Skip to Main Content
Fantasy & Gaming, Industry Analysis Articles, Media & Tech, Team Performance

Favorites, Longshots and Fantasy Plays for the PGA, LPGA and Korn Ferry Tours

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

It remains to be seen how Olympia Fields Country Club will be set up for this weekend’s BMW Championship. 

The course is located in Olympia Fields, Illinois, about 45 minutes south of Chicago. It’s a par 70 track playing over 7,350 yards, making it the longest yards per par stroke course played since the restart. Olympia Fields features two short par 3s, two long par 3s (hole 18 plays at 280 yards), just four short par 4s, a whopping eight long par 4s, and two par 5s. 

The course was last used on the men’s tour for the 2003 U.S. Open, won by Jim Furyk. More recently, it hosted the Women’s PGA Championship in 2017, won by Danielle Kang. According to data from those tournaments, the course typically plays hard, and the winner is usually one of only a few to crack 10-under-par. 

However, the PGA Tour loves to set up its playoff tournaments for scoring, so it may strategically move some tee boxes around and give some generous hole locations. Regardless, it’ll still play long.

So what are we looking for in golfers this week? Using historical strokes gained data from shotlink, we can look at which facets of a golf game play best for different types of holes. With the abundance of long par 4s this week, we’re looking for good drivers off the tee who can scramble with the best of them. 

The iron game is a little suppressed with these long par 4s, as approach shots are from longer distances, leading to more seven- or eight-foot putts for those players who can stick it inside six feet on shorter approaches. Ordinarily, we’ll weigh Shots Gained: Off The Tee (SG:OTT) about 10 percentage points higher than Shots Gained: Approach, but with this tournament layout, the difference extends to about 16 percentage points.

PICK TO WIN

Daniel Berger is our favorite to win the BMW Championship.

Daniel Berger

A great driver of the golf ball who is also an excellent scrambler and in great recent form, Berger gains 0.704 strokes off the tee per round — fifth in the field. But he also gains strokes around the green. Berger, Xander Schauffele and Jon Rahm are the only players in the top 10 in SG:OTT this week who also gain strokes around the green. Among those three, Berger is well ahead in both iron play and putting. Our model has Berger leading the field with a 5% chance to win this weekend.

OTHERS WHO COULD TRIUMPH

Jon Rahm (left) and Xander Schauffele (right) are projected to be in contention at the BMW Championship.

Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele

We won’t go into much depth on these two since we analyzed their chances when discussing Berger, but they fell just behind Berger in our simulations.

Harris English

English highlighted our longshots to surprise last week, and now he’s more of a favorite in a smaller field. It’s a real testament to how he played last week, shooting 19-under in a FedEx playoff event but still losing by 11 strokes. English is about an average driver off the tee as you’ll find. He gains 0.086 strokes per round, and his round-to-round SG:OTT variance is only 0.622 strokes — easily the lowest in the field. However, he excels in all other facets of the game. His irons are strong, and he gains 1.300 strokes per round with his short game — second in the field only to Mackenzie Hughes’ incredible 1.810.

LONGSHOTS WHO COULD SURPRISE

Our model picks Russell Henley as a player who could make noise at Olympia Fields.

Russell Henley

Henley isn’t known for his short game, bucking our trend of the week, but his ball striking has been out of this world since the restart. He gains 1.740 strokes per round with his tee shots and approaches, which may be enough to overcome his putting woes. He’s in the positives in Shots Gained: Around The Green, so bunkers won’t lose him any shots against the field. If he can minimize the three-putting he should continue to compete.

Brendan Steele

We featured Steele last week, and he started and ended right around 20th place. We like him again this week in that 10-20 range. His specialty is irons (+0.769) and putting (+0.408) are both depressed by the course this week, but he’s still playing some excellent golf and should finish in the top half of a 70-man field. He also could surprise as a first-round leader.

Kevin Streelman

Streelman gains strokes in all facets of the game, but none higher than 0.500 strokes per round. He’s a streaky putter, and while he’s lost strokes on the greens in three of his last four starts, he gained almost five strokes in each of the two prior tournaments. His driver and irons are consistently good, and we’re hoping a good putting round can get him into the top 20.

FAVORITE DFS GPP PLAYS (Draftkings)

Yes, Dustin Johnson is both a DFS pick and fade this weekend.

Dustin Johnson ($11,500)

Even at this price, we give DJ a 47% chance to eclipse 80 daily fantasy golf points this week, not including placement points (35% is next highest).

John Rahm ($11,000)

Xander Schauffele ($9,900)

Scottie Scheffler ($9,000)

Matthew Wolff ($8,200)

Wolff, another guy who the model loves as a PGA DFS play, has a 27% of an 80+ point fantasy week — well above the baseline for his salary.

Ryan Palmer ($7,600)

Brendon Todd ($7,400)

Mackenzie Hughes ($7,000)

Brendan Steele ($6,600)

DFS CASH FADES

Dustin Johnson ($11,500)

But you just said to play him! Yes, in GPPs, but where he has historic rounds he’ll also have rounds where he loses eight strokes to the field. Just use Justin Thomas and save $700.

Tiger Woods ($8,600)

We just don’t know what we’ll get. We all hope he does well, but again there are more consistent golfers in this range. We’d rather have Kevin Kisner at $8,400 or English at $8,300 in this range.

Tyrrell Hatton ($8,300)

Paul Casey ($8,100)

Louis Oosthuizen ($8,000)

Gary Woodland ($7,800)

Sungjae Im ($7,700)

LPGA PICKS

The LPGA is at Pinnacle Country Club in Arkansas this week for the annual three-round NW Arkansas Championship. It’s a par 71 with an unusual five par 3s and four par 5s.

The data points to Minjee Lee coming up big this weekend.

Minjee Lee

Pinnacle CC is another course with some long par 5s, and Lee fits the bill this week, gaining 0.176 strokes per long par 5. Our model gives her a 5.2% chance to take home the trophy.

OTHERS PROJECTED TO PLAY WELL 

Hannah Green

The model of consistency. Green’s round-to-round variance is only 2.123 strokes gained or lost to the field, the lowest among the top 30 golfers in Strokes Gained: Average.

Jennifer Song

Xiyu Lin

Cydney Clanton

Cristie Kerr

Ashleigh Buhai

KORN FERRY TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP PICKS

The Korn Ferry Championship is being played at Victoria National Golf Club in 2020. It’s sure to be a difficult track, and we expect the winner at around 10-under.

Will Zalatoris is the favorite for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.

Will Zalatoris

Zalatoris is the best player on tour and the smart choice to back at Victoria National. He gains an average of 0.700 strokes more than anyone else and should come away with his second Korn Ferry Tour victory this week. Hopefully, he graduates to the big track.

OTHERS PROJECTED TO OUTPERFORM EXPECTATIONS

Taylor Pendrith

Our model has Pendrith as the third-best golfer teeing it up this weekend. Though well behind Zalatoris in projected win percentage, he should have a good showing.

Max McGreevy

Callum Tarren

Derek Ernst

Shad Tuten

 

Enjoy this? Subscribe to The Analyst to receive five stories each Friday from Stats Perform. It’s free.