The Fifth Major: PGA DFS Breakdown for The PLAYERS Championship
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Image Credit: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Jon Rahm.

The famous island green, the “Fifth Major”, a star-studded field. What could be better than The PLAYERS week?[1] The course, as always, is TPC Sawgrass. It plays as a 7,200-plus yard par 71. As the field makes its way around the track, they’ll be forced to navigate their way around 88 bunkers and 17 water hazards. There have been some modifications to a few holes here and there, but it’s largely the same track that we’re used to seeing for this tournament.  

The Stud Range

This week, there are only four golfers that qualify for the “stud” range since Brooks Koepka was forced to withdraw with a knee injury. If you checked out the update to our game theory series this past week, you know that we’re looking for a couple of things to narrow down our decision in this range. We’re looking for:

  • Golfers that were between $9,900 and $7,500 in their previous start.
  • Golfers with a PRK score of at least 85. 

Unfortunately, with Koepka’s withdrawal, we don’t have anyone that fits the first criteria. And, everyone fits the second criteria! Don’t panic, though. We know that we can pivot off of the chalk in this range and do just fine. At the time of this writing, it looks like we might be getting Jon Rahm ($10,900) at an ownership discount this week.

If that holds true,[2] then he becomes a very obvious and attractive play. He hasn’t missed a cut since his first event back from the restart and has tallied 13 Top 25 finishes in those 18 starts. 

The Mid-Range

Patrick Cantlay ($9,200) looks like he’s going to be one of the highest owned golfers in this range. He checks two of the boxes we’re looking for from this range:

  • Projected ownership in the bottom half of the price range for that week.
  • PRK Score of 75-plus
  • Previous event salary over $6,500

Golfers that check off two of those boxes have hit a ceiling outcome just over 35% of the time. If we can find golfers that check all three boxes, we can increase our chance at a ceiling outcome by nine percentage points. Viktor Hovland ($9,300) looks like he might fall in the bottom half of projected ownership this week and he’s certainly an intriguing option.

In his last eight starts, he has a victory, a handful of top-six finishes and no missed cuts. Hovland trails just Cantlay and Tony Finau ($9,100) in this range when it comes to perfect lineup percentage from my simulator. For those who haven’t heard me write about that before, I take my simulator and figure out what would have been the optimal DK lineup from each of the 5,000 runs to calculate the “perfect lineup percentage.”

Value Targets

In the value range, I like to take a look at the perfect lineup percentages to see where most of my exposure should lie. This week, a trio of golfers popped up quite a bit.

  • Tyrrell Hatton ($8,500)
  • Joaquin Niemann ($7,700)
  • Abraham Ancer ($7,500)

You’ll notice if you go over to the
optimizer or the ownership explorer, that these aren’t necessarily the top three from the PRK Scores this week. That’s because the simulator takes into account the variance in a golfer’s play, as well as their raw talent level. A golfer that’s technically ranked higher but stays consistent isn’t always the best play on DraftKings. Why? Because we embrace that volatility to reach a higher upside for GPPs. 

Deep Dive

I’m willing to forgive Si Woo Kim ($7,200) for his withdrawal last week. He is considered a Pete Dye specialist, for whatever that’s worth. Kim actually ranks quite high in PRK and pops in the simulator for wins and top fives. Thanks to his volatility, though, we also have a pretty healthy dose of missed cuts in there, as well. 

Ownership Projections and Model Results

For ownership projections, you can head over to the Optimizer or the Ownership Explorer!


1 Besides the majors and Ryder Cup.
2 Check back Wednesday night for up-to-date ownership projections.

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