Only five weeks after The Masters, we now get The 2019 PGA Championship much earlier than usual, due to the brand new PGA schedule this season. This year, the major will be held at The Black Course (par 70, 7,459 yards) of Bethpage State Park, located in Bethpage, New York. This will be the 5th time this course has hosted a PGA event. In 2012 and 2016, The Northern Trust took place at Bethpage Black and both the 2009 and 2002 U.S. Opens were held at this venue. Patrick Reed won the 2016 Northern Trust and the average winning score of these four events has been 6.5 strokes under par. As you can tell from that number and the length of this par 70, Bethpage Black is a very challenging course.
In his 2002 U.S. Open win at this track, Tiger Woods was the only player in his field to finish under par (-3) and Vegas currently has the cut for this year’s PGA Championship at an O/U score of 145.5, aka, 5.5 strokes over par. As I just stated, this course is on the longer side and I think golfers with added distance off the tee will have an advantage. Especially, when you factor in that this area of New York has seen a ton of rain so far this spring and it has already rained on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week. The weather for the remainder of the week looks promising, with only a slight chance of precipitation Wednesday through Friday, but the bottom line is this already lengthy track is going to be damp. The ball isn’t going to roll and bounce in the fairway like it would on a dry summer day and the farther and more accurately you can hit it off the tee, the better.
Now, that doesn’t mean I would rule out players who can’t bomb it like Dustin Johnson, but if juggling between two golfers, I would probably give the better driver of the golf ball the upper hand. As a par 70, Bethpage Black presents 12 par fours and only two par fives, with five of those par fours landing in between 450-500 yards. Two of the four winners at this course have led their fields in par four scoring and these 12 par fours are the holes we must focus on this week. Not only is your off the tee game important, but as always, so are your approaches.
Reed ranked a respectable T13 in GIR at The 2016 Northern Trust and each of the previous three champs at Bethpage Black were T4 or better in this stat. As for the greens, they are POA annua grass. I won’t be putting a heavy emphasis on SGP, considering putters like Reed and Lucas Glover have won here, but looking POA splits won’t hurt. Finally, I know this may be repetitive, but when we are expecting a tough test of golf like this, particularly in a major setting, I think bogey avoidance and overall pedigree must be prioritized. @Hunta512.
Tiger Woods: (11,300)
Many touts in the DFS world try to avoid Tiger no matter the circumstance, but I think that would be a silly mistake this week, even if he is the highest priced player in the field. Yes, he just won The Masters, his first major win in 11 years, but the truth of the matter is Woods has been back to playing at an elite for almost a year now. He has not missed a single cut since last year’s U.S. Open, has seven top tens, and two wins in his last 13 PGA events.
During that span, he obviously has the new green jacket, but Woods also finished T6 at last season’s Open Championship and was the runner up to Brooks Koepka (below) at The 2018 PGA Championship. Overall, he is 16/19 in PGA Championships, with nine top tens and four wins. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks 8th in SGT2G, 16th in SG APP, 1st in GIR, 7th in SG on P4s, and 2nd in SG on P4s that are between 450-500 yards.
His distance hasn’t been great (109th in L24 rounds), but Tiger knows this track extremely well, with that U.S Open win 2002, a T6 in 2009, and a T38 at The 2012 Northern Trust on his resume. He should be in the hunt for another major title come Sunday and I don’t think we should over think this one, and roster Woods this week, regardless of the hefty price.
Brooks Koepka: (10,400)
In my opinion, this is a serious discount for Koepka. Not only did he win last year’s PGA Championship, but as you probably already know, this man lives for the majors. He is 6/6 in PGA championships and 19/21 in majors for his career, with nine top tens, three wins, and an average finish of 17.5 place. He just finished T2 at The Masters and all three of Kopeka’s major wins have come in his last seven major starts. He has only played once since Augusta, but it was just last week at The AT&T Byron Nelson, where he looked to still be in prime form (T4) and it is worth noting that he teed up the week before all three of his major victories.
He didn’t do well here in his lone start, in 2016 (T70), but we all know Koepka will be able to handle Bethpage Black. (5th in DD, 4th in BOB%, and 9th in bogeys avoided in L24 rounds) He is currently tied with his pal Dustin Johnson for the best odds to win this weekend (10/1 via Bovada), but is the 4th highest priced golfer on DraftKings, making Koepka the best value above $10,000.
John Rahm: (9,500)
Rahm has never competed at Bethpage Black, but that won’t stop me from rostering him at this reasonable price tag. He just won The Zurich Classic with Ryan Palmer and posted a pair of top tens before the team event, including a T9 at The Masters. He has made 13 straight cuts and has finished inside the top ten in seven of his last nine. The former Arizona Sun Devil is 8/11 in Majors and posted a T4 at last year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive.
His off the tee game has been excellent (8th in DD and 3rd in SG OTT in L24 rounds) and Rahm has gained 7.7 strokes per start in his last ten tournaments. His price should be over $10,000 in this form and Rahm is a very strong bet for a top ten.
Xander Schauffele: (9,100)
He may not have the major wins like Koepka, yet, but similar to the defending champ, Schauffele always brings his game to the next level for these major events. He also finished T2 at The Masters last month and Schauffele is now 7/8 majors, with a notable three top tens in his last four.
There really isn’t a single flaw in his game right now (25th in SGT2G, 15th in SG APP, 25th in DD, 14th in BOB%, 11 in bogeys avoided, and 7th in bogeys avoided in L36 rounds) and X has only missed one cut in his last 14 starts, including two PGA wins. Even at only 25 years old, Schauffele doesn’t let the moment get to him in these stacked fields and I highly doubt he disappoints this weekend.
Paul Casey: (8,300)
As it always seems to be the case with major events, Casey is just too cheap at $8,300. His recent log is very hit or miss (T3, MC, 1st, MC, and T4, in that order), but his form is rating out nicely for this course. When we put all of these golfers last 24 rounds side by side, Casey ranks 6th in SGT2G, 18th in SG APP, 9th in SG OTT, 6th in BS, 16th in SG on P4s, and 14th in bogeys avoided.
He gained 11.2 strokes in his T4 at The Wells Fargo two weeks ago and this will be Casey’s third time at Bethpage Black. (MC in 2009 and T31 in 2016) Furthermore, he is eight for his last ten majors, with six top 25s during that run. It’s hard to say how popular he will be after the letdown at Augusta (MC), but either way, Casey is a fine value to utilize in all formats.
Adam Scott: (8,100)
Scott was right there in the mix to win on Sunday at last year’s PGA Championship (T3) and is 14/18 at this major for his career. (five top tens) Plus, he is 3/4 at Bethpage Black, with his only MC being in his first appearance (2002) at the track and a T4 coming in his most recent. (2012)
As for his current form, Scott just finished T18 at The Masters and produced a T12 at The Players in his prior start. For the season, he is 7/9 and has an average finish of 18.3 when he makes the cut. (three top tens) Scott always seems to be in the mix at majors (11 for his last 13) and with over a month to prepare, I think he is primed for a top 25 at this year’s PGA Championship.
Sergio Garcia: (7,900)
Garcia missed the cut at The Masters, but bounced back nicely at The Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago. (T4) He is now 12 for his last 13 worldwide, but more importantly, Garcia has had great success at Bethpage Black. He is 3/3 at the daunting course, with a T4 at The 2002 U.S. Open, a T10 at The 2009 U.S. Open and T3 at The 2012 Northern Trust.
No other player in this field can say they have three top tens at this venue and in this current form (15th in SGT2G, 2nd in SG APP, 4th in BS, and 8th in bogeys avoided in L24 rounds), I think Garcia is a very tough value to avoid. (40/1 via Bovada, best of all the players under $8,500)
Ian Poulter: (7,600)
As he has been for the last year or so, Poulter is a very safe option this week. He has made 27 of his last 29 cuts and has posted an impressive six top tens in his last eight starts. (T12 at The Masters and T10 at The Heritage in L2) Additionally, he is 2/2 at this track (T18 in 2009 and T36 in 2012) and has made it to the weekend in seven of his last eight major appearances.
Poulter also ranks 9th in BOB% over his last 24 rounds and has gained positive strokes off the tee in six of his last seven starts. I always like to target some savvy veterans at majors and Poulter brings top ten upside this week, at a very reasonable cost.
Ryan Palmer: (7,200)
Palmer is coming off a win at The Zurich Classic with teammate Rahm and has made it to the weekend in his last two normal cut events. He really struggled with his putter in his last finish, at The Byron Nelson (T43), but he was striking the ball extremely well, gaining 6.3 strokes tee to green, 5.6 strokes off the tee and ranking T4 in GIR.
Now, Palmer heads to Bethpage Black, where he has been very solid in two career appearances. (T24 in 2012 and T13 in 2016) He hasn’t played in a PGA Championship in three years, but has a 7/10 record at the tournament and has made seven of his last nine major cuts. With the extra confidence fresh off a win and having previous success at the venue, Palmer is a very sneaky play at only $7,200.
Jhonattan Vegas: (7,100)
I don’t know if many have noticed, but Vegas has been playing outstanding golf over the last two months. He has made six cuts in a row and has finished no worse than T30 during that streak. In his last start, he generated his third top ten of the year at The Wells Fargo Championship (T8), where he ranked 4th in driving distance and T12 in greens found.
His driver has always been his calling card (18th in DD and 8th in SG OTT this season), but Vegas has vastly improved his ball striking (18th in SGT2G, 7th in GIR and 24th in BS in L24 rounds) and his par four scoring (19th in SG on P4s and 12th in SG on P4s between 450-500 yards in L24 rounds), while also avoiding the big numbers. (16th in bogeys avoided in L24 rounds) He checks all the boxes I am looking for statistically and as an added bonus, Vegas played at Bethpage Black in 2012 and finished T22. I wouldn’t drop down to this range for cash games, but for GPPs, Vegas is one of my favorite sleepers for this major.
Scott Piercy: (6,500)
I do worry about Piercy’s length (102nd in DD in L24 rounds), but his form and Vegas odds to win are hard to overlook at his near minimum salary. Coming off back to back top fives, he has now made 14 of his last 15 cuts, with nine top 30s during this span. If we look at all these players last eight rounds, no player in this entire field has gained more total strokes, hit more greens, avoided less bogeys, and gained more strokes on par fours than Piercy.
He has gained a tremendous 8.6 strokes tee to green over his past two starts and also has a T22 at Bethpage Black under his belt. (in 2016, MC in 2012) All of this has led him to the best odds of all the players under $7,000 on DraftKings this week. (125/1 via Bovada) In fact, Piercy has the same odds to win this weekend as Lucas Glover, who is a former winner at this course (2009), that costs a significant $800 more. His history in majors is definitely worrisome (9/19), but the reward clearly outweighs the risk with Piercy.
Julian Suri: (6,400)
If you don’t know about him, Suri is a 28 year old player, originally from New York, that is currently playing on The European Tour. He suffered an abdominal injury that costed five months of competitive play, but returned this March and hasn’t missed a beat. Suri has teed it up in four Euro events since returning and has finished T20, T4, T2, and T19, with that final finish being at The China Open just two weeks ago. If we include his play from before the injury, Suri has only missed one cut in his last 22 starts across the world.
That run includes a 5/5 record in PGA events, comprising of two impressive major finishes, with a T28 at The 2018 Open Championship and a T19 at last year’s PGA Championship. After that T19 at Bellerive, Suri was the 60th ranked player in the world. He is a raw talent that is going to make some serious noise on The PGA Tour once he becomes a full time player in America and this is a terrific time to attack Suri, with him competing in his home state.
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com