The second major in three weeks tees off Thursday morning from Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, hosting it’s second PGA Championship (2005). This field just goes on forever, with 97 of the top 100 ranked golfers in the world on hand, so you will have almost limitless options when it comes to allocating your budget and piecing together your lineup this weekend. Good luck!
Dustin Johnson ($11,600) – With just two par-5’s, one of which is #17, a 649-yard monster that yielded one eagle last time the tournament was played here, an ability to make birdie on the par-4’s is going to be critical this weekend. And on top of all the other things DJ has going for him, there he is, sitting at #1 on Tour in Par-4 Scoring. He has had the talent to go on an epic run of success for a long time now, and it’s coming to fruition right in front of our eyes. He had two top-5 finishes leading up to his win at the US Open, and he’s had another win and two more top-10’s since then. He has only had five rounds over par since March, and he has an ability to make birdies consistently anywhere, and a win this weekend turns him into this season’s Jason Day.
Henrik Stenson ($10,500) – He took last week off after his monster Open Championship win, where he held off Mickelson by draining 25 birdies. A player who has succeeded by avoiding trouble and playing with rock-solid consistency over his career, he now has averaged 21 birdies a weekend over his last three outings, with just one round over par for that stretch (which included a win at the BMW International Open and a T13 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open). If it weren’t for a 76 to open up that weekend, he would have been in contention there too, as he closed out well, shooting 69-66-70. If he is going to start closing out holes at this rate consistently, he is going to be the best possible cash game option AND have the upside of the other top guys, which to me means this price can actually just keep going up from here.
Phil Mickelson ($10,200) – After an opening 63 and a closing 65, Mickelson dominated just about everyone in the field last weekend at Royal Troon… just about. Instead he finished looking up at Stenson, settling for a solo-second instead. But I guarantee you, if you had told him before the weekend he would have a -17, he would have taken it and assumed he had the Championship. He won the last time the PGA Championship was at Baltusrol, back in 2005, so the fact that he’s still in the conversation for top options is impressive in and of itself, but you know he’d like to take it a step further and add a title to his track record in the final major of a compressed season.
Sergio Garcia ($9,400) – Sure, I suppose he could win… finally. But he doesn’t need to. He’s expensive, but he’s not a budget-buster. At this price, a top-5 finish – like he got in each of the past two majors – would be more than sufficient. For a guy who has spent his career near the top of the Birdie or Better % rankings, Garcia is all of a sudden a safe option, someone to consider as your top guy in a cash game. His consistency off the tee should let him create scoring chances, even on a course without easily reachable par-5’s to provide instant birdie chances. With four straight top-5 performances (and five out of six), now is the perfect time to invest in the veteran Spaniard.
Matt Kuchar ($8,600) – Kuchar is the first guy on the pricing list that starts to seem eminently affordable. You can fit $8,600 into just about any lineup if you want to, and why wouldn’t you? True, he was outside the top-40 at both the US and British Opens, but he made the cuts both weekends and outside of those two tournaments, he has been inside the top-10 in six straight appearances. Those showings included stacked fields and tough courses at places like The PLAYERS and the Memorial, so it’s not at all as if he is going to be intimidated coming in because the last two majors haven’t gone well. That kind of track record at this price makes him almost a no-brainer for cash games, with plenty of upside.
Martin Kaymer ($7,900) – It has been a while since we have seen Kaymer consistently contending at the top of leaderboards, but that’s exactly what he has been doing recently. Other than the two most recent majors (where he made the cut but didn’t finish highly) he has four straight top-15 showings on the European Tour, including three inside the top-10. His 68.58 GIR % would put him inside the top-20 on the PGA Tour in that category, and his number has been trending upwards over the past several weeks.
Brooks Koepka ($7,800) – This is his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury at the WGC-Bridgestone, so taking him is a bit of a risk. This is the lowest price Koepka has been available at for a while, based in part on the field and in part on the injury, but if he is truly 100% and ready to return (and there is no reason to doubt that at the moment), you are grabbing a player currently at sixth on Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, a skill-set that will put him in a position to succeed here as long as his putter isn’t too rusty.
J.B. Holmes ($7,700) – Holmes is second on Tour in Driving Distance, and this is a course where that advantage could pay real dividends. He’s coming off a solo third at Royal Troon (eleven strokes behind Mickelson, but still) in which he managed to avoid any real trouble, with only four bogeys. If he brings that level of consistency again this weekend, he suddenly has obvious upside well beyond his price-tag.
Brandt Snedeker ($7,500) – Currently second on Tour in Par-4 scoring (right behind DJ), Snedeker is coming off a T5 performance at Glen Abbey that featured 21 birdies. Good for more than 100 DraftKings Fantasy Points, his weekend featured a low round of 66 – for a guy we have seen compete on the biggest stages several times in his career, that is a good sign for his potential upside at this price.
Jason Dufner ($7,100) – He has been inside the top-10 five times this season, including most recently at the US Open. With a GIR % of 69.44, good for eighth on Tour, he has the kind of game that can allow him to enter a “survive and advance” mode on difficult tracks. The kind of player you would be happy to see finish inside the top-25 on your roster for this price, he definitely offers you that kind of potential, having won the PGA Championship himself as recently as 2013.
Steve Stricker ($7,000) – Stricker seems like one of the best values on the board for any type of contest. He is a player who has shown the mental capacity to hang tough on all types of courses against great fields, and in recent years he has simply been struggling with injury and being out on the course at less than 100%. Maybe this current stretch of golf won’t last, but with a T2 at the St. Jude Classic and a solo second at Royal Troon, along with five straight made cuts, he is someone you can take this weekend, counting on consistency and hoping for upside. He has been lacking some distance off the tee of late, but on Sunday at the Open Championship he hit 86% of fairways, leaving himself in good position all day long.
Andy Sullivan ($6,100) – He has been inside the top-25 in six straight appearances, including three straight inside the top-12 (T12 at the British Open). He has seen most of his success in Europe, where his adjusted scoring average and Putts Per Round numbers would put him well inside the top-50 in both categories on Tour. That translates into more upside that you usually find for this price, and when you combine that with his recent track record it makes for a name worth considering for your roster in any type of contest.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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