This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $10,000
Course: Grand Canyon University Golf Course
Every April, golf fans get excited for a major championship. Well, Masters week came and went without the tournament being played. But here we are, it's still April and there's a major actually set to be played this week. But it couldn't be more of a minor major. The GCU Championship is an Arizona Series Major on the Golden State Tour. It has one of the biggest purses of the Arizona mini-tour season and has caught the attention of a few name golfers.
Calum Hill, a Scotsman ranked 136th in the world, heads the field, which also features J.J. Spaun and Dylan Wu, a prominent Korn Ferry Tour golfer who has played a number of events in Arizona. Perhaps the golfers are getting antsy with all this idleness or are starting to ramp back up for the return of the PGA Tour, which could begin as soon as the second week of June at Colonial. Hill, Spaun and Wu are part of an 87-player field for the 54-hole event beginning Tuesday, vying for the $10,000 first prize, which is tied for the second biggest payday of the GST season.
The Golden State Tour is affiliated with the Outlaw Tour, which filled the DFS golf void the past two weeks. The GST website describes the tour like this: "Established in 1982, the Golden State Tour (GST) is the longest running professional 'Mini Tour' in the country." It is actually based in Oceanside, Calif., and tournaments are played in both Arizona and California. You may want to check out RotoWire's Outlaw Tour Primer, which would also aid in playing this week.
DraftKings said will continue to offer Showdown games on these tournaments. It's the same as a regular golf week: pick six golfers in a $50,000 salary cap. There are some games offered for free, as always, with a top game now costing $10,300 and paying our $30,000. That's right, that's more than the winner of the actual tournament gets. Interestingly, only the top-25 and ties in the tournament get paid – that's less than one-third of the field, while a PGA Tour event pays more than 40 percent of its fields.
The difficulty in filling out lineups for these games is obvious. There is some data on the golfers on the GST and Outlaw websites, including how they've fared in prior tournaments and what their stats are, however rudimentary. But the biggest issue is that the majority of the golfers have not played a lot. There are maybe a dozen or so "regulars" on the Arizona circuit and a similar number of golfers with OWGR rankings. For example, Hill has played two Outlaw events and Wu has played five times combined on the two tours, but most of the golfers have played even less. This is Spaun's first event; he may be the best guy in the field, but who can account for rustiness and how much he's been practicing? The leading money winner on the GST Tour is Mark Anguiano, who also won another GCU Championship – yes, the same name as this week's tournament – at the same track back in November. Only this one is a major. Anguiano is tied for the most starts on the Golden State Tour, with 12, and also is tied for the most wins, with two. There have been 16 events so far dating back to late October.
For stats, we recommend concentrating on the counting stats rather than averages. A guy with a low scoring average may have only a half-dozen rounds since there does not appear to be a minimum qualifying total. Something such as total birdies would be a better indicator of who is playing well.
At 7,190 yards, Grand Canyon University Golf Course is generally in line with the length of a par-71 on the PGA Tour. But one of the three par-5s is long by any standard: The third hole is a whopping 642 yards. The other two par-5s are only around 550. Three of the four par-3s exceed 200 yards. Conversely, five of the 11 par-4s are 400 or less. And as we said, the golfers played this course back in November. It will be somewhat different this time, just as Augusta plays differently in April and November.
Weather-wise, Phoenix is already scorching hot. The temperature is forecast to be well over 100 all three days. No rain, little wind, low humidity. Still, excruciatingly hot.
Key Stats to Winning at GCU Golf Course
• Greens in regulation
• Putting average
• Total birdies
Nobody knows too much about the golfers, much less the course. But as we mentioned above, there was a tournament at this track back in November. Here is the leaderboard. Otherwise, there are a dozen or so guys with a far better pedigree than the rest of the field. It would not be a bad plan to stock as many of them into your lineup as possible. Chances are very good that one of them will win (though remember, this is just a Showdown format, not Classic).
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Calum Hill - $10,600 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
The top guy on the DK board has played two Outlaw events, finishing tied for 16th in the first one and winning the second at the end of March. Hill has won three times on the Challenge Tour in Europe, twice last year. He's been ranked as high as 110th in the world.
Mark Anguiano - $10,200 (12-1)
The 27-year-old California has had by the best GST season to date. He's won twice, finished second four other times and has three more top-5s. One of those wins was at this same course in November. Anguiano also has one of the biggest wins of anyone in the field – at a Mackenzie Tour event in 2018. That moved Anguiano to 750th in the world, but now he's back in the 1500s.
J.J. Spaun - $10,000 (12-1)
On one hand, it's surprising that Spaun is the No. 4 guy on the DK board. On the other hand, he's ranked lower in the world rankings than Dylan Wu ($10,400), who plays on the Korn Ferry Tour and is also in the field. Spaun does not have so much as a top-10 on the PGA Tour in about 18 months or a top-25 in about a year – obviously, he's really been struggling. But just the way Alex Cejka swooped in to capture a couple of Arizona events, Spaun could do likewise.
Tier 2 Values
Jeremy Paul - $9,300 (18-1)
Paul has played two Golden State events and eight Outlaw events this season and he's finished top-10 in all of them – three of them runners-up, including the first GCU Championship in November. Paul is a native of Germany who played 11 events in Canada last year with six top-25s, two of them doubling as top-10s. He attended the University of Colorado.
Yannik Paul - $9,100 (18-1)
Paul was runner-up at last week's Outlaw event and finished fourth at the first GCU Championship in November. Like many of the top guys on the Arizona mini-tours, Paul has played the last couple of years in Canada. He had an impressive seven top-25s last year (albeit no top-10s). He's ranked just inside No. 2,000 OWGR.
Brady Calkins - $9,000 (20-1)
Calkins has played four GST events and finished top-10 in all of them, winning once. And one of the tournaments was that first GCU. An internet search uncovered that Calkins was the 2018 Player of the Year on something called the Dakotas Tour. But there's nary a mention of him on the OWGR website.
Tier 3 Values
Kevin Lucas - $8,000 (40-1)
Lucas is ranked 748th in the world, having played on the Korn Ferry Tour last year and again in 2020. He tied for sixth at the Bogota tour stop back in February and he also had a pair of top-10s last year. Lucas has not teed it up in Arizona yet, so rust could be a concern. But he is one of the highest-ranked golfers in the field.
Matt Marshall - $7,500 (80-1)
Marshall has three GST top-15s this season, including at the first GCU event. And he's coming off a tie for 11th at last week's Outlaw tournament. For the season on the Outlaw, he has a win, two T3s and a top-10. Marshall is older than most of the players at 35.
Sam Triplett - $7,400 (80-1)
Triplett has a win on the GST this season and is also second on the Outlaw Tour money list. He is a Northwestern alum, Class of '18, and the son of former PGA Tour player and current Champions Tour player Kirk Triplett.
Carson Roberts - $7,100 (20-1)
You're always looking for a curious DK price but you'd hardly expect to find it on a mini-tour event. Yet here it is. Roberts is only $7,100 but golfodds.com has him at a mere 20-1 to win the whole tournament – that's tied for the 10th-lowest odds. The 24-year-old American won his last time out on the Outlaw Tour three weeks ago, his fourth top-5 in his past five starts.
John Trasamar - $7,000 (200-1)
Trasamar has played four Outlaw events, finishing in the top-5 in two of them and the top-20 in all four.
Zachary Gaugert - $6,800 (250-1)
The Southern Californian tied for 11th last week on the Outlaw Tour, giving him three top-25s in five starts, while just missing a fourth with a T27. Gaugert is a Marquette alum, Class of 2016.