In this series, I’ll highlight six guys that my PGA models identify as high-upside players who are projected for low ownership. Note: these will not always be my core plays. I recommend building a core and finding one or two of these guys who fit your build to give you GPP-winning upside. For my core, find me in FTA+ chat each week!
Finally, here’s a breakdown of my model. You’ll find I refer to the top 10/3/1 percentages a lot. In my mind, Cut Odds is a floor projection, Earnings is a median/average projection, and the probabilities of a top 10/3/1 finish are akin to a ceiling projection. In GPP, we want ceiling above all else!
Let’s get to it.
Current ownership projections have none of the top four players over 20%, yet many others are. As a result, I want to hammer the top (and we can do so with lots of value). All four are excellent plays, but DJ and Rory stand out to me as the best.
DJ has a significant lead in projected earnings and top 10/3/1 odds according to my model, despite his less than stellar recent form. This pick is as much about ownership and price relative to JT as it is anything else…
JT’s irons have been other-worldly, gaining over 7.5 strokes per event since the start of 2019. This level is unsustainable for one thing, but also remember that irons are barely over half as stable as driving (meaning half as likely to continue in the future at the same levels of the past). In those same four events, JT has gained a total of .1 strokes off the tee. Need more? JT came into this event a year ago posting SG:APP totals of 4.5, 5.2, 6, and 9.5 in his previous four events before losing a stroke with his irons in Mexico. Simply put, his hot streak is a little less likely to continue than people think because he’s not getting enough from his driver.
DJ gives you several hundred dollars in savings and will be lower owned (though not drastically so).
Unlike JT, Rory is dominating with his driver. Since the start of January, he is gaining well over a stroke per round off the tee and at Riviera, he had his sharpest irons since the BMW in September.
Somewhat surprisingly since the success seems to have tapered off a bit in the last couple years, Rory is second behind DJ in both earnings projection and top 10 odds. The results haven’t been there, but all of his ball striking metrics remain elite. It’s the unstable categories that have let him down. In other words, his perceived lack of success doesn’t match up to how well he’s actually playing, and as a result, we will get a slight ownership discount on him. Rahm, for example, will be higher owned despite gaining more strokes on the green than in any other category in each of his past two starts.
Tony’s ownership projection is really surprising to me as a consistent DFS industry darling. Both players immediately above him (Hideki and Xander) are projected for over 20%, leaving Finau under 15%.
Tony returned to form off the tee at Riviera (gaining over a stroke per round), which is all the motivation I need to fire him up. Finau leads both Matsuyama and Schauffele in earnings projection, top 10 odds, and birdie or better percentage, which is essential for DK scoring in a no cut event.
Grillo is absolutely going to be chalky for his price, but that still leaves him only around 15%. I will happily eat that chalk for his ball striking form. In Grillo’s three 2019 events, he has gained .9, .7, and 4.8 strokes off the tee to go along with 5.4, 3.4, and 1.6 strokes with his irons. However, he lost 1.4, 4.4, and 4.5 strokes putting, keeping his results at bay. A little regression to the mean on the greens and Grillo could find himself in contention. He gains just shy of half a stroke each, off the tee and with his irons, so he should have no trouble maintaining his current form in those areas.
This is a fun one! Bjerregard will almost certainly be under 5% owned since he plays on the European Tour. In fact, he won’t be among the more popular Euro guys this week, thanks to the likes of Willett, Olesen, and Luiten. So, why the love for Bjerregaard? In 2018, Bjerregaard was 22nd in driving distance while gaining half a stroke per round in each ball striking category on the European Tour. That’s all well and good, but the kicker is he topped the tour with a 24.7% birdie percentage.
In 2019 (albeit just three events), Bjerregaard’s birdie percentage is right in line with 2018 while his ball striking numbers are both up a little higher. Like the man below, his upside is enormous for the salary relief he provides you.
One concern here that I originally had was that playing on the European Tour would inflate his SG stats. That worry was quickly put to rest, because here’s his 50 round “true-strokes-gained” rolling average from DataGolf, that adjusts for strength of competition:
The guy can play!
I highly recommend reviewing the section of my model breakdown on bogey rates and how they relate to a player’s volatility. The sparknotes version: all else equal, higher bogey rates are good for DFS (GPP, at least) purposes as they demonstrate a naturally higher variance for a player. Higher variance leads to more top tens, again with all else equal.
Wise has a bogey rate over 16%, significantly higher than similarly projected players around him. However, his 24% birdie percentage is also significantly higher than everyone around him. Consequently, his upside (both in finishing position and DK scoring) is unmatched at his price and he is being totally overlooked according to ownership projections.Fantasy Golf