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DraftKings Fantasy Golf Picks: PGA Championship Predictions, Preview

Reid Fowler previews the PGA Championship and gives his picks for your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups.

This week, the PGA TOUR makes its way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club. The course will play as a par 70, measuring 7,556 yards and the greens will be Pure Distinction Bentgrass. The top 70 and ties will make the cut, five more spots than the usual top 65 and ties that make it in a regular TOUR event. The 2007 PGA Championship also took place at this course, with Tiger Woods ($8,200) winning the 13th major of his career.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: $3M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry]



Unlike the Masters, the PGA Championship is transient. One year we could be on a modern links course, another on a coastal Carolina or Northern California track. This year, the venue is no stranger to hosting major golf tournaments. Southern Hills CC has hosted seven major championships, which include three U.S. Opens (1958, 1977, 2001) and four PGA Championships (1970, 1982, 1994, 2007). The second major of the season can provide us with exciting finishes, like when then-50-year-old Phil Mickelson won last year at Kiawah Island or when Y.E. Yang held off Tiger Woods in 2009; it’s like no other tournament on the PGA TOUR. Since 2019, the PGA Championship has taken place in May, instead of its former spot as the fourth and final major played in August. One unique characteristic of the PGA Championship is the inclusion of 20 club professionals getting a chance to play in a major on the PGA TOUR.

STRATEGY

In 2019, the famous architect Gil Hanse redesigned this course by looking at old drawings, pictures and anything he could get his hands on to restore it to the original design. He removed trees, renovated the bunkers and shaved runoff areas around the green. Hanse also moved fairway bunkers to landing areas that fit today’s game and players’ distance off the tee. The fairways are more forgiving than in 2007, but it’ll be challenging to get a flat lie. The natural contours of the land can make lies in the fairways uneven, which will prove to be a difficult test trying to hit into these smaller greens. Three water hazards come into play on 15 of the 18 holes, with some coming into play on the drive and approach shots.

These green complexes may be the most challenging feat to conquer this week. Smaller than the TOUR average (~5,000 sq. ft), these raised putting surfaces feature shaved-off edges that will cause shots to roll off into collection areas and bunkers that’ll be difficult to get up and down from this week. The scorecard features both par 5s over 600 yards, and seven par 4s are between 450 and 500 yards. There’s also a par 3 measuring 250 yards, so golfers will need to have distance in spades this week. Other than Oak Hill (2013), every winner since 2010 has averaged 295-plus yards off the tee, with nine of the previous 10 averaging over 300 yards. While this should be manageable by most TOUR professionals, golfers like Kevin Kisner ($6,800) may have an uphill battle.

Last season, none of the top six in DraftKings scoring were above $10,000 and only one golfer was double-digits in roster percentage at Kiawah Island, Louis Oosthuizen ($8,000) at 10.4%. Last month, the top six in DraftKings scoring at The Masters were all priced above $8,800, and five of the top six at The Open Championship were priced above $9,200 last season. Picking the right set of golfers in a major can prove difficult, so don’t be married to one type of roster construction. Roster percentage should play a factor this week, with a major attracting more casual players; be sure to check on their “sentiment curve” throughout the week.

Cameron Smith ($9,700)

His accuracy issues off-the-tee shouldn’t be as much of a liability this week, and his magic around the greens will definitely help here, ranking 29th in scrambling over the previous 12 rounds. A win at THE PLAYERS and a third-place finish in The Masters this season is evidence enough the 28-year-old is set up for success at Southern Hills CC. Smith’s only lost strokes with his irons once all season and averages just south of 297 yards off the tee. His long-iron proximity will make up for what he potentially loses in distance, ranking top 10 in both proximities from 150 to 175 yards and 175-200 yards. He’s already conquered weather-dominated tournaments this season, and he should be composed if or when the weather gets hot and windy. With two wins already this season, Smith knows what it’ll take to win, especially when the course gets difficult. Patrick Cantlay ($9,100) also has to be considered in this range. Even though his only win was in the team event with Xander Schauffele ($9,300), he has two runner-up finishes after losing in playoffs at the WM Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage. A third-place finish (2019) when the PGA Championship was at Bethpage Black, another par 70 over 7,400 yards, is a good sign he can tackle the setup at Southern Hills. No one was better at Harbour Town with their irons than Cantlay, gaining 8.7 just a few weeks ago.

Cameron Young ($7,600)

Winning a major as your first win on the PGA TOUR may be a stretch, but there’s an outside chance he can get it done with how well he’s hitting it, ranking first in tee-to-green over his last dozen rounds. Young is top 25 in greens in regulation gained over the previous 12 rounds, and no one is better than him in gaining strokes around the greens, ranking first over the same timeframe. His runner-up finish at Wells Fargo came from elite ball-striking, ranking in the top five in approach and first in tee to green. He should fare well if he can make half of the putts inside six feet that he missed at TPC Potomac. Other golfers who could be in contention from this range are Shane Lowry ($8,700) and Matthew Fitzpatrick ($7,900).

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: $3M Fantasy Golf Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry]



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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.


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