If you need PGA DFS to remedy football withdrawal, I will been posting DK targets each week on Fake Pigskin. My goal every week is to offer targets in each price range, identifying two to three low-cost/reasonable floor targets as core pieces for all my lineups.
In DFS golf, it’s all about getting your guys to the weekend first and foremost. The way DK prices their fields out, I almost never will play anyone 10k or above. With something as random as golf performances week to week, they simply do not justify the investment in my mind.
Generally, I will fill out my roster with guys in the $7,500-$9,000 range. The factors I consider are event history, course layout versus player strengths, recent form, and prime bounce back candidates who are playing well, but happened to miss the cut the prior week.
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One factor does not necessarily outweigh another. And, like any good speculative decision-making process, instincts always play a role. Of course there’s my personal favorite factor–as is the same with other fringe DFS sports–the DK pricing model has no clue what the fuck it is doing!
Last season, I consistently laid out the theory that rostering players five figures and above just was not worth it week to week. Scroll toward the end on my results page to see how I used the Masters results as evidence to support this. The point is, golf performances week to week are so erratic I would generally suggest the good ole diversification strategy.
Going a step further, unlike most other DFS games that have positions, golf is just picking six guys that are doing the same exact thing in a given week. That said, probably more than any other DFS sport I’ve played, leaving 1-2k on the table is perfectly fine. Do not feel like you HAVE to spend your entire cap.
Throughout this season I will post more thorough analyses of why both approaches make DFS golf a bit different from football, hoops, and baseball. And how ridiculously futile it makes it when trying to win. All that in mind, let’s take a look at the Honda Classic information to clarify some unique characteristics that you may want to consider before lineups lock.
Course: PGA National (Champions Course)
After a one week hiatus outside the states (no I am not counting the Puerto Rico event as a real tournament), the tour leaves the west coast to embrace a Florida fling over the next four tour events. Which is perfect timing considering nothing is really happening in that area right now.
This includes a schedule tweak beginning this season that moves the PLAYERS Championship up into March so the four major championships are now sandwiched by the PGA’s other two biggest events annually, the PLAYERS and Tour Championship in August. This gives the schedule a better, more sensible rhythm with the four majors spread over four consecutive months.
Speaking of majors, in terms of challenging courses, the Honda Classic venue is no bitch when it comes to the tour’s more unheralded events. It fact, the metric in this article does a great job of illustrating PGA National (PGAN) as arguably the most difficult course on tour outside of the majors.
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The last four years respectively has backed this up with cut lines of +5, even, +3, and +4 in 2015. So if you’re watching Friday thinking, “I thought the US Open was played much later in the year”, you’re not crazy. Expect crooked numbers. Especially if the next factor plays a part–Mother Nature.
Part of what also makes this a difficult venue is weather conditions at Palm Beach Gardens. The combination of high winds and rainy days can put players in survival mode, where par is a win.
The current forecast looks relatively mild, so hopefully we can make it through Sunday without any delays or miserable gale force winds like Riviera had two weeks ago. Also, if you’re into interactive viewing experiences, a good drinking game would be to take a pull every time you hear “bear trap” or “bermuda”.
And by good I mean Jackson Maine at the Grammys good.
Keys to Success
First thing is first: avoid Florida’s vast network of human trafficking sex spas.
After that, I would target guys that have strong approach games. Strokes gained: approach-the-green (SG: approach) would be the first stat I would look at when considering DFS decisions this week.
You’ll notice many players choosing driving irons off the tee that they can control better. This will help maintain lower ball flights to manage the windy conditions offered by Palm Beach Gardens.
Par 4 scoring (always critical) and green percentages from longer (GIR) distances would also be metrics to strongly consider. There are only two Par 5s at PGAN, and the shortest of the four Par 3s plays approximately 175 yards.
The guys that are able to not necessarily score, but rather manage their way through longer approach shots will likely be in a good position to make the weekend. But enough stats and A Star is Born references let’s talk some targets!
Chalky McChalkerson (Five figures to round 9k)
The HC serves as somewhat of a break between last week’s WGC Mexico event and next week’s star-studded tournament at Bay Hill. As a result, guys like Adam Scott ($10,300) and Cameron Smith ($9,500) enter chalky territory for this week.
If I were to break my PGA DFS oath by playing a five-figure guy this week, Scott fits the bill in almost every way.
He’s cashed three checks in four career appearances at PGAN, including a 2016 win. Also he is perennially one the top SG: approach players on tour, and has been in solid form going back to last season. He appears poised to get back in the winners circle soon.
Sweet Spot (9kish to around 7.5k)
Luke List $9,200
2019 season, Cuts: 4/7 Top 25s: 3 Top 10s: 2 Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 3/4 Top 25s: 2 Top 10s: 2
I discussed List being a bit under valued heading into his last start at Riviera where he notched a respectable T-15 finish in some not so pleasant conditions. He finished as the sole runner-up at last year’s HC in a playoff to Justin Thomas.
List also ranks 13th in GIR from 175-200 yards this season after finishing 16th on tour last year. He would be my favorite pivot off the big chalk this week.
Billy Horschel $9,300
2019 season, Cuts: 8/8 Top 25s: 3 Top 10s: 2 Wins: 0
Course History, Cuts: 3/7 Top 25s: 2 Top 10s: 2
Along those same lines is Billy Horschel. No, not a huge fan of his 151st ranking in SG: approach so far this season. But this seems like an early season sample size anomaly when weighed against his 38th ranked GIR percentage in 2019.
That comes after a year where he finished ranked third overall in that same stat. This season, he ranks a solid 21st in GIR long distance. Even better than that is his recent form and mental game.
After some early season struggles to begin last season, the former Florida Gator hired a sports psychologist to iron out some mental blocks he was having on the course. Apparently it worked.
Horschel went on to quietly have a monster season, finishing red-hot in the FedEx playoffs ending up at 5th overall in the final standings. By far his best season since winning it all in 2014.
It’s translated over nicely to this year with him having yet to miss a weekend in 2019. Before last season’s missed cut at the HC, Horschel netted consecutive top 10s in this event in 16′ and 17′.
I like him to keep his hotel reservations for the weekend, and contend once again.
- Lucas Glover $8,800
- Chesson Hadley $7,700
- Kiradech Aphibarnrat $8,200
Mispriced Players (best values)
Sungjae Im $7,300
2019 season, Cuts: 8/12 Top 25s: 5 Top 10s: 2 Wins: 0
Course History, Honda Classic debut
Last season’s Web.com money leader has fared well thus far in his PGA Tour rookie season. Im has racked up five top 25s in 12 starts.
Statistically, there isn’t a specific category that jumps out as a strength. What does stand out is he doesn’t have a glaring weakness either. He maintains a positive metric in every major strokes gained stat this season, resulting in an impressive 26th ranked SG: total for 2019.
And much of his success on the Web.com tour last year can be attributed to his third overall ranking in Par 4 scoring.
After missing the cut his last two times out, I think he bounces back in a somewhat lighter field where it seems like he should be closer to the 8k range.
I am also convinced Kyle Stanley ($7,000) is bound to get it going at some point as well. Although if he misses the weekend again this week, I’ll be more convinced he’s playing through some sort of injury.
Longshots (7kish and below)
Ollie Schnierderjans $6,900
2019 season, Cuts: 6/11 Top 25s: 0 Top 10s: 0
Course History, Cuts: 2/3 Top 25s: 0 Top 10s: 0
Statistically speaking, Ollie does not appear as a great fit for PGAN. However, he’s known for playing a low ball flight almost exclusively (and being pretty damn good at it) regardless of the course layout.
The European golf like conditions that Palm Beach Gardens tends to produce could benefit this no hat wearing Georgia native’s style in his quest to cash his third check in four career HC appearances. And at this price, making the weekend is alone solid ROI.
Brendan Steele $7,000
2019 season, Cuts: 4/8 Top 25s: 1 Top 10s: 0
Course History, Cuts: 7/7 Top 25s: 3 Top 10s: 0
No self-respecting HC preview can be completed without mentioning this PGAN prodigy. Ok. That might be a stretch. But in this range it’s hard to ignore Steele’s track record here, including finishes inside the top 15 in his last three HC appearances.
- Stewart Cink $6,800
- Keith Mitchell $6,700
Good luck at PGA National! Don’t hesitate to reach out on twitter compliments and insults are always welcome.