Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: PGA Championship

The PGA Tour is ready for the second major of the year, as the PGA Championship will be held this week at Bethpage State Park (Black Course). Bethpage was previously the site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens, in addition to the 2012 and 2016 Barclays (now known as the Northern Trust) as part of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. But despite the limited history of professional play, Bethpage is an iconic venue and one of the most famous courses in America.

The 7,432-yard track will play as a par 70 this week, hearkening back to its layout for the U.S. Opens (it played as a par 71 in the Barclays). In 2002, Tiger Woods was the only golfer to finish under par, finishing at three-under while Phil Mickelson closed at even par. The rest of the field posted black numbers for the week. The 2009 U.S. Open played similarly tough, with Lucas Glover taking the trophy at four-under. Only seven golfers posted even par or better, though notably both Woods and Mickelson were among them. Phil was the runner-up at both events.

There is reason to believe the course will play looser than either of those editions, as the USGA has not dug their claws in this week as they do for the U.S. Open. The PGA of America, on the other hand, plays to its members' sensibilities and is much more likely to prepare a difficult, though not farcical, test for the world's top players.

Bethpage has taken a lot of water over the past few weeks, and the early forecast calls for more rain before the tournament, with clearer conditions over the weekend. Wind will be a factor on all four days, and stacking tee times is very viable this week.

Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.

Course and Tournament Info

Course: Bethpage State Park (Black Course)
Par: 70
Distance: 7,432 yards
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Ryegrass with poa annua (fairways) and bluegrass (rough)
Greens: Poa Annua

Bethpage played as the most difficult course by scoring relative to par in both of the U.S. Open years and was top 15 in difficulty each of the Barclays years. Likewise, the PGA Championship has ranked inside the top 15 most difficult courses each of the last 12 years, so there's little chance of a repeat of last week's binge-fest at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Expect the course to play a stroke or two over par on average, and the winner will likely end up in the six- to eight-under par range for the week.

While the PGA Championship boasts the wonkiest history of any major (Shaun Micheel anyone?), recent editions have skewed much more toward household names ending up at the top of the leaderboard. Four of the last five winners have reached the top of the Official World Golf Rankings at some point in their career.

Key Stats

These stats will be key to success in the PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park (Black).

Key Stats for the PGA Championship at Bethpage State Park (Black)
Total Driving
Strokes Gained: Ballstriking
Birdies or Better Gained
Scrambling Gained

There is a lot of overlap between total driving and strokes gained: off the tee, but total driving will sift out some of the less frequent Tour players who make an appearance at the large field PGA but have no shot to win the event. Both distance and accuracy are important this week, especially in soft conditions the golfers whose balls carry the farthest get an extra advantage. Well-hydrated rough will make for some nasty approaches, and those in the short grass off the tee will find the greens much more receptive.

Strokes gained: ballstriking includes the off the tee play and combines it with approach to ensure the totality of a golfers long game is captured.

Birdies or better gained will be key this week if scoring is as tight as expected. A golfer who makes a ton of birdies and gives the strokes back with bogeys will almost always end up with more fantasy points than their counterpart who saves par throughout the week and finishes in the same position as the volatile golfer.

That being said, scrambling will be essential to maintaining that high finishing position and claiming bonuses. The difference in placing for a golfer who is able to get up and down just two or three more times over the course of a week can be massive.

Course History Studs

Woods and Mickelson's U.S. Open track record is covered above, and Sergio Garcia is the only other man to finish top 10 in both those events. Sergio was also T3 at the 2012 Barclays but elected to skip the 2016 version. Mickelson was T13 at Bethpage in 2016.

Jason Day has a stellar record at the PGA Championship, finishing inside the top 20 each of the last five years, including a win in 2015. He finished T24 at the 2012 Barclays and T4 at the 2016 Barclays.

Ryan Moore was T10 at the 2009 U.S. Open, T24 at the 2012 Barclays, and T7 at the 2016 Barclays.

Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.