Every fantasy sport has its set of data that helps project what’s going to happen, and fantasy golf is no different. In professional golf, that’s done by a metric called Strokes Gained. Created by Mark Broadie, a Columbia professor, it measures a golfer against others on a shot-by-shot basis. It’s then compiled daily, weekly, and yearly stats, or however long your database goes for. The database we will be working with for fantasy golf and PGA DFS covers about 18 months’ worth of tournaments. While making PGA DFS picks is typically about recent form, we like to learn players’ strengths and weaknesses to better understand where they might perform best. Let’s dig into some fantasy golf.
Fantasy Golf: Strokes Gained Analysis |Houston Open PGA DFS Picks
This is a 132-man field with the top 65 and ties making the weekend.
Only six golfers of the 132 don’t have a stat recorded in my database, which spans 46 tournament weeks. Of those 46, Sungjae Im has started in 37 of them, the most by two. Carlos Ortiz, Tom Hoge, Brian Harman, Talor Gooch, Tyler Duncan, Sepp Straka and Adam Long all have 34 starts.
Strokes Gained Total
- Data Set: Tony Finau, having played in six more events than Dustin Johnson, has nine starts that have finished with two or more strokes gained. Im, J.T. Poston, Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Henley check in with seven. In all, 18 of the 132 golfers have gained two or more strokes five times over this dataset.
- In terms of percentage of starts and strokes gained over 1.5, Johnson not surprisingly holds the lead here. Fifty percent of his starts have ended up with at least 1.5 total strokes gained. There are only three others in the field that have a 40% or better rate: Matsuyama (48%), Viktor Hovland (40%) and Kristoffer Ventura (40%).
- Graphic: Johnson’s performance at the Northern Trust stays in there for another week, as it was exactly 11 weeks ago. That performance is just about a full two strokes better than Sergio Garcia’s performance at the Sanderson Farms. Other names up in the top 15 include Doc Redman, Harry Higgs, Poston and Im.
- Four golfers have gained at least 1.25 total strokes three times in the past 11 weeks. Johnson and Finau are joined by Lanto Griffin and Zach Johnson.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green
- Dataset: How many golfers can you say without hesitation that “if only they could putt, they’d win a bunch”? I can probably come up with five, and Matsuyama is one of them. He’s gained over 1.75 strokes gained tee to green 12 times in this dataset, four more than any other golfer.
- Switching to a percentage and consistency as our barometer, Dustin Johnson eclipses Mastuyama by 8%. They are the only two golfers in the field to gain over one stroke in at least 50% of their starts. Six others are above 40%: Garcia, Hovland, Henley, Scottie Scheffler and Harold Varner III.
- Graphic: Turning to a few more surprising names, we see Hoge, Kevin Tway, Russell Knox and Corey Conners have all gained over 1.75 strokes tee to green at least once in the last 10 weeks.
- Fourteen golfers have gained at least 1.25 strokes tee to green over the last two months. Some names in this category I haven’t mentioned are Cameron Davis, Martin Laird and Xinjun Zhang.
Strokes Gained Off the Tee
- Dataset: When trying to model a golf swing off the tee, not just for power but accuracy as well, Conners has got to be among the top of that list. He’s been able to use that swing to gain at least one stroke off the tee seven times in 31 starts, the most of anyone in the field. Hovland has done it six times, while Garcia, Sam Burns, Jhonattan Vegas and Keith Mitchell have all done it five times.
- If it’s consistency you are after, nine golfers in the field have gained at least a half as stroke off the tee in 50% or more of their starts. I’ve mentioned many of the names like Garcia, Conners, Burns, Vegas, Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Im and Redman.
- Graphic: Garcia’s brilliance off the tee finally matched up with a halfway decent putter at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and it was a brilliant display. Others on this list that could use their hot off the tee game to their advantage this week include Will Gordon, Luke List, Max Homa, Wyndham Clark and Straka.
- Fifteen golfers in the field have gained strokes off the tee in all of their starts over the last 10 weeks. Some of the names I haven’t mentioned are James Hahn, Francesco Molinari, John Huh, Jason Dufner, Beau Hossler and Dylan Frittelli.
Strokes Gained on Approach
- Dataset: A trio of golfers top the approach list, having gained over a stroke 10 times. Those three are Hovland, Henley and Emiliano Grillo. They are three of four golfers who have also gained over half a stroke in 60% or more of their starts, with Conners being the other. Twelve more have done in it in at least 50% of their starts, including Hoge, Knox, Tyrrell Hatton, Cameron Tringale, Scott Stallings and Henrik Stenson.
- Graphic: It was another good week for Knox and his irons last week, at least from what we can tell given we don’t have any stats, which would mark the second good start in eight weeks. Others flashing on this list are Higgs, Jordan Spieth, Erik van Rooyen and C.T. Pan.
Mackenzie Hughes has three Top-10 finishes to his name already this swing season and has been a great PGA DFS pick so far. He is checking in at +750 PGA odds for another T10, which could be a pretty enticing wager to make based on his recent form noted by Jason Rouslin. Click on the image below to start shopping for the best edge in betting and check out all the player props available for this week’s Houston Open PGA Tournament.
Strokes Gained Around the Green
- Dataset: Six golfers in this field are noticeably better around the greens than others in this field, having gained at least a stroke around the greens five times. They are Matsuyama, Harman, Spieth, Frittelli, Keegan Bradley, Alex Noren and Ryan Armour. I suspect this stat to come into effect with the far par 5’s this week. Scrambling for birdie or better will be key in maintaining pace with the field.
- Eleven golfers have gained at least 0.25 strokes around the green three times in the past 10 weeks, showing a sign of consistency, which will be useful here this week. Some of those names are Ortiz, Mark Hubbard, Michael Kim, Mackenzie Hughes and Si Woo Kim.
Strokes Gained Putting
- Dataset: Whenever we see a guy like Brian Gay win a golf tournament, it reminds us that golfers that can make anything from anywhere have just as much chance to win a tournament as someone that strikes the ball incredibly. In fact, we could take it a step further and talk about Denny McCarthy’s performance last week as well, as I’m sure if we had stats he’d be the only golfer in the field this week to have gained over 1.25 strokes 10 times. But since we don’t, he sits at nine. Gooch, Hossler, Patton Kizzire, Andrew Putnam, Maverick McNealy and defending champion Griffin have all done it at least six times.
- All of those golfers except Kizzire get not only hot with the putter but also remain consistent as well, gaining at least a quarter of a stroke in 60% or more of their starts. Also doing this is Poston, who has in 74% of his starts. Clark, Patrick Rodgers, Brandt Snedeker and Brice Garnett also fit in here.
- Graphic: McNealy is continuing his good form, finishing just outside the top 10 last week in Bermuda and will stay on these Bermuda surfaces that he’s been red hot on. Hunter Mahan has also made back-to-back cuts with good putting and will look to make it a trifecta in Houston this week.
- Only five golfers in the field have gained more than a stroke twice in the last 10 weeks: Hossler, McNealy, Harman, Griffin and Noren.
Strokes Gained PGA DFS Sheet
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