Find Value With These Players Championship DFS Picks and Targets
We are entering the best part of the PGA Tour season, as players are now jostling to elevate their FedExCup ranking ahead of The Masters, which is the first major of the season that will begin next month. The Arnold Palmer Invitational gave us quite a dramatic finish on Sunday, with 30-year-old American Kurt Kitayama earning his first career win on the PGA Tour by holding off Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy on the 18th hole. This goes to show that even in events with a loaded field, players who have talent obscured by their lack of accolades can emerge at any moment to contend for the winning purse. Kitayama’s numbers have been impressive, and it took a couple of runner-up losses to household names before he was able to reach the top of the proverbial mountain.
The Players Championship will give us another star-studded field to choose from when constructing DFS lineups ahead of Thursday’s opening round. Held at Ponte Vedra Beach in Jacksonville, Florida, this event will be played at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, designed by legendary golf architect Pete Dye in 1980. It’s a par 72 track seeded with bermudagrass on its narrow, doglegged fairways and greens, reminiscent of Bay Hill; however, the sand bunkers are elongated, and the location of the water hazards will be an adjustment from last weekend. It includes the iconic 17th hole par 3, with an island serving as the green in the middle of a large pond, while the ninth hole is set to run 600 yards. An equal number of par 3s and par 5s will be distributed across the front and back nine at TPC Sawgrass, creating birdie and eagle opportunities for premium ball strikers and putters.
When there is a massive field like the one we’re getting at The Players Championship, there is typically a ton of value to locate amongst the lower-priced players. Fortunately for you, I’ve identified six of my favorite prospects who can help us cash our DraftKings and FanDuel lineups once Sunday’s final round concludes. Let’s find out why each of these players should be prioritized in DFS lineups ahead of Thursday’s opening tee times.
DraftKings - $50,000 Maximum Salary (6 players)
Rory McIlroy ($11K)
It’s been well-documented that no player has ever won twice at The PLAYERS Championship since its inception, but Rory McIlroy fits the billing for the top blue-chip prospect who could be the first to pull off this feat. Since this is DFS, we don’t need to worry as much about McIlroy’s finish on Sunday’s leaderboard at TPC Sawgrass. Still, he’s rounding into form after a couple of pedestrian finishes outside the T25 in mid-February. A missed birdie putt from 16 feet cost McIlroy an opportunity to extend the Arnold Palmer Invitational into a sudden-death match against Kitayama. Still, he remains built for pressure-packed moments in loaded fields on difficult courses. TPC Sawgrass plays a bit easier than Bay Hill too, which means we should see a flurry of birdies from one of the PGA Tour’s best at driving and scrambling. Pay up to land McIlroy in as many lineups as possible.
Viktor Hovland ($8.9K)
Viktor Hovland had a nice outing at Bay Hill, winding up with a T10 finish, and he’ll return to TPC Sawgrass, where he wound up T9 in 2022. The 25-year-old Norwegian tends to be a bit inconsistent when he’s near the top of the leaderboard, but he does so many things well on the golf course; it’s hard to fade him at a low salary of $8.9K on DraftKings. Hovland has hit at least 80 DK points in two of his past four events played, and he’s ranked 28th in total strokes gained, which means he’s dialed in with his irons and putter this season. Hovland also possesses an accurate, strong driver, which will go a long way toward setting him up for birdies during the four rounds at TPC Sawgrass this weekend. He got off to a slow start at this event in 2022 but delivered strongly in the final two rounds, so stay the course and invest in one of the game’s talented young players at a great value.
Keegan Bradley ($7.5K)
I’m honestly shocked to find Keegan Bradley this cheap on DraftKings. The 36-year-old American logged a fifth-place finish at TPC Sawgrass in 2022 and looked sharp on Sunday at Bay Hill, draining birdie putts and keeping his irons accurate to wind up going five-under-par climbing the leaderboard into a T10 finish. Bradley is clutch at sinking 3-4 foot putts this season and ranks 37th in bogey avoidance and 40th in birdie percentage while typically saving his best rounds of golf for Saturday and Sunday after the cut line reduces the field. We’re getting massive value on Bradley at $7.5K on DraftKings, so don’t hesitate to fire him up for guaranteed production.
FanDuel - $60,000 Maximum Salary (6 players)
Patrick Cantlay ($11.1K)
It’s not encouraging to see Patrick Cantlay miss the cut at The Players Championship in 2022, and he’s looked solid in recent events. While the 30-year-old California native has missed the cut two times in a row at TPC Sawgrass, he’s quietly strung together consecutive finishes inside of the top five at Genesis and the Arnold Palmer Invitational to make me feel more confident about recommending him at a course where he’s historically struggled. Cantlay scores the lowest amongst all PGA Tour players on par 4 holes this season, and he’s a wizard with his irons, ranking seventh in strokes gained tee-to-green and eighth in strokes gained off-the-tee. We’re paying a premium for Cantlay, but I feel he’ll perform well after two poor appearances in previous years, making him a high-risk, high-reward player to roster on FanDuel at an $11.1K salary.
Tyrrell Hatton ($9.9K)
Tyrrell Hatton improved quite a bit at TPC Sawgrass in 2022 after previously posting consecutive missed cuts at the event. The 31-year-old Englishman has been very good in 2023, logging T6 finishes or better in two of his past three events, including a T4 most recently at Bay Hill, where he went six-under-par on Saturday to improve his position on the leaderboard. If there’s one aspect of Hatton’s game that is rock solid, it’s his irons, as he’s ranked eighth in total strokes gained while also ranking first in putts per round in the opening round of events. Hatton ranks second in total driving and makes up for his lack of finding the greens in regulation by scrambling successfully 64.5 percent of the time, ranked 40th on the PGA Tour. He’s playing with confidence and improved quite a bit last time he was at TPC Sawgrass, so I’m liking his value below $10K on FanDuel.
Keith Mitchell ($9.2K)
We’ve seen Keith Mitchell flirt with the top of the leaderboard a few times already this season, and he’s heading back to a course where he’s played great in past years. The 31-year-old American has logged T13, MC, and T47 finishes at TPC Sawgrass in his past three appearances, and he’s got the irons buzzing in 2023, ranking first in strokes gained off-the-tee, first in total driving, and 15th in strokes gained tee-to-green. His putter is a problem at times, but Mitchell has a strong, accurate driver that will benefit him quite a bit on the narrow, doglegged fairways that are a prominent feature of the design at TPC Sawgrass. Did I mention that Mitchell ranks 34th in birdie average this season with 4.25 per round? That statistic alone can go a long way towards cashing a contest since birdies are 6X compared to pars on FanDuel. Plug Mitchell into lineups, sit back, and enjoy a strong performance!