PLAYERS Championship Course Preview: What Bettors and DFS Players Need to Know for TPC Sawgrass
Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR. Pictured: Jon Rahm.
The PGA TOUR Course Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Trends Tool and metrics to highlight stats for the upcoming tournament.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational was an exciting tournament that played absurdly hard over a four-day stretch. It ultimately ended with a Tyrell Hatton victory. But enough about the past, it’s time to talk about one of my favorite tournaments of the year.
Let’s dive in.
TPC Sawgrass Course Breakdown
As always, I back-tested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out those that have been the most valuable at TPC Sawgrass. Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 49.28 DraftKings points and a -0.92 Plus/Minus with a 44.9% Consistency Rating to the field.
Consistency Rating: The percentage of games/tournaments in which a player has reached his salary-based expectation.
Plus/Minus: A player’s Plus/Minus is his actual fantasy points plus/minus his expected points. For example, if Rory McIlroy is expected to score 92 DraftKings points this week, but he actually scores 100.25, then his Plus/Minus would be +8.25.
Metrics that tested with at least a +1.50 Plus/Minus, listed in order of those that have correlated the most with success at TPC Sawgrass in the past:
- Recent Driving Distance: +3.20
- Long-Term Eagles: +3.01
- Recent Par-4 Scoring: +2.75
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +1.99
- Recent Scrambling: +1.86
- Recent Par-5 Scoring: +1.78
- Long-Term Par-4 Scoring: +1.69
- Long-Term Par-3 Scoring: +1.61
- Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +1.57
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +1.53
TPC Sawgrass is a par-72, 7,189-yard course. Being a longer hitter certainly doesn’t hurt, but we’ve seen different skillsets win at this course after Rory McIlory won in 2019 and Webb Simpson won in 2018. Not to mention Jim Furyk, who has two second-place finishes (2019 and 2014).
This course is filled with 88 bunkers and 17 water hazards, which could prove to be troublesome if players are spraying off the tee or missing on approaches. Targeting golfers who are strong off the tee and on approach should be a focal point — as it is most weeks.
Seeing Long-Term Eagles rate out well isn’t terribly surprising because there are a decent amount of eagles to be had here. Most eagles will come via the par 5s as all four of them boast eagle rates between 1-3.5%, per Fantasy National. Additionally, most of the overall scoring opportunities will come from those holes as they all have birdie rates of 32% or higher. No. 16 has historically been the easiest of them, sporting a birdie rate of nearly 45%.
Targeting golfers who are excellent par-5 scorers should be a priority for this week’s tournament. Similar to last week, the par 4s will present the biggest challenges for them. So, it makes sense that the players who’ve excelled here have done well on the par 4s over the long run. Ideally, those golfers should be able to capitalize, or at least avoid any blow-up holes on longer par 4s since five of the par 4s at Sawgrass are at least 450 yards in length.
No. 18, a 462-yard par 4 has proven to be one of the more difficult holes on the course, evidenced by its nearly 8% double-bogey rate and 23% bogey rate. Again, damage control on par 4s will be crucial for success here given some of their high bogey rates.
One golfer who checks nearly every box is Jon Rahm, who is sitting at 12-1 to win this tournament. Rahm ranks second in the field in par-4 efficiency from 450-500 yards, and his average adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s over the last 75 weeks both rank inside the top three. He also ranks inside the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Approach. I likely won’t bet Rahm at those short of odds, but he’s a strong DFS play.
Key metrics: Birdie or betting scoring, Par-4 and par-5 scoring, Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green.
And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Scores (Adj Rd) as catch-all metrics. Our Adj Rd Score metrics are my favorite catch-all metric in the industry because they’re adjusted for both course and field strength to truly gauge the talent of a golfer.