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PGA

The Approach: PGA DFS Picks Based off Awesemo’s Rankings for the Tour Championship | 9/2/20

Geoff Ulrich

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Fantasy Golf: PGA DFS Picks and Strokes Gained Analysis for the Shriners Open including Cameron Smith, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau and more.

The Tour Championship marks the end of the 2019-2020 PGA season. The event — which starts Sept. 4, 2020 — culminates by crowning a double champion, not just of the event but for the entire FedEx Cup too. While casual golf fans may not care much, the title comes with huge bonuses attached, as the winner gets a $15 million paycheck with his name on it. The event features a handicap format, which will see leader Dustin Johnson start at 10-under par, and the rest of the field starts in staggered positions behind him. Johnson’s closest competitor is No. 2 Jon Rahm at 8-under. Make sure you have a solid grasp of who is starting where this week when setting out lineups as the starting position can really change the value of a player in PGA DFS.

As for the course, East Lake Golf Club has hosted this event since 2004. It measures in as another long Par 70 that should play around 7,319 yards this week and features MiniVerde Ultra Dwarf Bermuda greens. Players here hit approximately 55% of the fairways last season — which is below the Tour average — but also averaged 302 yards off the tee, which was about nine yards more than the Tour average in that area from last season. The driver-heavy course means solid play off the tee is a must, but East Lake really rates out as more of an all-around test. The last three winners here have gained a stroke or more in both putting and around the green, so sharpness around and on the greens will be a must this week too.


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East Lake Golf Club Course Stats and Info

• Field averaged 302 yards per drive here last season, nine yards more than the Tour’s 293-yard average
• Three of the Par 3’s will measure in at over 200 yards; Par-3 Efficiency from 200-225 yards this week could be a stat to key on
• Scrambling around East Lake is slightly tougher than the average Tour stop; only one player in the top 11 here last season lost strokes around the green for the week

Putting Splits

The greens at East Lake are MiniVerde Ultra Dwarf Bermuda, which means this will be the first time since the Wyndham Championship that we’ll have Bermuda grass in play. East Lake has been on Tour since the early 2000s, so we have lots of course history to factor in too. Here’s a more general look at some of the best and worst Bermuda 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.

Negative Bermuda Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Hideki Matsuyama: -27 on Bermuda, -6 on all other surfaces
2. Collin Marikawa: -16 on Bermuda, -2 on all other surfaces
*+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost

Positive Bermuda Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Sebastian Munoz: +19 on Bermuda, -4 on all other surfaces
2. Justin Thomas: +/- 0.0 on Bermuda, -13 on all other surfaces


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PGA DFS Picks for DraftKings and FanDuel

Tony Finau: Grades: C, Values: C, B

Finau might be the opposite of great value this week, as the American comes in with an $8,200 price tag on DraftKings, which makes him the most expensive player in the 2-under starting range this week on that site. Despite that, Finau rates out well from an upside perspective in the Awesemo PGA DFS model, as his 18.96%, top-six percentage is miles ahead of the next golfer in his starting range. He also projects with better pure scoring projections than both Patrick Reed and Harris English, who are both more expensive than him on DraftKings. Finau is coming off a great Sunday finish from last week, where he shot a final-round 65 and moved up to a fifth-place finishing position. He’s finished seventh in two of his three visits to East Lake, and it’s worth noting that he’s gained strokes putting in all three of his starts there. While there are better pure values to chase, from a DFS perspective you have to like the fact that, given his starting position, Finau will be chasing hard from the get go and should be looking to give himself as many birdie chances as possible this week.

The Stats:

• Top-10 finishes in two of his three visits to East Lake; only three of his 12 rounds here have been over par, and he’s shot 67 or better four times here
• Has gained strokes putting in all three of his visits to East Lake
• Has gained strokes off the tee now in 10 straight starts

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 26.7%| FanDuel: 28.7%

Joaquin Niemann: Grades: D, Values: B

Niemann flashed his other-worldly approach skill last week, gaining five strokes on his approaches at Olympia Fields en route to a third-place finish — his best result since the fall swing. The Chilean had a fantastic ball-striking week all around, gaining 3.1 strokes off the tee, an area he’s flashed good upside in over his last few events too. This will be his first visit to East Lake, but given the way he’s progressed in the ball-striking department of late, his recent form should trump any concerns about his lack of experience. There’s also the price factor here, which really makes him pop for DFS purposes. Niemann will be starting at 2-under par this week and is the second-cheapest player in his range. He also has the best top-six percentage in the Awesemo model of any player $7,000 in salary on DraftKings this week and tops out with the best value score of any player in the $6,000 range on that site. Despite all that goodness, he’s not projecting as uber-chalk at the moment, which only makes him more appealing in PGA DFS this week where avoiding duplication in big GPPs will be difficult.

The Stats:

• Has now gained three or more strokes off the tee in two of his last three starts
• Has gained two or more strokes on approach in five of his last seven starts; has only lost strokes on approach once in the past year
• Second-cheapest play at the 2-under range on DraftKings this week

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 21.9%| FanDuel: 11.6%

Low-Owned GPP Flier

Brendon Todd

Todd comes into this week’s event off an eighth-place finish at the BMW Championship, where he defied his shortness off the tee again to post another solid week on a long golf course. The three-time Tour winner has been producing good results on all kind of venues this year but has handled longer Par-70 layouts like TPC Southwind and TPC Harding Park particularly well of late. Ranked 21st in Par-4 scoring and 22nd in par birdies or better, Todd seems well suited for the test this week as a result and comes in having gained 4.9 strokes or more in putting or around the green in four of his last five starts. It’s also worth noting that he ranks 12th in Par-3 scoring and is ranked fourth in Par-3 efficiency from 200-225 yards over the last 24-rounds, which could be significant given the number of long Par 3’s on East Lake. From an ownership perspective, he’s coming in with the third-lowest PGA DFS ownership percentage on DraftKings (as of writing), which is surprising given that he carries the second-lowest salary of anyone in the 3-under starting range. Todd is a heady GPP target this week as his salary and sentiment are both low, but his stats suggest this venue could produce another solid result.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 12.8% |FanDuel: 11.0%

Bonus: DraftKings Top Three Under Five

I am targeting two 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.

Cameron Champ ($5,300)

Champ has put together two poor finishes since his 10th-place finish at the PGA Championship, but his regression has been mostly related to a wonky putter. He’s still gaining strokes off the tee every week and should be in position to hit a lot of drivers at East Lake. If he can find some rhythm on the greens here early, he should be capable of a rebound here and projects out with the fifth-lowest PGA DFS ownership percentage on DraftKings (as of writing).

Cameron Smith ($5,100)

Smith has shown improvement over his last three or four events and has now gained strokes on his approaches in three straight starts. For perspective, the last time the Aussie accomplished this feat was way back at the start of 2019 when he recorded three top-15 finishes in two months. Smith’s short game has rounded back into form too — he gained 4.1 strokes around the gain last week — and has produced solid results in elite fields before, including two top fives in majors. He’s projecting with slightly more ownership than Champ but rates out as a good target for stars-and-scrubs PGA DFS builds.


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