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PGA

The Approach: PGA DFS Picks Based off Awesemo’s Rankings for the BMW Championship

Geoff Ulrich

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PGA DFS: Jason Rouslin presents strokes gained data for 30 golfers in the field for the 2020 Tour Championship, including Xander Schauffele.

The second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs brings us to Olympia Fields. It’s a course located in the suburbs just outside of Chicago and host of the BMW Championship in 2020. The course this week looks set to play much different from TPC Boston, as Olympia Fields is a big, sprawling property. It has rough that could play as some of the longest we’ve seen all year. The fairways here were hard to find in 2003 when this course last hosted a major championship and produced a wining score of just 8-under. While reports are that the venue will play difficult, don’t expect traditional U.S. Open conditions as the setup could still be dialed down a bit to ensure better scoring.

The course will certainly play longer than last week’s, though. As a par 70 that measures at 7,366 yards, Olympia Fields grades out fairly similarly in that respect to TPC Harding Park. The same course we saw host the PGA Championship just three weeks ago. Olympia Fields’ layout also looks somewhat similar in that it has trickier tee shots. Those shots will require mostly right to left action in order to find the fairway.

It also carries plenty of longer par 4’s and par 3’s — one that is listed on the scorecard as 280 yards — where par should be a fantastic score. From the pre-game chatter, it sounds like a great week off the tee will be needed. In order to score here,  good drivers of the ball (both distance and accuracy) should have an edge. Distance should be a factor, but anyone trending well tee to green who can find a ton of fairways should go well.


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Olympia Fields Country Club (North) Course Stats and Info

• Field averaged 55% in driving accuracy at the 2003 U.S. Open and just 59% in greens in regulation; players also scrambled at just a 48% rate at that event.
• Two par 5’s on the course, but one measures in at 625 yards; at least five par 4’s should measure in over 450 yards in length.
• Greens are listed as a mix of bentgrass and poa and also listed as fairly small on average; how they set fairways and green speeds will have lots to do with how this longer setup plays.

Putting Splits

The greens at Olympia Fields are listed as a bentgrass/poa combo. We haven’t seen this venue in competition for a while, but more Northern venues like Detroit Golf Club and TPC River Highlands are likely good comps from a surface perspective. Here’s a look at some of the best and worst bentgrass/poa putters in the field relative to their strokes gained on other surfaces. Use caution with these; they aren’t the be-all, end-all, but they make for a nice tiebreaker.

Positive Bentgrass Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Adam Hadwin: +31 on bentgrass/poa, +12 on all other surfaces
2. Rory McIlroy: +18 on bentgrass/poa, +6 on all other surfaces
3. Hideki Matsuyama: -6 on bentgrass/poa, -31 on all other surfaces
*+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost

Negative Bentgrass/Poa Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Matthew Fitzpatrick: +4 on bentgrass/poa, +34 on all other surfaces
2. Tiger Woods: -5 on bentgrass/poa, +3 on all other surfaces
3. Justin Thomas: -14 on bentgrass/poa, +1 on all other surfaces

PGA DFS Picks for DraftKings and FanDuel

Xander Schauffele: Grades: A, Values: D

Schauffele was one of the few chalky picks from last week that didn’t end up missing the weekend. The 2017 Tour Championship winner has now finished inside the top 25 in his last six starts and been churning out solid results since the restart. From a strokes gained perspective, his approach play has dipped, but his off-tee play and around-the-green game have remained at a high level. The former should be important this week, as length and accuracy off the tee are going to matter here.

It is no coincidence that Schauffele’s off-tee game allowed him to post a solid 10th at the PGA Championship on a similar venue in a week when his irons gained him zero strokes against the field. Despite his price staying level these past two events, he still carries good scores on in the Awesemo projections. He has by far the best top six (23.5) and win percentages (4.3) of anyone in the $9,000 range on DraftKings. He’ll remain a popular target but could see his ownership dip a touch with the likes of Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau getting price decreases.

The Stats:

  • Fifth in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds
  • Seventh in par 4 efficiency stats from 450-500 yards over the last 50 rounds
  • Hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in his last six starts despite losing strokes on approach in two of last three events

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 15.7%| FanDuel: 18.4%

Matt Kuchar: Grades: C, Values: B

Kuchar showed some improved ball-striking statistics last week, and that’s always a decent reason to look further into a player who putts so consistently on a week-to-week basis. Kuchar gained strokes both off the tee and on approach for the second event in a row at TPC Boston and posted his best strokes gained on approach since February. The improved ball-striking numbers are obviously important but come more into focus at Olympia Fields, where a shorter hitter like Kuchar will need to hit as many fairways as possible on a longer course.

From a value perspective he rates out on Awesemo with the second-best projections of anyone in the $7,000 range on DraftKings and has the highest top-six percentage of anyone under $7,500. This is money season for Kuchar, who loves the green stuff and still hasn’t posted solid enough results of late to send his ownership projections through the roof for DFS purposes. It’s looking like a good time to start thinking about getting back on the Kuchar wagon here. He rates as one of the better mid-tier targets in PGA DFS this week.

The Stats:

• Gained strokes in every major category last week at TPC Boston; had his best week in shots gained on approach since February
• Has gained strokes off the tee and on approach in each of his last two starts
• Coming off best finish (18th) since he finished second at the Genesis Open in mid-February

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 7.9%| FanDuel: 8.3%


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Low-Owned GPP Flier

Cameron Smith

Smith is another player who might be peaking at the right time. He might be able to make a run at getting himself to East Lake for the finale. The Aussie comes in ranked 26th in the FedEx Cup standings this week. Smith posted his best ball-striking week of the season last week, gaining 6.5 strokes on approach. This was the second week in a row that he’s gained over 1.5 strokes in that area, so something in his game is clearly starting to click. While his around-the-green game and putting have been sluggish, I’d expect that area to pick up soon for him now that the ball striking is firing.

He also loves himself a tough course. He’s already posted two top fives in major championships in his short time out on the PGA Tour. He definitely has the ability to scramble his way to decent scores if the venue plays tough. Despite the improvement he’s shown, it seems doubtful his ownership will get anywhere near popular this week, even in this smaller 70-man field. He’s a great GPP target for me and could be the type of player who benefits if we end up getting something similar to major championship conditions.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: : DraftKings: 5.5% | FanDuel: 5.0%

Bonus: DraftKings Top Three Under Five

I am targeting five players here that I ultimately think will end up under (or close) to 5% ownership in bigger DraftKings GPPs. We’re searching for boom-or-bust players here with an almost 100% focus on upside.

Bubba Watson ($7,600)

Watson showed a few signs of life last week, gaining strokes around the green and on the greens for the first time in over six starts. His off-tee game remains elite, and he’s also now gained over one stroke on his approaches in the last two events. He could be ready to challenge at a venue where his tee ball may allow him to be more aggressive than most players throughout the week.

Joel Dahmen ($6,500)

Dahmen missed the cut on the number last week, shooting two rounds of 70. Before this he’d posted finishes of 20th and 10th in his last two starts, which were both elite-field events. While he rode a hot putter at the PGA, he often finds a ton of fairways and played TPC Harding Park very well. His salary went down significantly from last week, making him look like a great value play here.

Danny Lee ($6,300)

I debated including Lee here last week but went with Cameron Davis instead, which also turned out OK, thankfully. Lee did put in three good rounds at TPC Boston, though, to finish 18th there. It moved himself into position (42nd) to make a run at the top 30 and an East Lake spot with one more good finish. He’s gained strokes off the tee and on approach in two straight starts and typically holds his form for a couple of events.


Related PGA DFS Content

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