PGA DFS Optimizer Picks for the PGA Championship: Take Advantage of Low Rory McIlroy Ownership

The season’s second major has finally arrived. For the 2023 PGA Championship, the tour travels to Oak Hill Country Club (par 70, 7,394 yards, bentgrass greens) in Rochester, N.Y. This Donald Ross design has hosted six majors, with the most recent being the 2013 PGA Championship. That week Jason Dufner took home the Wanamaker Trophy at -10. The 2023 PGA Championship is hosting a field of 156 golfers, and it is important to note that this major has a slightly expanded cut, with the top 70 and ties advancing to the weekend after the first two rounds. Below are some of the top PGA DFS picks for the PGA Championship, utilizing Stokastic’s Top Golfers Tool to find the best leverage plays for GPPs.

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PGA DFS Picks & Leverage: The PGA Championship

Oak Hill is a long par 70 with tight fairways, thick rough, tiny greens, 78 bunkers and water on six holes. Not only will golfers need to be elite off the tee to contend at this venue, but being dialed in with irons will also be a must. Dufner finished the tournament 25th in driving distance and third in greens in regulation during his victory at Oak Hill a decade ago. Also, this is a week to prioritize strong par-4 players and mistake-free golfers; Dufner led his field in both par-4 efficiency and bogeys avoided when he won here.

Leverage scores are a product of comparing a player’s ownership versus their salary-weighted odds to finish in the top 6 of the tournament.

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Rory McIlroy

Stokastic PGA Optimizer Leverage Ranks: DraftKings: 1st, FanDuel: 45th

McIlroy is an incredible GPP target for the PGA Championship, particularly on DraftKings, where Stokastic is projecting him for single-digit ownership. The reason for his lack of popularity has been his poor results recently, with two missed cuts in his last three starts. While this obviously is not encouraging, McIlroy checks all the boxes for Oak Hill and could easily contend. He finished eighth at this venue at the 2013 PGA Championship and ranks top 12 in strokes gained on approach, strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained off the tee, par-4 efficiency, bogey avoidance and driving distance over his last 50 rounds. On top of his high finish at Oak Hill a decade ago, McIlroy has flourished at another par-70 Ross design in East Lake, with three wins and one runner-up finish in nine appearances at the course.

McIlroy has eight top-10 finishes in his last 12 starts at major championships and has a 19.3% chance to finish in the top 6, according to Stokastic’s Top Golfers Tool.

Emiliano Grillo

Stokastic PGA Optimizer Leverage Ranks: DraftKings: 19th, FanDuel: 75th

Grillo has been excellent as of late, making eight of his last 10 cuts, with three straight top-25 finishes coming into this week. He was outstanding as a ball striker in all three of these high finishes, collectively gaining at least three strokes from tee to green and on approach. Grillo ranks first in this field in strokes gained on approach and 10th in strokes gained tee to green over the last 12 rounds. Furthermore, he has been great with his driver this season, ranking 28th in total driving, and he is a tremendous player on bentgrass, making 12 cuts in a row at bentgrass venues. That includes seven top-30 finishes, two of which were runner-ups.

Grillo is a strong match for Oak Hill, and he has made six of seven cuts at the PGA Championship, with three finishes of 31st or better. Stokastic is projecting Grillo to be less than 5% owned on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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Hayden Buckley

Stokastic PGA Optimizer Leverage Ranks: DraftKings: 35th, FanDuel: 94th

Ranking fourth in strokes gained off the tee this season, Buckley is one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the PGA Tour. His irons have also been terrific as of late, gaining stokes on approach in four straight solo starts, which has resulted in a pair of top-10 finishes during this span.

In his last major start, Buckley finished 14th at the Country Club in Brookline for last year’s U.S. Open, which like Oak Hill, is a lengthy par 70 with bentgrass greens. He brings similar upside this week and is a tremendous, cheap sleeper for GPPs, with Stokastic projecting him to be less than 3% owned on both sites.

Joaquin Niemann

Stokastic PGA Optimizer Leverage Ranks: DraftKings: 30th, FanDuel: 7th

Niemann is coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes in the LIV Golf league and has always been at his best on bentgrass. His first professional win came on a par 70 with bentgrass greens in the Old White TPC course for the Greenbrier in 2019. Additionally, before his departure to LIV last year, Niemann had made seven consecutive cuts on courses with bentgrass greens as a member of the PGA Tour, including three top-10 finishes.

Niemann has made 10 cuts in a row at the major level, most recently with a 16th at the Masters last month, which marked his best career finish at a major championship. He is one of the best contrarian options for the PGA Championship, with Stokastic projecting him for single-digit ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel.


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