PGA DFS Playbook - American Express
Drew Phelps explores every Fairway, reads every Green and uses his DFS Golf experience to put together a winning DFS Playbook for the American Express.
I’d say it was a pretty good at the Sony Open with four players finishing in the Top 10 in my playbook and another four in the Top 25. While I wish Charles Howell III could have gotten me a Top 10, he scores another made cut and another Top 20 finish at the Sony. I’m glad I stayed away from Cam Smith’s ownership especially when he finished T62 for the week. Matt Kuchar was my big disappointment, really thought last week set up perfectly for him to bounce back but he just hasn’t been able to get back his 2019 form. I hope you had green screens as we head into this week's event in LaQuinta, California at PGA West for the American Express.
The PGA Tour heads to the continental United States for the American Express in La Quinta, California. This tournament has known many names over the years like the Desert Classic, the CareerBuilder Challenge, and the Bob Hope Classic to name a few. This tournament is typically played over three courses but this year, they have eliminated the La Quinta from this year’s format. Each of the golfers will play one of the two remaining courses over the first two days of competition and then we will have the cut after 36 holes instead of the traditional 54 holes at this event. Over the weekend, all of the golfers will play the Stadium Course. The change to the format is caused by the cancelation of the Pro-Am which this tournament typical features. This also changes the pace of the event. Typically I would warn DFS players of the slow pace that happens when you have a celebrity pro-am. You will still get shot tracker on the PGA Tour app on only one course but instead of being blind for two rounds, it'll only be one.
When I looked over the last decade of this event, I noticed that the list of winners is not exactly a who’s who of PGA Tour talent. The only two players I’d consider as name brands on the PGA Tour to win this event over the last decade is Jon Rahm in 2018 and Patrick Reed back in 2014. I mean Andrew Landry, Adam Long, Hudson Swafford, Jason Dufner (ok he won a major but not a household name), Bill Haas, Brian Gay, Mark Wilson and Jhonattan Vegas. Those eight golfers were all +2500 or more to outright win the event heading into the tournament. Hell, four of them were +150000 or more to win. I mentioned in my Best Bets article that this is the week to play your long shots and this is why. The field is not very strong especially now that Jon Rahm has pulled out but you still have a few names like Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Patrick Reed but after that it drops off.
Here are the two courses in a nutshell ...
STADIUM COURSE AT PGA WEST: 7,113 yards / Par 72
There is water all over this track with seven holes featuring water. These players will also have to deal with 90 bunkers throughout the course. We need to target players who keep the ball on the fairways and greens which means ball strikers (strokes gained: tee-to-green; SG:TG). There is no scrambling from the water. You can score on the Stadium Course but there is a lot of ways to damage your weekend. These players will not be able to bomb the ball because of all the forced lay-ups. This is the course where the final two rounds will be played.
NICKLAUS TOURNAMENT AT PGA WEST: 7,159 yards / Par 72
This is another course that favors ball strikers. It features a mix of narrow and wide fairways and gives the players a lot of risk/reward situations involving water. Iron play is vital on this course which means we need players with consistent ball striking ability. Also, we want players who have good sand game as there are bunkers all over the place. Most Nicklaus courses reward players who can avoid the hazards and give these players a chance to go low. If you are playing in the showdown style games, you will want to stack players on this course compared to the stadium.
KEY STATS TO TARGET: Strokes Gained: Approach, Par 3 Birdie or Better, Fairways Hit, Scrambling and Strokes Gained: Putting
My One and Done Selection is Gary Woodland.