Golf Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

    Chris Durell

    Daily Fantasy PGA Picks and Betting Guide for DraftKings & FanDuel – Sony Open

    Chris will be bringing you weekly PGA picks, analysis, and breakdowns to help you cash on DraftKings and FanDuel. As every week in DFS PGA changes with the course setup, field of players and weather, Chris will be providing a range of different picks for cash games as well as upside plays for tournaments. Want more? He also provides a cheatsheet with stats, course history, current form, player write-ups for cash and GPP, a customizable model, and much more.

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    The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week but jumps north to O'ahu Island for the Sony Open and the first full-field event of 2021. That field is led by three of the World's Top 10 golfers(Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott) but is a little weaker overall with just 17 of the World's Top 50 teeing it up this week.

    The host course, Waialae Country Club, is a Par 70 listed at 7,044 yards on the scoreboard. The fairways may not be nearly as wide as last week but the cut-makers are still hitting over 65% fairways on average over the last five years. This also elevates the average GIR%(around 70%) on a yearly basis which then also produces some very low scores. Outside of last year when the first two rounds were very windy leading to a lower -11 winning score, the winner has made it to at least -17 in seven straight events.

    For fantasy, remember with this full-field event, we have a cut of Top 65 and ties after the first two rounds. For cash games, this means we are back to trying to get all six golfers through to the weekend which I like trying to do with a balanced build. In GPP, we are also going to need 6/6 to cash anything substantial but construction can be much different as we want to maximize our upside which also can present more risk.

    Before getting into the picks lets look at the course and a few of my core stats in my model.

    The Course

    Waialae Country Club
    Par 70 - 7,044 Yards
    Greens - Bermuda

    **Click the image above to see a hole by hole breakdown from PGATour.com**

    Previous Five Winners

    • 2020 - Cameron Smith(-11)
    • 2019 - Matt Kuchar(-22)
    • 2018 - Patton Kizzire(-17)
    • 2017 - Justin Thomas(-27)
    • 2016 - Fabian Gomez(-20)

    Top Stats in the Model

    Strokes Gained: Approach

    As I mentioned above, the field normally hits around 70% of the fairways here which once again shifts most of my ball striking focus to the approach shot. The key ranges for me when breaking down proximity are the 125-150 and 150-175 yard range as around 49% of all approach shots have come from these ranges(via Fantasy National).

    Par 4 Scoring

    With this being a par 70 with just two Par 5's(both very scoreable), Par 4 Scoring is an area where golfers can separate themselves and it has shown with a very high correlation to success in past years.

    Birdie or Better %

    With a forecast in the mid 70's and wind sitting consistently between 5-10 mph all four days, we are likely to see another winning score in the -15 to -20 range as we have in seven of the last eight years. This means lots of birdies. Plan accordingly!

    Top Tier Targets

    Cameron Smith
    World Golf Ranking (#29)
    Vegas Odds (29/1)
    Draftkings ($9,800)
    FanDuel ($11,200)

    Let's start with Cameron Smith who returns to Waialae CC looking to defend his Sony Open win from a year ago. He got off to a slow start in 2021 last week at the ToC and it came down to his irons play as he lost 3.6 strokes on approach. I am going to chalk it up to shaking the rust off as he had gained strokes in that area in nine straight events before last week. He is an excellent putter(12th in SG: P on sheet) which gives him some cut safety and the upside is also there as he ranks Top 10 in Birdie or Better %, as well. All things considered, he is one of my favorite core plays this week at his price point on both sites. I will also be laying an outright and Top 10 bet on him this week.

    Sungjae Im
    World Golf Ranking (#18)
    Vegas Odds (21/1)
    Draftkings ($9,800)
    FanDuel ($11,200)

    While I do like Webb and Morikawa at the top, their prices have me going a much more balanced route in cash and also for the majority of my early GPP builds. Im is right at the top of my list with his sub $10K price tag on DraftKings and has not only been a consistent player(16 of 21 cuts since return of golf) but has also flashed a ton of upside, especially recently as he has Top 5 finishes in two of his last three events. If he can bounce back with the putter this week, I see him easily smashing his two previous finishes of T21 and T16 here at the Sony Open. He is in play in all formats.

    Mid Tier Targets

    Charles Howell III
    World Golf Ranking (#116)
    Vegas Odds (51/1)
    Draftkings ($8,000)
    FanDuel ($9,700)

    It is almost impossible to ignore Howell this week but for multiple reasons. First of all, he returns to the Sony Open with tremendous course history having not finished worse than T32 in his last nine trips with seven Top 15's and five Top 10 finishes. I am a little higher on CHIII in cash games as the upside just hasn't been there recently with just one Top 10 and two Top 25's in 18 events since last year's Sony Open. Finally, in a similar field in terms of strength, Howell is $1,100 cheaper on DraftKings than he was at last years event which feels like buy-low considering his consistent cut-making and amazing course history.

    Emiliano Grillo
    World Golf Ranking (#159)
    Vegas Odds (51/1)
    Draftkings ($7,900)
    FanDuel ($9,800)

    While it feels extremely odd to say, Grillo has been one of the most consistent golfers in this field over the short term. He is coming off a T8 at the OHL Classic, has back-to-back Top 25 finishes, and has finished T35 or better in seven of eight events since the 2020-21 season began back in September. It has been his iron play leading the way as he has now gained strokes on approach in 11 straight and 16 of his last 17 events overall!!! He now returns to the Sony Open where he has tallied back-to-back Top 25 finishes in the last two years and comes in with excellent form. He will be in my player pool in all formats this week.

    Value Targets

    Matthew NeSmith
    World Golf Ranking (#197)
    Vegas Odds (81/1)
    Draftkings ($7,400)
    FanDuel ($9,000)

    He finished T32 in his first trip to the Sony Open last year and once again enters with some momentum having finished Top 25 in three of his last four events. The ball striking has been on point as he has gained strokes both off the tee and on approach together in five straight and six of his last seven events. Combine that excellent ball striking with a red-hot putter(gained 2+ strokes on the green in 3 of his last 4 events) and you have a high floor/high ceiling DFS play and even better, he comes in the value range putting him in play in all formats.

    Doug Ghim
    World Golf Ranking (#388)
    Vegas Odds (151/1)
    Draftkings ($6,900)
    FanDuel ($8,400)

    First of all, I won't dip my toes in this sub $7K range on DraftKings for cash games but for stars and scrubs GPP builds, I have multiple plays to mix in from this range. I am once again drawn to Doug Ghim who is having an excellent start to the season making five of six cuts with four Top 25 finishes. Like almost every other mention in this article, Ghim has also been trending with his iron game gaining strokes in six straight events where we have had Shot Tracker. At these prices, I will have about 15-20% exposure in my builds.






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