The field this week loses a lot of star power with only three of the world’s top 20 golfers in attendance. Headlining things will be Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka, who have gotten off to slow starts this year. Berger has some local ties to this week’s event and lost in a playoff here in 2015. Joining him will be No. 13-ranked Louis Oosthuizen and No. 24-ranked Sungjae Im — the 2020 champion of this event. Other former winners in the field here include the likes of Matt Jones (2021) and Rickie Fowler (2017), the latter of which is searching for some kind of consistency after a horrid start to 2022.
The field here is set at 144 players and 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 nine-under-par but once — and that once 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 wind combined with cooler than normal temperatures often appears.
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. 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 tail of two nines — the front nine is much easier and features a couple “scoring holes” with less penalization for mistakes, while the back is basically 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 — close to 100 bunkers in total — and like the water, these traps penalize players who miss off the tee or on their approaches into the green. Driving distance is less important here, but good iron play and around-the-green play is essential. The last two winners at PGA National — Keith Mitchell ($9,100) and Sungjae Im ($11,000) — gained over +6.0 strokes on their approaches and over +3.5 strokes around the greens on their path to victory.
2022 weather outlook: The good news is there’s no rain in the forecast and the temperatures look great for all four days. There are some clouds expected, but highs in the high 70s or low 80s all four days of this event are what is on tap. The wind is always present at this venue, and this year is no different. Each day has gusts expected to be around 10 mph (or greater), with Thursday afternoon potentially looking like the “gustiest” of the four Thursday-Friday waves. The weather won't be punishing this year, but it should keep the players somewhat honest. Watch the wind for Thursday afternoon in case it shifts or the weather worsens throughout the week.
Last 5 winners
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)
2017—Rickie Fowler -9 (over Gary Woodland -8)
- 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 11 winners had a finish of 13th or better at this event before their win.
- Ten of the last 11 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. (Five of the last Five Honda winners had produced a T16 or better on the West Coast.)
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Matt Jones (12-under par)
2021 lead-in form (T55-MC-T8-T34-T30)
- Strokes Gained: Approach and Approach Proximity are both stats to emphasize at PGA National. In 2015, two of the top five finishers at this event (Paul Casey and Russell Knox) ranked inside the top 10 for the year in approach proximity on the PGA TOUR, while 2016 winner Adam Scott actually led the PGA TOUR in that stat for the year.
- The last two winners at the Honda, Sungjae Im and Matt Jones, both gained over +5.0 strokes on approach.
- Im and Jones were also both great around the green, gaining multiple strokes against the field. PGA National has hard to hit greens and a lot of greenside bunkers that act as bailouts. As noted above, recent winners have almost all been strong bunker players, with Im ranking 15th in sand save percentage on the PGA TOUR in 2020.
- The last five winners at PGA National all gained strokes ATG for the week, and the last three — Mitchell, Im and Jones — all 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 comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Sungjae Im ($11,000; best finishes: win-2020, T8-2021): He has played PGA National three times and landed finishes of first and T8 over the last two years. He’s never missed the cut in three starts at this event, and as one of the best all-round players in the game, he deserves top status in this section against a weaker field.
2. Rickie Fowler ($7,600; best finish: win-2017): Fowler enters this year’s event having finished T6 or better in three of his last six starts at PGA National. The 2017 champion has started another season in poor form but has only missed the cut at PGA National three times in 10 starts — and was runner-up in 2019, as well. He’s a risky course horse to target, but this venue has seen players with experience dominate at times.
3. Tommy Fleetwood ($9,900; best finishes: T3-2020, T4-2018): Fleetwood has twice put himself in contention at PGA National only to come up just inches short. He has gained over +7.0 strokes ball-striking at PGA National in each his last two visits alone. He’s deserving of the high salary this week — even if this is his first PGA TOUR start of the year.
4. Lucas Glover ($7,400; best finish: T4-2019): He will be playing this week’s event for the ninth year in a row. While he’s got a couple of missed cuts on his record at PGA National, Glover has finished T21 or better at this event in four of the last five seasons. He’s a good value based on his solid start to the year alone.
5. Gary Woodland ($8,200; best finish: T2-2017): Woodland has largely struggled since his career-defining win at Pebble Beach. He brings in solid course history to this week, however, which has seen him finish top 10 at this event twice in his last four appearances. Woodland ranks fourth in strokes gained total stats at this event over the last five years and is a bounce-back candidate this week.
1. Joaquin Niemann ($10,600, win-T42): Coming off a most impressive wire-to-wore win, it’s hard not to give Niemann top spot this week. He gained over +5.0 strokes on Approach and Around the Greens last week.
2. Billy Horschel ($9,600, win-T42): Horschel has been playing great golf lately. His ten made cuts in a row have been highlighted by solid finishes, which include T6 and T11 finishes at the WM Phoenix Open and Farmers, respectively. He’s deserving of the big salary.
3. Cameron Young ($8,600, win-T42): Young has made four cuts in a row and put up a brilliant effort last week at Riviera, where he landed a T2 finish and gained +9.9 strokes ball-striking. He leads the field in strokes gained total the last five weeks but has seen a big price increase for daily fantasy purposes.
4. Keith Mitchell ($9,100, win-T42): Mitchell is won The Honda Classic back in 2019 and comes into this year's event in solid form. He’s finished T12 or better in three of his last four starts and looks primed to contend once again.
5. Russell Knox ($8,100, win-T42): He has quietly started 2022 with sound play. He’s made the cut in five of his last six starts and has gained over +3.0 strokes on Approach in each of his last three starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Kick it with Kirk and Niemann
This week will be all about finding six golfers who don’t blow up your rosters completely by Friday afternoon. It’s hard to see either Chris Kirk ($7,500) or Joaquin Niemann ($10,600) wrecking lineups — especially Niemann, who likely will see himself as the best player in this field after last week’s dismantling of Riviera. Niemann finished a tidy T25 at this event last season and seems likely to improve on that this week. Kirk has played PGA National numerous times, and his around-the-green play has been very solid of late. His last outing saw his approach play pick up (T14 in Phoenix), and a solid effort from him this week — at a very good price — should be expected. Other targets for this format include Lucas Glover ($7,400) and Ian Poulter (7,600).
Tournaments: Name Noren to your roster for upside
Swede Alex Noren ($9,300) has a colorful history at PGA National, which includes a near win in 2018. His play has started to show signs of resurgence of late, and he comes into this week off of three made cuts, including a T6 two weeks ago in Phoenix. A late water-ball was the only reason Noren didn’t make the playoff there, and he’s now gained over a stroke on approach in his last two starts. Everything is trending well for Noren, and PGA National is a great setup for a grinder who fits the veteran mold we’ve seen win at this event numerous times. His price is up this week, but that should help keep ownership levels down. Other potential GPP targets this week include Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,000), Matthias Schwab ($7,100) and Sung Kang ($6,600 - see below).
MY PICK: Louis Oosthuizen ($10,800)
For DFS purposes, we have a barren top echelon that’s highlighted by out-of-form players and a group that hasn’t played much on the PGA TOUR this year. The exception may be Oosthuizen, who showed up to Phoenix two weeks ago and put in a solid T14 effort that was highlighted by him gaining over a stroke in every major statistical category. The +3.5 strokes ball-striking at Phoenix was the most encouraging of that effort, as he suffered from some late collapses last year thanks to poor off-the-tee play. Oosthuizen has now gained over a stroke off the tee in three straight starts and remains one of the top-end around-the-green players in the world, ranking fifth in Around the Green stats over the last 50 rounds.
Oosthuizen will be playing this event for just the fifth time, but he’s grabbed two top-25 finishes and certainly seems to be in some of the best form of his career. He’s also had some of his best career finishes in the state of Florida, landing a runner-up at THE PLAYERS in 2017 and a T2 at the Valspar in 2019. This is an event that has been dominated by crafty veterans who can handle the tough around-the-green complexes and bunkering that PGA National throws at players on every hole. Oosthy looks primed for a run soon and looks like the best way to spend up in daily fantasy golf contests on DraftKings this week.
MY SLEEPER: Sung Kang ($6,600)
There’s little doubt that the players under $7K should all be considered “live” this week. This is an event, after all, that has produced long-shot winners in Padraig Harrington ($6,700), Matt Jones and Keith Mitchell — all in the past seven years. Kang comes into this week as a player who could certainly add his name to that list, as he recently dug his way out of a funk that had seen him miss five cuts in a six-start stretch. Kang has posted finishes of T42 and T26 in his last two starts, and his last outing in Phoenix (T26) saw him pop for over +4.0 strokes on approach alone.
PGA National is a track where solid iron play is an absolute necessity, so seeing Kang trend upward in that area should have us bullish on him this week. He’s also got an underrated short game that has him rated in the top 50 in sand save percentage on the season and has seen him gain strokes around the green in four of his last six starts. He’ll be playing PGA National for the eighth time and has finished as high as T10 at this venue, giving him experience edge over most of the field. As a GPP play, he’s a top target for me if you're looking under $7K and a really nice top-10 or top-20 bet on DraftKings Sportsbook at +1800 and +700, respectively.
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