2023 Charles Schwab Challenge DFS Fades & Pivots: Narratives Driving the Masses Away From Collin Morikawa

The PGA Tour heads back to Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge, another elevated event that features a field of 120 golfers. The Schwab is played at historic Colonial, a medium-length, technical par 70 that features bentgrass greens and plenty of tight driving chutes. This is a complete departure from last week, where thick rough and long par 4’s ruled the day. Players will instead be forced to rely more on course management off the tee and great precision with medium and short irons once they have hit the fairway. With that in mind, let’s use Stokastic’s PGA DFS projections and PGA DFS ownership projections to find the strongest PGA DFS fades and pivots of the week.

PGA DFS Fades & Pivots | Charles Schwab Challenge

Aggression can pay off at this course, but it is a risky move, and getting too loose with the driver can take a player out of the tournament quickly. Approach is where the past winners have tended to excel the most at Colonial as players here typically face a mid to short-range iron shot in on nearly every hole. Players trending well in this area should be given the benefit of the doubt, and players who are not should be viewed as very risky plays — regardless of their pedigree or course history.

This event is also being played after the PGA Championship for the fourth time in five years, and it is worth noting that every single year since that move on the schedule took place has seen the winner take part in the PGA Championship the week prior.

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Colonial Country Club Stats and Info

  • The course plays at par 70, 7,209 yards and features bentgrass greens; water is in play on roughly four holes.
  • Greenside play here is not overly difficult, as scrambling percentages tend to be quite high every season, but there are 84 bunkers on the course and many of them are greenside; several of the past champs are elite bunker players.
  • The average driving distance is about 5 to 7 yards less than the tour average, and driving accuracy is also about 5% to 7% lower than normal; players will often opt for accuracy over power, and bombers typically do not get a huge advantage, if any.

2023 Charles Schwab Challenge PGA DFS Fades and Pivots

High-End PGA DFS Fade: Viktor Hovland

Projected DFS Golf Ownership: DraftKings: 14.3% | FanDuel: 24.9%

Hovland had a great PGA Championship, challenging Brooks Koepka for the lead on Sunday until some bad luck on the final three holes knocked him out of contention. He has elevated his game for the majors this year but has had some trouble with consistency in between. In the tournament directly after the Masters, Hovland imploded on the greens on the weekend and needed a couple weeks off to regroup. A similar pattern could emerge after last week, as he obviously spent a ton of mental energy around Oak Hill’s demanding layout. He is still projected to be popular, with nearly 15% PGA DFS ownership projections on DraftKings, so looking for a pivot play off him at this range is worth exploring in larger-field GPPs.

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High-End Pivot: Collin Morikawa

Projected DFS Golf Ownership: DraftKings: 9.4% | FanDuel: 18.7%

The upper range should have mostly spread ownership underneath Scottie Scheffler, but one player who seems likely to draw little to no heat (regardless of format or buy-in) is Collin Morikawa. He has slumped badly over the last couple of months with his putter, and it is a narrative that many DFS players have started to cling to. Morikawa has a wider range of outcomes on the greens, but ball striking has still been his usual steady self and sets up perfectly for Colonial, a venue where he placed second (playoff loss) on his debut in 2020. Morikawa may not have lit it up last week, but a 26th-place finish on a week where several top players bombed out early is worth noting — as is the fact he gained strokes putting for the first time in five starts. He is a solid upper-tier pivot who should come in under 10% owned in many GPPs.

Mid-Range PGA DFS Fade: Thomas Detry

Projected DFS Golf Ownership: DraftKings: 10.7% | FanDuel: 12.1%

Detry’s price is sure to catch the eye of many DFS players who have had mostly good experiences rostering him in DFS. He made the cut last week at the PGA Championship and was also in contention on the DP World Tour a couple of starts ago, where he eventually finished seventh. While he has been making cuts, nothing about Detry’s game really sticks out as elite. He is putting moderately well, but he has also lost strokes around the green and off the tee in two of the last three starts. Detry rates well on Stokastic, but there are also plenty of other players directly around him in price who have similar or better top-6 probabilities and PGA DFS projections. Given this will be his first time playing Colonial — a notoriously tricky and technical track — there is no harm in looking for a pivot off him in tournaments.

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Mid-Range Pivot: Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Projected DFS Golf Ownership: DraftKings: 7.0% | FanDuel: 3.8%

If money is not an issue, then looking to get leverage on Detry’s ownership by paying up for Christiaan Bezuidenhout is one route to take. Bezuidenhout missed the cut last week, but it was only by a stroke and was only due to him having a severely poor putting week (he lost four strokes putting over two rounds), which does not happen very often. Bezuidenhout is currently showing some real progression with his ball striking and comes into this event having gained over four strokes on approach in each of his last four starts. Plus, he ranks fifth in strokes gained on approach over the last 24-rounds, which puts him right behind Hovland and Tony Finau. He was top 15 last season at this course and makes for a great low-owned pivot and GPP roster on a venue that is much more suitable for his skillset.

Mid-Range PGA DFS Fade: Beau Hossler

Projected DFS Golf Ownership: DraftKings: 11.4% | FanDuel: 11.1%

It seems like people could be pretty keen on Beau Hossler, with his PGA DFS ownership projections pushing upwards of 11% early in the week. He has some good home-state vibes going and a course history that includes a 21st-place finish at this tournament last season. Hossler is hardly a player to trust as chalk, unfortunately, as he has lost over two strokes on his approaches over his last two tournaments and has also putted poorly at Colonial over the last two seasons. His made cut at the PGA may look appealing, but he relied a lot on his driver at Oak Hill, a club that will not do him much favor at the shorter and far more technical Colonial. While Hossler is projecting strongly for his price range, there are plenty of other names with similar or even better form who will carry five times less ownership for GPPs.

Mid-Range Pivot: Matthew NeSmith

Projected DFS Golf Ownership: DraftKings: 2.1% | FanDuel: 2.9%

For a real leverage target against any of the chalk plays in the low-$7,000 range, Matthew NeSmith is a name to consider. He was left for dead by DFS players early in 2023 after a string of poor starts, the optics of which were made worse by severely regressing ball striking. He has turned things around over the last month, landing three straight made cuts coming into this week, which includes a 23rd at the PGA Championship where he gained over 1.5 strokes in every single major category — including putting. NeSmith is a straight driver who can really light it up with his irons when he is on, and he has gained over five strokes on approach in a PGA Tour event 10 times since the start of 2021. He has the style of game and results that make him a good play at Colonial when he’s in form and is the kind of low-owned player to look at in large fields.

Geoff Ulrich

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