The Cheat Sheet provides DraftKings fantasy golf players with course info, player history, and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
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The field this week loses a lot of star power, with only two of the world’s top 20 golfers in attendance. Headlining things will be Sungjae Im and Billy Horschel, who both had lackluster outings at the Genesis. Last year’s Honda champion Sepp Straka will be in attendance, as is 2022 runner-up Shane Lowry, who showed well at the Genesis, finishing T14. A couple of other players of note this week will be Pierceson Coody — who recently won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour — and Min Woo Lee, who has finished T13 or better in each of his last six professional starts.
The field is set at 144 players, and the event will feature the PGA TOUR’s regular cut-line rule, with the top 65 players and ties making the weekend after Friday. This has typically been a tough event and venue for scoring, so don’t expect big daily fantasy golf totals since birdies will be at an absolute premium.
PGA National—Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Par 70, 7,100-7,200 yards; Greens: Bermudagrass
PGA National was redesigned in 1990 by Jack Nicklaus and has been the host of this event since 2007. The course always plays as one of the toughest on the PGA TOUR and was ranked the fifth-hardest venue on the PGA TOUR in 2019 and the third-hardest in 2021. To give you some idea of what’s in store this week: since 2012, the winning score at PGA National has failed to pass 10-under-par on all but one occasion — that was 2021 when Matt Jones hit 12-under while the rest of the field was seven-under or worse. Weather can be a big factor this week, too, as the wind off the Florida coast can make shots in the stadium environment impossible to judge.
As for setup, PGA National plays as a par 70 that comes in around 7,200 yards in length. The greens are Tifeagle Bermuda and can play quite fast if the weather gets hot enough. There are only two par 5s in play this week, and both will need to be taken advantage of if players want to end the tournament under par. The course is really a tale of two nines. The front nine is much easier and features a couple of “scoring holes” with less penalization for mistakes. The back nine is much tougher and offers one challenging shot after another, with water in play around almost every green.
Water is in play on 13 holes and is featured prominently in the famous “Bear Trap,” a three-hole finishing stretch — 15, 16, and 17 — that requires players to hit three quality shots into open greens surrounded by water and hard-to-escape sand traps.
This course also has a lot of sand on it, and these traps penalize players who miss off the tee or on their approaches to the green. Three of the last four winners at PGA National — Keith Mitchell, Sungjae Im, and Matt Jones — gained over +5.0 strokes on their approaches and over +3.5 strokes around the greens on their path to victory.
Winners and top finishers at PGA National tend to gain most of their shots on approach, but good around-the-green play is nearly as essential. Players don’t need to be super aggressive off the tee, but avoiding trouble is important as well. Overall, it’s a week to really emphasize ball-striking, with a bigger emphasis than normal on approach and proximity from 175 yards and longer.
Key stats: strokes gained approach / strokes gained around the greens / proximity 175-200 yards / sand save %
2023 weather outlook: The weather for this year’s event looks pretty typical for what we get this time every season at PGA National. The temperature will be pleasant enough with highs in the low 80s, but there will be patches of wind present that should make scoring difficult on certain days. Thursday has some heavier winds that could affect play in the afternoon, although there are expected to be constant winds over 10 mph for the entire day. Friday AM may have the best conditions as gusts on the second day of action don’t pick up until 10:00 AM or so. Wind forecasts are tricky, so checking it again Wednesday night — especially if playing showdown contests in DFS — is suggested. Stacking the correct wave could pay big dividends this week if you get the forecast right.
Last 5 winners
2022—Sepp Straka -10 (over Shane Lowry -9)
2021—Matt Jones -12 (over Brandon Hagy -7)
2020—Sungjae Im -6 (over Mackenzie Hughes -5)
2019—Keith Mitchell -9 (over Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka -8)
2018—Justin Thomas -8 (over Luke List playoff)
- Seven of the last 10 winners ranked 44th or better in sand save percentage in the year of their victory at PGA National. (2017 champion Rickie Fowler was ranked first in this stat.)
- Eight of the past 12 winners had a finish of 13th or better at this event before their win.
- 11 of the last 12 winners here had made the cut at PGA National at least once before their win.
- Four of the last five winners of The Honda Classic had a top-10 West Coast finish on the season before winning this event. (Six of the last six Honda winners had produced a T16 or better on the West Coast.)
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2022 Winner: Sepp Straka (10-under par)
2022 lead-in form (15-66-16-49-42)
- Strokes Gained: Approach and Approach Proximity are both stats to emphasize at PGA National, and most of the winners and top finishers gain the majority of their strokes against the field in this area.
- 2020 and 2021 winners Sungjae Im and Matt Jones both gained over +5.0 strokes on approach, while last year’s winner Sepp Straka was still very positive in this area, gaining 3.3 strokes for the week.
- Straka was a bit of an anomaly in that he gained more strokes putting and off the tee than he did on approach or around the green.
- That said, the last six winners at PGA National all gained strokes ATG for the week, and three of the last four — Mitchell, Im, and Jones — gained +3.5 strokes ATG, or more, for the week.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
Aaron Wise +2200 and $9,200
Cam Davis +4000 and $8,100
- Adrian Meronk +4000 and $8,300
- Sepp Straka +4500 and $8,500
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout +5500 and $8,200
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Sungjae Im ($10,700; best finishes: win-2020, T8-2021): He has played PGA National four times now and landed finishes of first and T8 over the last three years. He did miss the cut at PGA National last season but has played some high-end golf on the west coast swing and is the clear class of the field this week.
2. Shane Lowry ($10,400; best finish: 2nd - 2022): Lowry had a slow start to his season but came on last week in L.A where he finished T14. He’s played this event five times over his career and never missed the cut. The Irishman also finished runner-up at PGA National last season.
3. Alex Noren ($9,500; best finish: T5 -2022, 3rd - 2018): Noren has come close at this event on a couple of different occasions and has finished inside the top five at this event in two of his past four starts at PGA National. A couple of recent missed cuts will likely help keep his ownership down in bigger field GPPs.
4. Byeong Hun An ($7,600; best finish: T2 -2017): An will return to action this week after not getting in the field at the past couple of events. He’s played PGA National four times in his career and finished inside the top five twice. He also leads the field in strokes gained total stats at this venue over the last six seasons.
5. Mark Hubbard ($7,000; best finish: T11-2020): Hubbard has been slumping of late, but his course history this week suggests this could be a week for him to break out of his slump. He’s never missed the cut at PGA National in three attempts and has two top-15 finishes to his credit at this event as well.
1. Denny McCarthy ($9,100, T14-MC-T4): McCarthy had yet another nice weekend run at Riviera and moved up to capture his second top-15 finish in his last three starts. He ranks fourth in strokes gained total stats over the last six starts.
2. Matt Kuchar ($9,300, T8-T32): Kuchar struck the ball extremely well at Riviera, gaining over 8.0 strokes OTT and on approach. He’s posted two top-10 finishes in his last four starts.
3. Sungjae Im ($10,700, T56-T6): Im tailed off a bit last week but still managed to make the weekend at Riviera. He’s playing his sixth event in seven weeks at the Honda, so fatigue could be a factor.
4. Peter Malnati ($7,100, T20-MC-T4): Malnati has played well to start the season and posted a top 20 at Riviera last week. He’s finished 20th or better now in three of his last four starts.
5. Seonghyeon Kim ($7,400, T33-T41): Kim has shown great consistency since the Fall. The South Korean has finished inside the top 20 now in two of his last five starts and gained strokes putting in six straight PGA events.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Start with Sungjae
There are only two top 20 players in the world in the field this week, and one of them is Billy Horschel ($9,700), who hasn’t looked good this season. Sungjae Im ($10,700) is a former winner of this event and likely should be over 11k in price, given how the rest of this field stacks up. There’s certainly reason to think about fading him in GPP formats with top-heavy prize pools, but in 50/50’s and heads up formats, Im’s a fine starting point. Adam Svensson ($8,700) and Jhonattan Vegas ($8,300) are two other players in the 8k range who look relatively cheap, just given their recent form and strength of the field overall. Other potential targets for this format include Robby Shelton ($7,800) and Seonghyeon Kim ($7,400).
Tournaments: Willett worth a flyer
We have seen lots of longshot winners come through at this event, so looking at more obscure names further down the salary structure this week is worth your while. Willett comes off a T18 at Riviera, where he gained strokes everywhere but on the greens. He’s over a shoulder injury that hampered him early this season, and will be playing PGA National for the second season in a row after finishing T48 last season. In the same range, you can also look to Byeong Hun An ($7,600) this week, who couldn't get in the last two events but has shown some decent form already this season. He finished T12 at the Sony Open in January and has multiple top 10 finishes (2018 and 2020) at PGA National over his career. Other potential targets for this format include Davis Riley ($7,400), Brandon Wu ($7,300), Satoshi Kodaira ($6,700), Jason Dufner ($6,600), and Jonas Blixt ($6,300).
MY PICK: Chris Kirk ($9,900)
Kirk checks off a lot of boxes this week. He showed us some good form on the west coast, landing multiple top-five finishes at events with similar layouts in the Sony Open and American Express. The four-time PGA Winner was electric with his approaches in both of those events gaining 4.3 strokes on approach at TPC Stadium and 5.5 strokes on approach at Waialae CC. He’s also competed well at TPC Sawgrass in the past — which has a lot in common with PGA National — and even went off in the final group of the PLAYERS in 2015.
Kirk’s also got the kind of short game that tends to excel around PGA National. He’s 8th in strokes gained around the green stats over the last 50 rounds and is an excellent sand player, ranking 21st on the season in sand save percentage. The American gained over 4.8 strokes ATG at this event last season (before finishing T7) and has played PGA National 11 times in his career now. Considering he skipped last week’s big prize purse at Riviera, we can likely assume Kirk knows he’s got a far better chance to compete this week at PGA National, where his game is also a far better fit. At +2800, he’s well over the double the favorites in betting odds and makes for a good pay-up target in DraftKings DFS contests as well.
MY SLEEPER: Dylan Frittelli ($7,100)
Frittelli comes into this event off a missed cut at Riviera but should be in a good spot to bounce back quickly. The South African had been playing solid golf prior to losing over 3.0 strokes putting on the tricky Riviera greens and posted a T14 in Phoenix two weeks prior, where he gained over a stroke off the tee and on approach. Frittelli’s a five-time winner as a professional and won his only PGA trophy against a similar field to the one we have this week — so when he comes into a lower-tier event like this showing form, we should take notice.
This will also be the fifth-time Frittelli has tee’d it up at PGA National, and he has now finished inside the top 20 at this event in two of those five starts. He’ll need his ball-striking to take another tick upward this week to compete for the win, but it’s something he’s capable of achieving. Over the last year, he gained over 3.0 strokes on approach three times and has also gained multiple strokes around the green in each of the last two seasons at PGA National. At just $7,100 on DraftKings and +13000 in the outright market, he makes for the kind of longshot play we want to target at this volatile event.
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