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DraftKings PGA Preview: AT&T Pro-Am (2020)

Feb 4, 2020

Until last year, Dustin Johnson dominated this event with four top-five finishes in the previous five years.

Welcome to the Bill Murray Invitational – I mean, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. There are a number of A-List celebrities playing in the Pro-Am this week. Because of the number of golfers playing this week, three courses (Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula) will be used. Each professional will be paired with a celebrity/amateur and will get three rounds (one at each course). Sunday’s final round will be played at Pebble Beach, which is one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Dustin Johnson is the prohibitive favorite at 7:1. Patrick Cantlay (12:1) and Jason Day (18:1) are the only other golfers below 20:1 in the betting markets this week.

DraftKings provides us with a salary cap of $50,000 to select six golfers (average roster spot of $8,333). Dustin Johnson is the only golfer in the 11K range this week at $11,600. Patrick Cantlay is the closest to that range with a price tag of $10,900. Paul Casey ($10,500), Jason Day ($10,300), and Brandt Snedeker ($10,100) are the only other golfers on DK with five-figure salaries. The site has a variety of contests at different price points starting at $0.10 per entry. Their $5 “Drive the Green” is one of the most popular contests that they run with its’ $100,000 first-place prize.

All of the tips and information that I mention in this article are plays that I will be considering for my own lineups. In fact, most of the plays mentioned are based upon my customized model that includes a variety of statistics and results. However, that doesn’t mean that I will end up with all of the guys that I mention. This article is written early in the week and additional news, research, and roster construction could lead me to different plays. Remember to check the news and social media reports leading up to the first golfer teeing off. Though golf is more difficult to get injury news, you might be able to pick up a nugget or two that helps with roster construction – especially when dealing with possible withdrawals.

Remember that golf is very difficult to play but DFS golf is even tougher. The best golfers will perform at a high level throughout the course of a golf season. However, from week-to-week, a major variance can occur. Any golfer on the PGA Tour is capable of winning an event. On the flip side, even the best golfers in the world are capable of missing the cut in a given.

Work at having a solid process week in and week out as opposed to getting bogged down by recency bias or the ups-and-downs of the weekly golf grind. Use all the information available to you to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun! Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action.

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Tournament Notes

  • The event has been played at Pebble Beach since 1947 and used to be known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am.
  • It is played on three different courses (Monterrey Peninsula, Spyglass Hill, and Pebble Beach) with each golfer playing a round on a different course. All the courses measure less than 7,000 yards.
  • 156 PGA golfers will play 54-holes (three days) with amateurs and celebrities. After Saturday, the top 65 golfers (plus ties) will advance to Sunday and play Pebble Beach Golf Links.
  • The Par 3, seventh hole is the shortest hole on the PGA Tour measuring just 106 yards.
  • The average winning score has been 17-below par and the average cut line has been even par. Phil Mickelson beat Paul Casey last year by shooting 19-under par.
  • Previous winners of the event that are scheduled to play this week include Phil Mickelson (2019, 2012, 2007, 2005, 1998), Ted Potter, jr. (2018), Jordan Spieth (2017), Vaughn Taylor (2016), Brandt Snedeker (2015, 2013), Jimmy Walker (2014), D.A. Points (2011), and Dustin Johnson (2010, 2009).
  • All three poa greens are much smaller than the tour average.
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links is a par 72 course measuring 6,816 yards. Spyglass Hill Golf Club is a par 72 measuring 6,958 yards. Monterey Peninsula C.C. is a par 71 measuring 6,953 yards and has even smaller greens than the other courses here (3,500 square feet).
  • The fairways at all three courses are generous and the percentage of fairways hit are better than Tour average. Additionally, we see the fewest amount of 300-yard drives at this event, which leads to the event having the shortest average drive of any on the PGA Tour.
  • The 12 par 5 holes typically have a birdie or better rate of more than 35%.

Course Fit & Key Statistics

Overall Statistics
My customized overall stat model measures all key stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc…) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. From a stats perspective, this week’s best golfers (in ranked order) are Patrick Cantlay, Paul Casey, Viktor Hovland, Russell Knox, Cameron Tringale, Adam Hadwin, Vaughn Taylor, Daniel Berger, Harry Higgs, and Dustin Johnson.

Recent Form
The golfers who have gained the most total strokes on the field in the last six PGA Tour events (in ranked order) are Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Champ, Tom Hoge, Daniel Berger, Alex Noren, Max Homa, Harry Higgs, Matthew NeSmith, Russell Knox, and J.B. Holmes. Among the golfers in this week’s field, Matthew Fitzpatrick has the longest streak of PGA Tour made cuts with 14. Patrick Cantlay (12), Jim Furyk (11), and Paul Casey (11) are the only other players in the field with double-digit cuts streaks.

Course History
The golfers who have gained the most total strokes at this tournament during the last five years (in ranked order) include Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Scott Stallings, Brandt Snedeker, Vaughn Taylor, Jimmy Walker, and Matt Jones. Jason Day has made the cut in each of his 10 starts, including six top-five finishes. Defending champion Phil Mickelson has finished in the top-two in three of the past four years. Day, Mickelson, Paul Casey, Scott Stallings, and Kevin Streelman are the only players with top-10 finishes each of the last two years.

The greens are among the smallest on the PGA Tour and players that can consistently hit a high number of greens in regulation will have an advantage. In looking at both short and long-term forms, the ten golfers with the best GIR percentage (in ranked order) are Russell Knox, Paul Casey, Jim Furyk, Nick Watney, Viktor Hovland, Cameron Tringale, Adam Long, DJ Trahan, Kevin Kisner, and Tyler Duncan.

Official World Golf Ranking
All the statistics and course history are good to know but sports (in particular, DFS golf) oftentimes comes down to playing the best plays. Sure, salary is involved but the more good golfers you can fit in your lineups, then the better chance you give yourself. According to the OWGR, the best ten golfers in this field (in ranked order) are Patrick Cantlay (#8), Paul Casey (#20), Matt Kuchar (#21), Matthew Fitzpatrick (#25), Kevin Na (#28), Kevin Kisner (#32), Chez Reavie (#41), Brandt Snedeker (#43), Rafa Cabrera Bello (#45), and Jason Day (#46).

Favorite Upper-Tier Plays

Dustin Johnson ($11,600)
The last six months were not kind to DJ, but it appears that it was a result of a knee injury, which he took care of with surgery in the off-season. In the two events since the knee injury, he was runner-up last week in Saudi Arabia and T7 at the Tournament of Champions. Until last year, he dominated this event with four top-five finishes in the previous five years. He also won this event in 2009 and again in 2010. I will seriously consider hitting the lock button on him this week. Because I will be so overweight on him this week, I will be skipping most of the golfers at 9K or above. Paul Casey, Patrick Cantlay, and Jason Day are all fine plays, but I see flaws in each and will, instead, ride-or-die with DJ this week.

Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,700) 
He has made 14 straight cuts on the PGA Tour dating back to last summer. That might surprise you because we don’t see him often. He has only played twice on the PGA Tour this season. He missed the cut here last year but then finished T12 at the U.S. Open played at Pebble Beach last summer. He comes in with excellent form. Including the Euro Tour, he has seven top-10 finishes in his last 12 events, including a runner-up at the Abu Dhabi and a ninth at the DP World Championship.

Graeme McDowell ($9,200) 
McDowell won in Saudi Arabia last week and finished T4 in his last PGA event (Sony Open). Overall, he has made the cut in 19 of his last 20 PGA Tour starts. As for course history, he was T18 here at the AT&T last year, as well as T16 at the U.S. Open played at Pebble Beach last summer.

Favorite Mid-Tier Plays

Cameron Champ ($8,800)
In the last 36 rounds, he is second in fantasy scoring and ninth in total strokes gained. He has made the cut in nine of his last 10 PGA starts, including five in a row. Six of those eight made cuts resulted in top-25 finishes, including a win at the Safeway. He is consistently outscoring his finishing position, which is ultimately what matters in DFS golf.

Max Homa ($8,300)
His T6 at last week’s WMPO gave him back-to-back top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. He’s made 18/20 cut on the PGA Tour, including six in a row. He was also T10 here at the AT&T last year.

Tom Hoge ($7,900)
Don’t look now but Tom Hoge is doing more than bombing it off the tee. He is playing extremely well right now. His T25 last week was bad compared to the three previous weeks when he went fifth at the Farmers, T6 at The American Express, and T12 at the Sony. In the last 36 rounds, he is sixth in fantasy scoring and eighth in total strokes gained.

Vaughn Taylor ($7,700) 
He has missed only two cuts in his last 19 PGA Tour events. Unfortunately, last week was one of those times. However, in the last 24 rounds, he is third in this field in fantasy scoring and fourth in total strokes gained. He has struggled each of the last two weeks with the flat stick, but he is typically a pretty good putter. He is a former winner here in 2016 and was T10 in 2015 but has missed the cut in two of the last three years.

Favorite Lower-Tier Plays

Scott Stallings ($7,600) 
He has made five straight cuts on the PGA Tour, though his T18 at Bermuda was his best finish during that time. However, he has finished third, seventh, and T14 in the last three years here at the AT&T. I would not be surprised to see him have another high finish especially if he can get the flat stick working for him.

Maverick McNealy ($7,300)
With his T15 at the Farmers two weeks ago, the rookie has now made eight straight cuts on the PGA Tour. He has made 12/13 cuts, including six in a row.

Mark Hubbard ($7,100) 
His T9 at last week’s WMPO gave him his eighth made cut in 10 starts this season. He has finished 13th or better in four of those eight made cuts.

Matthew NeSmith ($7,000) 
NeSmith has five straight made cuts, including two top-20 finishes. He was seventh last year on the Korn Ferry Tour money list, so he might be a rookie but is not a stranger to success on the golf course.

Favorite Punt Plays

Brandon Wu ($6,900)
The Stanford product has made three straight PGA Tour cuts coming into this event. He was T35 at last summer’s U.S. Open. The rookie helped lead Stanford to the NCAA title last year with a victory in the championship match against Texas. He had five top-10 finishes, including a win last season at Stanford. I don’t have confidence in any of the golfers under 7K so Wu, with his youth, recent cut making abilities, and success last year going to school here in Northern California is as good of a play as any other. Because of their ability to make cuts, Chase Seiffert ($6,800), Doc Redman ($6,700), and Tyler McCumber ($6,600) are also interesting. Seiffert has made six straight cuts, Redman has shown that he can put low scores on the board and has made 9/12 cuts this season, and McCumber has made 7/9 cuts this season

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Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can follow him on his DFS twitter @WinningDFS101. When he is not playing DFS, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and a leadership consultant, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommended in this article.

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