The PGA TOUR returns to Texas this week as the Colonial Country Club hosts the Charles Schwab Challenge. The course is a par-70, measuring 7200 meters with bent grass greens. The weather usually plays a bit of a role during this event, so we certainly shouldn’t expect a bird festival.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash games / single entry games on the main DraftKings slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My analysis will frequently refer Wins won, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many strokes on average it takes a player to put the ball in the hole of any distance and situation. Strokes Gained is now available in PGA FantasyLabs models.
There are a variety of metrics related to won stroke, but the top six categories you should be aware of include:
- Shots won: off the tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes won: approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes won: Around the green (SG: Around the green)
- Strokes won: putting (SG: put)
- Strokes Won: Ball Strike (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes won: from tee to green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, see this article by Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which details each of the above metrics. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column after each round of this week’s PGA TOUR event, which highlights Golfers to Buy and Go, as well as Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly column “Stats That Matter”, which highlights the most important Strokes Gained sub-metrics for a given course. The following players listed are based on DraftKings rating and pricing.
Collin Morikawa ($ 10,500 DraftKings)
If you’re paying this week, look no further than Morikawa. He comes off another impressive performance in the PGA Championship where he continued his victory last year with a T-8 at Kiawah Island. Few players on TOUR are as stranded as Morikawa right now, as the Cal Berkley product ranks # 1 in this area over his last 16 rounds in SG: Tee-To-Green, SG: Approach and SG: Ball -Striking, while sitting No. 2 in the total number of strokes won also.
His bugaboo lately, as usual, has been his flat stick, as he’s now lost shots in six of his last seven laps. The good news is we’re still on bentgrass this week, which is Morikawa’s favorite surface. All he has to do is be neutral with his putter during the week and he should make it into the top 10. He had to settle for a second place here last year when he lost in the playoffs. playoffs against Daniel Berger. Morikawa is just hitting the ball too well to ignore it right now, and I don’t think you need to go see JT or Spieth in cash with him sitting there at $ 10,500.
Abraham Ancer ($ 9,700 DraftKings)
Ancer is enjoying the best season of his young career so far and is on the verge of securing his first career PGA TOUR victory. It comes into play this week on the heels of three consecutive top 10s, which have also come on three extremely difficult tracks: Kiawah Island, Quail Hollow and Innisbrook. In his three career starts at Colonial, he’s yet to miss a cup and had his best result last year with a T-14.
I mentioned how Morikawa ranks # 2 for total strokes won in his last 16 rounds in this area, well, that’s because Ancer ranks # 1. He clicks with all the facets of his game right now, ranking seventh in SG: Tee-to-Vert, eighth in SG: Putting and No. 1 in SG: Off-the-Tee on that same 16-round stretch. You can easily start your rosters with it and work your way up this week as it is one of the safest games on the board.
Corey Conners ($ 9,400 DraftKings)
Conners was the first lap leader at Kiawah Island last week before pulling out of the race the rest of the week. His short game made him settle for a T-17 despite hitting it as well as anyone on the pitch. Sometimes that’s exactly what you get with Conners. Let’s turn the page on Colonial, where the Canadian has a very strong history, passing T-8, T-31, T-19 on his three trips.
In fact, he’s done pretty well this year and only missed one cup this season, which exactly matched Riviera’s number in February. Conners ranks # 1 in this area in both SGs: ball hitting and total strokes gained in his last 48 rounds. He’s been one of the most consistent players on the TOUR and is set to continue that trend this week on a track that rewards elite ball attackers.
Brian Harman ($ 8,000 DraftKings)
Harmon had previously been a model of consistency before hitting his toe in the PGA Championship. The good news though, is that it was his short game that let him down, which is normally his greatest strength. On his two laps at Kiawah, Harman won more than three strokes on approach and 1.5 off the tee, while losing strokes over the two days. That’s probably a trend that won’t continue as he ranks No.10 in this area in SG: putting in his final 48 laps.
Harman is way too cheap for his potential this week, especially on a course he loves. In eight starts at Colonial since 2011, he’s only missed one cup while finishing in the top 31 on every other occasion, including two top 10s in 2015 and 2017. Harman has made 16 of 18 cups this year and is expected to rebound this week. Its price is ridiculous on DraftKings and it’s really hard to get by with cash.
Emiliano Grillo ($ 7,900 DraftKings)
Grillo showed a serious crush last week at Kiawah, birding two of his last three holes to carve out a spot in the number. He finished with a very respectable T-38 finish on one of the toughest courses we’ll see all season. Another guy with a solid course history, Grillo has three top-25s at Colonial, including a third in solo in 2018.
He’s been extremely strong with his hitting shots all season, but especially lately he’s been second in this area on approach and 10th in SG: Tee-to-Green in his last 16 laps. Grillo shouldn’t cost $ 7,900 in this area and is one of the best values on the slate this week.
Chris Kirk ($ 7,600 DraftKings)
Kirk had played incredible golf before missing his last two cups, but I think we can give him an assist as they were two very difficult courses. Just like the rest of the guys in this column, Kirk also has an exquisite story in This Colonial. He won that event in 2015 and made all nine cuts here in his career, including five top 25s and an additional T-5.
Kirk ranks 10th in this area in SG: Tee-to-Green and 12th in total strokes gained at a time in his last 36 rounds in this area. His price on DraftKings doesn’t reflect his price in the betting market, where he sits at around 40/1 and is smaller than a lot of guys in the $ 8,000 range. Hopefully a return to a familiar course will be the elixir to get Kirk back on track, and at just $ 7600, there’s no real good reason to make him go away.
Will Zalatoris ($ 9,900 DraftKings)
This one won’t require much explanation as Willy Z has established himself as one of the first ball attackers on the planet. He posted one of the quietest T-8s in a major championship you’ve ever seen and has now overcome almost every obstacle he encountered in his short career. We know the harder the course the better Zalatoris plays, which is why we like to target him on the non-birdies, which is probably what we’ll have again this week.
He won the second-highest number of shots on the field last week on the approach, and it’s only a matter of time now until he wins his first event. Where better than in his home state, Texas? At $ 9,900 on DraftKings, there is still a solid discount to the top guys without losing an ounce of upside. It’s a great game in all formats.