Olympics golf DFS: Our expert’s favorite plays (and fades) in every price range
It has been five years since Justin Rose secured the gold medal in Rio, but Olympic Golf is back! The East Course at Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of Tokyo will host this year’s Olympics. Tom Fazio redesigned and modernized this course five years ago, adding 500 yards, creating more undulation in the fairways and deepening bunkers. He also combined the two greens at each hole (a common practice in Japan), into one.
With the angulation of the greens at Kasumigaseki, ball-striking will be at a premium. Being a little bit off on your line doesn’t leave you pin-high, it usually leaves you greenside. Combine that with the wet forecast for the week, and you could see plenty of flag-hunting by the world’s best players.
Keep in mind, this is a 59-man field with no cut and stroke play will be the format of choice. That means you’re guaranteed four rounds, and there should be an emphasis on birdie-makers. They can improve their position in the fantasy world even if it’s not reflected on the actual leader board.
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Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Joaquin Niemann ($9,200 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
Niemann is electric and volatile which is the perfect combination for this event. The Chilean ranks ninth on tour in driving distance and has gained strokes on approach in seven of his past eight measured events, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Niemann makes a ton of birdies (or better), 23.5 percent of his holes, which might be the most valuable stat when the field is guaranteed four rounds.
Safest Option: Collin Morikawa ($11,200 DraftKings | $12,000 FanDuel)
The one thing that stood out to me about Kasumigaseki Country Club was the green angulation. The putting surfaces tend to get narrower or force a longer carry as you go from one side to the other. This usually benefits great approach players because you must be precise on your distances. Since the start of the calendar year, Morikawa has gained an absurd 1.42 strokes on approach per round. It’s head and shoulders better than anyone else in this field.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Patrick Reed ($10,100 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
Hats off to Reed, who opted to join Team USA on short notice—but I worry about his chances at this steep price. Not only is he the worst approach player in the $10,000 range, he’s going to arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday night. That means he will tee it up on Thursday without ever laying eyes on the golf course. The travel and logistics alone are challenging—this just creates even more concerns for Reed.
Pick To Win: Justin Thomas ($10,900 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)
Thomas is setting up to be the leverage play in the $10,000 range. He hasn’t played particularly well since his victory at The Players, but we’ve seen flashes of greatness from him recently. There should be no better place for him to get right than here at the Olympics. He will get to lean on his approach play, and he’s guaranteed four rounds in a small field. Nine of his 14 career PGA Tour wins have come in small-field, no-cut events.
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Mackenzie Hughes ($8,000 DraftKings | $8,600 FanDuel)
With the short game of Hughes, he’s able to get scorching hot and make noise as he flies up the leaderboard. Hughes was one of the 54-hole leaders at Torrey Pines before falling to T-15 on Sunday. That didn’t set him back as he finished T-14 at the Rocket Mortgage and earned a T-6 at Royal St. Georges in his last start. He’s playing well and has plenty of upside.
Safest Option: Guido Migliozzi ($8,400 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)
Outside of his missed cut at The Open, Migliozzi has been awesome! His five starts prior to Royal St. Georges, he recorded four top-15 finishes and didn’t miss a cut. He’s been a staple on the first page of the leader board on the European Tour, and we are seeing that translate to PGA Tour action.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Tommy Fleetwood ($8,600 DraftKings |$9,900 FanDuel)
Fleetwood is the premier name in the range, but I worry that he doesn’t have the premier game. Fleetwood has cracked the top 30 just once in his last six starts. The advanced metrics show a golfer who struggles to hit the driver and doesn’t have the approach game that he once did.
Pick To Win: Thomas Pieters ($8,100 DraftKings | $8,700 FanDuel)
Pieters is volatile, which is perfect for this event. Without a cut to worry about, Pieters can rack up birdies and, in turn, rack up fantasy points. He’s a prime candidate to outpace his finishing position with fantasy points. The 120th-ranked player in the world has five top-15 finishes in his last nine starts worldwide.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Antoine Rozner ($7,600 DraftKings |$8,100 FanDuel)
Rozner doesn’t have a ton of strokes-gained data but the little that he does, is impressive. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, Rozner gained over 7.5 strokes on approach at the PGA Championship and 8.4 at the Memorial. Those are staggering numbers for anyone, but Rozner is no stranger to winning. He’s hoisted a trophy four times since 2019 and won’t be out of place in this field.
Safest Option: Mito Pereira ($7,200 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)
Pereira knows how to contend—it doesn’t matter the tour. He won the REX Hospital Open on the Korn Ferry Tour in June to earn his promotion to the PGA Tour. After missing the cut in his first PGA Tour event, he’s been electric. He finished T-5 at the Barbasol and backed it up with a T-6 last week in Minnesota. His advanced metrics are stellar as he leans on excellent ball-striking.
Most Likely To Disappoint: C.T. Pan ($7,100 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel)
Pan enters the week with little form, missing his last three cuts. In fact, he’s missed the cut in five of his past nine starts and cracked the top 30 just once. Pan struggles off the tee (144th on tour) and on the greens (109th). That’s a tough combination for a player with little good vibes as he tees it up this week.
Pick To Win: Si Woo Kim ($7,800 DraftKings | $9,000 FanDuel)
It’s possible that nobody has more to play for than the South Korean team of Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim. With a medal of any kind, they would not be required to pause their careers and complete the two years of mandatory military service in their home country. Both players opted to skip The Open to focus on this event. While I worry that Kim would rather play defense if he’s in a medal position than actually try to win, it’s too hard to pass up an incredibly volatile golfer with real winning upside every time he tees it up.
$6,900 and below
High Upside: Ryan Fox ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)
Fox can normally be found on the European Tour, where he has four top-15 finishes in his past seven starts on that circuit. His most recent start was The Open where he made the cut and finished T-67. He’s a bomber off-the-tee (10th in driving distance on the European Tour), which will certainly come in handy this week.
Safest Option: Henrik Norlander ($6,800 DraftKings | $7,800 FanDuel)
Norlander is a staple on the PGA Tour, so he offers familiarity and safety. He’s made five cuts in a row including a T-5 at the Barbasol Championship in his last start. Now he’s well-rested and prepared to continue his great play.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Anirban Lahiri ($6,700 DraftKings |$7,600 FanDuel)
Lahiri will make for an easy click for many players who will recognize his name. It also helps that he finished T-3 at the Barbasol Championship in his last start. However, he gained 5.95 strokes putting that week, which is a significant outlier for the 118th-ranked putter on tour. It’s unlikely that happens again, which means regression is in his future.
Pick To Win: Adri Arnaus ($6,600 DraftKings | $7,600 FanDuel)
The Spaniard is no stranger to big time events with the game’s best stars. He has five top-12 finishes on the European Tour this year in events that had legitimate winners—Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey to name a few. He can mix it up with the world’s best and unlock a lot of savings at this price.
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Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.