Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: PGA Championship

The PGA Tour returns to Bellerive for the PGA Championship. What should you know about the course?

The fourth and final major of the year is already upon us, and it's always a bit disappointing to know the biggies will be done until the next calendar year.

Even with the PGA Championship moving to May and a new schedule shuffle overall, we need to make sure we soak up this major and all of its DFS goodness.

The course rotation always causes a bit of an issue with anticipating how the course will play for the PGA Championship, and we have no data on this course -- Bellerive CC -- since a 2008 event.

So, let's try to figure out what golfers need to do well in order to succeed.

Course and Tournament Info

The course is a par 70 that ran 7,324 yards in 2008, and it should be around that range again (adding up to 7,319 or to 7,329, depending on where you look). So, we're looking at a fairly long course for a par 70.

It's long, so distance should matter.

The course is tree-lined, and the rough is dense. Plus, water hazards are present. That should indicate (driving) accuracy matters.

It features deep bunkers and wide bentgrass greens, meaning around-the-green and putting should matter.

There is a pond and two bunkers protecting a 213-yard par 3. From just about every angle, this course can be challenging.

Despite that, when this course hosted the BMW Championship in 2008, it played 0.630 strokes under par, grading out as the 35th-most-difficult course on the tour that season.

In terms of birdie-to-bogey ratio, it was the 19th-most scorable course. So it ranked as about an easier-than-average course. What gives?

Key Stats

In 2008, Camilo Villegas won the BMW here at Bellerive, beating out a list of Jim Furyk and not a whole lot else. That event was played after a big storm, so take all of this with a grain of salt (and the fact that it's just one event, anyway).

Here's how the top five (including ties) ranked in some of the most important stats that week at Bellerive.

Golfer SG: Tee
to Green
SG: Off
the Tee
SG: Around
the Green
Camilo Villegas 2 39 1 61 18 48
Dudley Hart 14 30 23 24 50 16
Anthony Kim 5 13 11 21 6 63
Jim Furyk 15 33 15 37 43 3
D.J. Trahan 1 16 7 16 52 9
K.J. Choi 7 38 4 51 25 29
Stephen Ames 6 55 2 48 30 48

Naturally, tee-to-green play matched closely to the top five. And approach shots were vital, as usual. Distance or accuracy off the tee alone weren't overly crucial, and even gaining strokes off the tee didn't matter quite as much as strokes gained: approach. That's not to say that strokes gained: off the tee didn't matter, though.

Now, it's just one event, but we can still have some general takeaways when applying this to the course makeup.

Factoring in how the 2008 BMW went down and what the course looks like, we know that our golfers need to be well-rounded. So these look to be the most important stats for the PGA Championship at Bellerive.

Key Stats for the PGA Championship at Bellerive CC
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Par 4 Scoring
Proximity from 175+ Yards
Bogey Avoidance

We still need to hone in on the ball striking stats (approach and play off the tee), but we need to emphasize approach more.

The par 3s here are 148, 213, 180, and 237 yards, and approach shots from this range could prove to be extra important this week.

Avoiding bogeys -- via sand saves and scrambling (which you can dig into if you want, but not all bunkers are created equally, and sample sizes can be kind of low) -- should make our list, too.

Event History Studs

These golfers have posted the best stroke differentials over the past 10 PGA Championships (among golfers with at least two PGA Championships in that span).

RoundsTotal Stroke
Average Stroke
Jason Day82875.912.71
Rory McIlroy93487.552.58
Henrik Stenson83070.102.34
Justin Thomas31225.512.13
Hideki Matsuyama52040.602.03
Brooks Koepka52039.601.98
Kevin Kisner31019.151.92
Justin Rose103257.021.78
Patrick Reed41628.061.75
Dustin Johnson82848.571.73
Keegan Bradley72644.691.72
Jason Dufner83048.531.62
Matt Kuchar82641.881.61
Jordan Spieth51625.491.59
Rickie Fowler83046.341.54
Jimmy Walker72030.271.51

As we always see with majors, it's the cream of the crop near the top when looking at prolonged success. This gives us reason to consider a balanced lineup on FanDuel this week.

Jason Day has elite form at the past few PGAs, finishing 9th last year, 2nd before that, 1st, 15th, and 8th over the past five years.

Rory McIlroy is a two-time PGA winner (2014 and 2012), with a pair of thirds in 2010 and 2009, too. Since his 2014 win, he's finished 17th, missed the cut, and 22nd.

Henrik Stenson is always an injury concern, but he's ripped off five straight top-25 finishes at the past five PGAs: 3rd, 3rd, 25th, 7th, and 13th last year.

Justin Thomas bounced back from a 66th in 2016 to win last year. He was 18th in 2015.

Hideki Matsuyama's past five PGA finishes: 19th, 35th, 37th, 4th, 5th. But the form just isn't there of late.