PGA All-Star - Lesson 01 - Getting Past the Cut Line

Geoff Ulrich is one of the lead PGA contributors to the DraftKings Playbook. You may see him playing at DraftKings with the username ‘wavegoodbye’ where he’s made a name for himself specifically playing daily fantasy golf, hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @thefantasygrind

If you’ve played DFS golf before, you’ve probably figured out that most events have a cut that eliminates half or more of the field after the first two rounds of play.  While it is not necessary that you understand every single intricacy about how the cuts work in a PGA event, it is important as a daily fantasy player that you understand its significance for daily fantasy scoring.  This article is going to discuss how the cut works on DraftKings and, specifically, how you can most effectively game-plan your lineups around it for DFS purposes.

Understanding the Cut

USATSI_8431810_168381090_lowres

For most PGA events, the cut occurs after the second round of play.  Every player who is tied for 70th place or better makes the cut and qualifies to play the weekend.  Every player ranked less than 70th misses the cut and is eliminated from the tournament.  Additionally, if more than 78 players make the cut (due to ties) there will be an additional, much smaller cut after the third round, where again, only the top 70 players and ties will get to qualify and play the final round.  There are some events that have smaller fields (such as some WGC events and FedEx playoff events) which do not have cuts at all.  It’s important to check the tournament every week to ensure you understand what cut format is in play for that particular week.

How the Cut Works on DraftKings

For fantasy purposes the cut is very simple.  If your player gets eliminated, he stops collecting points. All the points he collected up to that point count for your total score, but no more points can be added by that player.  If one or more of your players misses the cut, this puts you at a huge disadvantage to another fantasy player who has all their golfers make the cut, as they will still be collecting points from all their players in the final two rounds.

Game-Planning Around the Cut

As you can see from the description above, having as many of your players make the cut as possible is extremely important for fantasy purposes.  It’s for this reason that in daily fantasy golf, your number one goal should always be to try and create a roster that has all 6 of your golfers making the cut.  While there is no such thing as a sure thing in daily fantasy sports, there are ways you can go about increasing your chances to obtain this result.

DK Stats on ‘The Cut’

pgacut1

1 – Players who made the cut scored 42% higher than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
2 – Players who missed the cut scored 50% lower than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
3 – Players who made the cut scored 20.2 Fantasy Points more than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
4 – Players who missed the cut scored 24.2 Fantasy Points less than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings

Look at a Player’s Past Record of Making the Cut

Some players, quite simply, are better at making cuts than others.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they are better golfers than their compatriots, but that they simply post more consistent results in the first two rounds of play.  Looking at a player’s recent history to see his record of making the cut can often be a very useful tool to help you decide on a player’s value, especially for lower-priced players.  Often times, a very cheap player who simply makes the cut and gets you four rounds of play, will be just as vital to rostering a top team as backing the eventual winner.

Pro Tip: When looking at a player’s history of making the cut, make sure when you look back, you are looking at an appropriately large sample size.  For example, looking at Chris Kirk’s recent results—at the time of this article—we can see that he has missed his last two cuts in 2015, Pebble Beach and the Honda Classic.  Hence, looking back solely at his past 4-5 weeks of results may not inspire much confidence in his value.  However, if we expand our outlook to include his last 30 tournaments, we get a much different story.  Of his last 30 tournaments—at the time this article was written—Kirk had only missed the cut 4 times, and if we take out the past two weeks, he’s actually made 26/28 cuts.  Hence,, we can see that Kirk’s larger history shows us that despite his recent shortcomings, he has actually been one of the most consistent players on tour.  As a larger sample size is generally a better indicator of how a player will perform in the long run, we can use this broader outlook to value him appropriately for fantasy purposes and possibly take advantage if his price becomes cheap enough.

Look at a Player’s Past Record at an Event

Sometimes when deciding to roster a player or not, one of the best ways to go about making decisions is not to look at his recent stretch of play, but instead to look back at his past record at a certain event.  Certain player’s may simply play better at certain courses or events for various reasons (strong course knowledge, good memories etc).  By looking at a player’s past history at a certain event you can often decipher when a player might be ripe for a decent performance and actually be a stronger bet for making a cut than his past cut-record may indicate.

Pro Tip: When using this sort of research to your advantage, it’s also a good idea to ensure you have a large sample size from which to draw from.  Much like our first example, the more times a player has played in an event generally means you can gain a more accurate assessment of how the player will perform there.

Look at a Player’s First Round Scoring Average

One final place you can look to for help deciphering a player’s cut making potential is to look at his first round scoring average on pgatour.com (under scoring statistics).  Certain players are simply better Thursday players than others and are better bets to get off to a fast start.  This sort of trend may not always mean the player makes the cut, but it does increase his chances for a number of reasons.  First, a good Thursday score will mean less pressure going into Friday’s round, and less pressure is almost always a good thing for professional golfers.  Second, it gives the player a cushion should the weather turn bad or his play deteriorates.  Players are very conscious of the cut line, as not making the cut means they don’t get paid.  A good Thursday round will give a player good reason to try and keep grinding out his second round, even if things don’t look to be going his way.

Pro Tip: A good example of a player with both a great Thursday scoring average and a great cut made percentage is Michael Putnam.  Putnam may not set the world afire with his results, but in 2014 he made 23 of 30 cuts and was often very cheaply priced on DraftKings.  It’s of no surprise that the same year Putnam was ranked 14th in Thursday scoring average.


Continue Reading PGA Training Camp

PGA All-Star – Lesson 01 – Getting Past the Cut Line
NEXT LESSON PGA All-Star – Lesson 02 – Odds to Win, Place and More
PGA All-Star – Lesson 03 – Distributing PGA Salaries
PGA All-Star – Lesson 04 – Using Recency to Draft
Return to PGA Rookie Lessons
Advance to PGA Hall of Fame Lessons