The first major of the year is upon us. The PGA Championship will begin this Thursday at TPC Harding Park, which is hosting a major for the first time in its existence. DraftKings has a $500 free-to-play pool on DraftKings Sportsbook that enables their users to get in on this week’s PGA TOUR action. Additionally, you can create private pools to play with friends or family. To participate in the pool, choose winners on each of 10 unique props offered up by the contest and compete for free prizes. Play the free pool here: DraftKings Sportsbook Pools.
The PGA Championship has been a tough event for scoring over the last few seasons, with two of the last three winners coming in at single-digits. This year’s version should provide another tough test for the players as they get ready to visit TPC Harding Park out in San Francisco.
Last seen on the PGA TOUR in 2015 at the WGC Match Play event, TPC Harding Park is a 7,234-yard Par 70 venue that features bentgrass greens and is situated inland on Lake Merced. It’s a public course but looks to be in fantastic shape for this event. The venue features big sloping greens and what look to be some of the tightest fairways the players will have seen for quite some time. The wind and cooler weather in the forecast should also combine to make this venue play quite tough and lead to a higher scoring event where the winner perhaps even fails to broach double digits under par.
Regardless of how you’re approaching things, I’ve written up my thoughts on this week’s DraftKings Sportsbook pool and have tried to give you decisive picks and strategies to employ at each level. Hope you enjoy.
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Who will have the best finishing position? Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, or Rory McIlroy
There’s little doubt that this one is neck and neck between Thomas and Koepka. McIlroy continued his uneven play by finishing a disappointing T47 last week. Other than his off the tee play, which is always good, the rest of his game looked out of form and he still hasn’t posted a top-10 since the restart. Koepka and Thomas went head-to-head last week with Thomas coming out on top. Koepka had his best finish since the restart though—landing a T2—and he led the field in SG: Approach after missing the cut in two of his last three starts.
Choice: Brooks Koepka
· Thomas got the upper hand last week but as the venue shifts out to the west coast it could shift back in Koepka’s favor. Beastly Brooks finished runner-up at the US Open at Pebble Beach last year while JT has struggled in his career at west coast venues.
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Who will have the best finishing position? Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, or Jon Rahm
Xander Schauffele led these three in terms of finishing position last week, landing a T6 and his third straight top-20. He’s in a tough grouping here against Rahm and DeChambeau, who have both recorded wins on the year but are coming off sub-optimal weeks. Bryson might be the one to fade here as he was near last in the field in SG: Around the Green and Approach stats last week, something that won’t play well at TPC Harding Park. Rahm finished well back of Bryson but had his best round of the tournament on Sunday, gaining +2.8 strokes Tee to Green in the last round.
Choice: Jon Rahm
· Schauffele has been the most consistent player of these three of late but Rahm is only three weeks removed from winning in some of the toughest conditions we’ve seen all season. He was T3 at Pebble Beach in a major last year and should bounce back at this similarly tough west coast venue.
Who will have the best finishing position? Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, or Daniel Berger
Berger has been on an absolute tear of late, posting top five finishes in four of his last five starts—a run that includes a win at the Charles Schwab Classic. He tied for the second best round of the day last Sunday at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and has gained +5 strokes or more on APP in three of his last five starts. Dustin Johnson really picked things up last week after a couple questionable outings, shooting four rounds under par for a T12. He’s been a West coast master over his career, picking up wins at Pebble Beach and Riviera. Cantlay started extremely poorly last week but shot rounds of 65-67 on the weekend and could be coming in under the radar a bit here.
Choice: Dustin Johnson
· I’m not sure if there’s a tougher choice than this one as all three feel like they have a legitimate shot at winning . I’ll lean DJ though who has been knocking on the door at majors recently.
Who will have the best finishing position? Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, or Tiger Woods
Woods chose to play just once in his prep for the year’s first major. The 15-time major winner has been seen practicing at TPC Harding Park though and shouldn’t be discounted at any big event. Webb Simpson and Morikawa both played last week, finishing within two shots of each other, with Simpson landing a T12 position to Morikawa’s T20. Webb is interesting this week but will be without his regular caddie, which may have hurt him a little last week on the greens. Morikawa finished the event strong last week going 7-under on the weekend.
Choice: Collin Morikawa
· The accuracy with his irons and improved putting of late should make this a great spot for Morikawa, who has some ties to this region of the States. He gets the slight nod over Woods for me.
Who will have the best finishing position? Hideki Matsuyama, Matthew Fitzpatrick, or Jason Day
All three of these players performed well last week with both Day and Fitzpatrick etching out T6 finishes. Of the two, Day looks like the better long-term target here as Fiztpatrick has been racking up big weeks putting on Bermuda grass, which won’t be in play this week in the cooler San Francisco area. Matsuyama is an intriguing prospect, though. He was third in greens in regulation last week and look very good tee to green for the final two rounds where he shot five under par for the weekend. He’s also quite overdue for a major championship breakthrough.
Choice: Hideki Matsuyama
· I expect Day to be the popular choice here, but Matsuyama has some good history at this event as he went off in the final group at the PGA Championship in 2017. He should be able to build on a good finish last week.
Who will have the best finishing position? Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, or Gary Woodland
Fowler looked like he might have turned the corner last week, as he played himself into the second-to-last group at the WGC before falling off viciously on Sunday. Despite the poor finish to his week, Fowler still beat both Woodland and Reed handily. Woodland had an uncharacteristically bad ball-striking week in Memphis, ending just 63rd in the 78-man field in SG: Tee to Green stats. Despite winning a major on the west coast last year at Pebble Beach, his prospects here seem dim if he continues to perform poorly off the tee. Reed’s mixed in good weeks with bad consistently of late, so his prospects for a quick bounce-back seem much brighter.
Choice: Rickie Fowler
· While Reed has been much better than Fowler in 2020, I’ll have to side with Rickie here, who should take some confidence from getting himself into contention at a big event last week.
Who will have the best finishing position? Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau, or Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton and Finau were complete busts last week. Hatton had finished T4 and T3 in his prior two starts to the WGC-FedEx but the fact he lost strokes in pretty much every statistical category last week isn’t a great sign for his prospects at a tougher venue in TPC Harding Park. Finau had a very similar week to Hatton, losing an incredible -7.5 strokes on his approaches alone. The lack of water in play at TPC Harding Park is likely good for his chances, though. Ancer has been the most consistent of the two lately. He narrowly missed a win at the RBC and finished T15 last week, gaining strokes across the board.
Choice: Abraham Ancer
· This group is very close from a skill standpoint. At the same time, Ancer’s been the best player of the three from a Tee to Green perspective for the past month and deserves the selection.
Who will have the best finishing position? Tommy Fleetwood, Billy Horschel, or Viktor Hovland
Fleetwood made just his second start since the restart last week, finishing up in T35. He posted a strong Sunday though, gaining +2.6 strokes Tee to Green on his way to a round of 65. He may still need another start or two to get into top form but he’s showing quick improvement. Horschel posted another solid week, finishing T25 in an elite field. His record over the last month looks solid with T13 and T7 finishes at Muirfield Village also on his resume. Hovland feels like he hit a wall last week, struggling to a T59 finish. He’s played in all but one event since the restart and fatigue could be a factor.
Choice: Tommy Fleetwood
· With this being a major championship, going with Fleetwood feels like the smart choice. He’s made the cut in each of his last eight majors and finished runner-up in two of those.
Who will have the best finishing position? Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, or Sergio Garcia
This one is an intriguing group among the lower tiers. Jordan Spieth typically shows well in majors even when he’s not playing that well. He’s gone T12-T3 at the PGA Championship the last two seasons but only managed a T30 last week. Garcia has showcased some good form of late but really fell off in the last two rounds last week, losing -3.5 shots on APP over the weekend. Scheffler is a talented young player who finished fifth in SG: Tee to Green stats last week but will be making first PGA Championship start and has missed the cut in two of his previous three major appearances.
Choice: Jordan Spieth
· Spieth tends to like tougher conditions, and even though his two groupmates here have been better from a ball-striking perspective of late, he still gets the nod for me.
Who will have the best finishing position? SungJae Im, Adam Scott, or Justin Rose
This group contains two veterans, one of whom hasn’t played since the restart. Adam Scott last played on the PGA TOUR in March and only has three official PGA TOUR starts in 2020, although one of those was a win at Riviera in February. Scott’s typically been one of the most consistent major championship performers over his career and has finished T8 and T3 at the PGA Championship the last two seasons. Rose has been objectively terrible of late but it was only a month and a half ago that he landed T3-T14 finishes in consecutive weeks and just missed getting into a playoff at Colonial. He’s also been a great major performer over his career.
Choice: Adam Scott
· Im feels like an easy fade and I’ll side with Scott between the two veterans. Rose should rise form his doldrums soon, but his upside feels limited at a major right now.
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