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DFS Jones | PGA Championship Picks

This year the PGA Championship is heading to Bellerive Country Club which is just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. The course plays right around 7,300 yards and is a Par 70. The field will be taking aim at larger-than-average bentgrass greens as they make their way around this track. That doesn’t mean that they will have an easy time, though. These golfers will still be contending with 76 bunkers and 16 water hazards. When the 2008 BMW Championship was played here, the course played about a half-stroke under par as Camilo Villegas won at 15-under.
The defending champion, Justin Thomas ($9,700), took down his first major at this event last year. He won at Quail Hollow in 2018 at just 8-under. This was a bit of a shift from the trend of PGA Championship heading towards more birdiefests from 2012-2016. The winning scores during that time frame ranged anywhere from 10-under to 20-under. Rory McIlroy ($11,000), Jason Day ($9,000), Jimmy Walker ($6,900), and Jason Dufner ($7,000) are among the former champions of this event that will be making the start in St. Louis this week.

Expensive Golfers ($9,500+)

Justin Thomas ($9,700) is coming off of a WGC win and is the defending champion of this event. The fact that the pricing came out before last week means that we’re likely getting quite a discount on JT this week. Thomas is #2 in the world but comes in as the 6th highest salary. Those discrepancies are always something to pay attention to when you’re deciding on a player pool. It’s not just his world ranking that helps make the case for him, though. JT has only lost strokes on approach once since January. In his 2018 starts, he has finished in the Top 25 in 12-of-14 tries.
Dustin Johnson ($11,700) and Rory McIlroy ($11,000) are the only two golfers above $11,000 for this week’s PGA Championship. The difference between the two of them seems like splitting hairs, but if I’m going to be heavily exposed to either of these guys, it has to be DJ. Since the start of 2018, he’s made 13 starts. Of those starts, 12 of them have resulted in 17th place or better finishes. Rory is on the upswing, but it’s somewhat concerning that he lost strokes on approach last week despite his high finish.
Do you get the feeling that Rickie Fowler ($10,200) is sick of being the bridesmaid and not the bride at these big events? The #9 OWGR comes in with solid form on a streak of seven-straight worldwide cuts. He hasn’t lost strokes on approach since May. Fowler is also 14th in DK Points over the past 50 rounds. His course fit is exceptional this week with Bellerive CC featuring the types of holes he typically performs well on.

Mid-Range Golfers ($9,500 – $7,500)

Justin Rose ($9,400) has been one of the most consistent golfers in the world all year long. His past five starts have resulted in Top-10 finishes, and he hasn’t missed a cut since this event last year. The downside is that he withdrew last week from the WGC event due to back spasms. If that news helps you get him an ownership discount in a GPP, it’s hard to argue with that price for his potential ceiling.
Tony Finau ($8,100) has finished inside of the Top 10 at each major so far this year. I’m not sure there’s a reason to think he can’t compete here. He’s coming off of a performance where he gained nearly five strokes on approach at Firestone CC. Finau’s past ten starts have resulted in seven Top 25 finishes, and nine made cuts. He’s 11th in DK Points over the previous 50 rounds. Sergio Garcia ($8,500) shows up as the weakest course fit for me, thanks to a subpar year so far. He’s 88th in SG: Total over the past 50 rounds. There’s always the chance that a class golfer like him snaps back into form, but I’d rather take shots elsewhere in this range.
For my money, Joaquin Niemann ($7,600) presents one of the more interesting decisions of the week. He isn’t even going to turn 20 until November, but since turning pro, he’s shown that he can compete with the big dogs on Tour. The form #1 amateur has now made 6-of-7 cuts recently with three Top Ten finishes. Niemann has never lost strokes on approach or off the tee as a professional. While his short game tends to come and go, I’m not sure you can fade him at this price.

Cheap Golfers (Sub – $7,500)

When you get down to the less expensive golfers, you should really be looking for ball-strikers. Especially at a course like Bellerive CC, a strong approach game will be crucial if the greens stay as soft as they seem to be early in the week. Taking a look at SG: Ball-Striking on Fantasy National, there are quite a few names that pop in this range. Ryan Moore ($7,400), Kevin Chappell ($7,200), Luke List ($7,100), and Gary Woodland ($7,000) are all in the Top 20 in that category over the past 50 rounds.
Depending on how you want to build lineups, you may not need to dip down into this range. But, if you want to stack Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy you’ll need to find some dart throws in this range. Beau Hossler ($6,900) is at a very reasonable price for his potential here given he’s on a streak of 12 straight cuts. Although he’s been a bit volatile with just 3-of-6 made cuts since the start of June, another guy with decent upside is Billy Horschel ($6,900). Si Woo Kim ($6,700) is always worth consideration as well. We’ve seen him compete in some of the strongest fields and he comes in after a Top 10 at last week’s WGC event.

Course Fit

I wrote a program this week that simulates DK Scoring based on how they’ve performed, historically, on certain types of holes. This is definitely skewed a bit towards upside and doesn’t have any recent form baked in. It takes a look at all of the holes played since the start of the 2018 season. The top twenty are listed below:

Dustin Johnson ($11,400)
Joaquin Niemann ($7,600)
Justin Thomas ($9,700)
Justin Rose ($9,400)
Henrik Stenson ($8,700)
Brooks Koepka ($9,600)
Phil Mickelson ($8,300)
Chesson Hadley ($7,300)
Rickie Fowler ($10,200)
Patrick Cantlay ($8,400)
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,300)
Tony Finau ($8,100)
Emiliano Grillo ($7,200)
Alex Noren ($8,600)
Billy Horschel ($6,900)
Tiger Woods ($9,900)
Jason Day ($9,000)
Aaron Wise ($6,800)
Luke List ($7,100)
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,800)

mjones

I host a podcast called Bogey Free which can be found on iTunes or YouTube. I'm one of the PGA Analysts at DraftKings. On this site, you can find me talking Football Redraft or PGA DFS. Follow along on Twitter @MattJonesTFR to stay up to date.

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