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The Approach: PGA DFS Picks Based off Awesemo’s Rankings for the Sony Open

Geoff Ulrich



daily fantasy golf picks for the Sony Open for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups based on expert ownership and projections

The Sony Open represents the second Hawaii stop of the year and is one of the oldest stops on tour. The event typically sees tight leaderboards, as the classic Waialae venue doesn’t allow for a lot of separation given the somewhat lack of variety over 18 holes. So we’re going to need to be spot on with our daily fantasy golf picks for DraftKings and FanDuel. The venue is a shorter par 70 that measures around 7,044 yards. Bermuda greens are featured here again although the course really doesn’t share much with the Plantation Course. Waialae is a tight, tree-lined venue that has some of the some of the hardest-to-hit fairways on tour. That stat is somewhat misleading, though, as missing the fairway here isn’t that big a deal on most holes.

Players in the first cut with clear lines to the hole generally find themselves close enough that they can hold the softer greens anyway. The short rough and slower greens also tend to lend themselves to some big putting weeks, and the last three winners here have all gained six or more strokes with the flat stick. Players trending with some good form from the fall (or first Hawaii event) who also have a bit of experience playing the course have tended to be the ones to rise up here. It’s a classic veteran’s track where accuracy and solid iron play can overcome any lack of power off the tee.

Let’s get into some Sony Open daily fantasy golf picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.

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Waialae Country Club Stats and Info

• Five par 4’s of at least 450 yards. Straight forward layout that will play well to those who can find fairways and give themselves lots of medium to short birdie putts.
• Despite some shorter holes, mid to longer iron shots here are prevalent, with 150-175 yards being the most popular distance for approaches.
• Greens here are smallish and slow, which generally makes them easy to putt. Three-putts here are lower than at average tour event, and we often see a couple players blow the top off with the putter.

Putting Splits

The greens at the Plantation Course are Tifeagle Bermuda. They were replaced after the 2019 event and so should play a little firm for the next year or too. Generally, though, due to the humid climate, you’ll see them run slow for PGA standards (around 10-1.5 on the stimp). Here’s a more general look at some of the best and worst Bermuda putters in the field, relative to their strokes gained on other surfaces. Use caution with these in your fantasy golf picks; they aren’t the be-all, end-all, but they make for a nice tiebreaker.

Positive Bermuda Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Patton Kizzire: +50 on Bermuda, +8 on all other surfaces
2. Sungjae Im: +27 on Bermuda, -13 on all other surfaces
3. Sebastian Munoz: +14 on Bermuda, -9 on all other surfaces
*+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost

Negative Bermuda Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds

1. Adam Scott: -14 on Bermuda, +20 on all other surfaces
2. Hideki Matsuyama: -31 on Bermuda, -17 on all other surfaces
3. Jason Kokrak: +4 on Bermuda, +14 on all other surfaces

Sony Open Daily Fantasy Golf Picks: DraftKings & FanDuel

Daniel Berger: Grades: A+, Values: C

Berger is a pretty quick standout this week in the sites fantasy golf rankings, as he comes in as the sixth-most expensive player on DraftKings but has the fourth-highest projected point total of anyone in the event and the third highest win percentage. That dichotomy makes him a nice pay-down target, especially for people who aren’t bullish about rostering an $11,100 Webb Simpson. Unlike Simpson, who finished 17th last week, Berger actually found himself in contention Sunday at the Tournament of Champions but faltered with his around-the-green play and ended up finishing in 10th. While the finish was disappointing, there were more positive than negatives, as Berger gained 6.1 strokes ball striking for the week and would have contended if he had handled the greens around the Plantation Course a little better.

Perhaps it was his lack of play in Maui over the last couple years that caused the short-game dip, but lack of experience won’t be an issue at the Sony. Berger has played Waialae five times prior to this week and made the cut on every occasion. A strong par-70 player who typically excels on Bermuda greens, Berger ranks as a great anchor target this week, especially given the exceedingly small to non-existent talent gap that exists between him and the handful of players ranked above him.

The Stats:

• Two top-15s in five starts at the Sony and is 5-for-5 in made cuts here
• Has gained 1.9 strokes or more on his approaches in four of his five starts at Waialae
• Has now gained strokes on his approaches in 13 of his last 14 starts on tour

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 21.3%| FanDuel: 25%

Latest PGA DFS Content

Scott Piercy: Grades: B, Values: A

Piercy’s the type of veteran we often see do well at Waialae. The four-time tour winner has a solid iron game and a lengthy record at the Sony Open, which includes a runner-up finish from 2015 and three other top-15 placings. The 42-year-old is coming off a bit of a tumultuous year from a personal standpoint, but he still managed to play some consistent golf towards the end of 2020, posting made cuts in eight of his last nine events on tour.

The consistency obviously stuck out in the model this week, as Piercy rates out as one of the best values on the big sites this week. The veteran has the fourth-best value score of anyone in the model here and also has the highest points projection of anyone under $7,500 on DraftKings. The consistent ball striking and course history give him a solid floor, and if he clicks on the slow greens early, the $7,300 salary will look like a massive bargain by the end of the week. He’s a solid value to pair with your studs at this veterans paradise.

The Stats:

• Has gained four or more strokes tee to green in three of his last four events
• Top 20 in three of his last five starts dating back to 2020 and has five top-25 finishes now at Waialae over his last nine starts at the venue

Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 11.3%| FanDuel: 9.1%

Low-Owned Daily Fantasy Golf GPP flier

Chris Kirk

Kirk is a player I consider every now and then when we get to these more classic setups, although I admit I hadn’t really considered him much until he popped up near the top of the value scores in the Awesemo model. While there are a few players ahead of him with cheaper salaries, he still has the eighth-best value score on the entire slate. When we dig deeper here, there’s actually more to like too. A winner at Colonial, Kirk also has a runner-up finish at this week’s venue from back in 2014 and has three top-10s overall here in 10 career starts.

While Kirk didn’t flash much in 2020 (he did have a win on the Korn Ferry Tour), he was starting to show more consistent play towards the end of the season, landing six made cuts in his last seven PGA starts and posted an 18th (his best PGA finish in 2020) in his last start. He’s gained strokes on his approaches now in four of his last five starts (where tracked), and at $7,000 flat on DraftKings, he is the sort of player who can get by with just above-average iron play and still make a ton of birdies on a course like this given his tendency for spike weeks with the putter.

Projected PGA DFS ownership: : DraftKings: 5.3%

Bonus: DraftKings Top Three Under Five

I am targeting three 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.

Doug Ghim ($6,900)

I love me some Ghim this week, especially on this shorter, classical course where the former No. 1 amateur in the world can lean on his great iron play and won’t be at a disadvantage due to his lack of distance. He ranks 11th in birdie average on the new season and has averaged 83.5 DraftKings points over his four events. He’s projected for just under 5% ownership right now.

Kyle Stanley ($7,200)

Stanley is the type of veteran player we often see pop up at Waialae, sometimes out of the blue. The two-time tour winner was playing better golf right before the break and flashed with a sixth at the RSM Classic in November, where he gained over eight strokes on his approaches. He has played this event numerous times and has a couple top-15 finishes to his credit here. This is a good setup for one of the best iron players in the world when he’s on.

Takumi Kanaya ($7,100)

This is one of those, “I’d rather be early than late” scenarios. Kanaya was the No. 1 amateur in the world for over a year and already has two pro wins on the Japanese Tour, the last coming in November. He’s already ranked 126th in the world and is a serious talent who could gain more starts with a big week here. The easier setup has proven to be friendly to International players from the South Pacific in the past, and he’s projected for just 2-3% ownership here.

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