This week’s tournament is an awesome preview of what is to come with the new relationship between PGA Tour Live and ESPN. The streaming service will be available on ESPN+ and will feature at least eight hours of coverage per day. This DFS golf projections article is an all-encompassing fantasy golf article that focuses on PGA DFS core plays, ownership and exposure rates from our PGA DFS optimizer and a roundup of all content for the week. For the Sentry Tournament of Champions this week, this column will predict how the leaderboard will shake out and include a note about every player in the field.
PGA DFS Picks & Projections: Tournament of Champions
The following sections define who will play and what recommended allocation they should receive:
- Core: These golfers start every lineup. At least two from the core will be in every one of the lineups.
- Favorites: We all have our guys, and these are mine. They will be in the player pool at a minimum of 20%.
- Chalk Zone: These golfers are expected to be the most popular golfers of the week. They are supposed to be widely owned, and so, in a massive GPP, a winning lineup likely will not have more than one of the guys listed in this area.
- Alternates: On the PGA Tour, alternates are lucky to get in the field each week. However, it happens all the time due to injuries. This section will identify a few lineup alternates that can help fill a lineup and still provide some decent upside.
- Recommended Allocation: The percentage of time said golfer should be in lineups.
- Projected Ownership: The percentage that the field will have said golfer in their lineups.
- Variance: The difference between Recommended Allocation and Projected Ownership. A favorable variance gives leverage.
Sentry Tournament of Champions Weather Outlook
While the wind plays the primary defense on this course, it is not expected to be strong this week. However, the light winds on Thursday will come from the Southwest. That is the opposite of how the course was designed, as the longer holes on the course were designed to play downwind. With that flipping for the first part of the week, and possibly most of the tournament, expect to see scores a tad higher than last year’s winner (25 under).
Top-End PGA DFS Picks: 1-14
Justin Thomas: $10,600 DraftKings, $11,900 FanDuel
Two years ago this tournament had a similar forecast to what is expected this week, and the winner of that event was Justin Thomas. He also has stayed fresh through the fall circuit, including a solid performance a few weeks ago at the Hero World Challenge. His other two starts in the fall resulted in a tie for third and a tie for 18th. He has not been outside the top 40 since the Memorial Tournament back in June, and he putted horribly for most of that time. Thomas has 14 wins on the PGA Tour, with nine of the coming before April 1, including three in Hawaii. It is clear his peak time is around this time of the year, and now it will be about keeping momentum into April to capture his second major. Thomas should be an anchor of big-dollar lineups. He has a 7.4% win percentage in Awesemo’s PGA DFS Projections, the second highest, behind Rahm.
The great thing about these projections is gamers can download them to excel and apply any numbers they wish to use. This week I have bumped up Thomas’s win percentage by a few points and taken them away from Jon Rahm given their recent form comparison, and in turn, Thomas has my highest projected point total on the slate.
Collin Morikawa: $10,800 DraftKings, $11,700 FanDuel
While the year of Morikawa did not turn out perfectly, losing a five-stroke lead at the Hero World Challenge, that is not to overshadow an incredible second year on tour. When his iron game is crisp, which usually is known within the first 9 to 18 holes, it is by far the best in the world. That should shine this week with the number of fairways he will hit, and now it will come down to if he has a hot putting week or not. Still, the iron play alone should get him into the top 10. A decent putting week will get him into the top five, and an excellent putting week will allow him to challenge for the win. Thomas’ game is safer this week than Morikawa’s, but a Rahm/Morikawa stack is intriguing, especially for the $200 single entry.
Viktor Hovland: $10,200 DraftKings, $11,400 FanDuel
Delta forgot to load Hovland’s clubs on the plane, and they were stuck in Seattle for almost a week. He received them yesterday, but his driver was broken in the process. The last time Hovland had a driver break pre-tournament was at the OHL Mayakoba when Denny McCarthy broke it when practicing with it. Hovland went on to win the event for the second straight year. If that omen remains, and his scorching-hot form stays with him, he will be right there come Sunday.
Jon Rahm: $11,000 DraftKings, $12,000 FanDuel
There are only a few golfers in the field this week that have not teed it up for at least two months, and Rahm is one of them. Patrick Cantlay is the other. Rahm has been vocal about the layoff and how much he and his family needed. Becoming a new dad around April of last year, Rahm played a ton of golf and thus did not have a ton of time to be a dad or a husband. So inevitably, that will create some rust in his game, but not enough to knock him out of the top 10 this week. His ownership is trending.
Patrick Cantlay: $9,700 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel
Speaking of Cantlay, he heads back to Maui to start his season, a place that he has not yet mastered, coming in 15th fourth and 13th in his three trips out. He mentioned in his press conference earlier this week that he felt that Maui was a great place to knock off some rust, and he can get more comfortable with winning the more he does it. He is a very insightful golfer with a fantastic repeatable swing, one that makes him one of my favorite golfers, and he should find himself on the first page of the leaderboard this week.
Jordan Spieth: $8,900 DraftKings, $10,900 FanDuel
It is easy to write off the first event back after becoming a father for the first time and attribute the poor play to it, especially when considering the fact that he was, in his words, “forced” to go play by his family. While No. 1 in the world may be a bit out of sight, Spieth has transformed his game back into a worthy competitor, especially at venues that suit him. One of those venues is the Kapalua Plantation Course, which requires all types of different shots and shot-making abilities to score well. He has the scoring record at 30 under, winning by eight that year, and he has yet to finish out of the top 10 in his four trips out. That streak likely will not be broken this week.
Tony Finau: $8,000 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel
After a relatively poor start to the year, with a couple of 45th-place finishes and a missed cut, Finau bounced back into form, showing his upside and scoring ability at the Hero World Challenge. He did not play well at all last year either, but it was the start of some great golf, coming in fourth and posting three straight second-place finishes in the four starts following the Tournament of Champions. Finau’s game sets up perfectly for this course, superb at his long approach shots and great around the green. He came in ninth in 2017, so he is not a stranger to the first page of the leaderboard at this event, nor will he be this week.
Xander Schauffele: $9,500 DraftKings, $11,500 FanDuel
The story of Schauffele is an interesting one, always finding a way to provide value for those that stick with him in PGA DFS but has not had a PGA Tour win in well over two years now. Some consider him the winner of the 2020 Tour Championship, as he did have the lowest 72-hole score in the event. Where Schauffele gets into trouble around the green, which typically comes from a poor iron shot in a bad spot from his tee ball. However, since his opening event four years ago when he came in 22nd, his success has been grand, with three straight top-fives. with such wide fairways, he can use his strengths of iron play and good putting to remain close to the top of the leaderboard throughout the week.
Brooks Koepka $8,500 DraftKings, $10,200 FanDuel
Coming in with momentum this week, Koepka had a few low spots in the fall that were erased in his next two outings, looking fit and form. Eating up on Bryson DeChambeau in their match and then having a chance at the Hero Open against the world’s best is showing us signs of things moving in the right direction. With one of the lowest projected ownerships of golfers priced above $8,000, it makes it easy to test out this momentum theory. He does have a top-five at Kapalua all the way back in 2016, coming in third.
Sungjae Im $8,200 DraftKings, $10,400 FanDuel
A run of form for Im dating all the way back to the Palmetto Championship has him on 14-made cut streak, with nine of those 14 ending with finishes inside the top 25. Four of these nine top-25s had Im finishing inside the top 10, showing both consistency and upside. When he broke onto the tour a few years ago, that is exactly what was touted of him — consistently good. Given the comfort he showed around this course last year and the current form he has shown, Im should be able to hang around the first page of the leaderboard all week.
Daniel Berger $8,400 DraftKings, $10,500 FanDuel
The highest-owned golfer of the week will not break the slate nine holes like he did last time out. He put out an Instagram story the other day that suggested he did not receive any of his luggage — no clothes, no clubs, no nothing — has not updated since. In three trips he has come in 10th, 14th and 11th, which should not stray too far from this year’s result.
Hideki Matsuyama $8,700 DraftKings, FanDuel $10,900
This is the first start for the reigning Masters Champion since his emotional win at his home course in Japan over the fall. He has also been known to go on runs of great golf in his career and seems to be in the mix of one of those now, with only one missed cut since the Players Championship almost a year ago. He has also found some very solid success, except for last year when he finished last in the event before that. However, he came in third, second and fourth in his first three trips to the Plantation Course.
Bryson DeChambeau $10,000 DraftKings, $11,600 FanDuel
His driver and driving ability alone should get him into the top 10 this week.
Marc Leishman $7,500 DraftKings, $9,600 FanDuel
One of two back-to-back Aussies that should challenge for the top 10 this week, both possessing quality setups for this course. For Leishman, his game has translated a bit better than his countrymate Smith, earning two top-10s in his four trips. His fall play also gives reason to suggest that he will be able to hang around in the tournament for most of the week, finishing fourth, third, 39th and 19th in his four starts.
Mid-Range PGA DFS Picks: 15-25
Cam Smith $8,300 DraftKings, $10,700 FanDuel
Smith’s game has not translated as well — yet to crack the top 10 in a couple of tries but has certainly rounded into a more complete player over the last 12 months or so. He can also get lightning hot with the putter, making him viable for showdown formats this week.
Abraham Ancer: $8,100 DraftKings, $10,100 FanDuel
Speaking of getting lighting hot with the putter, Ancer had one of his best weeks of the year putting wise on these greens at Kapalua last year. It is interesting because they are some of the largest greens on tour. If that stat repeats itself this week, which is a big ask, he should have a chance at the top 10 come Sunday.
Sam Burns: $9,100 DraftKings, $11,100 FanDuel
The ascent up the world rankings for Burns has been incredibly impressive. Coming into the year he was ranked 163rd on tour, and that was after a top-10 at the Safeway Open. The play would pick up considerably after three straight missed cuts during the Florida swing; Burns would win the Valspar and then come in second the next week at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He would add another win and five top-10s since that win at the Byron in just 15 starts. He missed the top 25 just twice since then and has only finished outside the top 25 once since the Travelers Championship. But if anything can derail good form, it is a difficult course for first-timers to play. That is what he faces this week in his first trip to the Tournament of Champions.
Patrick Reed: $7,900 DraftKings, $9,600 FanDuel
Since returning from his health scare, it has been a bit of a topsy-turvy ride for Reed. He missed the cut in his first start of the season and came in dead last in the next one. But at the Bermuda Championship he used tough windy conditions to bounce back and came in second. Three poor starts after that had his form pointing in the right direction before spurting up again at the Hero World Challenge and coming in a tie for third. Even three or four months removed from his illness, the effects have seemed to linger, as Reed is typically quite consistent in his play. He should be fine this week but falls in line with some of his poorer start, where he finished 16th, second and 21st.
Talor Gooch: $7,600 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel
See Sam Burns.
Jason Kokrak $7,700 DraftKings, $9,300 FanDuel
Kokrak rode putting success to a few victories last year. His most recent one at the Houston Open was Kokrak’s third in the last year, also winning the Charles Schwab Challenge and the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. He was always known as a great ball striker, and that form remained; all he needed was the putter to start cooperating. It did, and as long as it continues to do so, he will hang around the top couple pages of the leaderboard each week. His first trip to Maui did not go well, coming in 31st last year.
Joel Dahmen: $6,100 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel
A couple of things are going Dahmen’s way this week; one of them is a good statistical fit. Coming in the top 50 in approach shots from 150 to 175 category and 225-plus, Dahmen should feel comfortable given that almost 40% of the approaches will come from those distances this week. He is a very streaky putter at very cheap prices is a good combination.
Erik van Rooyen $6,100 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel
Van Rooyen had roaring finish to the season, which for the time being saved his PGA Tour career. It looked as though he would have to go to the Korn Ferry Tour, but a late win at the Barracuda changed all that. The form remained, finishing seventh and fifth in the two playoff events against all of the best players in the world. There was a bit of regression through the fall swing, coming in the top 25 just once and missing the cut once, but a restart and a good setup for him should push him back into the top 20 this week.
Cam Davis $6,100 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
The form is awful since his win at the Rocket Mortgage: No top-25s in 10 starts. Something has to break, and maybe the time off did him well.
Max Homa: $6,700 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel
The question with Homa is not whether he is a top talent PGA Tour golfer, but more where is his caring level after his win. With as many missed cuts as top-10s last year, seven to six to be exact, there is certainly a large amount of volatility with him. A decent week should get him close to the top 10, and a bad week will put him on the last page of the leaderboard. Average it out, and it is somewhere around 20th.
Billy Horschel: $7,000 DraftKings, $8,800 FanDuel
Always finding a way to be vocal, whether he is on social media or not, Horschel heads to Maui to start the season for the sixth time since 2014. His best finish was his first trip out, coming in sixth while never finishing worse than 25th in the other four starts.
Kevin Na & Si Woo Kim
The two most volatile plays on the slate could finish anywhere from first to dead last to withdraw. Na has already withdrawn from this event once, and just 10 starts ago at the John Deere Kim called it quits. But when both players are engaged for all four rounds, they present solid upside given their skill sets.
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Bottom of the Barrel PGA DFS Picks: 28-38
Harris English $7,800 DraftKings, $9,500 FanDuel
The defending champion of the event went through a big regression spot in the fall, something that was bound to come after his amazing year last year. It will be a while before top-end form comes back, and it is an easy fade this week.
Garrick Higgo: $6,400 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
There is still a lot to develop in his game, as Higgo is the youngest participant in the field this week. If he gets his putter rolling, he can rack up points in a hurry.
Seamus Power: $6,600 DraftKings, $9,100 FanDuel
Unlike some of the other first-timer winners making the trip out this week like Higgo and Davis listed above, Power has gotten some of that top-end form back with four top-25s and one top-five over the fall swing. So he makes for one of the safer options this week down in this price range.
Phil Mickelson: $6,500 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel
The most entertaining man in golf is this week, and he will make plenty of appearances on TV.
Branden Grace $6,300 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel
Not a great course fit this week for Grace, who finished outside the top 30 in his first trip to Kapalua.
Lucas Herbert $6,100 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel
Herbert is less proven than van Rooyen but has a similar skillset and trajectory coming over from the European Tour. He was not even close to PGA Tour status prior to his win in Bermuda, which earned him a spot this week.
K.H Lee, Matt Jones, Stewart Cink, Kevin Kisner, Lucas Glover
The only golfer of these five that has a top 10 at Kapalua in the last decade is Kisner. Both Glover and Cink found success, but almost 15 years ago. For Glover, it is his first trip back in over 10 years, while Cink will look to best his tie for 31st he finished in last year. Matt Jones had a respectable 11th place finish in 2014 in his only trip to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, while K.H Lee will be making his first appearance this year.
In this last section, Erik van Rooyen, K.H. Lee, Lucas Glover and Matt Jones have a value rating of over 14 according to Awesemo’s Awesemo PGA DFS Projections. Only Joel Dahmen has a rating higher than those four.
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The FanDuel PGA DFS projections, the DFS PGA showdown projections for today and the DFS PGA ownership projections for today are made and used by Alex Baker, the No. 1 DFS player in the world. FanDuel PGA DFS rankings will be posted at least a day in advance of any tournament. Looking for more DFS PGA stats and the best PGA DFS advice?
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