World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: Ludvig's time is coming
After a much-deserved week off for all of our wallets, the PGA Tour is back and we're going South of the Border. Due to Steve and myself being at the annual Golf Digest Hot List, we're going to go ahead and dive in right away. Let's cash some tickets.
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Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 World Wide Technology Championship.
World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Ludvig Aberg (9-1, DraftKings) — I’ve seen enough of this kid throughout the summer and fall to know he’s on the verge of breaking through for a victory on the PGA Tour. He’s already got his card locked up for next season, so he’s playing for wins (and for improved status plus the majors, etc.). His sights are high, and rightfully so.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Akshay Bhatia (35-1, DraftKings) — Bhatia is destined to be a popular pick this week and his downturn in iron play is concerning, but it’s tough not backing him on a Paspalum resort course. Between Mexico and the Islands a year ago, Bhatia went T-4/T-24/T-2, and notched his only KFT win in 2022 on Paspalum in the Bahamas. If we can get a glimpse of his regular ball-striking coupled with his spike in putting on these slower surfaces, maybe he can get himself into the Masters with a win in Cabo.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Beau Hossler (28-1, FanDuel) — Hossler’s got good form and has four top-30s since September began. He’s a good all-around golfer. The biggest knock is average-ish irons, but the greens are huge this week. That should help him out.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Ludvig Aberg (9-1, DraftKings) — It’s coming and it’s coming soon. It’s just a matter of time before Aberg steps into the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour. He’ll be able to pile up so many birdie opportunities at El Cardonal, which is something he does on a regular basis. With 4.93 birdies per round, he’s the most prolific birdie-maker in this field per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s been close this fall with a runner-up in Jackson and T-13 in Las Vegas. This time he gets across the finish line.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Stephan Jaeger (28-1, Bet365) — I’ve been like much of the golf gambling community, riding Stephan Jaeger. I’m pot committed, and this course should suit his game, too. He’s second in this field in par-5 scoring, third in birdies or better and top five in this field in mid- to long-iron approaches, per RickRunGood.com. Let’s hope the Jaeger bombs are flying in Mexico.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Taylor Pendrith (55-1, FanDuel) — Pendrith began his season with a missed cut at Fortinet but played far better than the result would indicate. He then followed that up with a top-three in his very next start at the Shriners, gaining strokes in every major category. Boom-or-bust has been his MO since he returned from injury in July of 2022, with the Canadian collecting five top-eight finishes since that return. Two of those have come in his last five starts, indicating he’s getting closer and closer to putting it all together.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Stephan Jaeger (28-1, Bet365) — I have long been awaiting the Stephan Jaeger breakthrough, and El Cardonal is the perfect track for the German to finally find the winner’s circle. Jaeger is one of the best long-iron players in this field, ranking 11th in proximity from 175-to-200 yards, and 14th in proximity from 200-yards plus. He possesses above average distance off-the-tee, and ranks third in birdies-or-better gained, second in par-five scoring, fifth in easy-scoring conditions, and 14th on Paspalum courses. With a 15th and 18th already under his belt at Vidanta Vallarta, Jaeger has shown comfort on wide open, long-iron intensive, Paspalum tracks. In both appearances this Fall swing, Jaeger has gained over five strokes ball-striking. The 34-year-old is playing some excellent golf right now, and his skill set fits El Cardonal to a tee.
Past results: It’s Fall Swing time. Our panel finished the 2023 playoffs strong, with our anonymous caddie cashing on Viktor Hovland to win the BMW Championship at 16-1. Before we turn the page to 2024, we still have a few events left in the autumn months, giving our experts a chance to build on the strong 2023 season. Stephen Hennessey already has us off to a hot start, correctly predicting Sahith Theegala’s win at the Fortinet Championship (16-1).
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "The Loop," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "The Loop" wherever you get your podcasts!
World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Peter Kuest (90-1, FanDuel) — This kid has game. His power is elite and he can get super hot as a birdie-maker. His flashes of brilliance are not one-offs: His name is one you’ll continue to hear in these smaller fields into 2024.
Mayo: Cameron Champ (45-1, DraftKings) — Before hitting the skids in Japan (T-59), Champ had been flashing some solid all-around play in the Fall Swing. He followed up a T-9 in Jackson with a T-19 against a stronger field in Vegas. That’s about as consistent as you’ll get from Champ. At a course which has 60-yard wide fairways, if Champ can match his putter to his driver, he’s live to reel off a third PGA win. And it’s possible, in his last eight rounds on Paspalum, he’s gained over a stroke on the greens in six of them.
Gdula: Michael Kim (80-1, FanDuel) — Kim has some red-hot irons and ranks 14th in strokes-gained/ approach, around-the-green, and putting. It’s a longer course overall, but Kim has above-average distance, too.
Gehman: Vincent Whaley (80-1, DraftKings) — Whaley’s Fall is off to an excellent start, notching three straight top-28 finishes. He’s been a positive tee-to-green player AND a positive putter during that stretch. He’s not reliant on any one aspect of his game and should be able to use his distance off-the-tee to separate himself from the field in Cabo.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Davis Thompson (50-1, BetRivers) — Just like Jaeger, I’m pot committed with Thompson. I still believe in his talent. He has contended against the big boys on a desert course (La Quinta), and his power is prodigious, which will be a huge advantage at El Cardonal. Give us an above average approach and putting week and he will be firmly in the mix.
Powers, Golf Digest: K.H. Lee (70-1, DraftKings) — All signs point to a birdie-fest this week and K.H. Lee might just be the king of birdie-fests. His combined score in his two victories at the AT&T Byron Nelson is 51 under. The man can fill it up.
Lack: Harry Hall (125-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — There’s a lot to love about Harry Hall this week. The 26-year-old ranks fourth in birdies-or-better gained, 14th in par five scoring, 27th in easy-scoring conditions, and third on Paspalum courses. Hall already has a 13th at the Corales Punta Cana and a 10th at the Mexico Open under his belt, both wide open, Paspalum courses that emphasize power off-the-tee, long-iron play, and putting on slower surfaces. Outside of his course fit, Hall is quietly playing some great golf already this Fall swing. He's coming off a 21st at the Zozo, and prior to that, he finished 26th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. At incredibly appealing odds, Hall stands an excellent chance to continue his strong form on Paspalum and play a factor over the weekend in Los Cabos.
World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Thomas Detry (28-1, BetRivers) — For those of us who pay attention to the DP World Tour, we know how talented Thomas Detry is. He just hasn’t really showed it over on the PGA Tour. Look closer at the ball-striking stats, and he’s losing a quarter of a stroke per round on approach shots over his past 36 rounds. That’s the worst mark among the favorites, and a good reason to fade him here.
Mayo: Cameron Young (11-1, DraftKings) — It’s going to look stupid when the top-ranked player (at not the best odds) dusts the field for his first career win, but it’s just too difficult to back any golfer at this price with a layoff so severe. Young hasn’t played an event on any tour since August at the BMW Championship.
Gdula: Emiliano Grillo (33-1, FanDuel) — Grillo’s irons are ice cold. That should be corrected eventually because of his long-term skill in that department. However, the putter is also up-and-down, and the combination of the two makes me want to overlook him.
Gehman: Lucas Glover (30-1, DraftKings) — There’s so much to like about Glover’s game, but there are certainly a few red flags for this week. He hasn’t played since the Tour Championship over two months ago. He’s also struggled with the putter in four of his last six starts, which is the part of his game that unlocks significant upside. If he can’t make putts at El Cardonal, he’ll lose ground quickly.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Lucas Glover (30-1, DraftKings) — It’s tough to call any course a non-Lucas Glover type course with the way he played at the end of last season, but seriously, a power-dependent course where you’re going to need to pour in birdies is not the kind of place that screams The Glove.
Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Young (11-1, DraftKings) — Judging by by recent record in this section, you should probably bet your life on Cam Y to at least top 10 this week. But I’m with Pat here. Too short of a number for a guy coming in off a mega layoff.
Lack: Beau Hossler (22-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Beau Hossler has been playing some great golf recently, but his iron play remains an absolute liability. El Cardonal is a second-shot golf course where most players will be playing from the fairway. Hossler’s inconsistency with his mid-to-long irons will significantly put him behind the eight ball on this track, and place far too much pressure on the strength of his putter.
World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Ludvig Aberg (-125) over Cameron Young (DraftKings) — I’m not sold on this being the event Cam Young breaks out. I’m a little surprised he’s playing, to be honest. I see this as an event for him to get his game back in competitive shape before the start of 2024, whereas Aberg has been firing on all cylinders for months.
Mayo: Ludvig Aberg (-125) over Cameron Young (DraftKings) — Aberg hasn’t finished worse than T-13 in any of his five starts over the past three months, including his first pro win, not including being on the winning Ryder Cup team. Young hasn’t played once in that stretch.
Gdula: Taylor Pendrith (-110) over Cameron Champ (FanDuel) — Both guys in this head-to-head hit it long off the tee, but Pendrith’s short game is better, and so are the irons (slightly).
Gehman: Stephan Jaeger (-120) over J.J. Spaun (Bet365) — Spaun will immediately be behind the field off-the-tee this week, lacking in distance but offering deadly accuracy. Those skills won’t be as important at El Cardonal while Jaeger has been piling up top-25 finishes and playing some of the most consistent golf on the tour. He hasn’t missed a cut since the RBC Heritage, 15 starts ago.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Stephan Jaeger (-120) over J.J. Spaun (Bet365) — I’m riding with Rick here with my pick to win versus a guy who lacks distance. That seems like a great edge.
Powers, Golf Digest: Stephan Jaeger (+105) over Sahith Theegala (DraftKings) — Not really a huge fan of Jaeger but he’s been far too consistent of late to not take a shot on here at plus money.
Lack: Ludvig Aberg (-125) over Cameron Young (DraftKings) — I’d argue that both Aberg and Young are the two most intriguing talents in the field, but the former is coming in playing some great golf, and the latter we have not seen since the BMW Championship in August. This is a great golf course for both of them, as they each possess a ton of power off-the-tee and elite skill with their long irons, yet Aberg is battling to gain full status on Tour, while Young is hoping to shake the rust off.
Matchup Results from the Zozo: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Bradley (+100) over Fowler); Powers: PUSH (Cole (-110) over Hossler); Lack: PUSH (Cole (-110) over Hossler); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Tarren (-110) over Griffin); Gehman: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Powers: 25-19-3 (up 5.55 units); Hennessey: 26-19-2 (up 5.32 units); Lack: 21-14-2 (up 4.4 units); Caddie: 24-19-4 (up 3.16 units); Gehman: 24-21-2 (up 0.91 units); Mayo: 20-22-2 (down 2.84 units); Gdula: 19-27-2 (down 9.54 units)
World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Cameron Champ (+450, DraftKings) — Cam is usually very much a boom or bust type of player, but he’s been more consistent this fall. His game and his life seem to be in a good place, and his game is an absolute perfect fit for this type of course.
Mayo: Kelly Kraft (+1200, DraftKings) — Kraft is looking like a new man since the start of the swing season. After a single top 20 from September to September last season (T-16 at Corales on Paspalum, by the way), he’s made all three cuts to start this season, never finishing worse than T-25. Always an excellent putter, it’s his approach play which has vaulted him up leader boards lately; gaining over 6.3 strokes on approach in each of his past two starts. And of his 14 career top-15s on tour, six have come on Paspalum resort courses.
Gdula: J.J. Spaun (+300, FanDuel) — Spaun has top-10 SG/tee-to-green numbers over the past 50 rounds, according to datagolf, and he has gained strokes from approach play in 15 straight measured events. That should give him a high floor at this setup.
Gehman: Akshay Bhatia (+360, DraftKings) — Bhatia might truly love playing in tropical locations. Five of his best seven results ever have come in the Bahamas, Mexico or Puerto Rico, per the RickRunGood.com database. He’s only six starts removed from his win at the Barracuda Championship and has plenty of firepower to compete in this scoring bonanza.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Mark Hubbard (+450, DraftKings) — Homeless Hubbs is another guy I’ve been riding hard since the late summer. He continues to put up great results on all types of layouts. His ball-striking has been stellar, as has his putter. Let’s ride it to another top finish.
Powers, Golf Digest: Patton Kizzire (+1200, DraftKings) — Patton Kizzire eats at these types of courses. Look it up.
Lack: Davis Riley (+500, DraftKings) — El Cardonal should set up beautifully for the former Alabama standout, and he’s beginning to play some better golf than his results would indicate. We still have the opportunity to be early, however. Riley is coming off a middling, but respectable finish at the Zozo, and prior to that, he finished 28th at the Shriners where he gained over four strokes ball-striking. Now the 26-year-old travels to Mexico, where he was last seen finishing fifth at Vidanta Vallarta. Riley has shown an affinity for wide open, easier golf courses that emphasize power off the tee and mid to long iron play. Though different agronomically, TPC Louisiana is not all that dissimilar from El Cardonal in the questions that it poses.
Top-10 results from Zozo: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 13 for 47 (up 18.6 units); Gdula: 11 for 47 (up 4.4 units); Lack: 9 for 37 (up 0.9 units); Hennessey: 8 for 47 (down 1.6 units); Powers: 6 for 47 (down 5.4 units); Caddie: 10 for 47 (down 7.23 units); Mayo: 8 for 44 (down 8.9 units)
World Wide Technology Championship picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Sahith Theegala — Theegala notched his first PGA Tour win in Napa this fall, which comes in the middle of a four event top-20 streak. He’s playing with tons of confidence and El Cardonal will allow him to bomb it all over the yard without much regard for accuracy. This is going to be a scoring-fest for one of the best scorers in the field.
Previous weeks: Shriners: Tom Kim. Sanderson Farms: Eric Cole. Fortinet Championship: Stephan Jaeger. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama.
Hennessey: Ludvig Aberg — Steve is busy right now so I asked him for a one and done and he said “Did I take Ludvig yet?” So that’s his pick.
Previous weeks: Shriners: Adam Hadwin. Sanderson Farms: Eric Cole. Fortinet Championship: Stephan Jaeger. Zozo: Keegan Bradley.
Powers: Stephan Jaeger — To reiterate, not a Jaeger guy, but this could be a nice spot to deploy him.
Previous weeks: Shriners: Tom Hoge. Sanderson Farms: Eric Cole. Fortinet Championship: Akshay Bhatia. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
Rick Gehman is the 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.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports