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PGA DFS Picks: Data Driven Analysis for the American Express | DraftKings

Jason Rouslin

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Jason Rouslin previews Round 4 action of the PGA DFS contests for The Zurich Classic with picks like Bubba Watson & Scottie Scheffler 4/24/21

PGA DFS is filled with tons of useful information, but at times it can be overwhelming. The Awesemo golf team created a format to provide one condensed article that will analyze the four most important statistics for daily fantasy golf. This statistical overview will focus on recent form, course history, strokes gained and old-school statistics. In each category, I will provide notes and a data sheet to help with your PGA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel contests. This week we’re focusing on The American Express.

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Recent Form

We are only two tournaments into the PGA DFS year, so there’s not quite enough data to stay super recent. So, to stay semi-recent, we will cover 11 tournament weeks (14 weeks total) in this recent form sheet, bringing us back to the Shriners Open.  This week there are 156 players in the field, and I’ll be providing info on all 156 of them. The average number of starts per player is 3.877 over these 14 weeks.

Only six golfers in the entire field of 156 have multiple top-10s in the past 14 weeks: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Patton Kizzire, Russell Henley, Sungjae Im and Talor Gooch. 

In our dataset, only Reed has four top-25s. Patrick Cantlay, Lanto Griffin, Sepp Straka, Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Michael Thompson, Maverick McNealy, Russell Knox and Scottie Scheffler join Reed, Kizzire Im and Henley as golfers with three top-25s in the last 14 weeks.

Looking for golfers that are making the weekend each and every week? Well, a lot of the names we already mentioned fit this bill, but a few others that we have mentioned: Straka, Adam Long, Anirban Lahiri, Cameron Champ, Chris Kirk, Joel Dahmen and Kramer Hickok. 

There are a handful of golfers that have missed at least four cuts in the past 11 tournament weeks: Andrew Putnam, Bronson Burgoon, Luke List, Henrik Norlander, Nick Watney, Rhein Gibson, Sam Ryder and Tim Wilkinson. 


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Course History at The American Express

From luscious green grass and beautiful surrounding shots to a burnt brown and a weird green, the topography and aesthetics will be different this week. The low scoring, however, will not change so much. That’ll be in full display again this week. While this tournament is typically a three-course tournament, there are only two this year. I don’t think it should change much in terms of analysis, so let’s dig in.

Adam Hadwin has said that getting to the desert after a long offseason always gives him the good feels. With four top-10s here since 2016, including two runner-up finishes, he’s the only golfer that has more than three top-10s here since 2014. Bill Haas is the only other golfer in the field with three or more top-10s here, but it doesn’t come without failures as well, as he’s missed the last three straight cuts.

Phil Mickelson, a name we haven’t heard from in quite some time, is one of four golfers to have four or more top-25s at the American Express since 2014. He also has a couple of missed cuts in there as well, so he is a bit of feast or famine. Brian Harman is the other golfer other than Hadwin and Haas to have at least four top-25s here since 2014.

There are only four golfers here this week that has teed it up at least three times since 2014 and have made a paycheck each time. Hadwin is joined by Keegan Bradley and last week’s winner Kevin Na. 

Click here to view in Google Sheets.

Strokes Gained 

Strokes gained is the best metric by which to measure and predict the tour for PGA DFS purposes. This is where we make our money on DraftKings and FanDuel. Strokes gained can primarily be broken down into four categories: Off the tee, on the approach, around the green and putting. For this review, we are foregoing other categories such as strokes gained ball striking (which combines strokes gained off the tee and on approach) or short game (which combines around-the-green and putting data).


For more strokes gained information, check out Awesemo’s Strokes Gained Tool, which has all of this information and more for both DraftKings and FanDuel PGA DFS contests! Click Here.


I am going back to when the PGA Tour came back from their COVID break for this sample.

Strokes Gained off the Tee

While big hitters Matthew Wolff and Champ are in the field, neither of them has gained more total strokes off the tee than Scheffler. He is second in average strokes gained off the tee (0.65) to Sam Burns, who gains 0.68 on average per round. Champ is third.

Strokes Gained on the Approach

In his five starts, Camilo Villegas has the best average strokes gained on the approach (0.94). Henley (0.93) is second behind Villegas.

Strokes Gained Around the Green

Francesco Molinari leas this category, though Rory Sabbatini leads all golfers who have at least 10 starts, averaging 0.42 per start.

Strokes Gained Putting

Kizzire was up to his old ways last week at the Sony Open, gaining over a stroke putting on average for the four days. It was his second time doing so in our dataset. He’s second to Zach Johnson, with Kristoffer Ventura earning an honorable mention.

For the yearly strokes gained ranks, Click here.

Old School Statistics for Fantasy Golf Analysis 

Before strokes gained statistics were invented, the focus was on data like greens in regulation and driving distance/accuracy. The old standards can still help develop a player’s profile further, helping us identify potential strengths and weaknesses. I’ve chosen my five favorite old-school statistics for this week’s American Express. Four of these will come from a corollary statistic from the strokes gained category, and we will add one additional scoring statistic. I’ve listed each golfer along with their ranking in the statistical category.

Total Driving

Gary Woodland (1), Doc Redman (9), Paul Casey (11), Scheffler (13), Im (18), Lucas Glover (21), Cantlay (22)

Around the Green Proximity

Brendan Steele (9), Jason Dufner (9), Peter Malnati (12), Dahmen (13), Hickok (13), Bradley (17), Hudson Swafford (17)

Putting from 15-20 Feet

Malnati (1), Lahiri (2), Ventura (3), Woodland (6), McNealy (9), Putnam (10), Scheffler (13)

Birdie or Better

Cantlay (3), Scheffler (4), Reed (7), Burgoon (10), Denny McCarthy (11), Im (13), Champ (17)

Click here to view in Google Sheets.

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Data-Driven PGA DFS picks

I know that was a lot of information to digest. At the end of each weekly article, I will provide a trio of names that appear with positive data in at least two of the four sections we reviewed and make for good PGA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel.

  1. Patrick Cantlay
  2. Scottie Scheffler
  3. Joel Dahmen

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Looking for more fantasy golf and PGA DFS picks content for the American Express? We have loads of PGA DFS picks and fantasy golf articles, data, cheat sheets, and more for DraftKings and FanDuel on the Awesemo PGA home page. Just click HERE.

Jason established his roots in the littlest state that could...Rhode Island. But after 29 years of bitter cold, and only being able to play golf 4 months a year, upended those roots and moved to Florida. Now two years later, Jason is a husband to Sarah and father of James as well as two Labradors (Choco and Bella) and he dedicates his time to serve as the lead of PGA content at Awesemo.com. In the time he is not diving into the PGA stats and covering this week's current tournament, you can find him researching and trading stocks, on the golf course, or somewhere hopefully lost in nature with his dogs guiding him along the way. Want to chat? Have a question about Golf/Stocks or anything else? Hop on twitter and give him a message @dfsgolfer23. You can also contact Jason by emailing [email protected].

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