The PGA Tour will leave the Hawaiian Islands and head back to the mainland this week. The American Express is a unique event and the first of the West Coast Swing. The tournament will once again be played on three courses on Thursday – Saturday (Stadium Course, Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club) and the final round will be played on the Stadium Course Sunday. The golfers will play all three courses before the cut Saturday night. (Yes, we are guaranteed three rounds out of each golfer this week)
The field will be much stronger than it has been in the past. 156 golfers will tee it up Thursday with the top-70 and ties making it through the weekend. 22 of the top-50 golfers in the World Golf Rankings will be teeing it up in Palm Desert this week. That includes Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schueffele, Justin Thomas and Shane Lowry to name a few.
This is not my favorite tournament for DFS contests. It is tough to handicap when the golfers play three different courses in three different conditions. Also, shot-link will not be available for 50% of the tournament so it is tough to get data to decide which golfers to use in our lineups. The three courses are very easy, so the American Express typically turns into a putting contest. Putting is the most inconsistent stat in golf. Therefore, I will be scaling back my entries this week and focusing more on Fantasy Football.
I thought about breaking down each course but it really is not necessary. All three courses play under 7,200, are par-72 desert courses with Bermuda grass. This tournament is a Pro-Am so that means the greens will be slowed down and the rough will not be long. It will still take roughly 6 hours for a foursome to complete their round, but it could be worse if the PGA Tour had the normal greens and rough for the tournament.
I have had a lot of success with my lineups at the American Express by focusing on the golfers who lead the Shots Gained (SG) Putting on Bermuda category. The top-10 golfers in this stat category includes: 1. Cameron Davis, 2. Ben Griffin, 3. Min Woo Lee, 4. J.T. Poston, 5. Taylor Montgomery, 6. Grayson Murray, 7. Matt Wallace, 8. Garrick Higgo, 9. Ben Kohles, 10. Adam Hadwin
Click here to see the course: PGA West Stadium Course
KEY STATS FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS
– Strokes Gained Approach
– Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green
– Strokes Gained Putting (Bermuda)
– Par 5 Scoring
Here is the recent form and course history for each golfer this week: Am Express History and Form
TOP 30 GOLFERS FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS
CORE GOLFERS FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS
AMERICAN EXPRESS STRATEGY
My strategy for the Cash Contest lineup will be much different from the strategy for the Tournament Contests this week. The field is stacked, but the players priced below $7,500 do not have good tournament history or they are in poor form. I will fade the high-priced golfers and build a balanced lineup. I wanted golfers who have a history of playing well in the American Express, are in good form and rank highly in the key stats. The six golfers I selected this week check each box.
The American Express has the most volatility of any tournament on the PGA Tour schedule. Some golfers just do not like playing six hour rounds with armatures. The history and form chart attached above shows that very few golfers have consistently made the cut in the American Express. I will spread the wealth this week and play many golfers. We get three rounds from each golfer this week, so I do not mind taking a chance with a few of the cheaper golfers and pairing them with Scottie Scheffler, Pantrick Cantlay or Sungjae Im.
DRAFTKINGS CASH CONTEST
J.T. POSTON ($9,100): I would not be surprised if Poston won this week. He is playing some of the best golf on the PGA Tour right now. Poston finished 5th at The Sentry and 6th last week at the Sony Open. He also finished 6th last year in the American Express, so Poston knows these courses well. He ranks No. 4 in SG Putting (Bermuda), No. 20 in SG Approach and No. 1 overall in the key stats. Poston should be a safe pick to start your Cash Contest with.
ERIC COLE ($9,100): I used Cole last week in my Cash Contest lineup and I will continue to use last year’s Rookie of the Year until DraftKings raises his price. Cole has finished five tournaments in a row in the top-14. That is fantastic form. He played the American Express last year for the first time. He only finished 36th, but Cole should be better this week since he will be more familiar with the courses. Cole ranks No. 11 in SG Putting (Bermuda), No. 10 in SG Approach and No. 5 overall in the key stats. Cole is a safe pick with top-five upside Sunday.
ADAM HADWIN ($8,300): Hadwin has been so good at the American Express that they should rename the tournament, “The Adam Hadwin Pro Am.” The Canadian has made his last 8 cuts at the American Express with four finishes in the top-six. He missed the cut last week, but I am not worried about it. Hadwin ranks No. 14 in SG Putting (Bermuda) and No. 4 in overall stats when you only use the courses from the American Express.
TAYLOR MONTGOMERY ($8,100): Montgomery is my pick to win this week. He opened the season with a 13th-place finish at the Sony Open. He also finished 5th in his first trip to the American Express last year. I will put my money behind Montgomery in any tournament that becomes a putting contest. He ranks No. 5 in SG Putting (Bermuda), and he ranked No. 1 in SG Putting in this tournament last year. The only thing holding Montgomery back last year was his irons. He ranked 8th in SG Approach last week. Montgomery will have a good chance to win if his irons are as good as his putter in Palm Desert.
ANDREW PUTNAM ($8,000): Putnam entered the 2024 season in good form. He finished 5th at the World Wide Technology Championship and 10th last week at the Sony Open. Putnam has been good in the American Express too. He has finished 36th, 14th, 21st, 10th, 34th and 17th in the last six tournaments played in Palm Desert. Putnam is a safe pick to make the cut and he has top-10 upside this week.
BEN GRIFFIN ($7,400): The last pick for the Cash Contest lineup was tough. I had to decide between Keith Mitchell and Billy Horschel or should I leave some salary on the table and use Ben Griffin. The stats, recent form and course history all favor Griffin, so I will trust the numbers. Griffin has made his last six cuts on the PGA Tour, including a 30th-place finish last week. He played the American Express for the first time last year and finished 32nd. Griffin ranks 11th in the key stats and No. 2 in SG Putting (Bermuda) and No. 5 in Birdie or Better %. Griffin checks all of the boxes, so he gets the final spot in my Cash Contest lineup.
DRAFTKINGS TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
SUNGJAE IM ($10,100): The four golfers priced above $10K this week are all great choices, but I will take a chance with Sungjae Im. He has finished 18th, 11th, 12th, 10th and 12th in the last five American Express Tournaments. His form is good too. Im finished 12th at the ZoZo Championship in the fall and 5th at The Sentry. Im only ranks No. 20 in the key stats, but he ranks in the top-25 in every category. He is the type of golfer who can win this tournament if his putter gets hot this weekend.
JUSTIN THOMAS ($9,800): It was a horrible season for Thomas last year. He said he worked hard on his game while the rest of the tour was competing in the FedEx Playoffs. His hard work seemed to pay off. JT finished 5th at the Fortinet Championship, 4th at the Nedbank and 3rd at the Hero Championship in the fall. JT ranks No. 9 in the key stats this week. $9,800 is a great price if we are getting prime form JT. I think he is close.
STEPHAN JAEGER ($7,900): Taylor Montgomery and Christian Bezuidenhout would be a safer pivot from Stephan Jaeger and Erik Van Rooyen in this lineup (I like that combination for single-entry tournament contests), but I want to be a bit more contrarian, so I will use Jaegar. All he has done this year is make every cut (5 for 5) and average 91 DK Points per Contest. Jaegar finished 36th in the American Express last year. His form is much better in 2024. Jaegar has top-10 upside if he can roll in some putts this week.
BILLY HORSCHEL ($7,700): Horschel is about the same golfer as Justin Thomas. He had a horrible season last year, but he worked on his game and it seems to be paying off. Horschel finished four of his last five tournaments in the top-20. That includes an 18th-place finish last week. Horschel ranks seventh in the key stats this week, so I will trust the numbers. $7,700 is a good price if Horshel is in his old form this week.
ERIK VAN ROOYEN ($7,500): EVR is a golfer who gets overlooked to often in DFS. He has made his last nine cuts on the PGA Tour. That includes a win at the World Wide Technology Championship in November. EVR finished 6th at the American Express last year, so he has the ability to score well in this tournament. I will take my chances with EVR at the American Express.
PATTON KIZZIRE ($7,000): Kizzire is the second-best value pick on the slate this week (behind Taylor Montgomery). Kizzire finished 11th and 22nd in his last two American Express Championships. Kizzire has also made the cut in his last five tournaments on the PGA Tour. That includes a 13th-place finish last week. Kizzire has the history and form to finish in the top-25 this week.
Here are my lineups for Multi-Entry Tournament Contest: (Multi Entry Lineups)
FANDUEL CASH CONTEST LINEUP
FANDUEL TOURNAMENT CONTEST LINEUP
PGATOUR.COM FANTASY PICKS
* This is the third tournament in Segment 1. There are 10 tournaments in this segment, so use your golfers wisely this week. We need to save some of our top golfers for the tournaments on the big tournaments at the end of Segment 1.
FANTASY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP ONE & DONE PICK: TAYLOR MONTGOMERY (AMERICAN EXPRESS)
Players in Fantasy Golf Championship One & Done so far: Corey Conners (57th)
SEASON-LONG ONE & DONE PICK: ANDREW PUTNAM (AMERICAN EXPRESS)
– One & Done picks used so far this season: Russell Henley (4th), Sungae Im (5th), Alex Noran (Won), Beau Hossler (15TH), Min Woo Lee (6th), Adam Schenk (MC), Eric Cole (35TH), Sahith Theegala (Won)
BEST BETS FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS
Fade the chalk? Yeah, maybe that is the story line for the 2024 season. Chris Kirk won The Sentry at 200-1 odds and Grayson Murray won the Sony Open last week at 400-1 odds. The field is stacked this week, so I am not sure the long-shot trend will continue. I did find a few golfers with longer odds that I like this week…
SUNGJAE IM (20-1)
J.T. POSTON (30-1)
ERIC COLE (30-1)
TAYLOR MONTGOMERY (45-1)
ANDREW PUTNAM (65-1)
PATTON KIZZIRE (110-1)
Good Luck This Week!!!!
Follow me on X (Twitter) @MrFantasyNASCAR