This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.152M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Blaine, Minn.
Course: TPC Twin Cities
The last time big-time golf came to Minnesota was, well, only three years ago for the Ryder Cup. Just two weeks ago, the Women's PGA Championship was at Hazeltine, where there have been multiple U.S. Opens, PGA Championships and other important events. Plus, TPC Twin Cities played host to a Champions Tour event for the past 18 years. So, there has been plenty of golf in Minnesota. But the one thing missing in all those examples was the PGA Tour. Now, the Tour is back on a regular basis for the first time in a half-century. The last regular PGA Tour event in the state was the Minnesota Golf Classic in 1969. As we're sure you all remember, Frank Beard came away with the title, ending the tournament's nearly four-decade run dating to 1930.
So, who is on hand to help christen the return of the PGA Tour? There are some big names – Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama and Tony Finau – but that's almost the complete collection of top-50 OWGR guys in the field. There is, however, another big draw, one currently not defined by his world ranking: Viktor Hovland, the amateur sensation who on Sunday notched his second top-15 as a pro. For the record, Hovland is up to No. 283 OWGR, and he he's also up to the No. 9 guy on the DraftKings board at $9,100. Other members of the Class of '19 in the field are Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Justin Suh. There's another big name, however, who won't be on site: Jim Nantz, who called the Detroit tournament last week, is sitting this one out. In some ways, Nantz is a bigger barometer of the "gravitas" of an event than the quality of the field. He also surely will bypass next week's John Deere Classic, which would mean he'd have missed out on two-thirds of this new Midwest Swing that the Tour is trying to establish.
TPC Twin Cities opened in 2000, an Arnold Palmer design with an assist from Minnesotan Tom Lehman, who did a renovation a few years ago no doubt trying to toughen the track for the regular Tour golfers. Lehman, who at age 60 is just weeks away from his final Open Championship, received a sponsor's invite into the 3M (seems that's the least they can do for the guy who changed the dang course, no?). TPC Twin Cities is very long, now nearly 7,500 yards as a par-71. That's much longer than it was for the Champions event, where they simply tore up the track. The winning score was often in the neighborhood of 20-under, with the 25-under record set by David Frost in 2010. And remember, those numbers are for only 54-holes, so they were some of the biggest birdie-fests you'll ever see. "We set it up as easy as you can set it up for the Champions Tour," tournament founder Hollis Cavner was quoted as saying. "We wanted low scores, we wanted fireworks, and we got them. The course is much harder now. Five or six strokes harder." Good to hear, but ...
... the track seems to have little defense other than its length, which, as we all know, is no real defense for today's modern bombers. There is a lot of water – after all, Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" – but without significant wind, this could be a second straight week of target practice on the PGA Tour. There are some super long holes: All three par-5s are close to 600 yards, there are two par-4s more than 500 and three of the par-3s are at least 200, two of them over 225. On the hand, there are also four par-4s under 425 yards. We'll break it all down in the key stats and Champions Profile below.
Weather-wise, it's been raining during tournament week and more showers are in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. So, the standard line: Check the weather again before lineup lock to see whether there will be a tee-time advantage. Otherwise, temperatures will be hotter the first two days than the last two, but across the entire tournament the wind is expected to be light. Gentlemen, start your green-light specials.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Twin Cities
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Driving distance/strokes gained: off the tee/ball striking
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
• Birdie or better percentage
Like last week, we're keeping it simple until we know more about this course and how it plays. When in doubt, go with golfers with strong tee-to-green games and/or a good short game, leaning this week to the longer hitters on a longer course. The greens are bentgrass and an average size, about 5,500 square feet and should be running fast on the stimpmeter, about 12-12.5. Those putting surfaces don't sound too tough for today's pros, which could bring a lot of mediocre putters into the mix. As we saw last week in Detroit, a poor field can bring almost anyone into the winner's conversation.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Hideki Matsuyama - $11,100 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
We're skipping top dog Brooks Koepka. Matsuyama leads the Tour with 24 consecutive cuts made. Of course, simply making the cut would be no comfort for such an expensive golfer. Matsuyama has run off five straight top-25s – which still wouldn't get the job done for an $11,000-plus price tag. But he was T13 last week, and we think he'll benefit from this week's added length. Matsuyama is ranked top-25 in both driving distance and greens in regulation, and his short game is underrated (ranked 19th in strokes gained: around the green). Matsuyama is also 16th in birdie or better percentage.
Jason Day - $10,900 (10-1)
The Stevie Williams experience continues for a third tournament, after two decent results: T21 at the U.S. Open and T8 at the Travelers. Day – who is so solid off the tee, around the greens and on the greens – has seen an uptick in his shaky iron game the past two times out. That's really the only thing holding him back from returning to the top-10. Day is ranked 13th on Tour in ball striking. He also has won multiple times on bentgrass greens.
Bryson DeChambeau - $10,500 (14-1)
This shouldn't matter but we'll tell you anyway: We read online in the StarTribune newspaper that DeChambeau was the first big name to commit to the tournament because he wanted to meet with 3M scientists. No word whether that meeting ever took place, but the Tour's Mad Scientist is here regardless. And playing a bit better of late. Kinda sorta. He notched his first PGA Tour top-10 since January last time out at the Travelers. Through all his slumping play, DeChambeau is still ranked T5 in birdie or better percentage and top-25 in both strokes gained: off the tee and putting. Like with Day, iron play has been the issue.
Patrick Reed - $10,000 (25-1)
We're back for a second straight week on the Reed bandwagon, which surely will have a few more passengers following his tie for fifth in Detroit. It was the most tangible evidence that Reed is turning the corner after a brutal stretch in which he didn't have a top-10 anywhere in the world since November. Reed isn't a very long hitter or very accurate, but he has a terrific short game. Rory Sabbatini and Joaquin Niemann both have been playing well, too, but now that they have cleared the $9,000 barrier, that's a bit too rich for us.
Tier 2 Values
Viktor Hovland - $9,100 (30-1)
Yup, we're taking a bite. We're not crazy about the price, but it's hard to argue it's not warranted. Hovland has top-15s last week at Detroit and, oh yeah, at the U.S. Open. There really wasn't one weakness in his game last week, though he was only T39 in greens in regulation. But he made up for it with great scrambling and putting. The biggest concern is that it will be Hovland's fourth straight week of action. Yes, 21-year-olds don't get tired, but we'll see how he holds up.
Kevin Streelman - $8,900 (40-1)
Streelman isn't a long hitter by any means; he's middle of the pack. And he's very accurate, which adds up to a ranking of 27th in strokes gained: off the tee, which leads to a ranking of 23rd in greens in regulation (and 16th in ball striking). Streelman wound up T35 last week, a double bogey on 18 costing him a third straight top-25. He was 51st in the Detroit field in putting, far better than his season-long position.
Charles Howell III - $8,400 (40-1)
For an older guy, Howell is a pretty long hitter. And he's very accurate, ranked fifth on Tour in greens in regulation. He's also ranked sixth in ball striking. Howell hasn't had a top-25 since March, but it was at another Arnold Palmer track, Bay Hill. Despite his slump, Howell is still ranked T52 in birdie or better percentage.
Scott Piercy - $8,200 (50-1)
Now we're getting into some price ranges where we don't have to gulp before deciding to jump on board. Piercy has a solid and accurate game across the board, which is even more impressive considering his driving distance is only average (not short, just average). He is ranked 16th in greens in regulation and 36th in birdie or better.
Tier 3 Values
Collin Morikawa - $7,900 (60-1)
The former Cal star took a week off after playing three straight weeks to start his pro career. He went 3-for-3 in cuts, with one top-25 and all of them inside the top-40. It's still way early, but Morikawa seems to be just behind Hovland in the Class of '19 pecking order.
J.J. Spaun - $7,800 (80-1)
Spaun has made three straight cuts and six of his past seven, highlighted by last week's tie for 13th. He is ranked 32nd in greens in regulation and 62nd in birdie or better.
Cameron Tringale - $7,700 (100-1)
We jumped on Tringale last week and jumped for joy when he tied for fifth. He had been playing well beforehand, making five of his previous six cuts with three top-25s. The strength of Tringale's game is his iron play, as he's ranked 20th in greens in regulation and 31st in strokes gained: approach. He is also ranked 50th in birdie or better.
Pat Perez - $7,600 (80-1)
Perez has not played in a month, since tying for 57th at the Memorial. He had a calf injury earlier in the season, but here has been no indication of a recurrence. We're willing to take a flyer on Perez, who, if healthy, is a good deal at this price. His short game – wedge and putter – is among the best in the field.
Brendan Steele - $7,200 (100-1)
Steele continues to sink in the world rankings. He's now No. 200, his lowest standing in six years. But he remains a great ball striker and is ranked 10th on Tour. He's made four of his past five cuts as he desperately tries to climb the point standings. Steele is currently 158th and, while the top-125 is the goal, he surely wants to get inside the top-150. Steele is 20th in strokes gained: off the tee and 27th in greens in regulation. Ergo, the short game is a big problem.
Wyndham Clark - $7,100 (125-1)
We're back for some more of Clark, who is riding consecutive top-20s following a string of five missed cuts. We like his rare blend of driving power (seventh in distance) and putting prowess (ninth in strokes gained: putting). He even has a decent wedge game, ranked 45th in strokes gained: around the green. It all adds up to being ranked 17th on Tour in birdie or better, which could be a harbinger this week.
Alex Prugh - $6,700 (200-1)
Prugh hits it very far and pretty straight. He is 17th on Tour in greens in regulation. Before missing last week's cut, he put together two consecutive top-25s, one of them at the U.S. Open. Fair warning: Prugh's short game is downright awful.
Harris English - $6,600 (150-1)
The veteran Georgian's next birthday will be his 30th, and he's settled firmly into Tour mediocrity. English has made seven straight cuts, including the past four weeks, meaning this will be a fifth straight week of action. He's trying very hard to get inside the top-125 and right now he's 136th.