The 2021 PGA TOUR season concludes this week with the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club (par 70, 7,346 yards), located in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2004, this Donald Ross design that sports Bermuda greens has hosted the TOUR Championship every year, and only the top 30 players in FedExCup points have qualified for this week’s tournament. Implemented two years ago, the TOUR Championship uses a unique advanced scoring system for this no-cut event with each player starting with a score based on their current position in the FedExCup standings. So, for this week, each player will begin the tournament with the scores below.
-10: Patrick Cantlay
-8 : Tony Finau
-7: Bryson DeChambeau
-6: Jon Rahm
-5: Cameron Smith
-4: Harris English, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer, Sam Burns and Jordan Spieth
-3: Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson and Viktor Hovland
-2: Xander Schauffele, Kevin Na, Jason Kokrak, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy
-1: Hideki Matsuyama, Scottie Scheffler, Corey Conners, Joaquin Niemann and Stewart Cink
Par: Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed and Erik Van Rooyen
East Lake is a classic par 70 that requires elite ball striking. Four of the last five golfers to win in Atlanta have finished in the top-five in SGT2G. The fairways at this Ross creation are narrow compared to the PGA TOUR average and being accurate and long OTT has translated to great success in Atlanta. Defending Champion Dustin Johnson is one of the best drivers of the golf ball this game has ever seen, and he became seventh TOUR Championship winner in a row last season to finish in the top-seven in SG OTT during their victories. Unsurprisingly with East Lake a par 70, meaning there are 12 par fours and only two par fives, being a top tier par four player is a necessity for success at this venue. All of the last five victors at East Lake have ended the tournament in the top-three in SG on the par fours. Of these 12 par fours, five measure between 450-500 yards and three of the previous four golfers to record a win in Atlanta have ranked inside the top-three in SG on these holes. Overall, East Lake is one of the most difficult tracks on the annual PGA TOUR schedule, and bogey avoidance is stat we need to focus on this week. Eight of the past 10 golfers to take home the lucrative prize at this course ranked in the top-three in least bogeys recorded, with five of these players leading their field in the category.
With DraftKings’ scoring system rewarding players for finishing position, the range of salaries has been altered this week, with Patrick Cantlay as the most expensive option at $13,400 and Erik Van Rooyen the cheapest, all the way down at $5,000. As we saw last year with Johnson starting with the lowest score and eventually winning the FedExCup, there is a ton of logic in paying up for the players who have the best opening position. To roster these golfers, we obviously need to roll the dice on some inexpensive options, and below I have featured four of my favorite options on DraftKings this week that cost under $7.5K.
Sungjae Im, $7,300
The 23-year-old is the cheapest of all the players with at least a three shot advantage to open this event, and is coming off an impressive T3 at the BMW Championship. This was Im’s third consecutive finish inside the top-25, and this run can mostly be attributed to some tremendous ball striking, with him ranking second in SGT2G, sixth in SG APP and fourth in SG OTT across his last 12 rounds.
Im now brings this pristine form back to East Lake, where he finished 11th a year ago. In general, the South Korean has been a stud on Ross’ designs, ranking fourth in total strokes gained when we compare this field’s last 50 rounds at courses built by the architect. His top putting splits also come on Bermuda grass and Im is just too good of a value to ignore at this price.
Scottie Scheffler, $6,800
Scheffler always seems to rise to the occasion in world class fields, and is an excellent option at this soft salary. This season, the 25-year-old owns three major top-10s, and in his TOUR Championship debut a year ago, Scheffler shined with a fifth place finish, despite starting the event in 17th place. As of late, his irons have been outstanding, ranking 10th in SG APP and first in GIR over his last 12 rounds, and Scheffler has also excelled with his driver, ranking 11th in SG OTT over the same timeframe.
His putting has been suspect, losing strokes with his flat stick in three straight starts, but luckily for Scheffler, he will be back on Bermuda greens this week in Atlanta. In 10 starts at venues with this green type this season, Scheffler has finished inside the top-15 five times.
Sergio Garcia, $5,400
After missing the cut at THE NORTHERN TRUST, Garcia bounced back in a big way with a T6 at the BMW Championship this past week. Outside of around the greens, the Spaniard gained strokes in every major metric and ranked T3 in least bogeys for the event.
Garcia has now finished inside the top-25 in seven of his past eight starts, and has to be considered in his return to Atlanta. In 10 career appearances at East Lake, Garcia has generated six top-10s, including a pair of runner-up finishes.
Erik Van Rooyen, $5,000
Having no experience at East Lake and starting at even par isn’t ideal, but Van Rooyen’s recent form has to put him on your radar at the lowest price tag on the board. At the BMW Championship this past week, no one in the field gained more strokes from T2G or on APP than the South African. He nearly led the field in the T2G department by two strokes and his fifth place finish marked his third top-seven finish in his past four starts, which is a run that includes the first PGA TOUR victory of his career less than a month ago at the Barracuda Championship. Considering the elite field of the top-70 players in FedExCup points Van Rooyen faced last week at Caves Valley, his ball striking performance was one of the best we have seen from any player on TOUR this season.
If he can carry over this momentum to Atlanta this week, Van Rooyen should effortlessly provide value at his bare minimum salary.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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