The sights and sounds of the most beautiful state in the U.S. always provide us with a great way to start the year. Now the PGA Tour heads to California for a few stops, starting with the American Express. Typically during this time we see a couple of weird contests, which cause us to make atypical PGA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel, with three courses being playing and multiple pro-am events, but because of COVID the pro-am portions of the tournaments have been canceled. Now those tournaments will just use two courses rather than three.
This type of format will actually be three out of our next four tournaments: This week for the American Express played at PGA West and PGA Nicklaus, next week’s Farmers Insurance Open played at Torey Pines and then two weeks later for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which will feature Spyglass Hill as well as Pebble Beach. Typically we only get shot-link at one of the courses, so that’ll add to the tilt on Friday afternoons. As the famous villain once said, “be prepared.”
Here is what you can expect to find in this article, with some new additions:
- The Tournament & Format
- Course Commentary
- Course Facts & Figures
- PGA DFS Course Summary & Statistical Comparison
- PGA DFS Preview, including sweat sheet and now featuring winning lineups from last year’s event
- Player Preview
PGA DFS Picks & Preview | DraftKings & FanDuel
The Tournament and Format
The pro-ams of California were always well attended and well-liked within those communities. This tournament was long remembered as the Bob Hope Charity Classic and has been played at 13 different courses around the Palm Springs area in its over 50 years of existence. It has been at the PGA West and Nicklaus course since 2016 and the La Quinta Country Club (the third of three courses typically used for this event) for the last 10 years. There will be 154 players spread out between the two courses over Thursday and Friday, with the top 65 and ties making the weekend. With one of the biggest fields of the year and the same cut rule, you can expect the 6-for-6 percentages to be quite low this week.
PGA West & Nicklaus Course
From luscious green to an ugly brown, that’ll be the color most prominent this week, as dormant Bermuda with overseeded fairways provides a unique watching experience. The courses themselves are part of the Silverado Resort, so to say they are “resort” courses is probably a tad of an understatement. Each course has its potential to go low, but the PGA West course, which will be used for three of the four rounds, is typically the harder of the two. Let’s dig into those numbers.
Course Facts & Figures * PGA West stats provided
Par and Yardage
- Par 72: 7133 yards
- 40/49-PGA west -1.72 under par
- 48/49- Nicklaus Course -2.942
- Par 3’s – 170, 223, 195, 165
- The Par 4’s- 445, 381, 448, 445, 405, 363, 399, 468, 435
- Par 5’s- 535, 559, 560, 591
Grass Types & Hazards
- Grass Type: Bermuda throughout
- Average Green: 5,000 square feet
- Water Hazards: 7
- Bunkers: 90
- Rough Length: 2.5 inches
- Peter Dye
Facts and Figures
- Off the Tee: The PGA West course tends to be relatively easy off the tee, ranking right in the middle of both accuracy (24) and distance (29). About 63% of the fairways were hit last year, while the average drive was around 288.
- Approach to the Green: Even though these are some of the smallest greens on tour, because of the resort set up and short rough they were still hit on an above-average rate. The fairways-hit percentage of 70.24% ranked 12th easiest last year.
- Around the Green: Keeping the theme of small greens, both scrambling and putting ranked some of the easiest on tour last year. The 67% up-and-down rate was the easiest on tour.
- On the Green: With scrambling being the easiest, that means that putting was as well, coming in at 1.53.
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PGA DFS Course Summary & Statistical Comparison
With greens this easy and scrambling rates being much higher than normal, I’d like to put a heavy emphasis on golfers that have been hot with their approach games and hitting the fairway at an above-average rate.
The American Express: Fantasy Golf and PGA DFS Preview | DraftKings + FanDuel
There are a couple of additions to this section. I will highlight the upcoming week and what contests are offered, and go over the winning GPP lineups from last year’s three price points. Finally, we’ll look to the DFS sweat sheet to see where the golfers will be scoring the most DFS points this week.
PGA DFS Slate Preview
The first draft of this, written on Sunday night, had these contests posted at the time of the article being finished:
Previous Year PGA DFS DraftKings Results
I’ll cover three buy-in levels: The large-field GPP, the high-dollar GPP and the single-entry mid-level buy-in. I’ll also provide a couple of notes on the overall scoring of the event.
- The tournament’s average score (of golfers that made the cut) was 92 points, with the highest being 158.5 and the lowest being 70.
- 19 golfers scored at least 100 points.
- The points scored shown in this picture is not accurate.
It seems there is a lapse in the data as neither of my sites with GameCenter links have them right now. So, instead of the winning lineups, I’ll just provide the optimal lineup.
PGA DFS Sweat Sheet
There should be balanced scoring here this week, a nice change of pace from the last two where a few holes dominated the scoring. No holes have had below 2.2% of the scoring, and there is a plethora of holes that earn over 5%. The easiest holes in terms of PGA DFS scoring are eight and 16.
Previous Winners for The American Express
- 2020: Andrew Landry (-26)
- 2019: Adam Long (-26)
- 2018: Jon Rahm (-22)
- 2017: Hudson Swafford (-20)
- 2016: Jason Dufner (-25)
Normally we see a big drop off in talent to the Desert Classic/American Express, with maybe two or three top-20 players. This year there are five, including two golfers making their 2021 debut: Matthew Wolff and Brooks Koepka. Also making his season debut is fan favorite Rickie Fowler. He needs a big start to the season here if he just wants to tee it up at Augusta in April. Adding a bit more class is a pair of Patrick’s, who were both late adds to the field this week with Patrick Cantlay & Patrick Reed heading to Palm Springs.
Scottie Scheffler also returns to action after skipping last week, and Phil Mickelson is making his season debut.
*An earlier version of this article had Jon Rahm in the field, but he withdrew after salaries were posted Monday afternoon.
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