The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using tools and metrics from FantasyLabs to highlight outstanding golfers.
The TOUR heads to the beautiful beaches of Playa del Carmen, Mexico this week as the El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Course hosts the World Tech Championship. The course is a short par-71 which measures 6,982 meters with paspalum greens.
I’ll be highlighting the best cash games / single entry games on DraftKings main 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, regardless of distance and situation. Strokes Gained is now available in FantasyLabs PGA models.
There are a variety of metrics related to won strokes, but the top six categories you should be aware of include:
- Shots won: off the tee (SG: off the tee)
- Wins won: approach (SG: Approach)
- Shots won: Around the green (SG: Around the green)
- Strokes won: putting (SG: Putting)
- 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 “Stats That Matter” column which highlights highlight the Strokes Gained sub-metrics that matter most for a given course.
And don’t forget to use our various PGA DFS tools such as our gamut generator, our PGA correlation dashboard, and our trending tool.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings rating and pricing.
Justin Thomas ($ 11,200 DraftKings)
JT is the best player in this field and will now be making his third career start at El Camaleon. Its first two departures resulted in a T-12 and a T-23. As you will read shortly, DraftKings has a lot of value this week, which makes it pretty easy to lock JT on our cash game rosters. After a below-standard season, Thomas closed out strong, posting a pair of T-4s at the Northern Trust and TOUR Championship.
As Matt Vincenzi beautifully laid out here, Thomas’ normal putting problems are not a problem on the paspalum greens, as he ranks # 1 in this area in SG: Total Paspalum in his last 24 laps. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the pitch, considering JT is arguably the best ball forward in the world. In his last 48 laps, Thomas in this area ranks # 1 in SG: Tee-to-Green and # 2 in all SG: Approach, Ball Hit and Total. He’s a meager 16th off the tee in that streak.
It’s not rocket science here, and I’m not reinventing the wheel by touting the most expensive player in the business; however, it is a unique place for JT. Four of his 14 career PGA TOUR wins (28%) also came in the fall, in case you need another reason to play it. Thomas can get away with this field, and I would be remiss if he wasn’t on my cash game roster when that happens. Play man.
Abraham Ancer ($ 10,700 DraftKings)
This one will be short and sweet. Playing Ancer this week is like betting Alabama at Tuscaloosa. It’s a huge home game for him, having grown up in Mexico. He’s been in this tournament six times and has registered three top-12s in that streak, each of them in the past four years. It’s no surprise that Ancer has had major success here, as this course matches his game to a T.
He’s one of the most accurate players on the TOUR and is a greens-in-reg monster. We know that he will be absolutely ready for this event and that he has very good numbers in sports betting. He will probably be the most possessed cash game player this week, and for good reason. Fade Ancer at your own risk this week.
Emiliano Grillo ($ 7,500 DraftKings)
Grillo is a resort course specialist. As you will see below seems to be one of the themes of the week. It might be the paspalum greens that neutralize his normally gruesome putting, but however you cut him, Grillo loves this event. The four Argentines finish in the top 15 in five starts at El Camaleon, three of which are in the top 10. Normally I don’t trust Grillo as much as I can throw him, but there is something about this course that clearly catches his attention.
The playbook on him is the same as it always has been, as he’s one of the best ball forwards on TOUR who just can’t do anything with the flat stick. At just $ 7,500, we’re essentially looking for a Top 40 finish here, and I think that’s well within Grillo’s lineup of results this week. It will probably be popular, but it’s worth the chalk to eat in this place.
Russell Knox ($ 7,300 DraftKings)
Knox has quite a track record here at Mayakoba, which is a theme for many on the pitch this week. The Scott has participated in this event eight times and has done the weekend all eight times. His worst result in this streak was T-37, while also posting a second place, T-3 and T-9. In his last 48 laps in this area, Knox ranks 16th for handling precision and eighth for regulation greens.
El Camaleon offers paspalum greens that level the playing field for bad putters like Knox. It ticks a ton of boxes this week and released a T-12 last week in Bermuda. It’s Knox’s favorite time of year, so we should be on him at just $ 7,300.
Joel Dahmen ($ 7,000 DraftKings)
Dahmen loves these resort-style events because he’s been very successful here in Mayakoba as well as in Punta Cana. The Bucket Hat Bearer performed this event four times, going T-20, T-6, T-41, T-23 in these trips. He’s been playing some real solid golf lately as well, ranking 35th in this area for handling precision, 18th in SG: Approach and 23rd for total strokes gained in his last 12 laps. Dahmen comes out of a T-24 in the Shriners and has just too many perks for a $ 7,000 player.
He is a very good cash game player.
Charles Howell III ($ 6,900 DraftKings)
Chuckie Three Sticks might have the best course history in this area, as it feels like he’s been playing this event since its inception. Dating back to 2011, Howell has played this event 10 times and made it over the weekend in eight of them, with his worst result in that streak being T-23. It also has T-7, T-6 and T-4 finishes mixed. He clearly circles this event on his calendar every year, so who are we to erase it?
His lack of distance won’t impact it here, and he’s extremely precise with strong short play. I would really love to stack a few crampons at the top this week, and getting Howell at this price allows us to do just that without losing a lot of potential.
Chris Kirk ($ 6,700 in draft)
Kirk is too good a golfer to be that cheap. The disrespect that DraftKings showed him by setting prices for guys like Scott Stallings, Adam Schenk and Brendan Steele more than him this week is quite surprising. Kirk has achieved each of his last six cuts and returns to a familiar track in very good shape. His course history at El Camaleon is great for someone with his price, having made all four cuts here with a T-7 mixed.
Kirk is always in play on shorter courses as he’s not the longest off the tee, but he’s pretty precise and strong enough with his irons when dialed. good deal. Lock it up in all formats this week.