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course history

PGA DFS Picks: Data Driven Analysis for the Tournament of Champions I DraftKings

Jason Rouslin

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PGA DFS Picks for Genesis Invitational DraftKings and FanDuel Fantasy GOlf lineups with expert ownership projections from Awesemo featuring Patrick Cantlay

PGA DFS is filled with tons of useful information, but at times it can be overwhelming. Ahead of the season-opening Tournament of Champions, the Awesemo golf team created a format to provide one condensed article that will analyze the four most important statistics for daily fantasy golf. The focus for this statistical overview will be on Recent Form, Course History, Strokes Gained and Old-School statistics. In each category, I will provide notes and a data sheet to help with your PGA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel contests each week.

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Recent Form

The last PGA DFS tournament of 2020 was the OHL Mayakoba four weeks ago. To stay semi-recent, we will cover eight tournament weeks in this recent form sheet. Players competed in an average of 3.42 tournaments during the eight weeks we examined. Sungjae Im and Brendon Todd were the most active with six tournaments played, while Brian Gay and Bryson DeChambeau played just one each.

Eight golfers finished in the top 10 multiple times in our sample: Harris English, Viktor Hovland, Justin Thomas, Carlos Ortiz, Cameron Smith, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson.

In addition to that list, five other golfers had three or more top-25 finishes in the sample, including Sebastian Munoz, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Joaquin Niemann and Xander Schauffele.

Six players are well out of form heading into the 2021 season opener in Maui, missing the top 25 across our entire sample: Nick Taylor, Richy Werenski, Hudson Swafford, Adam Scott, Martin Laird and DeChambeau.

Click here to view in Google Sheets.

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Course History at Kapalua Plantation Course

The majestic Kapalua Plantation Course provides breathtaking sights and sounds throughout the week. The course has been a mainstay on professional golf tour rotations for several years, allowing us to get picky about the size of our course-history sample. For this review, I’ve chosen a seven-year sample size. Nine golfers in the PGA DFS field this week have no course history and will be making their Maui Tournament of Champions debuts. Our review of the sample uncovered some key data about veteran golfers who have significant history on the course. With a typical field of around 30 golfers, finding major negatives can be difficult.

A prolific PGA Tour winner every season, Johnson seems to love coming to Maui to start his year. He is one of two golfers in the field who has played this tournament at least six of the last seven seasons. He has finished inside the top 10 in all of them. Reed is the only other golfer in the PGA DFS field on both DraftKings and FanDuel who has played this tournament six times, but he has just four top-10s.

Thomas, Rahm, Matsuyama, Schauffele, Webb Simpson and Marc Leishman all have multiple top-10s on this course since 2014. Rahm and Matsuyama have both finished inside the top 10 in three out of three starts at Kapalua.

Click here to view in Google Sheets.

Strokes Gained

Strokes gained is the best metric by which to measure and predict the tour for PGA DFS purposes. This is where we make our money on DraftKings and FanDuel. Strokes gained can primarily be broken down into four categories: Off the tee, on the approach, around the green and putting. For this review we are foregoing other categories such as strokes gained ball striking (which combines strokes gained off the tee and on approach) or short game (which combines around-the-green and putting data).


For more strokes gained information, check out Awesemo’s Strokes Gained Tool, which has all of this information and more for both DraftKings and FanDuel PGA DFS contests! Click Here.


For this sample I am going back to when the PGA Tour came back from their COVID break.

Strokes Gained off the Tee

Only eight of the 42 golfers in the field managed to gain at least an average of half a stroke per round since golf’s return: DeChambeau (1.14), Sergio Garcia (0.93), Rahm (0.75), Cameron Champ (0.67), Johnson (0.64), Scottie Scheffler (0.61) and Jason Kokrak (0.54)

Strokes Gained on the Approach

Laird’s four starts since late June are the fewest among the PGA DFS field. In each of those four events, he gained 0.72 strokes on the approach, however, which could put him in play as a sneaky option. Only six other golfers have been able to gain at least a half a stroke per round on the approach in our sample: Thomas (0.82), Johnson (0.76), Hovland (0.58), Niemann (0.58), Collin Morikawa (0.57) and Finau (0.57), which will put all of them in play for DraftKings and FanDuel contests.

Strokes Gained Around the Green

No one in the PGA DFS field was able to gain a half stroke around the green. Category leaders included Thomas, English, Matsuyama, Rahm, Mackenzie Hughes and Patrick Cantlay, who will all look to remain hot in the Tournament of Champions

Strokes Gained Putting

Since late June, no one has been better than Hughes with the flat stick. Hughes gained more than a stroke per round on average across our six-month sample. DeChambeau comes in a distant second with 0.83, followed by Todd (0.76), Schauffele (0.67), Daniel Berger (0.59), English (0.56) and Kevin Kisner (0.54)

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Old School Statistics 

Before strokes gained statistics were invented, the focus was on data like greens in regulation (GIR) and driving distance/accuracy. The old standards can still help develop a player’s profile further, helping us identify potential strengths and weaknesses. I’ve chosen my five favorite old school statistics for this week’s Tournament of Champions. Four of these will come from a corollary statistic from the strokes gained category, and we will add one additional scoring statistic. I’ve listed each golfer along with their ranking in the statistical category.

Driving Distance

Garcia (1), Champ (3), DeChambeau (5), Thomas (6), Rahm (8), Johnson (10)

Proximity

Simpson (7), Im (34), Stewart Cink (35), Cantlay (36), Laird (37)

Scrambling from 20-30 yards

Garcia (2), Swafford (6), Ryan Palmer, Thomas, Champ (10)

Three-Putt Avoidance

Smith (7), Werenski (8), Hughes (14), Thomas (24), Kokrak, Reed, Ortiz (58)

Birdie or Better

Simpson (1), Thomas (2), Cantlay (3), Scheffler (4), Rahm, Reed (7)

Click here to view in Google Sheets.

Data Driven PGA DFS picks

I know that was a lot of information to digest; at the end of each weekly article, I will provide a trio of names that appear with positive data in at least two of the four sections we reviewed.

  1. Justin Thomas
  2. Patrick Cantlay
  3. Cameron Champ

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Looking for more fantasy golf, PGA DFS picks content for the Tournament of Champions? We have loads of PGA DFS picks and fantasy golf articles, data, cheat sheets, and more for DraftKings and FanDuel on the Awesemo PGA home page. Just click HERE.

Jason established his roots in the littlest state that could...Rhode Island. But after 29 years of bitter cold, and only being able to play golf 4 months a year, upended those roots and moved to Florida. Now two years later, Jason is a husband to Sarah and father of James as well as two Labradors (Choco and Bella) and he dedicates his time to serve as the lead of PGA content at Awesemo.com. In the time he is not diving into the PGA stats and covering this week's current tournament, you can find him researching and trading stocks, on the golf course, or somewhere hopefully lost in nature with his dogs guiding him along the way. Want to chat? Have a question about Golf/Stocks or anything else? Hop on twitter and give him a message @dfsgolfer23. You can also contact Jason by emailing support@awesemo.com.

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