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PGA DFS Hot Takes for the 2024 Players Championship

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What a run it’s been since the start of February. It’s now four top 5% single-entry finishes including a huge takedown, all in one month! Without question, the new GPP scores (also discussed in the lineup review linked above) have played an enormous role in our success, and they will be a centerpiece of this week’s hot takes. 

 

Remember, 95% of players are more likely to fail each week (missed cut) than deliver a ceiling performance (defined as a top five or top 10, depending on the player’s price). We don’t want to fear this randomness, we want to harness it and use it to our advantage by playing aggressively and leveraging all of the people who seek comfort in their builds in a sport that offers no such thing.

Enter: Hot takes. Each hot take can be thought of as a potential path to GPP glory. 

Course Fit: The 2024 Players Championship

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Listen, we’ve had a number of phenomenal course fit models in a row, but I’m not sure any are as attractive to us as this one. A stat that literally no one else has is 98% more predictive than usual at TPC Sawgrass. This is doubly interesting because almost every course over the last month has emphasized distance off the tee more than anything else — which means that recent form coming into the event should be viewed with the context that this is a drastically different test of golf. My focus will largely be on players who are in good form despite being better course fits this week than they have been lately.

Hot Takes for the 2024 Players Championship

1. Every single lineup you build should have one (or two) of the $11k+ studs

The GPP Scores almost always tell us to fade the chalk (like Min Woo Lee last week and Eric Cole the week prior). Even Justin Thomas in his two weeks as mega chalk (WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational) was the worst or second-worst play on each slate by GPP Score.

And yet, the GPP Scores want us to play Scottie Scheffler. Where Scheffler (as well as Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele) differs from everyone else is the shape of his distribution. While most are more likely to fail than crush, Scheffler has a 45% chance for a top-five finish and just a 9% chance to miss the cut. Rory and Xander are similar (kind of):

  • Rory: 24% for a top 5, 16% for a missed cut
  • Xander: 26% for a Top 5, 15% for a missed cut

The next best player in the field in this regard is Viktor Hovland, with a 15% chance of a top-five finish and a 26% chance to miss the cut. These guys are No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 in GPP Score, and there’s no one else in their stratosphere. I am someone who historically has preferred balanced lineups in stacked fields and on difficult golf courses, but that is no longer the case. In fact, I’ve played Scottie or Rory in every event since the creation of the GPP Scores (the week of Pebble Beach) that at least one of them has played.

2. Lucas Glover is the best value on the slate

As has been the pattern lately, the first hot take is to jam in studs as much as possible, the second hot take is how to fit them. Glover is 128th in driving distance in this field but 19th in our driving accuracy metric. And yet, someway, somehow, he’s played well this year! His approach play has been off the charts and his short game is significantly better right now than it’s been in years. Now that he’s on a course that fits his game to a T, I think we could see the ceiling we’ve been missing from him throughout this stretch of solid, consistent play. At the moment, he’s sixth in GPP Score and first among players under $8.7k.

3. Sahith Theegala is the best mid-tier play

$8.7k wasn’t an accident, it’s Theegala’s price. Theegala has the fourth-best GPP Score as people continue to ignore the ceiling he provides on a weekly basis. He has the second highest event to event standard deviation in the field, which would be a reason to fade him if were chalky but is a reason to love him as a contrarian play once again.

He already has three top-six finishes this season in only seven events, and the most encouraging sign of all is that he’s doing it because of a dramatic improvement in accuracy off the tee. He even spoke about the reason for such an improvement in the walk and talk on Sunday’s broadcast — the addition of a stinger cut drive. A year ago, driving accuracy was the thing that was consistently holding him back. Now, his driving accuracy projection is on par with guys like Sungjae Im, Max Homa and Hideki Matsuyama.

In other words, he’s popping in the GPP Scores because he’s the holy grail of DFS — the guy who projects extremely well for his price and is low-owned.

4. Si Woo Kim is a fade

This one pains me, deep into my soul. I love Si Woo as a player and talent, and his form off the tee right now is incredible:

However, his putting is a disaster. He has the third-worst strokes gained projection in our model, even worse than Tony Finau’s, who we successfully faded at The Mexico Open solely because we expected his putter to let him down. His putter is so bad right now that he we have the following odds for him:

  • Top 5: 6.5%
  • Top 10: 13.0%
  • Missed Cut: 37.0%

Not exactly the kind of distribution you want to see from heavy chalk! Eventually, it’s easy to envision Si Woo’s frustrations on the green seeping into his long game and resulting in an early ejection — something Sawgrass produces in bulk year after year. 

Final Thoughts

One last point — the idea that the early-late wave has historically been more successful than the late-early wave is gaining steam around the industry. Josh didn’t find a ton of evidence of this fact beyond the winner’s trend (which is a terrible way to do analysis, there are 150 other players we can learn from each year), but it may end up affecting ownership. And if it does, it will change some of the GPP Scores. Consequently, make sure you’re tuning in to the Discord or model later tonight to see the final rostership projections and thoughts.

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