The PGA Tour returns with a special Skins game match this Sunday, as Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy will face off against Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler in a team competition. To celebrate, DraftKings is offering a free-to-play pool on DraftKings Sportsbook that enables its users to get in on the action. To participate in the free pool, choose winners on each of 14 unique props offered up by the contest and compete for $10,000 in prizes. Head here to participate: free-to-play pool: Rory & DJ vs. Fowler & Wolff – $10K guaranteed.
In addition, don’t forget to check out the $50K free-to-play pool being offered on The Match: Champions for Charity on May 24 between Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. For future pool action, check out DraftKings Sportsbook Pools or download the DK Sportsbook app.
As we head towards the date of the TaylorMade Driving Relief Skins Game and the return of live golf, here are my thoughts on how to approach each of the 14 questions posed in the Free to Play PGA Tour Pool.
Which team will win more Skins in the match?The matchup pits Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) No. 1, Rory McIlroy and No. 5 Dustin Johnson, up against No. 27 Rickie Fowler and No. 110 Matthew Wolff. While the world rankings make this sound like a huge mismatch, there’s a couple of things to consider before simply selecting Rory and DJ to win this one. The first is that Fowler and Wolff — while being well behind Rory and DJ in the OWGR — are both supremely talented. Fowler has won The PLAYERS and numerous other PGA Tour events, while Wolff can match distance with Rory and DJ off the tee, and he won on the PGA Tour in his rookie season. Fowler also has some great results on Donald Ross tracks (the man who designed Seminole, the site of this weekend’s match), including a T2 at Pinehurst and a second at the 2014 US Open. Despite Rory/DJ being -200 favorites on the DK Sportsbook, I wouldn’t shy away from taking the contrarian angle in this one, as Fowler has a great track record of playing well in Florida and Wolff’s game, while inconsistent, matches up against the best in the world already.
Which team will win more money in the match?The Skins in this match payout differently, with holes 1-6 being worth $50,000, holes 5-17 being worth $100,000 and holes 17 and 18 being worth $200,000 and $500,000, respectively. For the record, holes 17 and 18 look set to play as a 175-yard Par 3 and a 417-yard par 4. It’s worth noting here that Fowler is ranked in the top 5 in Par 3 scoring on the year, while Rory and Dustin are both ranked inside Wolff and Rickie in Par 4 scoring on the season, by quite a bit. Even if they show up rusty, or end up winning fewer skins on the day, Dustin and Rory’s talent and experience edge should win out here on the two biggest holes of the day and make them a nice target for this prop.
Which team will win at least 2 Skins first?
Which team will have the most Skins after 9 holes?As mentioned above, with DJ and Rory having a pretty large experience edge, getting off to a fast start will undoubtedly be more important for the big underdog team of Fowler and Wolff, who are currently listed as +163 underdogs on the DK Sportsbook. Even if pressure affects the younger Wolff down the stretch, I like his team’s chances of coming out fast and trying to catch the more veteran duo off guard in the first couple holes. To that point, I would also take Rickie and Wolff to win more skins on the first nine. The first skins are on the front nine are worth far less than on the back and you may see the veteran duo of DJ and Rory start slow as they know the decisive holes are all on the back nine. Give me Rickie and Wolff to win more skins on the front, but the veteran duo of DJ and Rory to perhaps steal the big skins on the closing holes.
What will the outcome of the first hole be?
Will any player record or be conceded a Birdie or better on the first hole?The first hole sets up as a short Par 4, around 375 yards, that plays as the second easiest hole on the course according to handicap. As mentioned above, I like the younger duo of Wolff and Fowler to get off to a fast start, and the fact that hole No. 1 plays extremely easy, means the 21-year-old Wolff should be able to freewheel a bit off the tee. It’s also worth mentioning that while DJ and Rory are easily the most decorated players in this match, the best putter, by far remains Fowler — who is ranked 49th in SG: Putting this season — 33 slots ahead of Rory and 57 ahead of DJ in that stat. For those reasons, I like going with a Wolff/Rickie win on hole No. 1, as I expect them to try and jump out quick and on an easier hole, Rickie’s putting could have a bigger say in the outcome as well.
As to the second question, whether a birdie will be recorded or conceded, considering that you have four of the best players in the world playing what is listed as the second easiest hole on the course, I would be semi-shocked if we someone record a par breaker here. So I’ll take a yes there.
Will either team record or be conceded an Eagle in the match?
Will anyone hole out from off the green?This one is tough. Seminole actually plays quite short at just 6,836 yards but has some of the toughest greens and bunkering out there. As tough as the green complexes might be, giving four of the world’s top players four cracks each to record an eagle on a Par 5, none of which measures longer than 512 yards, makes this one a yes for me. As to the second question. I’ll side with Seminole here. The venue has notoriously quick and complex greens, and what is likely to be some tough pin placements, so I’ll be a scrooge and fade any around the green magic happening. In short, I’ll take the no on seeing a hole out but a yes on the eagle.
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Will anyone hit a ball into the water?
Who will be the first player to hit a ball into the water?
Who will be the first player to hit a ball into a bunker?There’s not a ton of data on Seminole out there, in fact there’s barely any pictures or videos to go off, but what we do know water snakes around the venue in places. However, despite the course also being seaside, none of the holes really appear to bring the ocean dangerously into play (a la Pebble Beach) which makes a water ball seem less likely. All that being said, this will be the first competitive golf for all four players in well over a month, and the addition of a little wind — the forecast calls for 10-15 mph wind — and the relaxed atmosphere of a skins competition means I’ll take the yes on us seeing at least one water ball.
As to who the first player will be to hit into the water, or first into a bunker, I’ll refer to the PGA Tour stats on this one. Right now, Rory ranks third on Tour in SG: Approach, so he seems like an easy fade here in both categories. Fowler is the second-highest rated in this category and with his experience and accomplishments playing in the state of Florida, I’d probably give him a pass here as well. Wolff seems like the easy target, given that he’s ranked 164th in SG: Approach, but I think going with Dustin Johnson, who has been terrible with his irons (for him) for most of 2020 might be the smart choice. The trickier Seminole may not match well with Dustin’s power game and he’s not one to simmer down his aggressiveness, regardless of form.
What will be the highest number of Skins won on a single hole?We have four options here, 0-2, 3, 4, or 5 or more. Given that we’ll have four very skilled players playing best ball (each individual score counts) I’d say there won’t be many easy wins out there. That should mean a lot of halves and skins getting pushed to the next hole. Four feels like a solid guess, but I think there’s a good chance we see some skins get built up to the five or more mark and that’s where I’d land on this one.
Who will hit the longest tee shot on Hole 3?Hole 3 at Seminole is listed as a 504-yard Par 5 so players should be able to bomb away for the most part off the tee. As for who to target, it may seem simplistic, but I’m pretty happy crossing Fowler off the list immediately. Rickie only ranks 150th in Driving Distance this year and, while he’s probably a better driver than that ranking indicates, the other three people he’s playing with are all legit bombers off the tee. Of the three, Wolff and Rory would be my targets. Rory has averaged 10 yards more than Wolff off the tee this year — and he ranks second overall in Driving Distance in 2020 — but don’t underestimate the confidence of youth. Wolff may be determined to show off a bit on a national TV stage and he’d be my target here given that many may just lean towards Rory or even Dustin as their default choice.
Which player will win the most Skins?All things considered, I’m going Fowler here. While he’s only third out of four in terms of his official world golf ranking, Rickie’s got a lot of things going for him for this event. I mentioned the Donald Ross connection above and Seminole, with its short set-up and tricky green complexes should really favor Rickie, who possesses the best short game and putting out of the four men playing. The other factor is the format. Yes, Rickie has wilted at points on big stages in the past (he’s also bagged some big wins) but the relaxed nature of a skins game, where fun, atmosphere and personality will be at the forefront should help bring out the best in his game. I’ll take Fowler to be the big winner this Sunday and lead the charge in terms of skins won.
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