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The Approach: Daily Fantasy Golf Picks & Expert Rankings for the ZOZO Championship This Week | DraftKings & FanDuel

Geoff Ulrich

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Daily fantasy golf DraftKings FanDuel ZoZo Championship PGA DFS picks lineups optimal optimizer this week today tonight free expert advice tips strategy projections rankings ownership Hideki Matsuyama

The PGA embarks on a three-week international trek for the ZOZO Championship, as they will visit Japan, Bermuda and Mexico. It is an ambitious schedule that could reward players who chose to take on the extra flying time. The ZOZO Championship was played in the Las Vegas area last season and saw a much stronger field as a result (Patrick Cantlay won). This year, though, only three players from the world’s top 25 are in attendance. The event moves back to Japan, and the long flight in the fall swing has seemingly deterred many of the top players. As such, DFS golf strategy will be a smidge different to find the best daily fantasy golf picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups this week. This article will utilize the Awesemo expert PGA DFS projections and daily fantasy golf ownership for DFS golf lineup picks this week on DraftKings and FanDuel.

The Summit Club Stats and Info

This venue saw the biggest name of them all take down the inaugural title in 2019, as Tiger Woods captured the first ZOZO Championship ever contested. The shorter par 70 was besieged by rain that year, and the forecast for 2021 looks cool but mostly dry. Narashino Country Club is a classic tree-lined par 70 that is going to have the player emphasizing power over distance on most holes. In 2019 Woods ranked top 10 in fairways gained and top five in green in regulation on his way to taking the title (he also led the field in putts per green in regulation). Players with good approach games and confident putters should be backed the hardest.

  • Plays as a par 70 between 7,000 and 7,100 yards; was played on PGA Tour only once before, in 2019.
  • In 2019 each of the top five finishers had collected a finish of fifth place or better in one of the three lead-up starts.
  • Woods led the field in putts per green in regulation and was top five in greens in regulation for the week.

Putting Splits

The green types at Narashino are pure bentgrass. This course played extremely wet the first time it hosted this event. Cooler temperatures are in store again but no rain, so expect the greens to be pure. Use caution with these putting splits in fantasy golf picks; they are not the be-all, end-all, but they make for a nice tiebreaker.

Positive Bentgrass Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

  1. Cameron Tringale: +32 strokes on bentgrass, +16 strokes on all other surfaces
  2. Alex Noren: +40 on bentgrass, +13 on all other surfaces
  3. Henrik Norlander: -2 on bentgrass, -32 on all other surfaces

+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost

Negative Bentgrass Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

  1. Branden Grace: -18 on bentgrass, +16 on all other surfaces
  2. Charley Hoffman: -2 on bentgrass, +15 on all other surfaces
  3. Joaquin Niemann: -1 on bentgrass, +21 on all other surfaces

Daily Fantasy Golf Picks: ZOZO Championship

*Grades are ordered DraftKings, FanDuel. Initial grade indicates a player’s strength of output for the week, with the value grade indicating their strength as a play in relation to their salary.

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Hideki Matsuyama: Grades: A | Values: D

With two players under +1000 in the betting market this week, it makes sense to see if there are any other players percolating in the Awesemo model for DFS purposes. Enter 2021 Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, who is a close third in the Awesemo projections this week. Matsuyama has the strongest projection of any golfer in the $10,000 range on DraftKings and over a 5% win probability, which is strong even for this watered-down, 78-man field. From a performance perspective, Matsuyama may be ready for another spike week soon.

It was only a couple of months ago that he was inches away from grabbing a win at another limited-field event in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, and he finished sixth at the Fortinet Championships to begin his season. The sentiment on Matsuyama will not exactly be screaming high either after two subpar finishes in a row, but he gained 5.4 strokes tee to green last week at the CJ Cup and was only undone by 9.6 strokes lost putting. Matsuyama has played Narashino numerous times as a pro and finished second to Woods in 2019, so the course history factor is through the roof. He is a solid pay-up option and a good pivot off the top two players, or he could be stacked with them for a unique build this week.

The Stats:

  • Ranks sixth in strokes gained tee to green and on approach over the last 50 rounds.
  • Finished second at Narashino in the 2019 ZOZO Championship; gained over four strokes ball striking last week at the CJ Cup.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 20.1%

Charley Hoffman Grades: B | Values: C

Charley Hoffman enters this week as the model of consistency in DFS. He has only one missed cut to his name over his last 20 PGA Tour starts and is in the top 20 for strokes gained tee to green and on approach over the last 50 rounds. Hoffman had a great bounce-back season last year, landing multiple top-five finishes and a runner-up at the Valero. Long term, his birdie rate over the last 50 and 100 rounds is one of the most elite in this field as well. Hoffman ranks first in birdies over the last 50 rounds and is clearly on the lookout for some early fall season points, as this will mark his fifth fall season start of the year.

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Hoffman is as the highest-projected player below $9,000 on Awesemo this week on DraftKings, so even coming off what was basically a write-off week at the CJ Cup (he finished 68th out of 78 players last week) he is not a fade at a friendly salary. The no-cut events can be tricky for stat purposes too, but before last week Hoffman had gained strokes on his on approaches in five of his last six starts, and he gained five strokes off the tee last week.  It would be a little surprising if he did not bounce back this week, and he makes for a solid mid-tier target regardless.

The Stats:

  • Is first in birdies and second in birdies or better over the last 50 rounds in this field.
  • Is fourth in proximity over the last 50 rounds and has gained over a stroke on approach in four of his last six starts.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 13.9%

Low-Owned Daily Fantasy Golf GPP Flier

Alex Noren

This event saw a veteran player dominate the first time it was played at Narashino, and for that reason alone, it makes sense to target another veteran player who carries a putter that can get red hot at any moment. Alex Noren leads the field in strokes gained putting on bentgrass greens over the last 50 rounds and ranks first in both strokes gained on short game and strokes gained putting over that same time frame. Like Hoffman, Noren is coming off a lackluster CJ Cup, where he finished 59th and lost over four strokes on approach. Given the event was a no-cut and took place near the Vegas strip, though, not much stock should be placed in it when judging form.

Prior to the CJ Cup, Noren had been on a nice run. He landed two top-10s in the FedEx Cup playoffs and a 12th-place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links event in Europe a couple of weeks ago too. He is no stranger to traveling or playing internationally either (having been a mainstay on the European Tour for years), so heading over to Japan for a week is less likely to shock his system compared to others. All things considered, this venue played rather straightforward last time and likely can be had by someone with decent enough ball striking who can catch fire on these greens. No one is better than that of late than Noren, who is projected for under 6% ownership and makes for a nice GPP pivot this week.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 5.7%

DraftKings Top Three Under 5%

I am targeting three players that will end up under (or close) to 5% ownership in larger DraftKings GPPs. This section is searching for boom/bust players with an almost 100% focus on upside.

Mackenzie Hughes ($9,000)

Much like Noren, Mackenzie Hughes fits the bill of targeting players who will benefit from this course being shorter and more accuracy driven. He ranks seventh in long-term strokes gained putting and has gained over four strokes with the putter the last two weeks. He is a complete boom/bust player in many regards, but he has finished 35th and 25th in his last two fall starts, so his form is trending well.

Emiliano Grillo ($9,100)

Emiliano Grillo’s ball striking has picked up of late. He ranks third in strokes gained on approach and fourth in strokes gained ball striking in this field over the last 50 rounds and enters this event having gained strokes on approach in five of his last six starts. It was a strong all-around week for Grillo at the CJ Cup, where he finished 25th and gained over a stroke across all major categories except putting. The shorter, approach-driven venue should cater to his strengths, and he is trending for well under 10% ownership on Awesemo in a smaller field.

Shaun Norris ($6,000)

Shaun Norris is a late entry into this event after Paul Casey withdrew earlier in the week. Norris has shown up in the odd no-cut event, and it is because he keeps winning events around the globe. He is a Sunshine Tour and Japanese Tour regular who won in Japan just last week, his second win in Japan over the last 22 weeks. Norris has flashed the ability to compete on the European Tour (fifth at the BMW International earlier in the year) and makes for a nice min-price punt in GPPs. His upside may surprise some.


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Yahoo! PGA DFS rankings will be posted at least a day in advance of any tournament. Looking for more PGA DFS picks for Yahoo! and PGA DFS picks for Yahoo!? The Yahoo! PGA DFS projections for this week, the PGA DFS showdown projections for today and the DraftKings DFS PGA ownership projections are made and used by Alex Baker, the No. 1 DFS player in the world.
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