the end of the weekend.
Bottom of the Barrel (Golfers <$7,500)
Keith Mitchell – $7,300: Keith Mitchell is basically a poor man’s version of Gary Woodland, and happens to be in better form of late than the real thing. Mitchell is both long off the tee and with his approach shots, though he’s a little inconsistent with how accurate he is with his irons. He showed a strong command on his approach shots at Quail Hollow (a PGA Championship style set up), but last week at Trinity Forest he lost shots to the field in that category. Despite how up and down he is with his irons, his elite length off the tee is worth a shot at his price
Thomas Pieters – $7,000: If Mitchell is a poor man’s Gary Woodland, than Thomas Pieters is a poor man’s Jon Rahm, albeit more for his temper tantrums than his ability:
Pieters has a large variance with how well he’ll do this weekend all because of his attitude, and Bethpage Black can certainly test one’s mettle. If he has a good head on his shoulders, then he possesses the right combination of length off the tee and accuracy with his irons to once again put up a solid performance at a major. On the year he ranks 27th in both Driving Distance and Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee and 35th in Strokes Gained – Approach on the European Tour. He also has missed only one cut worldwide since last October.
But if he lets an errant shot or two put him on tilt, well…
At least he’ll provide some good content as he melts down on the golf course.
Russell Knox – $6,700: Like Henrik Stenson, what Russell Knox lacks in length off the tee he makes up for with accuracy on longer approach shots. Knox has hit 56% and 52% of his greens in regulation on approach shots 175-200 yards and 200+ yards, respectively, this year. That’s good for 72nd and 38th, respectively, on the PGA Tour. Knox is also a very strong bunker player should he miss a green. He’s salvaged par on 63% of his attempts from a greenside bunker so far this year, which is good for 21st on the PGA Tour. Despite a lack of pop, Knox has a shot to show well this weekend at Bethpage Black.