For the final major of the season, we head to St Louis, Missouri, for The 2018 PGA Championship. This will be the 100th PGA Championship and it will be held at Bellerive Country Club, which is a par 70, that will play a little over 7,400 yards. The last time a PGA event took place at this country club was back in 2008, for The BMW Championship. This course used to play as a par 71, but it was redesigned in 2005 by Rees Jones, ultimately making a longer and more challenging par 70. The greens are very large, many deep bunkers were added, the rough became more penalizing, and the 11th hole’s tee boxes were moved up to create a 358 yard drivable par four, that is surrounded by water.
This course is longer and tougher now, but I think it’s worth noting that only 13 players in this field played at The 2008 BMW, with Camilo Villegas winning at -15. Overall, this is a longer track for a par 70 and I am not ruling shorter hitters out, but as it usually does, I think having extra distance off the tee will be an advantage. But, if you want to hit it long, you also need to be decently accurate to avoid the thick rough, so I will be mostly focusing on ball striking and SG OTT, along with distance. Approach stats will also be key, but due to the abnormal size of these greens, I will be looking at SGP, more so than usual. In his win ten years ago, Villegas ranked first in average putts per round and gained 4.9 strokes on the greens, while converting a field high 22 birdies. So, as always, BOB% is critical, but I also think bogey avoidance is absolutely a stat worth looking at, because three putts and maybe even four putts are very possible on these huge bentgrass greens. Finally, as a par 70, with 12 par fours and only two par fives, strong par four scoring is a priority if you want to contend. @Hunta512.
*Please note this article was written before the conclusion of The WGC Bridgestone Invitational, so these stat rankings are subject to change.
Justin Rose: (9,400)
When the pricing pool for this major was released, the first name that stuck out to me as extremely underpriced, was Rose. $9,400 is just an absurd price for Rose right now, as he is having one of his finest seasons as pro (13/13, 11 top 25s, eight top tens, two wins) and is the #2 ranked player in the world, which is the highest he has ever ranked in his career. He withdrew from The WGC Bridgestone prior to the first round, due to “back spasms,” but I am not going to let this bother me, as I am sure this was just a precautionary to make sure he is 100% for his last chance at a major this year. He already has two wins under his belt this season, but we all know his main focus is getting another major title and he has been right there in contention in each of the three majors this year, finishing T12 at The Masters, T10 at The U.S. Open, and T2 at The Open Championship.
Obviously the T2 is the most impressive and it was done in dramatic fashion. Rose almost missed the cut, but he converted a clutch birdie on the 18th at Carnoustie to make the cut on the number. He then went out on the weekend firing out a 64 on Saturday and then a 69 on Sunday. In this start, he ranked T16 in GIR, T7 in par four scoring, and led the field in bogey avoidance. After this, he has now posted five straight top tens and ranks 5th in SGT2G, 11th in SG APP, 9th in GIR, 26th in SG OTT, 7th in ball striking, 1st in SG on par fours, 5th in BOB%, 5th in bogey avoidance, and 15th in SGP over his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) Since his first and only major victory at The U.S. Open in 2013, Rose has made 18/22 major cuts, with eight top tens, and is four for his last five at PGA Championships. He opened at 16/1 on some betting sites, but has moved to 18/1 following his WD this week. Once we get some more clarification his back is fine, I am sure his odds will move back closer to second best in the field and I believe Rose is an superb value on DraftKings, but also in the betting market at his current price.
Paul Casey: (8,000)
The $600 price cut Casey has seen since The WGC Bridgestone just doesn’t make any sense. I am writing this too early to know his finish at The Bridgestone, but before this he had finished in the top 20 in five of his last six events. This whole year, he has been a model of consistency, only missing one cut and posting 11 top 25s, including a win at The Valspar. His game is very balanced, ranking 8th in SGT2G, 8th in SG APP, 20th in ball striking, 40th in distance, and 31st in SGP in 2018. He is averaging 6.3 strokes gained per start in his last ten tournaments and ranks 8th in SG on par fours in past 12 rounds of golf. (via Fantasy National)
His putter can let him down from time to time, but he has been better in this half of the season, putting a solid 28 average puts per round in his last nine starts. He has gotten much better at majors as his career has gone on and he has made eight straight major cuts, with seven of those being finishes of T26 or better. As of right now, he is the 15th ranked player in the world, but is the 24th highest priced golfer on DraftKings. This serious discount on Casey needs to be take advantage of in both cash games and GPPs.
Charley Hoffman: (7,200)
Over the last few years, Hoffman has been very reliable at major events. He has only missed one cut in his last 11 major starts, while putting up six top 25s. This year he has been even better, with three top 20s in the first three majors of the season. Prior to The Bridgestone, Hoffman had made five cuts in a row and before his decent T29 at The RBC Canadian Open, he produced four straight top 20s. Also, in his last four events, he is averaging an awesome 6.6 strokes gained total.
Plus, he played at Bellerive back in 2008, finishing T60th. No, this isn’t a great finish, but having some experience at this venue is an advantage for Hoffman. His chances of actually winning are slim (80/1 via Bovada), but Hoffman should make the cut and is a solid bet to end the week in the top 20.
Dustin Johnson: (11,400)
Regardless of how he finishes at The WGC Bridgestone, DJ is the player I will be targeting in the top tier. Not only does he rank in the top 3 in almost every stat in last 12 rounds, he also has been putting it well, ranking 12th in SGP, and is avoiding big numbers, ranking 9th in bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National) He is the best golfer on the planet and I am sure that MC at Carnousite left a bitter taste in his mouth. This was his only MC of the year and he is once again the favorite for this major, at 10/1. (via Bovada) Just based on win equity, I recommended have a decent amount of Johnson in GPPs.
Late Addition: Justin Thomas: (9,700)
Originally, before the end of The WGC Bridgestone, I was leaning towards Koepka (below) as the better play over Thomas, but now, after Thomas’s dominating win at Firestone, his Vegas odds have dramatically shifted from 20/1 to 12/1, making JT a stronger value at only $100 more on DraftKings. In this win, he gained 12.4 strokes total, while ranking T11 in fairways found, 12th in distance, T10 in average putts per round, T2 in GIR, 1st in birdies, and 1st in par four scoring. Not only did Thomas lead the field in par four scoring, but he did it by a convincing four strokes. Yes, he will be chalky, but I think it is a smart move to eat the chalk and play Thomas in all formats this week. I still like Koepka quite a bit, but I will have more exposure to Thomas.
Brooks Koepka: (9,600)
Brooks is a stud when it comes to majors. Obviously he has the back to back U.S. Open wins, but also, for his career, Koepka is 17/19 in made cuts, and has finished inside the top 20 in 11 of his last 12. He is elite with his driver (20th in DD, 25th in SG OTT) and is also one of the best birdie makers in the world (7th in BOB%), especially on par fours. (18th in par four scoring) Additionally, I think it’s worth noting, he is the second best final round scorer on The Tour. If he is in contention come Sunday, don’t rule out Kopeka winning his second major of the season.
Tommy Fleetwood: (9,300)
On Friday of The WGC Bridgestone, Fleetwood came out and shot -7 at Firestone Country Club and is now tied for first heading into the weekend. Going into this start, he had made seven of his last eight cuts, with six top 25s coming in those seven. At majors in 2018, he hasn’t missed a cut and has gone T17 at The Masters, runner up at The U.S. Open, and T12 at The Open Championship. Not counting The WGC Bridgestone, in his last 12 rounds, he ranks 6th in GIR, 4th in SG on par fours, 9th in BOB%, and 16th in SGP. (via Fantasy National) He is currently at 20/1 to win (via Bovada) and if you ask me, Fleetwood should be priced closer to $10,000.
Tony Finau: (8,100)
Finau will be one of my most heavily used players at this price. It’s a $900 increase since the last major, but I still believe he is underpriced. He has made nine of his last ten cuts and is currently T9 at The WGC Bridgestone during the second round. During that span, even including the MC at The St. Jude Classic, he has gained strokes in every single event and is averaging 5.9 strokes total, including 4.0 SGT2G. Plus, in his last 24 rounds, he ranks 2nd in GIR and 7th in DD. (via Fantasy National) His game is at a whole new level this season and he has already posted a top ten in each major of 2018. At only $8,100, Finau will be locked into most of my lineups.
Zach Johnson: (7,500)
ZJ is in great form right now. He has made five cuts in a row and has finished in the top 20 in four straight, with the chance for another top 20 this weekend at The WGC Bridgestone. In majors this year, he is 3/3, with a T36 at The Masters, T12 at The U.S. Open, and T17 at The Open Championship. Now, he is nine for his last ten majors in made cuts. He isn’t the longest player (290.4 average drive), but he will be just fine with his strong irons (29th in SG APP) and game on par fours. (18th in par four scoring) Based on the top 20 upside he has shown us in the last two majors, Johnson is just too cheap.