The DraftKings Fantasy Golf Millionaire is back for the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Justin Thomas fronts the field after moving back to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with his win at last week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He’ll be trying to hold off two-time defending champ Brooks Koepka for the second week in a row, as well as four-time PGA Championship winner Tiger Woods. Below, we’ll look at the best DFS picks for the 2020 PGA Championship at DraftKings, along with some key lineup-building strategies, key stats, and an overview of TPC Harding Park.
The first major of the 2020 season comes two weeks ahead of the start of the FedExCup Playoffs. It’s the only major on the 2019-20 PGA Tour schedule, with the US Open (Sept. 17-20) and Masters (Nov. 12-15) taking place after the 2020 Tour Championship as part of the 2020-21 calendar.
The course: TPC Harding Park
Originally designed by Sam Whiting and Willie Watson, TPC Harding Park now measures 7,234 yards and will play to a par of 70 under PGA Championship conditions. The course features Bentgrass/Poa Annua greens, with most putting surfaces elevated and guarded by tight greenside bunkers. The undulating fairways are protected by close tree lines. While the course runs alongside Lake Merced, water only comes into play on the 18th hole.
TPC Harding Park hasn’t hosted a PGA Tour event since the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play. That event was won by Rory McIlroy at 4&2 over Gary Woodland. It previously hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup and the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship, won by Woods in a playoff over John Daly.
The four par 3s range from 171 to 251 yards in length, with two playing to either side of 200 yards. The two par 5s are 562 and 607 yards long. Twelve par 4s play as short as 336 yards and as long as 515. Three are shorter than 400 yards, but the most common range is 450-500 yards with six falling within that window.
Key stats to consider for your PGA Championship DFS picks
The absence of relevant course history at TPC Harding Park means there’s no tried-and-true statistical recipe for success. We’ll focus instead on the always-important and replicable traits of Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and SG: Approach. With the tight fairways and tee positioning able to lengthen the course to nearly 7,400 yards, we’ll also look at SG: Off-the-Tee. Par 4 Scoring is highly important, especially in the main range of 450-500 yards.
Career performance in majors, and especially the PGA Championship, is also extremely valuable. While the host course changes year-to-year, the conditions often remain the same, as does the Strength of Field.
Of the last 10 PGA Championship winners (including Koepka’s two victories) only Keegan Bradley ranked outside the top 100 of the OWGR entering the week of the tournament. He was 108th in the world in 2011. Jimmy Walker ranked 48th ahead of his 2016 victory and Jason Dufner was 21st in 2013. Five of the last 10 champs were inside the top 5 of the OWGR.
PGA Championship lineup building strategies
DraftKings ran a Fantasy Golf Millionaire for each event since the PGA Tour’s June restart up until last week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. With golf having dominated the sports scene until that point, new users were getting involved, but there was still plenty of overlay each week.
The first major of the year and the return of Tiger should bring out an even broader audience and a full contest. One of the keys from the earlier Millionaire contests had been to spend below the $50,000 salary cap. This went a long way in ensuring you had a unique lineup and wouldn’t need to split your prize with other DraftKings users. Strong fields as seen since the restart and this week at TPC Harding Park help to disperse ownership at the top level among the biggest names in golf. Pivoting from the most common price points in the middle and lower tiers helps to create the required ownership leverage. More on this below.
Majors typically bring out the best of the world’s best. As a result, the number of golfers in the field who actually have a chance to win is much smaller than the number listed. There are also more international competitors in the field who the average DK user doesn’t have much familiarity with. It’s important to filter out the contenders from pretenders before narrowing down your picks even further. Select your core group of top and mid-tier golfers, and then choose from a couple of different value plays to complete each lineup.
PGA Championship DFS Picks: Ownership
As mentioned above, ownership is often not as great of a concern in these deeper and stronger fields than it was for say the Rocket Mortgage Classic or 3M Open, which were fronted by just a couple of big names. With all of the world’s best golfers in attendance, personal bias and favorites help to level out ownership shares among the most-expensive golfers at DraftKings.
Thomas ($11,300), Koepka ($11,100), and Woods ($9,200) can be expected to be in that group of top-owned golfers this week. All three are staple major contenders and public betting and DFS favorites.
Shifting to a less popular play such as Jon Rahm ($10,500), or someone not in as good of form of late like McIlroy ($10,700) can shave off a few ownership percentages and help differentiation. The bottom of the player pool in majors such as this is much deeper than at a standard event. Don’t worry too much about picking the lowest-owned of the top golfers. There’s plenty of room for variation further down.
2020 PGA Championship DFS picks
Top Tier: $11.3K – $8K
Justin Thomas $11,300
The new world No. 1 will be a popular play coming off his 13th career PGA Tour victory at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn. His lone career major victory to date was at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed it up with a T-6 in 2018, but he withdrew from last year’s second major due to a wrist injury.
Despite all of these factors, Thomas is the top DFS play. His ownership will be lower than it would in any other standard event due to the presence of Koepka and Tiger. He also goes against the common but misguided strategy of fading the most expensive golfer. Use this to your advantage and get the PGA Tour leader in total strokes gained in 2020, according to Data Golf. He lost 0.47 strokes per round putting last week but gained 3.27 SG: Tee-to-Green.
Xander Schauffele $10,000
Schauffele will be another popular play while seemingly being underpriced. He’s fifth on Tour this season in SG: Total, specializing in SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Off-the-Tee. He tied for sixth last week following a T-13 at the Memorial Tournament amid major-like conditions and field strength. He has at least one top-6 finish in each major except for the PGA Championship
Jason Day $8,400
Casual golf fans remember Day as a former world No. 1 and the 2015 PGA Championship winner. Sharps are more familiar with his inconsistency and poor results over the last couple of years.
He has dropped from No. 37 to No. 42 in the OWGR since the end of 2019, but he heads to TPC Harding Park off of a T-6 at the WGC event, a T-4 at the Memorial, and a T-7 at the Workday Charity Open. His high-degree of risk should help keep ownership low despite his strong form and past major pedigree. He finished T-5 at last year’s Masters, T-23 at the PGA Championship and T-21 at the US Open.
Tyrrell Hatton $8,000
Hatton’s T-69 finish last week was his worst result by far since the PGA Tour’s restart. The winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March came out of the layoff with a T-3 finish at the RBC Heritage and a T-4 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He has three top-10 finishes in his last eight majors, including a T-10 at the 2018 PGA Championship.
He remains fourth on Tour in SG: Total after last week’s poor showing. He’s averaging 1.38 SG: Tee-to-Green per round with 0.87 SG: Approach and Putting.
Mid Tier: $7.9K – $7K
Justin Rose $7,800
This is Rose’s lowest DraftKings salary in 10 events since the 2019 Hero World Challenge, according to FanShare Sports. The 2013 US Open champ turned 40 years old over the weekend. He hasn’t played since missing three straight cuts from the Travelers Championship through the Memorial.
He’s my best bet to win this week, largely due to his appealing price of +5000 at DraftKings Sportsbook. In early March, ahead of the midseason pause, he was just +1800 to win the PGA Championship. He’s looking for his 17th win since 2010 and has an active streak of at least one international victory in each of the last 10 years. His strong sand game makes him well-equipped to handle TPC Harding Park’s most common hazard.
Abraham Ancer $7,700
Ancer (pictured) shook off a lackluster T-58 finish at the Memorial to tie for 15th last week in Memphis. He came out of the four-month layoff with a T-14 at the Charles Schwab Challenge, a runner-up at the RBC Heritage, and a T-11 at the Travelers Championship. He’s averaging 2.08 strokes gained over the average PGA Tour golfer across his last 20 rounds, with 1.48 SG: Total per round for the season.
Chez Reavie $7,400
Reavie is our first example of an ownership pivot and a good representation of how easy it can be in these major fields. He’s the same price as two-time 2019-20 winner Brendon Todd, former FedExCup winner Billy Horschel, and Masters champ Bubba Watson. He’s in excellent form with a T-6 last week and a T-22 at the Memorial. The 38-year-old tied for third at last year’s US Open, and he finished inside the top 15 in each of the last two PGA Championships.
Corey Conners $7,000
Conners’ frequent struggles with the putter are well known among golf fans and the DFS community. The greens at TPC Harding Park are expected to run slower than what’s typically seen at the Masters and US Open, and his expert ball-striking on approach will play well with the elevated greens. He’ll be making just his sixth appearance at a major, but his world ranking of 65th will be his top entry position.
Value Tier: $6.9K and Lower
Rory Sabbatini $6,800
Sabbatini (pictured) is still looking for his first win since the 2011 Honda Classic. He missed the cut at the Memorial and Rocket Mortgage Classic, but he tied for 14th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and for 17th at the Workday Charity Open in strong fields. He’s averaging 0.50 SG: Tee-to-Green per round and has been just average with the putter. His lowest DFS salary since the canceled Players Championship makes him an attractive target in this bottom tier.
Lucas Glover $6,700
Glover’s salary for the PGA Championship matches his Charles Schwab Challenge salary as his lowest since the restart. The 2009 US Open champ hasn’t flirted again with contention at a major other than a fifth at the ’09 PGA Championship and a T-12 at the 2011 Open Championship. He was T-16 last year in his return to Bethpage Black.
Even with a poor showing at the 3M Open, he’s averaging 1.11 SG per round over the average Tour pro across his last 20 rounds.
J.T. Poston $6,700
Poston, just 27 years old, won his first PGA Tour event at last year’s Wyndham Championship. He’ll now play just his third career major following a T-60 at the 2019 PGA Championship and a missed cut at the 2017 US Open. He tied for eighth at the RBC Heritage but missed his following three cuts. His T-30 in the strong field last week shows he’s headed back in the right direction after an excellent performance around the greens.
Joohyung Kim $6,200
Kim, an 18-year-old star on the Asian Tours, will make his PGA Tour debut as a near-minimum priced golfer. His usual competition is much weaker, but he has four career victories and finished fourth at the 2020 SMBC Singapore Open, with Matt Kuchar and Rose finishing first and second, respectively. He’ll certainly be the highest owned golfer in this price range, but he has potential for at least a top-20 finish and offers great salary relief when dropping below $7K.