The Presidents Cup is upon us and for DraftKings purposes that means we get a shot at Cup style DFS play where even classic style lineups have captains positions (more below). Team International and Team America will square off as two 12-man squads. The teams will take part in match-play contests spanning four days with the winning team being the first to reach 15.5 points.
The first three days (Thursday through Saturday) will consist of team play with five fourball matches on Thursday and five alternate shot matches on Friday. Saturday will see two waves with four fourball matches in the morning and four alternate shot matches in the afternoon. For reference, fourball is where each player on a team plays their own ball and the team takes the best score between the two. Alternate shot is where the team plays the same ball, alternating shots back and forth until the hole is complete.
The final day will see 12 singles matches for a total of 30 matches, overall. The following players compose the two squads:
Team America: Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Cameron Young, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele, Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa
Team International: Sungjae Im, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Seabstian Munoz, Taylor Pendrith, Corey Conners, Cameron Davis, Si Woo Kim, KH Lee, Joohyung (Tom) Kim, Mito Pereira
Quail Hollow Club — Charlotte, North Carolina
Par 71, 7,571 yards
After a renovation prior to the 2017 PGA Championship, the overall yardage at Quail Hollow now spans up to 7,600 yards, and the par has changed from a 72 to 71, making it one of the longer venues in play on the PGA TOUR.
Quail Hollow is essentially a classic tree-lined course that challenges golfers with tough driving holes throughout but still adds in the odd scoring hole here and there to make things fair. In 2018, it played as the fifth-toughest venue on the PGA TOUR, playing to a 72.132 scoring average, and in 2019 it played as the eighth-toughest venue at a 71.762 average score.
The course now has only three par 5s but does have eight par 4s that measure in at over 450 yards, including the new par-4 first that plays as a dogleg and played as long as 524 yards for the PGA Championship. The greens have been replaced, again, to Champion Bermuda, and like most new greens, have tended to play on the firmer side since being put in.
From a profile perspective, this venue has tended to favor good drivers of the ball (and longer hitters), and that theme has extended since the renovations. Justin Thomas ranked first in driving distance when he won the PGA Championship at Quail in 2017 and Rory McIlroy was his usual dominate self off the tee when he won at Quail for the third time in 2021, gaining over 2.5 strokes off the tee for the week.
For Presidents Cup purposes, this venue should extend a big advantage to the American team. Eight American team members ranked in the top 40 of driving distance stats last season, while just three International players managed the same feat. Experience matters here as well. This was the site of Justin Thomas’ first PGA Championship win, but Max Homa (2020 winner) also has good connections to this course as does Kevin Kisner (runner-up PGA Championship 2017) and assistant captain Webb Simpson.
The Americans have also had the course rerouted so that the dreaded Green Mile (normally holes 16-18) will play as holes 13-15 and be a pivotal part of every match. These holes are some of the longest (and toughest) on the course and should only extend the American’s advantage given they have more overall power and better tee to green play. Expect the venue to play a big role this week if this does play out as an American romp win.
Last 5 winners
**The USA has won every Presidents Cup except 1998 (INT 20 ½ to 10 ½) and 2003 (Tie)
2019—United Stats 16-14
2017—United States 19-11
2015—United States 15 ½ - 14 ½
2013—United States 18 ½ - 15 ½
2011—United States (Royal Melbourne) 19-15
1. Scottie Scheffler: Scheffler has absolutely torched the field at the WGC Match Play event the last two years finishing runner-up in 2021 before winning the event in 2022. He also smoked Jon Rahm 4 and 3 in the Ryder Cup last year. At 11-2-2 lifetime in match play, expect the USA to lean on him heavily this week.
2. Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay has represented the USA in the last two International competitions and won his singles matches handily on each occasion. He’s got an 8-4-2 record in match play, overall, and won the team event at the Zurich in 2022 with teammate Xander Schauffele. He’ll be another heavily used US player this week.
3. Kevin Kisner: Kisner is one of the captain’s picks this week for Davis Love and team USA. He was taken solely due to his match play record which reads 22-7-2 lifetime in singles matches. It's unfair that the USA have someone like Kisner so far down the bench to rely on. Look for him to play in multiple team matches where he excelled for the USA in the 2017 Presidents Cup.
4. Billy Horschel: Horschel is yet another veteran that team USA will have to steady out their lineup — which does contain a lot of young and somewhat inexperienced players. He’s 13-7-2 lifetime in match play singles matches and beat Scottie Scheffler to win the WGC Match Play in 2021.
5. Adam Scott: This week will be tough for the International side, but they’ll at least have experience in Adam Scott to rely on. Scott’s only 23-23-2 lifetime in singles play, but he’s 4-1 in his last five Presidents Cup singles matches. Any miracle International win would be led by a herculean effort from Scott.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
International Targets: The International Team is set as +700 underdogs on the DraftKings Sportsbook and we could even see that number get bigger by tee off. It’s best to use a light approach with them in general this week for DFS. That being said, I would expect Sungjae Im and Hideki Matsuyama to have a great shot at playing in five matches. That kind of volume could be extremely valuable especially with their cheaper salaries (compared to the elite American players), and it makes them viable captain’s plays. Down below, look for the higher-end tee to green games of players like Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira to potentially flourish at Quail Hollow. While the International Team has some nice players, ultimately, we need wins to score points. Unless you’re looking to be ultra contrarian, and playing for the upset win, don't get too crazy with how many International names you get in your lineup.
- Sungjae Im ($7,400)
- Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400)
- Mito Pereira ($4,600)
- Taylor Pendrith ($4,400)
Favorite International bet: Top International side debutant scorer — Mito Pereira +850
American Targets: The Americans will be far more likely to spread out their usage and get everyone involved in the team portion. They do have a few rookies on their squad like Sam Burns and Cameron Young, but given how good those players have been this season, we could easily see them play prominent roles while veterans like Billy Horschel take more of a backseat. I’d expect the most reliable US players for DFS purposes to be the two most expensive players on DraftKings for salary, in Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay. Both have great match play records and recent form. Tony Finau will be playing in his second straight Presidents Cup and the venue in Quail Hollow sets up extremely well for a bomber like Finau who ranks second in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds. Also, don’t be shocked if veteran Kevin Kisner is used prominently in the team play portion. He went 2-0-1 in 2017 at this event and was picked primarily for his expertise in this format.
- Scottie Scheffler ($10,600)
- Patrick Cantlay ($10,200)
- Tony Finau ($8,200)
- Kevin Kisner ($5,000)
Favorite American side bet: Day 4 (singles) winner — USA -225
Captains: SungJae Im ($11,100) and Patrick Cantlay ($15,300)
The Cup format on DraftKings means we have to somewhat look ahead and predict usage. Players only get points awarded for matches they actually partake in, so if your player sits out too many team matches (everyone plays singles on Sunday), then their upside is limited to say the least.
Sungjae Im played in the last Presidents Cup match for the International side and was leaned on heavily 3-1 throughout the event, smashing Gary Woodland 4-3 in singles play. Since then, he’s become a more complete player and has the consistency and length off the tee you need for success at Quail Hollow. Im ranks fourth in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds and is coming off, arguably, the best stretch of golf in his career — where he put together three runner-up finishes and a second-place overall standing in the FedEx Cup race for 2022. Even in a close International Team loss, he should pile up points and will be one of the few international players who may go off as a favorite this week in some of his team and singles matches.
On the American side, I expect heavy usage from both Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay. It is quite possible that we see no American players used in all five matches because of the depth of their team. It’s worth noting that Cantlay was used in all five matches in the last Presidents Cup in 2019 (he went 3-2). Considering how strong of a team he and Xander Schauffele have been in pairs competition, we can safely project Cantlay to be out day one and two with Schauffele, without much worry. When you add in the discounted DraftKings price you get when you go Cantlay over Scheffler then Cantlay becomes even more attractive. The American team will be tougher to pin down for usage, but Cantlay’s overall experience in the team format should give him a great shot at being out for all five waves.
Flex: Taylor Pendrith ($4,400) and Cameron Young ($6,600)
As far as course fit goes, Quail Hollow is going to give a big advantage to golfers with length and accuracy off the tee. The Americans possess quite possibly the best off the tee player in golf right now in Cameron Young who indeed ranks first in strokes gained off the tee stats over the last 50 rounds (of anyone in the event this week). Young dominated tougher driving venues like Southern Hills and Riviera last season, and I’d expect, that in the long term, Quail Hollow is a place he might even lift a trophy or two before it’s all said and done. His team usage may depend on how he starts the week, but it’s unlikely we see any Americans outside of their top two or three players go more than three or four matches. Young is cheap, a great fit for the venue and has a shot at a big week for Cup golf on DraftKings if he starts fast.
The International team isn't without some firepower of its own. Taylor Pendrith ranks fifth in strokes gained off the tee and has shown the ability to hold his own against many of the world’s best players over the past couple of months. The entire bottom half of the International side’s roster has a ton of variance attached to it, but Pendrith’s recent form and course fit make him an excellent candidate to see action early. If he starts well, there’s a great shot we’ll see him play at least three of the team waves. Given the recent form (eighth at BMW, second at Rocket Mortgage), he’s a player I’d not be hesitant to use, especially if you’re making an international heavy lineup.
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