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PGA

The Approach: PGA DFS Picks Based off Awesemo’s Rankings for the Memorial Tournament

Geoff Ulrich

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PGA DFS Picks: Nathan Joyce's 3 FREE PGA picks for SuperDraft lineups | Dustin Johnson + Tiger Woods + Patrick Reed | 2020 Northern Trust

The PGA stays in place this week as it culminates its stop at Muirfield Village with the yearly Memorial Invitational event. The field for this year’s running was expanded from its normal size up to 133 players thanks to the schedule constrictions put on the Tour by COVID-19. The setup will still be listed as a 7,456-yard par 72 that features predominately bentgrass greens with some poa grown through. Still, we should expect some differences. Rough is reportedly being allowed to grow out and greens are also expected to play a point or two faster on the stimpmeter. Last week the par-4 14th played as a drivable par 4, but that could change this week as the tees have room to be pushed back. Rain might be the biggest factor, as the course was reportedly soaked early in the week and more storms/rain are in the forecast for the week. A wet course could make the course play longer and make the rough even more difficult, which would, in theory, play into the hands of the bigger hitters. The field only averaged 59% driving accuracy off the tee last week, which is about 1.5% less than Tour average. It’s worth noting for our PGA DFS picks that the top three players in finish position all ranked inside the top three in shots gained tee to green last week and inside the top 10 in shots gained off the tee.


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The Memorial Course Stats and Info

• Par 72, 7,456 yards; Nicklaus-designed venue with six Par 4s between 450-500 yards
• Bentgrass greens mixed with poa; greens expected to be faster than normal and rough thicker/wetter thanks to rain
• Four par 5’s, none over 560 yards in length. These holes ranked as the four easiest on the course last year. Par-4 14th could be pushed back, adding more difficulty to setup as well.


Putting Splits

For the fourth week in a row now, we’ll have predominately bentgrass greens with some poa in the mix. The greens are obviously the same surface as last week, but some changes in speed and pin placement could still mean significant changes in who putts well here. Here’s a look at some of the best and worst bent/poa grass 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 Bentgrass/Poa putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Paul Casey: -15 on bent/poa, -1 on all other surfaces
2. Henrik Norlander: -5 on bent/poa, +12 on all other surfaces
3. Marc Leishman: -1 on bent/poa, +19 on all other surfaces
*+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost

Positive Bentgrass/Poa Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Brandt Snedeker: +45 on bent/poa, +13 on all other surfaces
2. Jon Rahm: +25 on bent/poa, +13 on all other surfaces
3. Nick Taylor: +20 on bent/poa, -/+0 on all other surfaces


Picks for DraftKings and FanDuel

Tiger Woods: Grades: A, Values: A

It seems fitting on the eve of Woods’ return to competitive play that he’s the only golfer in Awesemo’s rankings that achieves A-scores across the board. Tiger has stayed out of competition for the first section of the PGA’s return to action, but with the PGA Championship approaching, his focus on getting some competition under his belt is clearly a priority. Perhaps it has something to do with DFS golf and golf betting gaining in popularity these last few weeks, but the prices we’re getting on Woods here seem ridiculously good. $9,000 on DraftKings puts Woods $500-$1,000 behind players like Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa at a venue that’s become like a second home for Tiger throughout his career. While we may not have a ton of recent data on him, we know he’s still one of the best iron players in the world. So even if the rest of his game isn’t fully firing, it’s still likely his approaches won’t leave him far from the front of the pack. He may end up being the chalk this week, but I’m all for eating some of it at these prices in lineups.

The Stats:

• Eighth in SG: APP in this field over the last 50 rounds
• Five-time winner at Muirfield Village; last two seasons has gained 11.4 strokes and 5.4 strokes with his irons here

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 22.8%| FanDuel: 22.3%


Paul Casey: Grades: B, Values: A

Casey is playing for just the second time since the restart this week, which should stop him from being the uber-chalk on either of the big DFS sites. On most weeks in a normal season, if he was coming into this sort of event off a solid start like the one he had at the Travelers, his sub-$8,000 price on DraftKings would be eaten up quick. For now, though, it looks like most DFS players will be cautious with Casey, which likely makes this a good buy-low opportunity. From a value perspective, you’re almost never going to get a better price on the Englishman (unless he goes full Brendon Todd, circa 2016-2019), and it’s not like he doesn’t fit the type of player we’re looking to target at Muirfield. Over his last 10 starts where ShotLink data has existed, Casey has gained five or more strokes with his irons in three of those and only lost strokes to the field once in this area. He’s only played the Memorial twice since 2014 but finished 13th here in 2014 and has almost always played well at Augusta National, a venue which Muirfield was styled after in several areas. At the prices we’re getting, Casey’s a player I’d feel great about going overweight on here, regardless of actual results.

The Stats:

• Sixth in this field in SG: APP stats over the last 50 rounds; has gained two or more strokes on approach in last three starts
• Eighth in proximity from 175-200 yards over the last 50 rounds

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 11.6%| FanDuel: 9.5%


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Low-Owned GPP flier

Ryan Moore: Grades: C, Values: A

Moore has struggled for consistency in his game for the last year and a half now, but he is still a player who can flash big upside when the correct parts of his game come together. Despite more missed cuts than normal of late, Moore’s managed to pile up six top 10s over the past two years, and it’s worth noting three of those finishes have come off of missed cuts or finishes of 50th or worse. Typically a player who finds a ton of fairways and relies on his irons being better than everyone else’s, when Moore’s approaches aren’t firing right at the flag, problems begin to seep through quickly. That’s certainly been the story of late, as he had lost strokes on approach in four straight events prior to the Travelers. While he ended up missing the cut in Connecticut, he found some rhythm with his irons there, gaining 1.7 strokes on approach. Catching Moore on the upswing this week feels like it could pay big, as his record at Muirfield is beyond solid with one missed cut and four top 20s here over the past seven years. He’s GPP-worthy material for me in this second week at Muirfield.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 4.8%| FanDuel: 6.1%


Bonus: DraftKings Picks | Top Five 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.

Shane Lowry ($7,200)

The price feels far too low for the reigning Open winner who has shown some form now in his last two starts. He gained 3.8 strokes on approach last week, yet only finished 39th due to some poor play off the tee, an area he’d been fine in prior to last week. Lowry will be making his third appearance at the Memorial since 2017. If you include last week’s effort, he’ll have made the cut at Muirfield Village in each of his last three starts with his best finish coming in 2017 (15th).

Keegan Bradley ($7,200)

Bradley led the field in ball striking last week but was also the worst on the greens and lost strokes in his short game. It feels impossible that he won’t be at least a touch better on and around the greens in his second go-around, and even if he regresses a touch with his ball striking, a few more putts could vault him a couple spaces higher than the 39th from last week. He has a solid record overall at Muirfield that includes 23rd from 2018 and two more eighth-place finishes from earlier years.

Bud Cauley ($6,700)

Despite blowing up in round 2 after I profiled him here last week, Cauley has gained a stroke or more on approach in his last two starts and typically showcases a great short game that saw him rank second in shots gained around the green last season. He also pops with his putter every now and then, so his performance last week around the greens could easily flip (much the same story as Bradley). He’ll likely be sub-2% owned in most spots.

Bernd Wiesberger ($6,600)

This is a pure class play. The No. 29 player in the world won three times last year, and yet he is still ranked far closer to the min than the max on DraftKings. While his OWGR may be a touch inflated due to wins over weaker fields, he’s flashed in strong fields before and is one of the better ball strikers from the Euro Tour when in top form.

Jason Dufner ($6,500)

Has shown an affinity for most Nicklaus-designed courses over his career and Muirfield has always been one of his favorites. He was a winner here in 2017, and at this price a small improvement from last week’s 56th would likely suffice to make him a worthy venture. He gained three or more strokes on his approach in three of his last five starts now and has just one missed cut at the Memorial in his last six visits.


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