The PGA Championship is being played at the Ocean Course on beautiful Kiawah Island, which is a small sea island just off the coast of South Carolina. It hosted the 2012 PGA Championship, which was won going away by Rory McIlory. It was his second major victory and earned him a big hug from his dad on the 18th green. This time around, Kiawah Island will break the record for longest course to ever host a major championship tipping the scales at 7,876 yards. That distance, as well as the intricacies of the course, create plenty of intriguing sleepers for PGA DFS contests on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Before getting into this week’s picks, I want to make note of how beautiful Kiawah Island is. I watched a drone tour of all 18 holes online and I was in awe of this place. While the whole look of course is manmade, it doesn’t take away anything for me. You’ll see amazing shots throughout the weekend coming in and out of commercial breaks, but the television will not do it justice. I’ve always loved the way Pete Dye-designed golf courses look, and I feel like this course be his masterpiece.
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING: Best bets, sleepers
But don’t let the beauty of this place fool you — this course will punish players just like most Pete Dye designs usually do. If you have every played one before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He designed courses to challenge players mentally, from their decision making to their patience. While doing my research on the Ocean Course, I read this in Golf Digest which describes what these players will face on Kiawah Island: “Every hole is edged by sawgrass, every green has tricky slopes, every bunker merges into bordering sand dunes.” I don’t think the television broadcast will truly capture just how hard this course will be for these golfers. Players cannot miss long this weekend, which is another reason why you shouldn’t just load up on bombers. If these players are going to miss, they need to come up short and hope to recover.
PGA DFS strategy for PGA Championship 2021
We have 156 players in the field, and the top-70 players will make the cut at the end of the second round. Don’t be surprised if more than a few of the biggest names on the PGA Tour miss the cut due to the difficultly of this course. You are just hoping to avoid as many landmines as possible. You will see the best players in the world get humbled this weekend. McIlroy won this event at 12-under par in 2012, but I seriously doubt the winner gets to double digits by the end of the tournament. The player who takes home the Wannamaker Trophy will likely end the weekend around -6.
This week there will not be the typical three-to-five stats that I’m using to target players. I’m simply looking for the best all-around players I can find. These players will be tested throughout their bags from the tee to the green. We need long straight drives, solid iron ball strikes, strong short game, and terrific putting for success this weekend.
PGA Championship DFS picks
Adam Scott: I absolutely love the Aussies this weekend at Kiawah Island. I was looking back at the 2012 PGA Championship, and five Australians finished inside the top 35, including Scott. They generally know how to play in windy conditions, which we’ll see in this ocean side course. He finished 11th in that major championship and has four top-10 finishes at the PGA Championship in his career. Scott has been very selective when it comes to the events he’s participating in this season, only playing on average two per month. The last time we saw him tee it up was at the Masters over a month ago, and he finished 54th. Despite the lack of play, he still ranks 16th in “Driving Distance,” 47th in “Strokes Gained: Approach,” and 47th in “Strokes Gained: Putting.” There will be a lot of forced layups this weekend, and Scott is top 10 from inside 120 yards. I think he’ll have low ownership.
Collin Morikawa: I feel like the defending PGA Champion is getting overlooked this week. He just isn’t a name that you hear people outside of the DFS community bringing up as a favorite. People remembered his talent about two months ago when he won the WGC-Workday with a stacked field like this one, but then he’s out of mind again after a 41st at The Players. He finished 18th at the Masters and seventh the week after at the RBC Heritage. Morikawa certainly has all the tools to win this major, as he won last year at TPC Harding Park. He has four PGA Tour victories and a major championship under his belt before the age of 25. He’s tops on tour in “Strokes Gained: Approach” and second in “Tee to Green,” so we know he’s an excellent ball striker. He isn’t the longest off the tee, but he’s top 10 in accuracy, which will be key this weekend. Lastly, he’s second on Tour in “Greens in Regulation” and top 40 in “Bogey Avoidance.”
Bryson DeChambeau: When you look at the makeup of this course, the first name that comes to mind is DeChambeau. The way he drives the ball should set up for birdie making opportunities, but Pete Dye is a smart cookie and made it so these players will be forced to club down off the tee. That takes away Bryson’s advantage to some degree. I’m nitpicking, though, as DeChambeau ranks first in “Driving Distance,” “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee,” and “Tee to Green.” He’s the defending U.S. Open champ, won at the Arnold Palmer earlier this year, and finished third at The Players. I feel like you are getting him at a discount this week at $10,200, which is below John Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Rory McIlroy. Jordan Spieth will be popular sitting just below DeChambeau at $10,100. I think we are going to get a reasonable ownership this weekend.
Keegan Bradley: Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club after a three-hole playoff with Jason Dufner. In his title defense at the 2012 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, he finished tied for third at -4. While that was nine shots back of McIlroy, he still showed his skill set fits this golf course. Bradley also hasn’t missed a cut on the PGA Tour since the American Express back In late January. He has three top-10 finishes over that period, two of which were in his past three starts. He ranks top 10 in “Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green” and “Tee to Green” this season. Bradley is also in the top 40 in both “Greens in Regulation” and “Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.” I’m a big fan of Bradley this weekend despite being fully aware that it might completely bite me in the ass.
Stewart Cink: The old men are getting it done in 2021. The 47-year-old Cink who has won twice this season. He took home titles at the Safeway Open early this season and then the RBC Heritage just about a month ago. Cink finished top 15 at the Masters, as well. The veteran ranks first on Tour in “Greens in Regulation,” ninth in “Bogey Avoidance,” 19th in “Strokes Gained: Approach,” 23rd in “Driving Distance,” and top 60 in both “Strokes Gained: Putting” and “Tee to Green.” If you are thinking about not playing him just because of his age, don’t be that guy. I made that mistake earlier this season, and I won’t do it again.
Xander Schauffele: It seems like people are going impatient with Schauffele. Everyone has seen him come close and play so well at majors, but he just hasn’t been able to cross the finish line. He finished third, 17th, fifth, and 10th in his past four starts in the majors. He may not be winning, but he’s giving you value at his price in DFS. In his past 15 events since his runner-up at the Tour Championship back in September, he has only one missed cut and seven top-10 finishes. He’s eighth in “Strokes Gained: Putting,” 15th in “Strokes Gained: Tee to Green,” 17th in “Strokes Gained: Around the Green,” 19th in “Greens in Regulation,” and 27th in “Strokes Gained: Approach.” I told you that I’m targeting great all around players, and he fits that mold.
Louis Oosthuizen: It’s a major championship, so you know Oosthuizen is going to appear in the Playbook. He just knows how to play under the bright lights when everyone is watching. He might not win the event, but he always puts himself into contention and pays off his value in DFS. He’s coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes with an eighth at the Valspar and second at the Zurich. In his past three major championship performances, he’s finished 26th at the Masters, third at the U.S. Open, and 33rd at the PGA Championship. One of the reasons that he’s always successful at Majors is because of his short game and putting. He ranks first on Tour in “Strokes Gained: Putting” and 18th in “Strokes Gained: Around the Green.” He also doesn’t hurt himself, ranking inside the top 35 in “Bogey Avoidance.” Oosthuizen is as consistent as they come, especially when it comes to the majors.