DraftKings PGA DFS Picks: PGA Championship Cash and GPP Strategy

DraftKings PGA DFS Picks: PGA Championship Cash and GPP Strategy

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA DFS Picks series.

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Purse: $20M
Winner's Share: $3.6M
FedEx Cup Points: 750 to the Winner
Location: Louisville, Ky.
Course: Valhalla Golf Club
Yardage: 7,609
Par: 71
2023 champion: Brooks Koepka (Oak Hill)

Tournament Preview

Valhalla Golf Club, site of the 106th PGA Championship, is the nexus connecting arguably the three most influential golfers of the last half-century: Jack Nicklaus, who designed the course, and Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who have won the past two major tournaments played there. Now, the golfer who is showing every indication of becoming the best and perhaps most influential of his generation looks to join them in Valhalla lore.

Scottie Scheffler is coming off wins in four of his past five tournaments, including the Masters and PLAYERS Championship, to open a cavernous gulf between him and every other golfer in the world. He is the No. 1 storyline in a series of spicy narratives that will be hashed and rehashed this week at the year's second major. If Scheffler wins this week, he is halfway to doing something no one has ever done in golf: win the calendar grand slam. But that's just one of many subplots brewing.

There's also Brooks Koepka bidding to defend his title, win a fourth PGA Championship and sixth major title, which would exponentially elevate his placement in golf history by tying him for 12th on the all-time majors list. There's McIlroy, now a full decade removed from his fourth and most recent major title, looking to end the Will-He-Ever-Win-Another talk that happens quad-nauseum during the golf season -- and to add an extra layer to McIlroy, he's coming off a dominating win at the Wells Fargo. There's Jon Rahm, looking to maintain relevance after opting for the cash and hinterlands of LIV Golf at a time he was challenging Scheffler for golf supremacy. There's Ludvig Aberg, the young Swedish sensation who finished runner-up last month at the Masters in his very first major start and who seems poised to be Scheffler's premier challenge in the years ahead. There's even Jordan Spieth, now in his seventh annual bid to complete his own career grand slam, after winning his third different major at the 2017 Open Championship. Only five men have done it.

In all, 156 golfers are entered, including the top 103 in the world rankings as of last week. Chan Kim was No. 104 because we know you are asking. The proverbial "strongest field in golf" pronouncement takes on added credence with the invitation of LIV golfers beyond only those who officially qualified. There will be 16 in all. There are 15 former PGA Championship winners -- beyond Koepka, McIlroy and Woods, there are notably Phil Mickelson, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas. And there's of course the usual complement of 20 PGA Tour club professionals, who traditionally are an afterthought unless your name is Michael Block, who is back again this year. One of the club pros who qualified is 61-year-old Tracy Phillips, a golf teacher from Tulsa, Okla. How cool is that?

Unlike other PGA Tour events, 70 golfers and ties will make the 36-hole cut this week, giving us a smidge more leeway in getting six golfers through to the weekend. More on lineup construction in a moment.

Valhalla is not at old course like many of the major venues. It was designed by Nicklaus less than 40 years ago (1986). It immediately became a favorite of the PGA of America, so much so that the organization actually bought the club. (It has since been sold -- to a group of club members, including former NBA player Junior Bridgeman -- so it's quite possible this is the last time we'll see Valhalla.) Just 10 years after it opened, Valhalla played host to its first PGA, with return engagements in 2000 and 2014. All those PGAs took place in August. This fourth hosting gig will tie Valhalla with Oak Hill for the second most PGAs, behind only the five of Southern Hills. Valhalla also was the site of the 2008 Ryder Cup won by the United States.

The 2000 PGA featured the famed duel between Woods and unheralded Bob May (spoiler alert: Woods won). The 2014 PGA saw a young McIlroy shoot 16-under to win his fourth major in a four-year span. Now, a not-so-young McIlroy is still searching for No. 5. The field will include 27 golfers who played in that 2014 PGA, in which McIlroy beat darkness and Mickelson by one stroke. The course played at 7,458 yards that year and the cut was 1-over.

Now, Valhalla is at 7,609, and the back nine is a mere gap wedge shy of 4,000 yards. There are three par-5s, none of which reaches 600 yards though two are 590-plus. That tells you a lot about the par-4s. There are seven of them in the 450-500+ range, with four those either exceeding or just shy of 500 yards. Three of the par-3s are longer than 200 yards, including one at a massive 254. So, long iron play will be a critical factor this week, as it always is in the U.S.-based majors. And then when you consider that those long fairway approach shots will be targeting bentgrass greens that average only 5,000 square and run 13 on the Stimpmeter, you'll know that Valhalla will be mandating the Wanamaker Trophy winner use every club in his bag.

Valhalla will be the third longest course all season on the PGA Tour with the third smallest greens. How's that for a combo?

Oh, did we mention the four inches of rough, plus water on seven holes, including 15, 17 and the par-5 18th? Do the golfers get any breaks anywhere? Well, Valhalla is not as narrow off the tee as Oak Hill was last year. There are plenty of trees, the archetypal "parkland" course.

As for lineup construction, with Scheffler at $13,200, that presents a problem. He is the overwhelming favorite and many gamers will want to put him in their lineups. But that doesn't leave much for the other five golfers -- an average of just $7,360, to be exact. With prices down to $5,000, it is surely doable and mathematically possible to add another contender or two, though the margin for error is slim. As always in the majors, some very good golfers with good chances for a high finish (top 10? Maybe top-5?) fall all the way into the $7,000s. That usually provides a good option to rostering the winner amid a balanced lineup. Except this year there's, you know, Scheffler.

As for the weather, significant rain was forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, which would make the course play even longer. Some rain will be possible all tournament long. Temperatures will vary from the mid-70s on Friday to near 90 on Sunday, with moderate wind throughout the week.

Key Stats to Winning at Valhalla

The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.

• Driving Distance/Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Approach/Approaches from 175-200 yards
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Greens/Scrambling
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Par-4 Efficiency 450-500 yards
• Bogey Avoidance
• Major History

Past Champions

2023 - Brooks Koepka (Oak Hill)
2022 - Justin Thomas (Southern Hills)
2021 - Phil Mickelson (The Ocean Course)
2020 - Collin Morikawa (Harding Park)
2019 - Brooks Koepka (Bethpage)
2018 - Brooks Koepka (Bellerive)
2017 - Justin Thomas (Quail Hollow)
2016 - Jimmy Walker (Baltusrol)
2015 - Jason Day (Whistling Straits)
2014 - Rory McIlroy (Valhalla)

Champion's Profile

When McIlroy won at Valhalla 10 years ago, he led the field in SG: Off-the-Tee in an otherworldly display -- he was No. 1 in distance off the tee and 10th in accuracy. Further, he ranked third in Tee-to-Green and top-10 in both Approach and Putting. If McIlroy were to do that again this week, which is kinda what he did at the Wells Fargo, well ... but we digress. In winning in 2014, McIlroy was the poster boy for the "every club in the bag" requirement.

Runner-up Mickelson ranked sixth in putting, and others in the top-10 on the leaderboard also ranked in the top-10 in SG: Putting. Henrik Stenson, who tied for third, ranked first. Steve Stricker and Mikko Ilonen, who tied for seventh, were second and fourth in Putting, respectively.

Most PGAs have put a premium on driving distance with the longer hitters prevailing much of the time over the past decade. Morikawa was an aberration in 2020, but so was Harding Park.

So to summarize, Valhalla mandates that you drive the ball well, have great iron play and putt the ball well. See, you just need those three things to win a major!

As always, shorter hitters who are great scramblers and putters have a chance, they just need to be near perfect. As we always say, there's always more than one way to win a golf tournament. Some are just harder than others.

Lastly, we put a heavy premium on prior performance at majors, even from the courses nothing like Valhalla. The level of pressure is the theme that runs through all the majors.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS

Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap

$10,000+

Scottie Scheffler - $13,200 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +400)
It's hard not to think of Scheffler as a slam dunk. But there's still the question of what his life has been like the past couple of weeks. As of this writing, there has been no official word of the birth of his child. But he is on the interview schedule for Tuesday (hint, hint, duh!). So, how much practice has Scheffler gotten in over the past couple of weeks? How much sleep? If anyone can refocus quickly, it's this guy. Just to throw a little golf in here, Scheffler shared runner-up to Koepka here last year.

Rory McIlroy - $12,000 (+700) 
If the return to the site of past glory, not to mention entering amid his best week of golf all season, doesn't spur McIlroy on, what will? He is coming off a powerful victory at the Wells Fargo in which he left the No. 3-ranked golfer in the world (Xander Schauffele) in his wake. Sure, there is no place in the world that McIlroy has played better than Quail Hollow. But he also did pretty well at Valhalla 10 years ago, and there are strong similarities between the two tracks.

Brooks Koepka - $10,800 (+1400) 
Koepka shockingly was an afterthought at the Masters. Since then, though, he's won LIV Singapore. It's hard to envision this Sunday afternoon without Koepka in the thick of things, but that was forecast at Augusta, too. The historical significance of a sixth major title for Koepka cannot be underestimated, and he knows it.

Ludvig Aberg - $10,500 (+1800) 
It was incredibly difficult bypassing Rahm, Schauffele and even Morikawa in the five-figure category. But it would be impossible to overlook Aberg. Even though he's only 25, he is clearly a special talent. He didn't actually come close to becoming the first Masters rookie to win the tournament since 1979, but he finished solo second to Scheffler. And Valhalla sets up perfectly for his booming game off the tee.

$9,000-$9,900

Cameron Smith - $9,800 (+4000) 
Smith showed with his tie for sixth at the Masters that he remains one of the top golfers in the world. His game is not best suited for the longer tracks of the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, yet he finished in the top-10 in both of them last year. An elite short game with world-class putting is not the easiest way to win at Valhalla, but if anyone could do it, it's Smith. Another plus: It looks like he'll be low owned.

Max Homa - $9,700 (+2500)
Homa has been playing great at long, hard golf courses for years -- except in majors. Now, he seemingly has a turned a corner. He tied for third last month at the Masters, his best major finish by far. His previous best was T10 at last year's Open Championship, so that's two great ones in a row. There are a lot of similarities between Quail Hollow and Valhalla, and Homa just finished T8 at the Wells Fargo. Of course, he's also won at Quail Hollow.

Bryson DeChambeau - $9,600 (+2200) 
If only DeChambeau could get out of his own way. He often makes the critical mistake by trying to be the smartest guy in the room instead of simply relying on his massive talent. Still, he had easily his best Masters result ever, a tie for sixth. And now he heads to a major where he's played far better, with a pair of top-5s -- including last year.

Justin Thomas - $9,300 (+5000) 
Tabbing a golfer who missed the cut at THE PLAYERS and the Masters may not seem like the best strategy (and it may not be!). But much like objects in the rearview mirror being closer than they appear, Thomas' game is in better shape than it seems. He's ranked top-10 on Tour in both SG: Approach and Tee-to-Green, and he has five top-12 results this season, including at long and difficult Bay Hill. Another good sign: He tied for 21st at the Wells Fargo. Plus, indications are his ownership will be quite low.

$8,000-$8,900

Sahith Theegala - $8,100 (+6000) 
The biggest trouble spot in Theegala's game traditionally has been accuracy off the tee. You can't go spraying the ball all over Valhalla and live to tell about it, but it does afford a little more leeway than many PGA Championship tracks. Otherwise, Theegala is as good as almost anyone on Tour. And he's nearly in the $7,000s. He already has five top-10s this season, is ranked top-25 in both SG: Approach and Tee-to-Green and top-10 in SG: Putting.

Patrick Reed - $8,000 (+15000) 
Very few golfers get more out of less than Reed. He's not the shortest hitter, yet he's far from long. And he's combined for top-25s in half of his 20 career PGAs and U.S. Opens, including last year's T18 at Oak Hill. While his combination short game/putting is not quite on par with Smith's, it can be, and that's when Reed becomes most dangerous. Reed's ownership will be super low because, well, who wants to root for Reed?

$7,000-$7,900

Byeong Hun An - $7,800 (+6000)  
It's really hard to ignore what An is doing of late -- all season, actually. He finished third at the Wells Fargo, giving him four top-5s in 2024 and two in a row. He's always been a great ball striker, even before he lost his PGA Tour card. He returned this year from the Korn Ferry Tour with a new-found putting stroke. It got away from him for a while, but at Quail Hollow he led the field in SG: Putting. His past two majors were T16 at the Masters and T23 at last year's U.S. Open.

Corey Conners - $7,600 (+8000)
If you want a top-10 out of Conners, you are asking for a lot. But you have a good chance for a top-25. One of the hallmarks of great ball-strikers who can't putt is they pile up top-25s with very few top-10s. Conners has six top-25s in 13 starts this season, but zero top-10s. He's ranked third in SG: Approach, 166th in SG: Putting. His past four PGAs have gone MC-T17-MC-T12, and if he could match last year's best personal major, you'd get a lot of bang for your $7,600.

Keegan Bradley - $7,100 (+18000)  
We're almost in $6,000 territory, where simply making the cut is a prime objective. Bradley has made 11 of 13 at the PGA Championship, with four top-25s. He just missed another last year with a T29. He is another great-approach (ranked 20th), no-putt (174th) guy. He notched a top-25 last week (natch) with a T21 at the Wells Fargo.

$6,000-$6,900

Chris Kirk - $6,900 (+15000)
At major championships, good golfers always fall into the $7,000s. And sometimes the $6,000s. Kirk is the 412th guy in this article who is a great ball-striker/poor putter. (It's amazing how many of those there are on Tour). He is one of the straightest drivers of the golf ball without being very short (middle of the pack). He's ranked seventh on the season in SG: Tee-to-Green. And, yes, 163rd in putting. Kirk finished T16 at the Masters, just missed a top-25 at THE PLAYERS. He tied for 29th here last year and fifth the year before.

Harris English - $6,500 (+13000)  
Regular readers will know our affinity for English, consistently one of the better values in DFS. This price is especially low and favorable. English has missed only one cut in 12 starts all season with seven top-25s, two of them top-10s. He's had top-10s three of the past four years at U.S. Opens, far better than his PGA Championship resume. That doesn't make a ton of sense, since the types of courses for each major are usually so closely aligned.

Denny McCarthy - $6,300 (+10000)
There's no question that McCarthy is playing the best golf of his life. You'd expect one of the game's best putters to contend at the birdie-fest Texas Open, where he was runner-up to Akshay Bhatia. But he also tied for sixth at uber-long Quail Hollow. McCarthy has made all four of his PGA Championship cuts with a best of T29 last year. That's also his current world ranking -- a career-best 29th.

$5,000-$5,900

Austin Eckroat - $5,700 (+30000)  
Eckroat might be the highest-owned guy in the $5,000s by the time all the votes are counted. That's not a deal-breaker for us. You have five other lineup opportunities to find separation from your fellow gamers. What makes Eckroat so attractive? He hits the ball straight. He's ranked 17th in driving accuracy while also being middle of the pack in distance. He's ranked in the top-40 on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, Approach and Tee-to-Green. (Yes, he's a below-average putter). Eckroat missed the cut last month at the Masters but tied for 10th at last year's U.S. Open.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Len Hochberg plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DK: Bunker Mentality.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for nine years. Len is a three-time winner of the FSWA DFS Writer of the Year Award (2020, '22 and '23) and a five-time nominee (2019-23). He is also a writer and editor for MLB Advanced Media.
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