The 101st PGA Championship runs from Thursday, May 16 through Sunday, May 19 at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. Here are our best DFS picks and lineup recommendations for the second Major of the PGA Tour season and DraftKings’ second Millionaire Maker of 2019.
A 156-golfer field will be vying for the Wanamaker Trophy. The top 70 and ties following Round 2 will make it to the weekend. World No. 5 Justin Thomas was forced to withdraw Monday due to a wrist injury and was replaced in the field by Kelly Kraft.
Bethpage, a public course, previously hosted the 2002 and 2009 US Opens and The Barclays in 2012 and 2016. The next event to be held here will be the 2024 Ryder Cup.
The course: Bethpage Black
A.W. Tillinghast first designed Bethpage in 1936. Then, Rees Jones led overhauls in 1998 and 2008: the course then played as a 7,426-yard, par 70 at the 2009 US Open.
A grueling test of length, three of the four par 3s measure more than 200 yards. The par 4s range from 389 to 524 with three exceeding the 500-yard threshold. The par-5 13th hole is the longest on the course at 608 yards.
The bentgrass greens are considered fair. They will play easier than the expansive, undulating surfaces of Augusta National and won’t be as dried out and dangerously fast as those who’ve participated in the previous US Opens here experienced.
There is no water on the course except in front of the green on the par-3 eighth hole. Bunkers and tree lines create a need for golfers to carefully place their tee shots and set up their approaches with the best available angle into the green. Players need to be long off the tee in order to clear several bunkers and safely reach the ideal landing areas. There is danger behind many of the putting surfaces with sand guarding the fronts.
In addition to the natural difficulty of the course, mid-May New York weather can add an even tougher element as golfers battle through chilly morning tee times and intermittent showers, which soften up the course and limit roll for shorter hitters.
Bethpage has been set up to host two very different events in the past, and the 2019 PGA Championship represents a third layout and alternate test. The winning scores of Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover at the 2002 and 2009 US Opens were minus-3 and 4-under, respectively.
At the 2012 Barclays, Nick Watney fired a score of 10-under, and Patrick Reed followed with a minus-9 in 2016.
Due to the length and design of the course, DFS roster managers should be paying special attention to these key stats:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Greens in Regulation Gained
- Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500
The early weather forecast is calling for temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to high 60s from Thursday through Sunday. The only real threat of rain is a 50 percent chance for Friday morning.
Heavier rains earlier in the week are likely to soften the course and take away the chance of extra roll, potentially affecting some of the shorter hitters in the field. Here are a few of the notables with early Friday tee times – when the weather is expected to be at its worst – to consider avoiding based on low ranks in SG: Off-the-Tee: Jordan Spieth (7:51 a.m. Eastern), Phil Mickelson (8:13 a.m.), Matt Kuchar (8:24 a.m.), and Jim Furyk (8:35 a.m.).
DraftKings lineup building strategies
When building a daily fantasy golf lineup for a typical Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournament, DFS roster managers should spend as close to their $50,000 cap as possible. With six-player lineups on DraftKings, this comes to an average of $8,333 per golfer. Individual player salaries generally range from $6,000 to $12,000, with rare exceptions.
In tournaments such as DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker, however, managers need to get even more creative in differentiating their rosters from the 176,400 lineups against which they’re competing. If you truly believe in a lineup that leaves several thousand dollars in salary on the table, this is the time to roll those dice.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. With the volume of lineups involved in a tournament such as the Millionaire Maker, it’s likely all lineups that end up placing are going to have all six golfers make the cut. This isn’t always a necessity to cash in a tournament, but taking a risk on a golfer who isn’t in form, has poor course history, and has middling statistical ranks at a salary deemed too high by others, can be your winning ticket.
Always be aware of the expected ownership percentages of the golfers you’re rostering. The better a low-owned player in your lineup performs, the higher you’ll place and the greater your prize. A site such as FanShareSports is an essential tool when deciding between players of a similar overall caliber and price. Having the one who’s on fewer competing rosters can be more important than any other stat (assuming their total fantasy points are the same). This is taken into account with several of the picks listed below, but be sure to check-in with FanShare in the days leading up to the PGA Championship.
Ownership percentage and risks aren’t generally factors in cash games. Roster managers should simply aim to get all six golfers through to the weekend. The final placing is less significant in double-ups, 50-50s, or any other form of a multiplier. With more people playing with more lineups during Major weeks, there is more pressure than usual to put together a higher-scoring lineup, especially in head-to-heads. Still, it can be best to play it safe and build a lineup of six mid-tier golfers. Forego the top and bottom ends of the salary pool.
It’s important to consider a Major Week different from any other due to the increased number of entries. For example, DraftKings’ largest tournament for the Valero Texas Open had a cap of 95.1K and the largest cash game maxed at 2,298. As mentioned above, there’ll be space for 176.4K entries in the Millionaire Maker, and the largest double-up for April’s Masters was capped at 11,400 entries.
PGA Championship DFS picks
Top Tier: $11.3K – $9K
The 25-year-old Schauffele has made seven of his past eight cuts in Majors and puts up an average of 69.19 DraftKings points. The 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has picked up a top five at each Major since 2017 except for the PGA Championship. He hasn’t played Bethpage, but he won at the Rees Jones-designed East Lake Golf Club in 2017.
McIlroy fell flat in yet another attempt at the career grand slam at Augusta in April. He finished 21st with the help of a Sunday 68. He leads my model at Fantasy National, with best-of-field ranks in SG: Off-the-Tee, and the selected Par 4 distance. The Irish star turned 30 earlier this month and has played each of the past three events at Bethpage, with a best finish of T10 at the 2009 US Open.
Johnson trails only Rory in the model. The No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking is the second-most expensive player behind Tiger at DraftKings. He’s never finished better than fifth at a PGA Championship, which he did in 2010 at Whistling Straits. He’s made all 10 cuts this year and has six top 10s with a win at the WGC Mexico Championship.
Rahm is a curious daily fantasy case entering the year’s second Major. Ranked No. 11 in the world, he is listed with the fifth-lowest odds to win at +2000 and is the eighth-most expensive golfer on DraftKings. The Spaniard is averaging 29.1 DraftKings points per round to rank in the top 20 of this week’s field and he finishes among the top 10 in DraftKings scoring in over 30 percent of his events. He’s never played this course professionally, but he finished ninth at April’s Masters and fourth in both last year’s PGA Championship and Masters Tournament.
He’s second on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee this year, while ranking 20th in Driving Distance. He adds a ninth in SG: Total and 13th in SG: Tee-to-Green. Only nine players go for the green at a higher rate than Rahm, who also ranks second in approaches from 200-225 yards. He has a top-10 finish in eight of his 12 events this year.
Mid Tier: $8.9K – $7.5K
Woodland has made 14 of 15 cuts this year but recently withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship. His 78.77 average DraftKings points over the timeframe are the 14th most from any player’s last 15 events. He’s fourth in the model, ahead of Schauffele and Thomas. He finished fourth at Bethpage in 2016 and picked up his first top 10 in a Major at least year’s PGA Championship.
Finau has made 10 of 12 Major cuts and has a top 10 in all but the PGA Championship over the past year. His lone appearance at Bethpage was a 12th in 2016, but he was seventh at the 2017 Tour Championship at East Lake. He’s 10th in the model and 10th in the chosen Par 4 distance.
Scott, ranked 27th in the world, is the 21st-most expensive player on DraftKings. He’s made three of his past four Major cuts and has posted an average of 62.25 fantasy points with averages of 13 birdies and 10 bogeys per event. He’s one of few players in the field to be in attendance for all four previous events at Bethpage, with a top result of T4 in 2016.
Garcia is sure to be a popular play at this salary, so monitor his projected ownership at FanShare. As of Monday, he’s the third-most talked about golfer with a sentiment rating of 100 percent. Should the former Masters winner remain under 15-20 percent owned — as his 2019 form may suggest — he’s a strong play with a top 10 in each of three trips to Bethpage. He’s second in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and most recently finished fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship for his best result of 2019.
Value Tier: $7.4K and Lower
Mitchell ranks second behind only McIlroy in SG: Off-the-Tee over his last 24 rounds. He finished 43rd at the Masters following his victory at the Honda Classic and gained meaningful Major experience.
List would be a PGA Tour winner by now if it weren’t for his typically poor putting performance. The flat stick matters less at Bethpage than at standard Major courses, and he certainly has the length to hang near the top of the leaderboard. He’ll be participating in his 10th career Major.
Fisher, a 38-year-old from England, has yet to play in a PGA event this year. He’s ranked just 107th in the world but has five career victories on the European Tour and finished T15 at last week’s British Masters. He finished fifth at the 2009 US Open.
Merritt can be used as a low-ownership play to help differentiate a lineup flush with high-salary stars. He picked up his second career PGA win at last year’s Barbasol Championship but has made the cut in only two of three Major appearances. He’s 19th in the stat model with top ranks of 21st and 22nd in Par 4 Efficiency and Greens in Regulation Gained, respectively.