When filling out a DraftKings (use promo code SGP) lineup (use the promo code SGP), 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 for the American Express (values courtesy of DraftKings).
Golfers Valued $8,000-$8,900
- Brandt Snedeker – $8,900
- Sungjae Im – $8,800
- Branden Grace – $8,700
- Jordan Spieth – $8,600
- Scottie Scheffler – $8,500
- Viktor Hovland – $8,400
- Chez Reavie – $8,300
- Ryan Palmer – $8,200
- Cameron Smith – $8,100
- Ryan Moore – $8,000
- Matthew Wolff – $8,000
TPC Scottsdale often gives a slight edge to longer hitters off the tee, but it’s not a prerequisite to be a bomb and gouger to play well there. While Sungjae Im isn’t the longest hitter out there, he still manages to rank highly in Strokes Gained – Off-the-Tee thanks to a combination of above average length and accuracy. That’ll help set him up for relatively stress free approach shots into large, soft receptive greens, where he can then showcase his elite putting. Driving and putting is the name of the game at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his strengths in both areas make him a solid DraftKings option this weekend.
While Scottie Scheffler’s performance at Torrey Pines was disappointing, it wasn’t all that surprising. He’s a very young player still finding his way on tour, and typical rookie mistakes are magnified on a demanding golf course like Torrey Pines is. But as someone who has demonstrated the ability to be a ball striking machine and get hot with the putter, I think a bounce back is in order on an easier golf course. His ball striking statistics from the South Course were pretty messy, but that should regress to the mean given what he’s shown so far his rookie season. Fixing that and finding some magic with the flatstick should yield a much better result for him in Scottsdale.
Viktor Hovland’s kind of become the forgotten man from the group of elite young guns on the PGA Tour. It’s partially because he’s been playing overseas for the past few weeks, and partially because his results haven’t been too good. Is he experiencing a sophomore slump? I’m not so sure. The European Tour doesn’t release tournament by tournament strokes gained metrics, and none were kept for him in Asia or at Mayakoba. But in evaluating his more rudimentary ball striking statistics they look decent. His driving distance was down but that probably was a function of the golf courses he played. He’s hitting fairways and greens in regulation at good clips. And there weren’t many red flags in his putting stats either. That means the culprit is likely his scrambling, which is an area he’s struggled with in his brief career. Scrambling isn’t all that important at TPC Scottsdale, however, as the field average in greens in regulation is normally around 67% due to large and soft target areas. That’s well above tour average and de-emphasizes the importance of scrambling. He has the chance to remind the golf world how talented his is and should be a useful contributor to a DFS lineup.
Golfers Valued $7,500-$7,900
- Jason Kokrak – $7,900
- Corey Conners – $7,900
- Daniel Berger – $7,800
- Brian Harman – $7,800
- Keegan Bradley – $7,700
- Russell Knox – $7,700
- Byeong Hun An – $7,600
- J.T. Poston – $7,600
- Kevin Na – $7,600
- Vaughn Taylor – $7,500
- Bud Cauley – $7,500
- Andrew Putnam – $7,500
- Brendan Steele – $7,500
The exact same analysis can be written for both Jason Kokrak and Corey Conners. Both are excellent tee-to-green. Both excel on driver heavy golf courses like TPC Scottsdale. And you might as well shake a Magic 8 Ball to figure out how they’ll putt in any given week. The upside for both is a Top 10 finish and a DFS Hero, and the downside is a missed cut to make you feel like a complete donkey. Chances are one of these guys will pop at TPC Scottsdale, so those who play a high volume of lineups should make sure at least one of them is a part of it.
It’s not necessarily showing up yet on the leaderboards, but I think Daniel Berger is close to returning to the form he once had. He hasn’t had a Top 10 finish since last year’s Puerto Rico Open, but he’s only missed two cuts in his last nineteen starts and he’s gained over 1.6 strokes per round tee-to-green on the field in his last two starts. His putting has been up and down this year but he’s recorded positive strokes gained putting in four of his five appearances at TPC Scottsdale. He also has gained about 1.5 total strokes on the field per round lifetime at TPC Scottsdale. Maybe this is the week he finally busts through.
It hasn’t been a very good start to Byeong Hun An’s 2020 season. His ball striking numbers are pretty poor for his standards (though he’s not getting any credit for his great play over in Asia in the fall) and the putting is really bad right now. An lost over 7 strokes to the field on the greens last week, which is bad even for him. Still, I find it hard to believe he’s going to have that bad of a putting performance two weeks in a row, and he’s too talented of a ball striker to continue to put up mediocre stats. Call it a hunch he bounces back this week on a golf course he’s had a good track record at. In his career An has gained over two strokes per round on the field at TPC Scottsdale. His poor recent play might keep his ownership low, but if he can find some magic this weekend it’ll pay off for his backers.
Bottom of the Barrel (Golfers <$7,500)
Adam Hadwin – $7,200: Hadwin shouldn’t be valued this low. The only reason for it is because he’s making his first start since the RSM Classic after his wife just had a baby. Sometimes bringing children into the world knocks a golfer off their game (see Hunter Mahan’s career post 2013), and sometimes it’s brought them a new perspective in life that translates to success on the golf course (see Danny Willett’s 2016 Masters). The point is that no one truly knows how that’s affected him. What we do know is that Hadwin had a good fall with a pair of Top 5 finishes and has gained 0.75 strokes per round on the field at TPC Scottsdale. That’s stronger evidence than some off-the-course theory that could be argued for or against using him.
Lanto Griffin – $7,200: Lanto was very trendy pick at Torrey Pines but bombed in spectacular fashion. That should sour his outlook from most people and push down his ownership percentages. But if one looks at his results from Torrey Pines they’ll see that he was sunk by an uncharacteristically poor putting week, where he lost over three strokes to the field on the greens at the South Course. That ruined a decent ball striking performance in his lone ShotLink measured round of the weekend. The putting should regress back to the mean for him, which had been quite good so far this season. He should deliver a much better performance for his backers at TPC Scottsdale.
Doc Redman – $6,600: Redman is another player that ruined a relatively good ball-striking week with a bad performance on the greens at Torrey Pines. He gained just under a stroke per round tee-too-green on the South Course while losing over a stroke per round on the greens. Redman is a great driver but has run hot and cold with the putter this year. The law of averages suggests at least some bounce back on the greens this week, which should produce a higher finish than the T64 he had a Torrey Pines.
Others To Consider: Tom Hoge ($7,400), Emiliano Grillo ($7,100), Joel Dahmen ($7,100), Sung Kang ($7,100), Harry Higgs ($6,900), Cameron Tringale ($6,900), Sepp Straka ($6,800), Sebastian Cappelen ($6,700)