PGA DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: PGA Championship (2022)
After a birdie-filled weekend in Dallas at TPC Craig Ranch, 30-year-old K.H. Lee succeeded in defending his title at the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson. Local favorites Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler played admirably, with the former coming up one stroke short of forcing a playoff alongside Lee. The conditions were hot and dry in the final few days on one of the least challenging courses on the PGA Tour circuit, which should help many players heading into the second major of the season.
The 2022 PGA Championship will occur at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Beginning Thursday, players will face new conditions at a renovated course that hosted Tiger Woods during his Major win 15 years ago. The course will be explored in depth momentarily, but the amount of talent available on this slate can feel overwhelming when attempting DFS lineup construction. The field of 156 at Southern Hills will see players emerge victorious from cheaper DFS salaries, while some of the higher-salaried blue-chip prospects will inevitably fail to return value.
After much deliberation, I’ve gathered several of my favorite players to target ahead of Thursday’s opening round at Southern Hills in Tulsa. Whether it’s based on their ball-striking, putting, or scrambling ability, these prospects possess the appropriate skill set to make the cut line and climb the leaderboard at a notably harder course this weekend. So let’s dive in and cash out!
- 2021 – Phil Mickelson (-6) (Ocean Course)
- 2020 – Collin Morikawa (-13) (TPC Harding Park)
- 2019 – Brooks Koepka (-8) (Bethpage)
- 2018 – Brooks Koepka (-16) (Bellerive)
- 2017 – Justin Thomas (-8) (Quail Hollow)
Relevant Betting Stats
- Driving Distance
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
- Greens in Regulation percentage
- Bounce Back percentage
- Par Breakers
Southern Hills underwent renovations to expand the fairways and eliminate some of its longer primary roughs under the direction of Gil Hanse back in 2019. As a result, the course begins with four consecutive par 4s and then challenges with a 656-yard par 5 on the fifth hole. It’s one of ten doglegged fairways with an exceptionally long stretch to the bentgrass green, forcing a three-swing approach for even the most potent drivers.
Soon after, the onslaught of par 3s arrives. This is where having a player who excels in strokes gained tee-to-green will be beneficial. Accuracy on bentgrass greens that measure 5,000 square feet is essential, as it’s a smaller target surface surrounded by deep sand bunkers and runoffs into hazardous water tributaries. Hilly undulations in the bermudagrass fairways and sloping bentgrass greens create an adjustment that will make club selection a continuous consultation between players and their caddies.
It’s a par 70 that runs 7,365 yards with the additional renovations from three years ago. While the trees were removed mainly from the fairways, there are still enough to create hazards and obstacles on errant drives and tee shots. Ball-striking is always a premium, but it becomes imperative on second and third-swing approach shots, as the smaller bentgrass greens measure out to between 11 and 12 feet via the Stimpmeter. It will be slow and challenging for putting, and the lack of par 5s (2), combined with the added bunkers and water flowing through key landing areas, will create a stark reality for players who competed just south at TPC Craig Ranch last weekend.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Rory McIlroy ($10,000)
Rory McIlroy has been surging in April and May thus far, turning in a second-place finish at seven-under-par at The Masters and four-under-par at a challenging Avenel Farm track during the Wells Fargo Championship a couple of weeks ago. With a week to rest, McIlroy returns with a powerful driver, averaging 315.8 yards per attempt, a huge asset at a lengthy course like Southern Hills. In addition, McIlroy is an elite ball-striker with his irons, ranking fifth in strokes gained off-the-tee, strokes gained tee-to-green, and total strokes gained. He’s the cheapest blue-chip prospect and has a high floor due to his scrambling ability, so insert McIlroy as a foundational piece while saving a few bucks.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,200)
Spotty but brilliant when he’s on, Hideki Matsuyama is a substantial value at $9,200 on DraftKings. The 30-year-old native of Japan is another elite ball-striker and ranks highly in all strokes gained categories outside of putting. A comforting 4.59 birdie average adds appeal but so does a 305.5 yard average regarding Matsuyama’s driving distance. Navigating the small greens is a challenge but locating them and arriving in two strokes is imperative. This fits Matsuyama’s precision and touch, which have rewarded him with two wins and five top ten finishes, including last weekend with an impressive -24-under-par at AT&T Byron Nelson. Matsuyama is of great value due to his skill set, salary, and momentum, finishing T20 or better in each of his previous three events.
Shane Lowry ($8,700)
The trend with accurate, finesse players continues with Shane Lowry. The 35-year-old Irishman has two consecutive T3 solo finishes entering Southern Hills on Thursday and has enjoyed a month off to rest and prepare for it. Lowry consistently converts his greens in regulation at over 68 percent, and he is among the best at saving errant shots from sand bunkers. These are critical skills to possess at Southern Hills this weekend, and he should be able to continue his impressive streak of T13 or better finishes since the New Year began. Lowry also has one of the best putters, which is reflected in being ranked 13th in strokes gained putting. He’s shaky around the green, but the value is too good to pass up. Stash Lowry as a salary-saver and a player who can climb into his seventh top 25 finish across 11 events this season.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000
Justin Thomas ($11,700)
Justin Thomas is much too talented to pass over when constructing lineups on FanDuel. Yes, he has the fourth highest salary at $11,700, but he has seven top ten finishes on the year and has never missed the cut line. In 12 events, the 29-year-old has nine finishes inside the top 25, dipping down to a T33 at The Players Championship two months ago. Thomas has lucrative stats for a course like Southern Hills, ranking 14th in driving distance, 30th in greens in regulation percentage, and a blistering 5.11 birdie average. But, of course, Thomas is an elite ball-striker and is phenomenal in every strokes gained category, which will boil down to his putter. He’s ranked second in par breakers at 29 percent, so expect a lot of quality production and another top ten finish for Thomas by the end of the weekend.
Keegan Bradley ($9,200)
Dipping into the salary-saving prospects, it’s easy to gravitate towards Keegan Bradley. The 35-year-old American has been heating up on the PGA Tour in the last couple of months, drawing a T8 finish at Valero and a T2 in the windy conditions at a difficult course during the Wells Fargo Championship a couple of weeks ago. Bradley averages over 305 yards per drive and 4.22 birdies per round, which is nice. However, he’s a very underrated ball-striker with his irons, ranking 27th or better in strokes gained off-the-tee, strokes gained tee-to-green, and strokes gained approaching the green. Nevertheless, Bradley does tend to get off to a slow start, so as long as he makes the cut line, expect him to climb the leaderboard in the final two days at Southern Hills en route to either his sixth top ten or eighth top 25 of the season.
Sergio Garcia ($9,000)
Veteran Sergio Garcia has been flying well under the radar for most of the 2022 PGA Tour. The 42-year-old Spaniard ranks seventh in strokes gained off-the-tee and 48th in strokes gained tee-to-green. His putter is a quality piece, too, ranking 42nd in strokes gained putting, meaning Garcia could be one of the few players with an advantage off the tees and on the slow-paced bentgrass greens at Southern Hills. Garcia is also an expert at dealing with adversity, boasting a 27 percent bounce back percentage, ranking 24th on the PGA Tour. He may not often crack the top ten, but Garcia has four top 25 finishes in ten events, so he’s a quality player who can get it done late in tournaments. At just $9,000, Garcia is a quality salary-saver with enough talent to be an asset in FanDuel lineups.
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 a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.