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FanDuel Strategy

FanDuel Fit: 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island

by Josh Culp
Updated On: May 19, 2021, 3:04 am ET

A classic fantasy golf dilemma is whether you should lean more heavily on recent form or course history. 

No matter which side of the fence you sit on, that debate is easy this week as a field of 156 golfers head to Kiawah Island Gofl Resort to play The Ocean Course. It's a venue that hasn't been used since the 2012 PGA Championship. 

Even the strictest of course-history snobs will admit that a one-year sample size from 10 years ago is not that useful. 

That means in addition to recent form, we can look for some coure-fit angles this week to see what golfers have historically played well on courses with similar characteristics as The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. 

Coastal Courses

The Ocean Course is nestled right along the Atlantic coast, 25 miles southwest of Charleston. 

Thanks to Alice Dye, the course gives each golfer an unobstructed view of the coastline from every hole. That kind of exposure also means the course is very exposed to the elements that Mother Nature throws at it. Performing well on coastal courses, over a long period of time, will require a golfer to battle those elements and win the battle. 

Let's see who has gained the most strokes per round on coastal courses, over the last two years: 

Jon Rahm
Webb Simpson
Daniel Berger
Dustin Johnson
Garrick Higgo
Justin Thomas
Xander Schauffele
Justin Rose
Brooks Koepka
Bryson DeChambeau
Tony Finau
Tyrrell Hatton
Viktor Hovland
Collin Morikawa
Tommy Fleetwood

We can also look at a golfer's performance versus their baseline to see who over-performs most. Here is that list: 

Garrick Higgo
Justin Rose
Maverick McNealy
Brian Gay
Hudson Swafford
Henrik Stenson
Francesco Molinari
Max Homa
Cameron Champ
Jason Day
Daniel Berger
Victor Perez
Brooks Koepka
Adam Long
Joel Dahmen

Overlap List: names that show up on both lists include Daniel Berger, Garrick Higgo, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Rose.  

Higgo has been winning left and right on coastal courses over on the Euro Tour. It's a big step-up in class for the young South African but he could be a sneaky, salary-saving sleeper this week at Kiawah Island (if they add him to the player pool).

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Long Courses

The Ocean Course is set to be the longest course in major history this week, playing 7,876 yards from the tips. 

Longer courses generally favor elite ball-strikers with a little "oomph" off the tee but if you stretch out a course too far then even the longest hitters lose their advantage and the edge goes to elite scramblers. 

Let's look at historical performance on beefy courses... 

Here are the top performers on long courses, over the last two years: 

Dustin Johnson
Jon Rahm
Viktor Hovland
Rory McIlroy
Webb Simpson
Hideki Matsuyama
Louis Oosthuizen
Tony Finau
Justin Thomas
Xander Schauffele
Patrick Reed
Collin Morikawa
Brooks Koepka
Patrick Cantlay
Tommy Fleetwood

We can also look at a golfer's performance versus their baseline to see who over-performs most. Here is that list: 

Dustin Johnson
Viktor Hovland
Louis Oosthuizen
Sam Burns
Charl Schwartzel
Carlos Ortiz
Peter Malnati
Alex Noren
Hideki Matsuyama
Jason Kokrak
Joel Dahmen
Stewart Cink
Maverick McNealy
Robert Streb
Tony Finau

Overlap List: names that show up on both lists include Dustin Johnson, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, and Tony Finau

It's interesting that McNealy shows up on both of the over-performance lists. His baseline expectations are relatively low in a strong field like this one but Kiawah Island does appear to be a course that should fit his game. 

FanDuel Focus 

Daniel Berger ($10,300): He arrives fresh off a backdoor T3 at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He has now posted top 15s in six of his last nine stroke-play events. That stretch includes a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am where he took care of business at a coastal venue. That's something he's been doing consistently for the last few years since he ranks 3rd in this week's field when it comes to performance on coastal courses. 

Jason Kokrak ($8,700): The big-hitter has outperformed his baseline by roughly half a shot per round when it comes to playing on long courses, over the last few seasons. That makes sense, given he's one of the longest players on TOUR. He's also sneakily pieced together four finishes of T13 or better in his last five stroke-play events. 

 

Good luck with your lineups this week and check back tomorrow for some more course-fit analysis. 

Josh Culp

Josh Culp joined NBC Sports Edge in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.