Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: PGA Championship
At long last, we've reached the big time in PGA Tour golf with the season's first major championship. The PGA Championship, postponed from its original May date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will finally take place this week at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.
TPC Harding Park is a municipal course -- that is, public and available to play for any John Q. Public in the greater San Fran area -- and just the fourth pub to host the PGA Championship. This will be no muni layout, though, as championship tees and par conversions will stretch 7,234 yards to just a par 70. And quite a blend it will be, with the first hole a Bryson-able 393-yard par 4 and the eighth a nightmarish 250-yard par 3.
The course borders Lake Merced and golfers will contend not just with the tall cypress trees on the lake, but also some of the heftiest rough they'll have seen all year. The fairways will be narrow and firm, and even the first cut could be ankle-deep. Fittingly, in a season that has seen many question the direction we're headed with incredible feats with the driver, we'll potentially get a major championship test that specifically challenges the field to be accurate off the tee.
Further complicating matters will be the wind, which looks to be steady in the high teens to potentially 20 mph throughout the 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: TPC Harding Park
Distance: 7,234 yards
Fairways/Rough: Poa annua, bentgrass, ryegrass
The greens were pulled out and resodded with bentgrass prior to the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play, the last time TPC Harding Park was featured on Tour. But like many California courses, it's an uphill battle against poa. One thing we know for sure is the putting services will be fast. While it may seem counterintuitive, fast greens actually give the poor putters a break, as the good rollers face more of a challenge than normal, and the bad ones can't usually get much worse.
Based on the conditions, expect the winning score to be between 5- and 10-under par, likely skewing toward the low end of that range.
We are keen on major championship setups this week, with the California connection at Torrey Pines (Farmers Insurance Open, past and future U.S. Open venue) and Pebble Beach Golf Links on one side, and the vicious rough-plus-length combo of recent PGA host Quail Hollow Club (PGA in 2017, annually the Wells Fargo Championship) on the other side.
These stats will be the keys to success in the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park.
|Key Stats for the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park|
|Total Strokes Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Around the Green|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
We do not have much relevant stroke play data to go off here, so we will want to look for the all-around best golfers in each range when filling out our betting cards and daily fantasy lineups. That starts with total strokes gained, and we'll want to give ourselves a good blended view of both long term history and more recent form.
Dating back to 2012, winners at the PGA Championship are Brooks Koepka (twice), Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Jason Dufner, and McIlroy again. Koepka, Day, and McIlroy were inside the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking going into the event, Thomas was 14th, Dufner was 21st, and Walker was 48th. When Walker won in 2016, the top 10 included four top 20 golfers, notably then No. 1 Day, who was the runner up by one stroke. We are looking for the best of the best this week.
In fast and firm conditions, approach play is king. Keeping it in play off the tee will be essential, so we'll look to the golfers who consistently beat the field in fairway accuracy, but that's largely prelude. Being in the short grass will make the approach shot much easier, but we will still see many decisions between long irons out of the thick stuff or layups to get a wedge in hand and try for a make-able par look.
Those targeting the greens will likely come up short or miss when unable to control it out of the rough on approach, so we'll also look heavily toward around the green game. Chipping it close and giving yourself easy pars this week will save a ton of mental energy that will be needed to close out Sunday.
In events where scoring is going to be at a premium, we want to look for birdie makers for daily fantasy scoring. Grinding out 14 pars, 3 birdies and 2 bogeys is one way to get to 69 this week. But a golfer who makes 10 pars, 5 birdies, a bogey, and a double will shoot the same but score better on FanDuel and DraftKings. We'll take the good with the bad this week and target golfers who post round numbers more often than the field.
Course History Studs
Recent PGA winners are listed above, but after a strong showing in Memphis where he did everything right but putt for about 70 of the 72 holes puts the rest of the field on notice that Koepka is getting serious heading into the major.
This week's WGC winner, Thomas, earned his only major at the correlated Quail Hollow in 2017 under similarly terrifying conditions, and with three wins already this season, looks like the man to beat.
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.