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PGA DFS Picks: The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

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In this edition of PGA DFS picks, we’re onto the second leg of the Asian swing with for the inaugural ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan. Let’s find some gems!

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PGA DFS — Course Notes:

  • Course: Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club (Par: 70 – Yardage: 7,041 – Greens: Bentgrass).
  • Tree-lined, zoysia fairways with three par 5s and five par 3s, with water in play off the tee on three holes and five total – and a bunch of greenside bunkers.
  • No-cut event featuring 78 golfers: 60 golfers from last year’s FedExCup standings, 10 from the Japan Golf Tour, and 8 sponsor invites.
  • Loaded field with 12 of the Top 20 in OWGR participating.
  • Focus Stat Categories are Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee (cross-referenced for accuracy), Strokes Gained: Approach, Scrambling, Sand Save %, Par 4 Scoring.
  • Rain and wind expected this week, so we may grab some folks who play well in those conditions.

The Picks:

Elite PGA DFS (DK $9,500 and up):

Justin Thomas (DK $11,800, FD $12,200) – He won last week in Korea and checks most of the boxes this week. I won’t have massive ownership given the high price and need for a Top 3 to be worth the price, but he’s hard to fade.

Rory McIlroy (DK $11,500, FD $12,300) – Rory said the course really meets his eye off the tee, as he’s a fan of tree-lined layouts, and the last couple of days he’s been right here playing in the MGM Resorts The Challenge Japan Skins. He’s one of the top dogs when it comes to Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, as he’s the best driver of the golf ball in the game, and he seems to be enjoying himself alongside his friends in Japan.

Hideki Matsuyama (DK $10,700, FD $11,200) – Matsuyama is right at home on this course and is one of the few who has experience with the layout. A great ball striker who’s a perennial leader in the focus stat categories, he’ll be popular this week. He’s also been playing here a lot this week in the skins event and even though he’s one of the betting favorites, I’ll have shares in all formats.

Paul Casey (DK $10,100, FD $10,700) – Casey is good fit for this golf course as he was eighth on tour in SG: Approach in this past season and he won at the Valspar on Innisbrook’s Copperhead Course – a correlated course. He plays well in rain, played badly in the Italian Open and he’s also kind of expensive – making him an excellent GPP play who should garner low ownership this week.

Adam Scott (DK $9,900, FD $10,600) – Much like Casey, Scott could easily fly under the radar at his price point. But he’s a savvy play and good course horse as he’s a regular finisher among the elite in SG: Approach. The poor showing at the Shriner’s will keep most of the field off him, so I’m buying.

Tommy Fleetwood (DK $9,800, FD $10,400) – He plays well in these conditions and has no problem competing with the world’s best. He’s got seven top 20s in his last nine starts worldwide since The Open Championship and he’s a closer who plays well in the final rounds of a tournament – something that helps in no-cut events. I’ll likely have massive shares sicne ownership wioll be low after he finished just T20 last week.

Also consider: Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth

Mid-Range PGA DFS (DK $8,000 to $9,400):

Victor Hovland (DK $9,400, FD $10,000) – Hovland’s insane sub-70s round streak came to and end in Korea, but he’s still a betting favorite with plenty to prove on the PGA Tour – and he’s not going to carry the ownership he did in last week’s event.

Tiger Woods (DK $9,300, FD $10,500) – If he can avoid the long rough and keep it in play, there’s no reason Tiger can’t play well enough to win. He’s been playing the Skins Game this week after getting his knee cleaned out and is optimistic about his chances in the upcoming events. He needs just one more win to tie Sam Snead for most career PGA TOUR victories at 82.

Tony Finau (DK $9,200, FD $10,100) – Finau might be my favorite golfer this week at any price. He checks all the boxes in all the stat categories we’re focused on, and he’s played well at his most recent events (T9 at Shriner’s and T10 at Alfred Dunhill Links). Narashino has some bizarre, undulating bentgrass greens (he likes bentgrass and they’ll be using alternating sets of the greens in different days) and that tends to favor the consistency of the longer clubs in the bag, where Finau shines.

Louis Oosthuizen (DK $8,400, FD $9,300) – I am loving this price on Oosty, who finished second at last year’s Valspar and is seeing his first action in a couple of months since concluding the 2018-19 season with four straight top 20s. He’s great off the tee, a solid ball striker and a fiery competitor who should perform well in this loaded field.

Joaquin Niemann (DK $8,200, FD $9,100) – Niemann has fared well as a ball-striker and rates well in SG: Off the Tee. He also won a few weeks ago but scrambles out of the sand well and ranks inside the top-20 in Par-4 scoring average. Niemann makes the short hop to Japan after a top-12 finish at The CJ Cup in Korea last week.

Also consider: Sergio Garcia, Sungjae Im, Adam Hadwin, Shane Lowry (GPP)

Value PGA DFS (DK Under $8K):

Matthew Wolff (DK $7,200, FD $8,500) – Wolff played badly in Korea and finished near the bottom of the leaderboard, but I’m a sucker for a redemption story. A talent like this coupled with a price drop means I’ll be grabbing plenty of exposure in GPPs and counting on him for a Top 20 finish.

Chez Reavie (DK $7,400, FD $8,600) – Reavie is another across-the-board performer in our focus stats and he’s relatively cheap on DK this week. He might be more of a cash game value play at this price, but I’ll be using him in a few GPPs.

Charles Howell, III (DK $7,300, FD $8,600) – A long and accurate hitter and bentgrass specialist who seems like an excellent course fit, Howell is cheap and scores well on Par 4s – so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on this unfamiliar layout.

Rory Sabbatini (DK $7,100, FD $8,200) – Sabbatini plays well on the course corollaries and is a modest $7,100 on DK despite a T10 at the Italian Open and a T31 finish last week in Korea. I use him in a lot of GPPs and rarely regret it.

Nate Lashley (DK $6,400, FD $7,200) – Another under-the-radar pro who finished T20 last week in Korea, Lashley plays well on similar layouts and seems to be enjoying the PGA Tour after his breakthrough win last season. A relatively steady performer, he’s guaranteed to9 be low-owned and has upside in GPPs.

Value golfers for GPPs: C.T. Pan, J.T. Poston, Joel Dahmen, Bubba Watson, Wyndham Clark

Also consider: Andrew Putnam, Kevin Streelman, Ryan Moore, Emiliano Grillo, Abraham Ancer, Dylan Frittelli

The PGA DFS Fades:

Matthew Fitzpatrick (DK $9,000, FD $9,600) – It pains me to fade him, but I’ll have much fewer shares of Fitzpatrick than usual based on his price jump and unknown course conditions. He also might draw additional ownership following his one-stroke defeat at the Italian Open, which was his fifth runner-up finish in 11 months. I do like him, but my exposure will be diminished.

Ryan Palmer (DK $6,900, FD $7,900) – He’s a poor bad-weather golfer and I’m expecting a letdown after a T12 last week in Korea. Palmer also struggles with Par 4 scoring and is making a lot of lists as a top value play this week, so he might be highly owned. If I was entering 150 lineups I’d have him in 3-5, but he’s far from a core play in this field.

 Also fading: Daniel Berger and Jason Kokrak

Spades’ Fade of the Week:

Patrick Reed (DK $9,600, FD $10,200)

“Everyone else seems to be hanging out with friends out there, having a good time – but he’s probably just by himself, miserable. I’ve seen snapchats of golfers in groups out in the city to eat sushi, but not him.” – Mark “Spades” Spada

Oh man, Spades! That’s so mean — and incredibly appropriate for a guy who hates his own family and is universally loathed on tour. Those sentiments also remind me of one of my favorite Neil Young songs, which I just listened to last night on vinyl.

Reed says he’s “thrived” since committing to more feel and embracing his fundamentally unsound golf swing. He’s gone T36–T15–T4 on the European Tour and has been playing okay, but I think he’s out of his element on this course.

PGA DFS — Sample DK GPP lineup:

P. Casey ($10,100)

T. Fleetwood ($9,800)

T. Finau ($9,200)

S. Lowry ($8,000)

J.T. Poston ($6,600)

C.T. Pan ($6,200)

PGA DFS – Sample DK Cash lineup:

J. Thomas ($11,800)

S. Im ($8,800)

R. Moore ($7,800)

C. Reavie ($7,400)

A. Putnam ($7,400)

K. Streelman ($6,700)

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I'm a writer from upstate NY in a cool little Hudson River town called Coxsackie. Too many interests to list, but the films of David Lynch, the books of Kurt Vonnegut, the music of Jack White and the maddening sport of golf are near the top of my list. Big into DFS, specializing in baseball, football, golf and hoops. I've written for FFToday.com, RotoExperts and Baseball America, to name a few.

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