Welcome to the 2019 PGA Championship Fantasy Golf Picks and Pro-Tip
News and Notes
The PGA Championship will be played at Bethpage Black which hosts an event for the first time since the 2016 Northern Trust (more on that later) when it played as a Par 71 at roughly 7500 yards long. This year, the course will play as a Par 70 with one of the few scoreable holes being converted into a now challenging Par 4 that will severely limit the overall fantasy scoring at Bethpage. With fantasy scoring (birdies and eagles) at a premium a single low round could separate you in Showdown formats and in full week formats (and R4 showdown) the finish position points will be required to separate your lineups.
Playing as a Par 70, Bethpage will be one of the longest courses (perhaps THE longest) in par adjusted distance that is played on the PGA TOUR this season. Torrey Pines South (Farmers Insurance), Quail Hollow (Wells Fargo) and Firestone CC South (WGC Bridgestone) are a few of the notable tracks that feature similar par adjusted length and both Torrey Pines and Quail Hollow have already hosted events this season. While leaning on a two event sample for individual players is not suggested, it could tell us a little bit about the profile of the players that may rise to the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard.
Injuries are a hot topic this week and after a quiet opening three months on that front we’ve now been tested a bit more regularly. Below are a few of the more notable recent injury news items on the PGA TOUR.
Marc Leishman (back) and Charles Howell III (hip) both WD from the Byron Nelson. CH3 had missed 2 cuts prior to his WD while Leishman had also shown some poor form in the two events leading in. Both players are too risky for cash formats and more suitable for 150-max MME builds but even then should be played with an ownership cap.
Byeong Hun An (neck), Sam Burns (back), and Gary Woodland (illness) also WD from the Wells Fargo. For An and Woodland this was the last time we saw them, and for Sam Burns he lingered on the leaderboard at the Byron Nelson before falling outside of the Top 70. The Ben An WD was mid Round 4 after shooting +5 on the front nine and has had some time to heal but its at least a little concerning. That said, the neck seems slightly less important than a wrist, hip or back for the overall swing. For Gary Woodland he was listed as a WD due to illness which eases some concerns around him.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat also made his return last week and finished 5th but it was a miraculous putting performance that covered up the fact that he lost strokes T2G.
Justin Thomas withdrew from the event with his wrist injury. Davis Love III, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh and Sam Ryder have all WD from the event as well.
Going for the Green PGA Championship Fantasy Golf Picks and Preview
PGA Championship Course Fit
While this will be the first PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, the course previously held the US Open (2002 and 2009) in addition to The Northern Trust (2012 and 2016). The US Open doesn’t include shotlink data but we are able to get this for the two regular PGA Tour events from the historic event pages at DataGolf.
In 2012 Bethpage Black saw more variation in scores driven from strokes gaining putting relative to the typical PGATOUR tournament and less variation driven from strokes gained off the tee. This is a bit surprising given the fact that the course plays as one of the longest on tour.
The 2016 version of the tournament again proved off the tee play slightly over-rated with a strong emphasis on strokes gained via approach.
The challenge with all of this? Perhaps the weather. Earlier this season, we saw a typically approach heavy Players Championship instead favor off the tee play, as the adjustment to the schedule caused for colder temperatures than previous years and made the course play longer. The closest windtower is at Bethpage State Park and suggests cooler temperatures particularly early in the morning, which could add to the length and change the profile.
To add to the puzzle, only a few players have played this more than a handful of times. Smartgolfbets put together a nice cheat sheet of this and I highlighted a few of the things I noticed:
- Rahm, Xander, Fleetwood, Bryson, Cantlay, Cam Smith, Mitchell, Matt Wallace among those to never play
- DJ, Rory, Rose, Fowler, Scott, Watson, Kuchar, Stenson, Phil, Sneds, Moore among those to play 3 times since 2009
DataGolf also unveiled a new predictive course history tool which shows even the golfers with the strongest course history would only receive a baseline boost of equivalent to 0.05 strokes per round.