2021 The Players Championship model and fantasy golf rankings
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2021 The Players Championship model and fantasy golf rankings



Welcome to my weekly fantasy golf model for the 2021 The Players Championship!

Beginning in 2020, I developed a weekly rubric which offers a clear-cut ranking system based on data points weighted in a formula. So far, it’s been a tremendous success. Here’s a look at the PGA Tour winners in the restart and where they landed in the model:

  • Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial: Daniel Berger – No. 21
  • RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson – No. 7
  • Travelers Championship: Dustin Johnson – No. 10
  • Rocket Mortgage Classic: Bryson DeChambeau – No. 2
  • Workday Charity Open: Collin Morikawa – No. 11
  • the Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm – No. 6
  • WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational: Justin Thomas – No. 6
  • PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa – No. 13
  • The Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson – No. 20
  • BMW Championship: Jon Rahm – No. 2
  • US Open: Bryson DeChambeau – No. 9
  • Sanderson Farms Championship: Sergio Garcia – No. 40
  • CJ Cup at Shadow Creek: Jason Kokrak – No. 17
  • Zozo Championship at Sherwood: Patrick Cantlay – No. 9
  • The Masters: Dustin Johnson – No. 7
  • Mayakoba Golf Classic: Viktor Hovland – No. 5
  • Sentry Tournament of Champions: Harris English – No. 13
  • Sony Open in Hawaii: Kevin Na – No. 33
  • Farmers Insurance Open: Patrick Reed – No. 8
  • Waste Management Phoenix Open: Brooks Koepka – No. 10
  • AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Daniel Berger – No. 1
  • The Genesis Invitational: Max Homa – No. 30
  • WGC-Workday Championship: Collin Morikawa – No. 17
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational: Bryson DeChambeau – No. 3

Let me walk you through the rubric’s tenets and show off this week’s results.
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How the rubric works

The reason I’m calling this a rubric is because I think a model implies a guess about how the tournament will play out. I don’t think any model can do that. There are plenty of factors data can’t quantify, including luck of the draw, playing partners, hole locations, weather and sheer random stuff.

That’s why the rubric is rooted in things we can quantify more broadly without getting too into the weeds. I don’t believe specific statistics matter for each course. Each player is different, and they achieve their best results slightly differently, as our Course Fit tool indicates. A player can perform well on most PGA Tour courses doing things their way, and their past performance on a course is best indicative of their fit, not where they rank in certain categories.

That said, the biggest chunk of my rubric relies on strokes gained, as well our derivative, Quality Strokes Gained, which weights a player’s strokes gained against the depth of field they face. The rubric looks at this data over the longer term and medium term to derive a player’s quality across the tour and across different fields. In the fall of 2021, I included specific weighting of strokes gained and Quality Strokes Gained against the field strength that week, creating a range of comparison to see how players do against particular competition.

Next, the rubric accounts for two factors I look at every week: current form in the last five PGA Tour events played and their average strokes gained on the host course in the last three years.

All told, the model is designed to point out quality players and boost those middling players who have good current form or good course history.

2021 The Players Championship rankings

You’ll see with the rubric that I’ve listed the top 75, as well their current betting odds and DraftKings price.

The Players is a fascinating tournament, one that’s notoriously difficult to predict. However, moreso than most PGA Tour courses, TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course emphasizes ballstriking and approach play. Putting the ball in play off the tee is important, but it’s getting good looks on these Pete Dye greens that really give a player a chance to win.

Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them

POS PLAYER PTS DK PRICE DK RANK ODDS ODDS RANK
1 Rahm, Jon 1.861 10900 2 1600 3
2 McIlroy, Rory 1.769 10600 3 1600 3
3 Thomas, Justin 1.744 9900 5 2000 5
4 Simpson, Webb 1.642 9500 7 2500 9
5 Schauffele, Xander 1.639 10300 4 2000 5
6 Cantlay, Patrick 1.635 9200 10 2000 5
7 Zalatoris, Will 1.621 7600 30 6000 23
8 DeChambeau, Bryson 1.485 9700 6 1400 2
9 Finau, Tony 1.386 9100 11 3000 11
10 Berger, Daniel 1.36 8800 14 4000 13
11 Fitzpatrick, Matthew 1.281 8200 20 5000 17
12 Reed, Patrick 1.274 9000 12 4000 13
13 Morikawa, Collin 1.247 9400 8 2000 5
14 Hovland, Viktor 1.237 9300 9 2500 9
15 Norlander, Henrik 1.086 6700 77 20000 58
16 Scott, Adam 1.086 8100 21 6000 23
17 Scheffler, Scottie 1.051 8900 13 5000 17
18 Matsuyama, Hideki 1.043 8700 15 4000 13
19 Johnson, Dustin 1.025 11200 1 1200 1
20 Hatton, Tyrrell 0.958 8500 17 4000 13
21 Kokrak, Jason 0.927 7700 27 8000 27
22 Ancer, Abraham 0.827 7500 33 8000 27
23 Henley, Russell 0.788 7400 37 10000 34
24 Im, Sungjae 0.765 8300 19 5000 17
25 Day, Jason 0.718 8000 22 5000 17
26 Bezuidenhout, Christiaan 0.716 7100 51 8000 27
27 Niemann, Joaquin 0.713 7700 27 5000 17
28 Poulter, Ian 0.663 7100 51 15000 50
29 Conners, Corey 0.658 7400 37 8000 27
30 Varner III, Harold 0.639 6700 77 20000 58
31 Garcia, Sergio 0.606 7500 33 10000 34
32 NeSmith, Matthew 0.604 6700 77 25000 82
33 Burns, Sam 0.6 7300 41 10000 34
34 Homa, Max 0.596 7600 30 10000 34
35 Oosthuizen, Louis 0.595 7800 25 8000 27
36 Horschel, Billy 0.59 7700 27 8000 27
37 English, Harris 0.588 7500 33 10000 34
38 Hahn, James 0.573 6500 93 30000 95
39 Davis, Cameron 0.571 7100 51 12500 43
40 Casey, Paul 0.569 8400 18 6000 23
41 Fleetwood, Tommy 0.559 7900 23 5000 17
42 Poston, J.T. 0.554 6500 93 25000 82
43 Smith, Cameron 0.544 7900 23 6000 23
44 Na, Kevin 0.539 7300 41 10000 34
45 Tringale, Cameron 0.521 7200 46 12500 43
46 Griffin, Lanto 0.515 7300 41 12500 43
47 Harman, Brian 0.513 6900 63 20000 58
48 Watson, Bubba 0.509 7300 41 12500 43
49 Moore, Ryan 0.462 6800 70 25000 82
50 Reavie, Chez 0.457 6500 93 25000 82
51 Hubbard, Mark 0.45 6200 121 40000 118
52 Woodland, Gary 0.433 6800 70 20000 58
53 Fowler, Rickie 0.432 7400 37 15000 50
54 Vegas, Jhonattan 0.413 6300 111 20000 58
55 Dahmen, Joel 0.409 6300 111 30000 95
56 Todd, Brendon 0.395 7100 51 15000 50
57 Sabbatini, Rory 0.394 6400 102 30000 95
58 Kisner, Kevin 0.383 7200 46 12500 43
59 Hoffman, Charley 0.377 6800 70 20000 58
60 Ortiz, Carlos 0.376 7400 37 12500 43
61 Spieth, Jordan 0.343 8600 16 3000 11
62 Palmer, Ryan 0.328 7300 41 15000 50
63 Snedeker, Brandt 0.289 6400 102 30000 95
64 Streelman, Kevin 0.28 6800 70 20000 58
65 Gooch, Talor 0.264 7000 57 15000 50
66 Kirk, Chris 0.262 7000 57 15000 50
67 Rodgers, Patrick 0.26 6400 102 30000 95
68 Rose, Justin 0.251 7800 25 10000 34
69 Straka, Sepp 0.231 6500 93 30000 95
70 Munoz, Sebastian 0.215 6900 63 20000 58
71 Kuchar, Matt 0.194 7200 46 20000 58
72 Redman, Doc 0.19 6300 111 30000 95
73 Ghim, Doug 0.188 6200 121 25000 82
74 Clark, Wyndham 0.165 6900 63 20000 58
75 Lee, Danny 0.163 6100 132 40000 118
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About the author

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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