FanDuel PGA Lineup Advice: Sony Open (2021)
It felt good to have golf back last week, even though it was a no-cut event. This week feels like the real start to the PGA season with a full-field playing in Hawaii at the Sony Open. Shout out to the FantasyPros editors for making Harris English the cover boy for last week’s article. Hope you played him and made some money.
FanDuel only has six golfers priced at $11,000 this week as they provide DFS players with a salary cap of $60,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $10,000. Webb Simpson is the only golfer in the 12K range at $12,000. Collin Morikawa is close behind at $11,800. Last week’s winner, Harris English, comes in at $11,600. Daniel Berger ($11,400) and Sungjae Im ($11,200) round out FanDuel’s top-five highest priced golfers.
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. 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.
Use all the information available to you to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun!
- This marks the 56th consecutive year that The Sony Open has been hosted by the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. Only Augusta National, Pebble Beach, and Colonial have hosted a PGA event longer than Waialae. The Par 70 course measures 7,044 yards and is one of the easiest golf courses on the PGA Tour.
- There are 144 golfers scheduled to tee it up this week. The top-65 (and ties) after the first two rounds make the cut and advance to play on the weekend.
- This course is a stark contrast to last week’s event at Kapalua. Waialae Country Club is very flat and has a more narrow layout.
- Past Sony Open champions scheduled to play this week include Cameron Smith (2020), Matt Kuchar (2019), Patton Kizzire (2018), (2017), Fabian Gomz (2016), Jimmy Walker (2014 & 2015), Russell Henley (2013), Ryan Palmer (2010), Zach Johnson (2009), K.J. Choi (2008), Vijay Singh (2005), Jerry Kelly (2002), and Jim Furyk (1996).
- The average winning score for the five years prior to last year’s unusual 11-under has been nearly 22-under par.
- Ernie Els (2003) and Justin Thomas (2017) are the only players to win both Hawaiian events in the same year. There are 32 golfers planning on playing this event who tee’d it up last week.
- Unlike last week’s TOC (where the greens and fairways were massive), everything about the course is pretty average compared to the other courses on tour. The course is flat, short and the bentgrass greens are of average speed (11 on the stimpmeter) and size (average of 6,400 square feet). However, the fairways are smaller than the PGA average.
- Even though the wind was crazy last year, resulting in less scoring than usual, there is rarely strong wind at the Sony in Honolulu.
- The course has four par 3s, 12 par 4s, and two par 5s (both are between 500-550 yards).
Course Fit & Key Statistics
The golfers that rate out the best in my customized recent form model (in ranked order) are Harris English, Sungjae Im, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer, Daniel Berger, Brendon Todd, Cam Smith, Doug Ghim, Patton Kizzire, and Scott Piercy. Cam Smith leads the field with 12 straight PGA Tour events in which he’s played the weekend. Webb Simpson and Daniel Berger are the only other golfers in the double-digit range with 11 and 10, respectively. Joaquin Niemann and Abraham Ancer both have played the weekend in their last nine PGA events.
I tend to place emphasis on baseline talent and recent form, but there is a lot to be said for golfers that enjoy playing at certain courses. Some courses just line up better for some golfers. Comfortability with the way a golf course plays can give a golfer confidence going into the week. The ten golfers that rate out the best in my course history model include Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner, Charles Howell, Chez Reavie, Marc Leishman, Zach Johnson, Hudson Swafford, Cam Smith, Brian Stuard, and Brandt Snedeker. Overall, Howell has made the cut in 19 starts here, including 10 top-10 finishes.
My customized overall stat model measures all stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc…) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. It should be noted that I consider putting stats, but it is weighted slightly lower than the other factors since it is more volatile from week to week. The best golfers, in terms of stats, for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Harris English, Russell Henley, Webb Simpson, Daniel Berger, Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im, Ryan Palmer, Hideki Matsuyama, and Emiliano Grillo.
Official World Golf Ranking
All the statistics and course history are good to know but sports (in particular, DFS golf) oftentimes comes down to betting on talent and playing the best overall players. Sure, salary is involved but fitting as many of the world’s best golfers in your lineups increases your chances for success. According to the OWGR, the best ten golfers in this field (in ranked order) are Collin Morikawa (No. 5), Webb Simpson (No. 8), Daniel Berger (No. 13), Harris English (No. 17), Sungjae Im (No. 18), Hideki Matsuyama (No. 21), Adam Scott (No. 22), Abraham Ancer (No. 24), Ryan Palmer (No. 25), and Jason Kokrak (No. 27).
Favorite $11,000+ Plays
Webb Simpson ($12,000)
I’m not saying you should play him but I am. Full disclosure, he is my favorite golfer. However, I am not just clicking on his name out of blind loyalty. As much as I like him, I like my money even more and I don’t want to set it on fire. Simpson is the number eighth-ranked golfer in the world. He has also finished third and fourth here the last two years. Last week he finished T17 having the worst off-the-tee numbers of his career. His lack of length off-the-tee won’t be an issue here as he’ll probably hit most fairways and won’t be far behind the bombers like last week. We all know that his tee-to-green game and his flat stick are both elite. I love him for a huge bounce back.
Harris English ($11,600)
I am going to go back to well with English. I’ve been playing him for a year now and it’s been profitable. Last week was no exception as he finally broke through for a win. I don’t see why he couldn’t go back-to-back. He has top-10 finishes in six of his last 10 events, including three in a row. He is playing great and there is no reason to get off him this week.
Sungjae Im ($11,200)
In his last three starts, he has a T5 at the TOC and a T2 at the Masters. The 2019 PGA Rookie of the Year has all the talent to put together another great tournament. He finished in the top five last week despite putting horribly, as well. Overall, he has made the cut in 10 of his last 11 events. He has a T21 and T16 here the last two years so he has familiarity with the course. I am also interested in Collin Morikawa ($11,800) and Daniel Berger ($11,400) in the 11K range.
Favorite $10,000 Plays
Joaquin Niemann ($10,900)
He was runner-up last week at the TOC, which was not exactly surprising. The former world’s number one amateur has been playing at a high level since he burst on the PGA Tour two years ago. He has played the weekend in nine straight PGA events. In the last 24 rounds played, he is second in the field (behind Harris English) in total strokes gained and fantasy scoring. He is solid in all aspects of the game.
Cam Smith ($10,700)
I am not afraid to go with the defending champion of this event, especially when he is playing so well. Before his T24 at the TOC last week, Smith was runner-up at the Masters to DJ’s record-breaking performance, fourth at the ZOZO, and T11 at the CJ Cup. The Aussie leads the field with 12 straight made cuts on the PGA Tour. In the last 24 rounds, he ranks third in both total strokes gained and fantasy scoring.
Ryan Palmer ($10,500)
He hadn’t played since late October and then showed up at the TOC and knocked the rust off to the tune of a fourth-place finish. Overall, he has seven top-25 finishes in his last 11 events, including T4 at the TOC and ZOZO, a T8 at the NORTHERN TRUST, and a runner-up at Memorial. In other words, he is getting the job done in big-time fields. By the way, he was T4 here last year. I can easily see him getting a win this week. I will be heavy on him in single-entry and three-max. I also like Kevin Kisner ($10,600) and Russell Henley ($10,400) in this 10K range.
Favorite $9,000 Plays
Brendon Todd ($9,800)
Appears to be recovered from an injury that most likely was the cause of some below-average golf in the Fall. He just finished T13 at a course that seems to be a little long for him against a tough field. He was T8 at the Mayakoba before that. He is as straight as they get off the tee and is an elite putter. He could contend this week and I like him, especially if he comes in at lower ownership.
Sebastian Munoz ($9,700)
He was inconsistent at the TOC last week before finishing T17 but that is what we expect out of him. He can get hot and score birdies in bunches. He can also put up some bogeys. This is a tournament that requires a low score and he can put some great rounds together. Prior to a weird two-week stretch at the end of November, he has been playing well. He made 10 straight cuts before missing two and then came back with a T17 last week. During his stretch of 10 straight, he had six top-25 finishes and three top-10 finishes. These top-10 finishes included two FedEx Cup playoff events.
Patton Kizzire ($9,300)
If you are looking for a flyer, Kizzire might be the guy. He has made the cut in eight of his last nine events, including six in a row. He finished T10 at the RSM and T11 at the Houston. He is a very good putter that could easily get hot this week. He missed the cut last year but was T13 and the winner in the two years prior. In the last 24 rounds, he ranks sixth in fantasy scoring and 12th in total strokes gained of the golfers in this field. Other 9K golfers I will also be considering are Lanto Griffin ($9,900), Charles Howell ($9,700), Scott Piercy ($9,000), and Matthew NeSmith ($9,000).
Favorite $8,000 Plays
Tom Hoge ($8,900)
He finished T12 here last year and third in 2018. Put that with his recent T3 at the Mayakoba and he may be in a position to put together another good tournament. He has a solid all-around game, which should suit him well this week.
Jim Furyk ($8,700)
He is not going to pop in any models because he hasn’t played on the PGA Tour much in the last year now that he turned 50 years old. Since he started on the Champions Tour in late summer, he has two wins, a runner-up, and three top-15 performances in his six total starts. That doesn’t mean he is going to compete on Sunday but it does tell me he still has game. By the way, he won this event back in 1996 if you are into long-form course history.
Doug Ghim ($8,400)
He has made eight of his last 11 cuts, including four in a row. He has three top-25 finishes in his last four starts. He hasn’t shown a major upside, but he is a solid young player that relies on his strong ball-striking. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks ninth in the field in total strokes gained and 11th in fantasy scoring. Other 8K golfers that I will be considering are MacKenzie Hughes ($8,900), Sepp Straka ($8,700), Stewart Cink ($8,700), and Brian Stuard ($8,300).
Favorite $7,000 Plays
There is absolutely nobody in the 7K range that I am confident in playing. I will be sprinkling in some of these guys in my MME builds but I am doing it with one hand holding my nose and the other hand has my fingers crossed (though I am not sure how to click their names if both hands are busy). The guys that pique my curiosity are Will Gordon ($7,800), Roger Sloan ($7,700), Keith Mitchell ($7,700), Hank Lebioda ($7,600), Ted Potter, Jr. ($7,300), and Jerry Kelly ($7,000)
Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.
Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can send him questions and 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.