We’re off to Springfield, New Jersey this week for golf’s final major of the season. Baltusrol Golf Club has hosted many majors over the years, including the 2005 PGA Championship which was won by Phil Mickelson. It’s a long par 70 that will require a strong tee-to-green game. It’s fairly obvious that you’re going to want to target golfers with good SG:T2G and SG:OTT numbers. However, it may not be so obvious that you should be focusing on par 3 scoring. Given the length of the course, these guys will have their fair share of ~ 200 yard approaches this week, and how well they perform on par 3s is a great and all-inclusive metric for figuring out who can actually score on that type of approach. Also, at a par of 70, there will be more par 3s relative to par 5s than your standard week. If you’re skeptical of this thought process, Fantasy Golf Metrics has par 3 scoring as their #4 stat this week that points towards success at Baltusrol. And one final thought before we get to the picks… When in doubt, keep it simple and go with the better golfer. I know the PGA Championship has a history of random winners coming out of nowhere, but majors are typically won by top-20 golfers. You’ve got a tough course and an elite field; the cream will usually rise to the top.
So now that you’ve got an idea of what to look for, here are my targets for the fourth major…
PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS!
- Dustin Johnson $11600 – He’s basically been the Terminator for the past few months. Elite tee-to-green and off-the-tee, competent putter, decent around the greens. I’m too afraid to fade.
- Rory McIlroy $11400 – Right there with DJ as best driver of the ball in the field. Has finished inside the top-5 in four of his last five. Just needs to sink a few putts. Feels like it’s his turn.
- Phil Mickelson $10200 – The defending champ at Baltusrol is coming off an all-time, albeit runner-up, finish at The Open. Says he’s playing the best golf he has in a while. Been spraying it a bit off the tee, which might be a problem this week. However, he’s an excellent putter and crushes par 3s. Just needs to keep the ball in play.
- Justin Rose $9800 – Seems to be over his injury and rounding back into form. One of the best ball strikers, especially from distance, on tour. Not on that DJ/Rory tier with the driver, but he might be the best of the rest.
- Danny Willett $8200 – It’s kind of crazy that the reigning Masters champ could be considered a sleeper, but here we are. Holds his own off-the-tee, gets it done tee-to-green, and is excellent around the greens. Just a solid golfer at a great price.
- Branden Grace $8000 – One of the best par 3 scorers in the field. Like Willett, he holds his own off-the-tee and gains over a stroke per round tee-to-green. Can’t go wrong with getting this type of class for only $8k.
- J.B. Holmes $7700 – This is the type of guy that can win someone a million dollars. Yes, most of us are probably a little late to the party, but it’s fine. For such a long hitter, it’s kind of surprising that he’s both a solid putter and par 3 killer. Was cut at the U.S. Open, but finished 3rd at The Open Championship and 4th at the Masters this year. He can compete in majors.
- Jim Furyk $7600 – He may be short off-the-tee, but he gets it done from distance. He’s one of the best in the field from 200 yards out and is an elite par 3 scorer. Furyk has been fighting back from an injury most of this season, but seems to be close to 100%. If we use his SG:T2G number from last season, he’s right there with Rory McIlroy. That’s insane given the differences in their games. But it just goes to show you there’s more than one way to get it done.
- Rafael Cabrera-Bello $7300 – Pretty sure I’ve used him in every major so far this season, so why stop now? Good tee-to-green game, strong off-the-tee, great on par 3s, decent short game. There’s a lot here for only $7300.
- Charl Schwartzel $7300 – You aren’t going to get a better golfer at a cheaper price. Earlier, I said class wins majors, and Charl definitely fits that bill. Very similar game when compared to RCB but has that “been there, done that” element.
- Kevin Chappell $6700 – With Chappell, you’re getting about 60% the Dustin Johnson at 60% of the price. Strong tee-to-green game; questionable short game. But unlike most in his price range, he has the upside you covet in DFS.
- Gary Woodland $6700 – Has been surprisingly consistent lately (has finished in top-33 in eight of his last nine tournaments). He has also been competitive in big-time fields with a T-4 at The Memorial and T-12 at The Open. He’s a long-hitter with a passable short game. Much like my other $6k picks, he’s got that big time upside.
- Smylie Kaufman $6500 – Here’s a shocker… Kaufman actually GAINS strokes both around and on the greens. Something I would’ve never guessed. Pair those abilities with his long game and you’ve got a recipe for success this week. Definitely a boom or bust pick, as he’s prone to total meltdowns… but let’s focus on the good. If he keeps it in play and under control, there’s no doubt he has tournament-winning upside.
- Charley Hoffman $6000 – Stands out as one of the best values in the field. He’s great on par 3s and has a good tee-to-green game. I see a lot of J.B. (minus the pure length) in his game, and I love J.B. this week.
- Brendan Steele $6000 – Call this one a hunch… I’ve just got a feeling. Solid SG:T2G and SG:OTT numbers, good on par 3s, and accurate from key yardages. As is the case with most of my $6k plays, it’s probably going to be all or nothing here. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ripped off a top-10 or missed the cut by five strokes.
Good luck this week, hope you all win buckets of cash.