Every fantasy sport has its set of data that helps to try to project what’s going to happen. In professional golf that’s done by a metric called Strokes Gained. Created by Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia, it measures a golfer against others on a shot-by-shot basis. That’s compiled then for daily, weekly and yearly stats, or however long your database goes for. The database we will be working with for PGA DFS covers about 18 months’ worth of tournaments. While making PGA DFS picks is typically about recent form, we like to learn players’ strengths and weaknesses to better understand where they might perform best. Let’s dig in.
Strokes Gained Analysis for the U.S. Open
With 144 players in the field, we have plenty of data to analyze and over 30 rounds of Strokes Gained data.
Strokes Gained Total
- Data Set: Webb Simpson has gained more than 1.5 strokes total in 70% of his 23 starts. He leads with Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm, all having a 50% success rate.
- Eight Weeks: Dustin Johnson is the only golfer that has gained over 1.25 in four starts over the last eight weeks.
- Graphic: Schauffele’s culmination of good golf earned him a healthy paycheck at the Tour Championship, but in the record books it wasn’t a win. According to the OWGR it was, though, and that helped him jump to the top of the average strokes gained total category over the last 10 weeks. Rahm, Thomas, Daniel Berger and Collin Morikawa round out the top five.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green
- Dataset: When we take out putting from the equation, Thomas jumps to the top of this list, earning at least one stroke gained in 68% of his starts. Rahm is the only other one at 60% or above. Sergio Garcia, McIlroy, Johnson and Simpson are at or above 50%.
- Eight Weeks: Johnson is still the only one with four, while Rahm, Thomas, Simpson, Tony Finau and Patrick Reed all have gained at least 1.25 tee to green three times in the last eight weeks.
- Graphic: Thomas has looked really good tee to green the last 10 weeks, but the putter has not quite cooperated. Garcia to an similar extent, but his putter has been terrible. Chez Reavie and Sebastian Munoz are interesting to see here in the top 10.
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Strokes Gained Off the Tee
- Dataset: McIlroy still reigns supreme off the tee, at least over the last 20 starts. He’s gained a half a stroke in 85% of his starts — the only golfer over 80. There’s only one other that’s over 70% of his starts — Cameron Champ — while Jason Kokrak, Corey Conners, Rahm and Garcia are all over 60%.
- Ten Weeks: Ten golfers in the field have gained strokes off the tee in every start over the last 10 weeks: Kokrak, Conners, Rahm, Johnson, Champ, Garcia, Paul Casey, Erik van Rooyen, Bryson DeChambeau and Kurt Kitayama.
- Graphic: DeChambeau’s transformation off the tee has made him semi-one dimensional, with other parts of his game really lacking. Garcia is a mini version of that, while Rahm and Matthew Wolff have been able to capitalize with their good off-tee games recently.
Strokes Gained on Approach
- Dataset: Thomas and Casey are the only two golfers to attain 70% of their starts ending in at least one half a stroke gained on the approach. Morikawa, Simpson, Conners, Viktor Hovland, Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson are all at 60% or above in the same stat.
- Eight Weeks: Johnson again is the only golfer to have gained at least 0.5 strokes on average per start four times in the last eight weeks. A lot more are at three, including Woods, Simpson, Finau, Reavie, Joaquin Niemann, Shane Lowry, Kevin Streelman, Mark Hubbard and Kevin Kisner.
- Graphic: Reavie is on a lovely stretch of golf with his iron play, peaking around the U.S. Open for the second straight year. As good as he’s been, Thomas has been better, averaging over a stroke per start over the last 10 weeks.
Strokes Gained Around the Green
- Dataset: Three golfers in the field have gained at least one stroke on average around the green six times: Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman and Byeong Hun An.
- Eight Weeks: Over the last eight weeks, Spieth has been the most consistent, gaining at least 0.25 strokes five times, with Harman, Thomas, Jason Day, Harris English, Charles Howell and Brandt Snedeker doing it four times.
Strokes Gained Putting
- Dataset: This time, we are going to look for the golfers that are good-not-great putters since I think this week the tournament won’t be won by someone getting hot on the greens. They are just too hard to have that happen, and the only golfer that could, Spieth, is bad at putting right now. English, Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter have all gained at least 0.25 strokes putting in 70% of their starts. Simpson, DeChambeau, Snedeker, Thomas Pieters, Andrew Putnam, Mackenzie Hughes, Kevin Na and Brendon Todd are all at or above 60%.
- Eight Weeks: Only Hughes has gained a quarter of a stroke on average six times over the last eight weeks, with Todd and Kisner doing it five times.
- Graphic: No one has been as good as Hughes over the past 10 weeks, but Matthew Fitzpatrick is close. Todd isn’t far behind, and neither is Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Strokes Gained Sheet
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