The Cheat Sheet provides DraftKings fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This is the final event of the 2022 PGA season. The field is only 30 golfers and it is comprised of the top-30 players from the FedEx Cup point standings. This week, there is a game within the game. While the old version of the TOUR Championship used to simply operate like a regular tournament with FedEx Cup positions changing throughout the week, the new format is quite different. A player’s starting “score” will be determined by their FedEx Cup position. The winner after 72 holes of play will then not only win the tournament, but also win the FedEx Cup (and the $15 million prize).
The starting positions for this week’s field can be found here. The field will be 30 players (no alternates). Note for DraftKings scoring purposes: starting strokes will be incorporated in the fantasy points awarded for finishing position.
From an injury perspective, it is worth noting that Will Zalatoris (back) withdrew last week, mid-round, on Saturday. Zalatoris is still in the field for this event as of writing, but stay tuned to DKLive for any breaking field updates this week.
East Lake Golf Club—Atlanta, Georgia
Par 70, 7319 yards; Greens: Bermuda
East Lake Golf Club is a Donald Ross design that has undergone some renovations in the past five to 10 years. The course used to be very good for scoring (Tiger Woods won at -23 one year), but after the redesign, where the greens were changed to Bermuda grass, it now plays much tougher. The course has yielded winning scores in the -8 to -13 range for the most part since the change. In 2019, Rory McIlroy shot 13-under-par over four days to win — his final score was 18-under-par, starting at 5-under, under the new FedEx playing format. In 2020, Dustin Johnson won at 21-under-par, but started the event at 10-under. So, he effectively shot 11-under for the week. Last year Jon Rahm won the stroke play portion of the event and shot 14-under-par over four rounds.
The venue plays tough for a lot of reasons, but length is certainly a factor. At over 7,300 yards, it’s one of the longest par 70 venues on the PGA Tour and really emphasizes good driving of the golf ball. Driving accuracy at East is typically about 10% lower than the PGA TOUR average, while average driving distance for the week is also about 10% higher. That means the setup demands that players use driver on a lot of the longer holes, so anyone who can hit it far and straight will have a bigger advantage than usual at this venue.
While there are a few easier holes on the course (a drivable par 4 and a very reachable par 5) there’s also some very intimidating ones. Long par 3s are a trademark of Ross designs, and this course features four of them in total, with three of them measuring 200-235 yards and playing to island style greens. The par 4s also play long — six of the par 4s play over 450 yards, with a couple of these holes actually being shortened par 5s. The two par 5s that remain on the course will yield birdies, although the finishing 18th hole measures in at around 600 yards on the scorecard, so two great shots will be needed to get near the green in two.
As far as player styles go, long hitters are certainly to be emphasized but being wild off the tee can get you into trouble fast given the water on the course. Emphasizing recent strokes gained off the tee stats — which track power and placement — is a good place to start. Also players who have shown good three-putt avoidance and are trending well on the greens should be favored. Donald Ross greens are some of the biggest on the PGA TOUR and players will likely have a ton of lag putts to deal with as the event wears on. If you’re looking for correlation, some of the other Donald Ross designs we’ve seen on the PGA TOUR over the last decade include Sedgefield, Plainfield, Aronimink Golf Club, Oak Hill and Pinehurst #2.
2022 Weather Outlook: There’s no dramatic weather or wind in store for this week’s event but there could be issues regarding thunderstorms. All four days have a 30-50% chance of seeing a storm roll through the course which could result in both some serious moisture and stoppages in play. If it does soften up the course, approach play could become a bigger factor as players will be able to fire at pins more regularly and without penalty of rolling through or off the greens. Players with poor short games could also be helped. It remains to be seen how much rain we’ll actually get, but checking forecasts Wednesday night is always advised.
Last Five Winners
2021 — Patrick Cantlay -21 — started at 10-under-par (over Jon Rahm -20)
2020 — Dustin Johnson -21 — started at 10-under-par (over Justin Thomas -18)
2019 — Rory McIlroy -18 — started at 5-under-par (over Xander Schauffele -14)
2018 — Tiger Woods -11 (over Billy Horschel -9)
2017 — Xander Schauffele -12 (over Justin Thomas -11)
– Ten of the past 11 winners have ranked 15th or better in par-4 scoring in the year of their victory.
– 10 of the past 12 winners had already registered a PGA TOUR victory the year they won the TOUR Championship (Bill Haas hadn’t in 2012; but he did have two T2’s; Tiger Woods didn’t in 2018).
– 11 of the past 12 winners had not missed a cut in any playoff event coming into East Lake.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021: Patrick Cantlay (21-under — started at 10-under for the week)
SG: OTT +3.3
SG: APP +3.0
SG: TTG +6.5
SG: ATG +0.1
SG: PUTT -0.2
- Fairways at East Lake have been tough to find. The field averaged a 55% Driving Accuracy rate last season — that’s about seven percent lower than the PGA TOUR average.
- On the flip side, this does profile as something of a driver-heavy course — the field averaged 302 yards per drive last year, which was about nine yards more than the PGA TOUR average in that stat.
- As you can see from Patrick Cantlay’s performance last year, he didn’t necessarily light it up on the greens, but he struck the ball incredibly well and was one of the leaders in strokes gained off the tee stats.
- The last three winners of this event have all gained 2.0 strokes or more OTT and last year’s runner-up (Jon Rahm) gained 3.0 strokes OTT himself.
- Scrambling around these tricky green complexes was also tough as the field averaged about a two to three percent lower up-and-down rate than the PGA TOUR average.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Sam Burns +2200 and $9,900
- Tony Finau +2200 and $9,600
- Cam Smith +2800 and $10,400
- Joaquin Niemann +7000 and $8,000
- Viktor Hovland +7000 and $8,500
- Corey Conners +8000 and $8,000
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Horses for Courses
1. Rory McIlroy ($10,800; best finishes: win-2016, 2019): McIlroy has now won this event twice, coming back from a five stroke starting deficit in 2019 to grab his second win. He’s also landed two other finishes of T7 and T2 at East Lake since 2014. McIlroy comes in off a T8 finish at the BMW where he lost over 5.0 strokes putting. He’ll start at 4-under-par for the week and needs that club to bounce back quickly to have a shot.
2. Xander Schauffele ($12,300; best finishes: win-2017, 2nd-2019): Schauffele won at East Lake on his first visit back in 2017 when he was still a rookie. In 2019, he finished solo second, and he again rallied to finish in a group at T2 in 2020. Now in his sixth full season on the PGA Tour, he leads this field in strokes gained total stats at this event over the last five seasons. Schauffele will start at 6-under-par and within striking distance of the leaders, making him a solid pay-up target to build around for daily fantasy.
3. Billy Horschel ($6,900; best finishes: win-2014, 2nd-2018): If you want a true course history play to lean on this week, Horschel is likely your guy. He won the PGA Tour Championship back in 2014 (when it wasn’t handicapped) and finished T2 here in 2018 as well. He’s had a lackluster playoffs in 2022 and will start at just 1-under-par (nine strokes back), but if his putter comes to life this week, he could be one of the biggest movers in the field.
1. Patrick Cantlay ($13,000; win-T57-T2): Cantlay won the BMW Championship for the second year in a row last week. He gained over 9.0 strokes ball-striking, and he has now finished T8 or better in four of his last five starts. As we saw last year, “Playoff Cantlay” is a hard man to beat, and he’ll be in a great spot to take down his second TOUR Championship in row while starting at 8-under-par.
2. Adam Scott ($6,600; T5-T5): Adam Scott has really turned up his game towards the end of the season. The Aussie had some solid results in the majors (top 15 at both the Open and the US Open), but has now finished T5 in each of the first two playoff events. He gained strokes in each major statistical category last week and will look to move up quickly while starting from an even par position (10 strokes behind the leader).
3. Sungjae Im ($9,100; T15-T12-T2): It’s been a consistent playoffs for Sungjae Im so far as the South Korean has racked up two straight top-15 finishes. Im has been one of the most consistent players off the tee this season and that part of his game should thrive at the tougher East Lake. He’s never finished better than T11 at this event in three previous attempts, but he will be starting from the 3-under group this year and in a prime spot to make a move on the leaders.
DraftKings DFS Strategy
Cash Games: Stick with Scheffler
If history tells us anything, then it’s very likely that Scottie Scheffler ($13,600) will be in the mix at this event on Sunday. While the leader at East Lake hasn’t prevailed every season, we’ve also not seen any precipitous drop-offs from the pre-event leader as well. Scheffler gained over 7.0 strokes ball-striking last week in his T3 finish, and while his putter has given him issues of late, any positive regression with that club at East Lake will likely see him win his first ever PGA Tour Championship this week. A couple of other players who look like solid plays for this format include Scott Stallings ($7,400) and Jordan Spieth ($7,800). Stallings starts at 3-under-par and has the cheapest salary (by far) of anyone in that range — he also led the field in SG: Approach stats last week. Spieth starts at 2-under but has some of the best course history in the field. He looked in better form last week and his sub-8k salary gives you plenty of flexibility, as well.
Tournaments: Go big with Burns
At 5-under-par, Sam Burns ($9,900) will start the event five shots behind Scottie Scheffler. It’s an interesting gap, as Burns’ win at Colonial earlier this season saw him start five shots behind the leaders that day and win in a playoff over Scheffler. Burns has proven he’s capable of going blisteringly low when needed, and while he’s been up and down in form of late, his putter has still been working well and gained him 4.8 strokes alone on the greens at East Lake last season. In addition to Burns, the course history factor with a player like Billy Horschel ($6,900) is also intriguing for fantasy purposes. Horschel won this event way back in 2014 and shot 10-under-par at this event last season (sixth-best for the week). At less than 7k, he’s a solid GPP option for me as well.
MY PICK: Jon Rahm ($10,900)
Since the implementation of the handicap system in the TOUR Championship three years ago, two of the three winners came in ranked first and were already leading the event before it started. However, each season has also seen significant risers come from the back to put in solid fantasy scores. 2019 even gave us a winner in Rory McIlroy who started the event five shots behind. It will of course take a Herculean effort, but if there’s anyone in the field capable of besting that kind of performance, I do believe it is Jon Rahm. Rahm’s off the tee game has been lights out all season, but the rest of his game has remained out of sync (by his standards).
What we’ve seen from Rahm lately though should have us feeling good about a potential end of season breakout. The Spaniard ranked eighth in strokes gained putting last week and has now gained over 3.0 strokes putting in two of his last three measured starts on the PGA Tour. When the putter is working for Rahm, he’s nearly impossible to best, especially on a long, tough setup like East Lake where the green speeds should be fast and to his liking. The former No. 1 player was 14-under-par in four rounds at East Lake last year (best in the field), and while he’ll need to go a few shots better to have a real shot at winning the entire event in 2022, it does feel like he’s on the verge of giving us a special kind of week soon. I’d look to take him as an outright bet in the without strokes market at +900 on the DraftKings Sportsbook this week and also love him for DFS lineups as a second man in as well.
MY SLEEPER: Aaron Wise ($5,400)
While we have two players priced over $13,000 this week on DraftKings, we also have a few players well under $6,000 in salary to counteract that spike in price at the top. Of the four players who sit under $6,000 this week, it’s most certainly Aaron Wise who looks the most attractive for DFS purposes. The 24-year-old has had himself a stellar PGA Tour season, and was able to secure a spot in the TOUR Championship by the skin of his teeth last week with a T15 finish. As the 30th man in, Wise starts at even par for the week but has a lot of the tools needed for success at the admittedly tough East Lake. Wise feels like a better prospect than some of the players he’ll be starting beside.
Wise is attractive from a lot of angles as his recent form has showcased some great ball-striking. He gained over six strokes ball striking alone in each of his last two starts and his driver has been his best club of late. Long and straight off the tee has been the profile of several past winners here, and Wise now ranks fourth in SG: Off the Tee stats over the last 12 rounds. This will be just his second venture to East Lake, but in 2018 he put up a solid 15th place finish at this event (with no handicap system), gaining over 3.0 strokes OTT for the week. Now coming off a great season and in possession of a more refined game, I think he can be a player to a make a significant move for daily fantasy golf lineups and be the kind of value that moves your team up the leaderboards this weekend.
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