GOLF

Daily Fantasy Golf: FanDuel PGA Strategy

What stats correlate to fantasy points on FanDuel? Find out here.

There's a key difference between "denotation" and "connotation."

Denotation refers simply to a word's literal meaning, and connotation, on the other hand, refers to what a certain word can evoke from you, the more abstract meaning of a word.

Let's try it. "Volatility."

This word means, by its denotation, likely to change suddenly or unpredictably. To the experienced daily fantasy sports player, it means something a little different.

Based on its denotation, the actual definition, volatility is a bad thing, and it makes predicting performance difficult. And that's actually very true in daily fantasy sports, but learning how to use volatility while building lineups is crucial. That's particularly true when it comes to daily fantasy golf.

Volatility, in sum, is why a top-ranked golfer such as Jason Day can miss a cut and why a long-shot can run hot and pick up an unexpected win. The unexpected should be expected with golf, but that doesn't mean that trying to predict things is futile. Rather, it just means that there's more you need to factor in.

So, with all of that said, what can you do to try to narrow down your player pool when building PGA lineups on FanDuel?

Let's break it down.

Scoring and FanDuel Points

Given FanDuel's scoring for PGA, birdies are vastly important, as is finishing position. The math backs that up.

We'll examine the correlation coefficients between fantasy scoring on FanDuel and actual scoring from the 2016-17 CareerBuilder Challenge, the Farmers Insurance Open, and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. That's only three tournaments, but that does span a few hundred golfers and thousands of strokes.

A perfectly positive correlation would be 1, a perfectly negative correlation would be -1, and correlations around 0 imply no relationship between the two numbers. Just to be clear, we're using the absolute value for the correlation with finishing position (because lower scores are tied to higher FanDuel scores and we don't want it to look negative).

FanDuel PGA Correlation with Scoring

Let's start from left to right and top to bottom, eh?

Eagles have a moderately strong correlation with FanDuel points at 0.363.

Birdies, though, are the bread-and-butter, which makes sense as they're far more common than eagles. Essentially, birdies are the strongest path to fantasy points, and that makes birdie or better percentage a vital stat each week.

Pars won't lead to big fantasy points for players who finish the tournament, as those flirting with par will likely be at the tail end of the post-cut standings. However, if your selections aren't racking up enough birdies to push through, getting positive points is enough.

Obviously, bogeys and worse should have a negative correlation with FanDuel points. Bogeys are nearly as hurtful to your fantasy point column as birdies are helpful based on this sample. However, bogeys -- from a volume standpoint -- will be tied to overall FanDuel points from players who make the cut.

But make no mistake with bogeys: the correlation between holes at, over, and below par with finishing position are pretty telling.

Finishing Position and Holes At, Under, Above Par Correlation
Under Par -0.572
Over Par 0.575
Par -0.004


So, we can see that -- in order to rack up fantasy points -- you want guys who score below par, avoid bogeys, and finish high in the tournament.

Groundbreaking, right? The bigger question, now, is whether or not certain stats correlate to eventual fantasy performance.

What Stats Matter?

There are tons and tons of stats available for the PGA Tour, but some of them are naturally tied together.

We can examine the relationship between fantasy points and driving distance, driving accuracy, total driving, strokes gained: off-the-tee, and good drive percentage, but at a certain point, we're possibly obscuring things.

So we'll keep things pretty simple and scope out how some of the major catch-all, one-number stats for these golfers (from the entire 2016-17 season) correlated with their FanDuel performance in these tournaments.

FanDuel PGA Correlation with Stats

So, based on this, driving distance and driving accuracy have pretty weak correlations with FanDuel points. That's a good thing to find, in a way. Not every course rewards all types of drivers (more accurate but shorter, inaccurate bombers, and so on). That also means that you'll need to tune into which is more important on that week's particular course.

There has been a pretty weak relationship between FanDuel points and season-long greens in regulation percentage, but the same can't really be said for scrambling here. Scrambling to par keeps you in the mix.

Really, what is going to make all the difference over the larger sample is the ability to avoid bogeys and to break par, as those two stats have the strongest correlations of those examined.

Of course, those correlation coefficients are still fairly mild overall, but in combination with the knowledge of how important birdies are, we can now say with some confidence that you need to target golfers with a penchant for racking up birdies rather than playing for pars when building your lineups.

After all, birdie-bogey combination (2.1 net fantasy points) does rule out the bogey-free round bonus, but it is more fantasy-friendly than two pars (1 fantasy point).

In sum, no particular stat like driving distance or putting is going to be enough to get you fantasy points. You'll need to figure out what stats will lead to holes below par and top-25 finishes each and every week as the courses and entrants change -- but we'll be here to help.