Sports betting pro @realfrankbrank uses his model to identify top plays in each price range for your PGA GPP lineups!!
The Course: Austin Country Club
This week’s format will be quite a bit different for this article in conjunction with the different WGC match play format. The best way to maximize your points is to find the best players, for the money, who give you a chance to make it through the group play without having to play each.
Obviously, you won’t want to take golfers who will be playing in the group play since just one guy can make it through. You also will want to avoid any potential matchups in the first round of the bracket play after the group stage where possible.
Given there are four corners to the bracket and six golfers, you’ll have to make some sacrifices along the way. What we’ll do below is walk through each group, including my odds to win each group, and what that means on the DFS value side.
Dustin Johnson ($11,500): 59.1%
Kevin Na ($7,100): 16.2%
Robert MacIntyre ($6,500): 14.1%
Adam Long ($6,000): 10.7%
There are two viable options this week, per my model, to optimize your DFS lineups for GPPs. You can play DJ with a scrub at the bottom, or you can avoid DJ entirely.
For DFS purposes, I find the option of avoiding DJ to be most attractive, but considering my model projects him to have the best odds to move on through the group stage, it’s not an easy choice.
In terms of the ratio of price to odds to win their respective group, DJ is easily the best option. The downside becomes when you are forced to play someone that almost has no chance to make a run through the group and bracket on the back end.
You can see this play out in the sample lineups below.
Justin Thomas ($11,200): 37.8%
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,100): 34.0%
Kevin Kisner ($7,600): 16.6%
Matt Kuchar ($6,700): 11.6%
This is the match play group of death. Kevin Kisner’s record around Austin Country Club combined with his recent good play makes him a danger in any group. Louis Oosthuizen has had some injury concern, as usual, but stacks up nicely in match play against the other three.
The only guy I’m totally avoiding here is Matt Kuchar, who has had one top-20 in a calendar year. Oosty, as you can tell above, is the best value for your dollar. His putter has been on absolute fire, and he’s only missed two cuts since the restart last year.
Jon Rahm ($10,700): 48.5%
Ryan Palmer ($7,000): 20.8%
Sebastian Munoz ($6,100): 15.5%
Shane Lowry ($7,100): 15.3%
Group 3 is a big red flag. Jon Rahm is the overwhelming favorite, but you can find better options at similar odds/prices to get you through the group stages. Guys like DJ, Bryson, Hatton, and Hovland have much better draws.
In terms of the other guys, they all rate out so similarly that it’s near impossible to draw a distinction. Lowry, for the price, is a definite avoid this week in this group.
Collin Morikawa ($10,400): 34.9%
Max Homa ($7,400): 28.5%
Billy Horschel ($7,200): 19.9%
J.T. Poston ($6,300): 16.7%
This is a highly competitive group with three guys trending in the right direction. As always, it comes down to the flatstick with Morikawa. He’s almost guaranteed to stripe it, but if the putts don’t fall, it leaves an opportunity for Horschel or Homa to come through.
Each of these guys has played great as of late, but given the extra 8-9% chance of Homa going through to the round of 16, I’m willing to pay the extra $200 in some of my lineups to roster him.
Bryson DeChambeau ($10,900): 52.1%
Tommy Fleetwood ($7,800): 16.4%
Antoine Rozner ($6,200): 16.4%
Si Woo Kim ($7,300): 15.1%
If you’re avoiding DJ from the strategy above, you can roster Bryson who has a greater than 50% chance to win this group at a lesser price. This edge is almost entirely on the fact that my model rates Fleetwood well below what you’d expect.
The reason for the difference is the fact that he hasn’t actually gained strokes in terms of ball striking since before October. Fleetwood has one T10 sprinkled in that timespan at the API, with the majority of his finishes landing outside the top-30 or top-40.
Xander Schauffele ($10,000): 41.5%
Scottie Scheffler ($7,900): 28.5%
Jason Day ($8,400): 18.7%
Andy Sullivan ($6,000): 11.3%
Though he has surprisingly struggled as of late, Xander Schauffele got a bit of a tough draw here. Given his odds to win the group sit at just 41.5%, there’s really no reason to reach up to pay for him when there are better odds for less price elsewhere.
Scheffler and Day make this group a bit difficult given their ball striking abilities and cheaper price. The best value in this group comes from Scheffler at 28.5% chance to advance.
Joaquin Niemann ($8,000): 31.4%
Patrick Reed ($9,600): 29.4%
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,600): 22.9%
Bubba Watson ($7,400): 16.3%
The best obvious value for Group 7 comes from Joaquin Niemann, who is essentially a co-favorite, per my model, with Patrick Reed. In the betting markets, Reed is favored, but the better golf has come from Niemann.
Having gained a bunch of distance off the tee combined with a large improvement on the greens, Niemann is a force on the PGA Tour. Reed, though, has a tendency to thrive in these atmospheres.
Nonetheless, given he’s $1,600 cheaper, Niemann should definitely make some lineups for you in this price range.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,600): 43.1%
Sergio Garcia ($8,300): 23.7%
Lee Westwood ($7,700): 17.4%
Matt Wallace ($7,000): 15.8%
I’ll fully admit Sergio scares me in the Euro Match Play Specialists group. He’s gained 15 strokes on approach over his last two events that included T32 and T9 finishes due to some poor putting.
That’s not new for Sergio as he’s lost strokes on the greens in all but two events dating back to the restart in June! Hatton is no slouch in terms of ball striking, either. He’s gained 38 strokes off-the-tee and on approach over his last ten events and is the far better putter here.
At just $300 more, he’s a play for your lineup in this format.
Paul Casey ($8,900): 35.4%
Webb Simpson ($9,100): 31.3%
Talor Gooch ($6,600): 19.9%
Mackenzie Hughes ($6,100): 13.4%
If you’re playing anyone from Group 9, it’s Paul Casey. My model rates him as the 8th-best player in this field up against the world’s best. Casey has been on a heater worldwide, having won on the European Tour while adding four straight T10s or better on the PGA Tour.
Unfortunately, he’s going up against another great player, Webb Simpson, although he hasn’t been in the best form lately. Webb is a slight underdog to Casey coming off a missed cut at The Players and T42 at the Waste Management, two events he historically owns.
Gooch isn’t one to sleep on, either, down at $6,600. He’s made six of seven cuts with finishes of 5th at The Players and 12th at the Genesis Invitational. If you twist my arm, I’m taking Casey given his recent play and price. He could legitimately win this match play event. If you want to be contrarian, Gooch isn’t a bad option overall for his price.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,800): 38.7%
Brian Harman ($7,200): 22.7%
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,200): 19.3%
Carlos Ortiz ($6,800): 19.3%
This is a meat grinder of a group that you should avoid. Any four of these players could advance, and it wouldn’t surprise me. Cantlay has been on a tear through the 2021 season but is coming off a missed cut.
Brian Harman is taking up second place in my model, having missed one cut dating back to July, finishing T30 or better in ten events in that timespan, and coming off a third at The Players.
Hideki is one of the best ball strikers on Tour every year, but the putter traditionally fails him. If match play can free him up on the greens a bit, he could easily win this group.
Carlos Ortiz has missed two of three cuts but won the Houston Open earlier this year, finished 8th at OHL, 14th at Sony, and 4th at Waste Management. All in all, this group could go to anyone, which is a good reason to run away from here.
Cameron Smith ($8,500): 34.6%
Rory McIlroy ($10,200): 27.1%
Lanto Griffin ($6,900): 24.2%
Ian Poulter ($6,700): 14.1%
Given the prices in Group 11, Rory’s recent play, and Ian Poulter’s legendary match play status, this is another wide-open group. For my money, even though it’s difficult to rate Poulter properly on these stages, I’ll gladly invest my money in Cam Smith or Lanto Griffin.
Cam Smith, per my model, is surprisingly the favorite. It’s less shocking when you look at what Rory has done since the lockdown last year, with just five top-10s and zero wins. Cam Smith, on the other hand, has had quite a few chances to win on Sundays.
He finished T2 at the fall Masters, 4th in a packed field at Zozo, 4th in another elite field at Riviera, and was in the running the last two weeks with an incredibly hot putter. Smith will definitely make some of my lineups this week in hopes that he stays hot and as someone who can thrive at a match play event.
Tony Finau ($9,200): 36.4%
Will Zalatoris ($7,900): 27.5%
Jason Kokrak ($7,500): 25.5%
Dylan Frittelli ($6,500): 10.6%
This is another group of death. I wouldn’t be surprised if any one of these four guys makes it through, given their skill sets. Finau and Zalatoris are world-class ball strikers tee-to-green with some putting woes.
Kokrak and Frittelli are some of the long and better drivers of the ball on Tour that can catch hot putters. That leaves a lot of room for variant results and a good place to avoid. For the price, Zalatoris is likely our best option, but no option really sticks out.
Viktor Hovland ($9,400): 44.1%
Abraham Ancer ($7,700): 22.8%
Kevin Streelman ($6,300): 19.6%
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,200): 13.5%
The draw for Viktor Hovland is pretty advantageous. He stands a 44.1% chance to move through the group stage, which is higher than all but three players in my model while being priced at just $9,400.
Abraham Ancer could be the big hang-up. Even though Ancer has missed two recent cuts, he’s finished T22 or better in every four-day event since the Masters. Abe is getting it done with the iron play, but less so with the putter, where he’s lost 8.5 strokes on the greens over his last five events.
Nonetheless, I like my chances with Hovland at this price.
Daniel Berger ($9,000): 43.5%
Brendon Todd ($6,400): 21.4%
Harris English ($7,300): 18.5%
Erik Van Rooyen ($6,400): 16.7%
I’ll preface this with the odds above not factoring in for a potential injury for Daniel Berger, who withdrew just last week. Upon first look, this seems like a chance to avoid this group entirely, given his injury and the lower-end options.
However, Brendon Todd sticks out at just $6,400 and 21.4% odds to win for a potential GPP lineup. If Berger is, in fact, injured, I like Todd’s chances the best, especially at this price.
Todd is extremely accurate off-the-tee and can catch fire with the putter. That’s not a bad combo to have in match play at a course that doesn’t necessarily test your distance with the driver. If you’re going with the DJ strategy, Todd can easily fill out your scrub spot in your lineup.
Corey Conners ($7,800): 35.5%
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,700): 33.5%
Jordan Spieth ($9,300): 18.3%
Matthew Wolff ($6,900): 12.7%
With the good recent play of Fitzpatrick, and Spieth is giving us tons of value on Corey Conners in this group. He’s only lost strokes on ball striking once in the last calendar year. Conners has been an elite-level ball striker for some time on the PGA Tour with some of the worst putting skills at this level.
I’m here to tell you that might be changing. Conners has been an above-average putter dating back to the US Open while maintaining his elite ball striking. The results have been shocking.
With eight top-20 finishes in his last fourteen events, including a third and seventh the last two weeks, Conners’ win is coming. Why not this week?
Sungjae Im ($8,800): 36.0%
Russell Henley ($7,500): 33.5%
Victor Perez ($6,600): 17.0%
Marc Leishman ($6,800): 13.5%
Russell Henley is being somewhat disrespected in this last group at just $7,500. He’s been a far better golfer over the last year than Victor Perez or Marc Leishman and is plenty comparable to Sungjae Im.
Sure, Sungjae has more win equity than Henley, but in a potential one-round matchup, anything can happen. Im’s putter has been on absolute fire and has saved him from some pretty bad iron play as of late.
Henley, on the other hand, has been an elite-level iron player over his last 20 events who could have used some luck with the flatstick. He’s been improving, however, having gained strokes putting in each of his last six events including a ridiculous +8.2 mark last week.
Henley is the slight underdog to Im in this group, but the price demands him in my lineup.
This week is tough to gauge from a lineup construction standpoint, so here are some sample lineups.