PGA Sim Sports Picks for the PGA Championship on FanDuel
The PGA Tour's season is on hold, but FanDuel is doing its part to keep golf going -- in spirit.
They have simulated out THE PLAYERS and even the Masters -- with a few tweaks to the field. Now, it's time for the PGA Championship.
So far, the simulated results saw Jon Rahm take home THE PLAYERS and Seve Ballesteros (not a typo) win the 2020 simulated Masters. Then, Rahm again won the simulated RBC Heritage by a full five strokes over Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Marc Leishman. Rory got payback at the Wells Fargo, edging out Dustin Johnson and Rahm.
FanDuel is running back the simulations for this week's PGA Championship. You can join the free-to-play contest here.
There are some caveats, so we'll dig into everything about it now.
You can learn all the details about PGA Sims Sports over on FanDuel, but I'll run down the basics: it's the same format as your usual PGA DFS event. You roster six golfers and accrue fantasy points for how they do in the simulated event. Scoring is the same as a standard PGA Tour event.
Are there any wrinkles? Of course. The main one is that -- rather than these golfers playing out the event -- stats are the basis for the simulation. Specifically, "distance, par, and player skill." That's really all we have to go on.
Additionally, there are some legendary golfers, such as Jack Nicklaus, and fictional golfers, such as Happy Gilmore. (For real.)
So, we're going to have to use some guesswork here.
The field is small (106 golfers), but with the regular cut rule, we're going to see around 65% of golfers play the simulated weekend. We can get a little punt heavy as a result, but a six-for-six lineup is always key.
Without knowing exactly what data goes into projecting the winner of a golf tournament, I went back and leveraged datagolf.org's adjusted strokes gained data.
Typically when breaking down an event, current form is key, but I would have to assume a larger sample of data goes into this. I used data since 2019 to try to identify some of the best per-dollar plays on the slate among the active golfers.
Handling the Active Golfers
For the most part, the studs have paid off. Rory McIlroy ($12,000) has finished 3rd, 25th, 2nd, and 1st at the four simulated events so far. His stats check out, and he's well worth the salary.
Jon Rahm ($11,800), of course, has been even better: 1st, 20th, 1st, and 3rd. The data clearly likes him, and in a simulated format, that has a ton of value baked in.
Statistically, the best values at the high end other than McIlroy and Rahm are Patrick Cantlay ($11,200), Adam Scott ($11,400), and Xander Schauffele ($10,500), but pretty much any expensive golfer is in a position to pay off.
Hideki has finished poorly, though: 47th, cut, 24th, and 69th. Perhaps he can't putt even in a simulation. EVR has made all four cuts, but his best finish was 44th. Morikawa has made three of four cuts but has only one top 40 (16th at the RBC Heritage). Surprisingly, Casey has missed three cuts and was 35th at the RBC Heritage.
Graeme McDowell ($8,700) has made all four cuts and finished top 25 in all of them. Dustin Johnson ($11,500), Adam Scott ($11,400), Marc Leishman ($10,200), Matt Kuchar ($9,800), Abraham Ancer ($9,400), Henrik Stenson ($9,100), Danny Willett ($8,900) have three top-25 finishes in the four simulated events.
Handling the Legends
At the simulated Masters, 18 of 28 legendary golfers made the cut, but only one of them finished inside the top 10 (Seve Ballesteros ($8,500), who won). Bobby Jones ($11,200) was 11th. Sam Snead ($10,300) and Payne Stewart ($7,300) were 20th.
I recommended fading the legends at the Masters. It exactly didn't work, of course, but there was only one high-end performer -- so it did kind of work. Give me the L if you want: just know that even factoring in Seve's win and excluding the 10 legends who missed the cut, the average position at the Masters was just 32.9.
I think looking at the active golfers and the cheaper legends is the right play.
Handling the Fictional Characters
Only one fictional character made the cut at the Masters (Shooter McGavin ($7,200)), and he finished 38th. It's fun in theory, but if so many of them missed the cut, we shouldn't really chase the dragon.
If you're thinking of loading up on these guys, stop being a damn fool.
The author of this article has no involvement with the PGA Sim Sports simulations powered by numberFire and has no knowledge of the results of the upcoming contest.