After back-to-back weeks in Hawaii, the PGA TOUR makes it way to La Quinta, California for The American Express. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this tournament’s setup has been altered for 2021. Usually, the golfers in this full field would play a round at each of the PGA WEST Stadium Course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club before a cut, and then the players who successfully made it through the cutline would finish out the event at the Stadium Course for the final round. However, for this year’s edition of The American Express, only the Stadium and Nicklaus courses will be played. Every golfer will play a round on each of these courses for the first two rounds before a standard top-65 and ties cut. Then, that group of players who were lucky enough to find themselves inside the cutline will play two more rounds at the Stadium Course. So, with three rounds taking place at the West Stadium Course, this track is the “host” course and the venue we should be focusing on this week. Legendary architect Pete Dye designed this track and it is a par 72 that is 7,113 yards in length.
This is a relatively low number for a par 72 and most golfers tend to club down off the tee at the Stadium Course. Finding the fairway is obviously beneficial, but not a must, and your approach play is far more important than your work off the tee. The greens are on the smaller side and three of the last five American Express champions have ranked inside the top-9 in SG APP. In addition to being a strong iron player, you must be able to capitalize on every scoring opportunity that four par fives present at the Stadium Course. Three of these four holes rank as the three easiest on the scorecard and each of the last three winners of The American Express have found themselves in the top-5 in SG on the par fives at the conclusion of the event. In fact, Jon Rahm led his field in SG on the par fives during his victory in 2018.
For the third straight week, the PGA TOUR will be competing on Bermuda greens, at both the Stadium and Nicklaus courses. Three American Express champions since 2016 have led their fields in birdies converted and it wouldn’t hurt to target players with positive splits on Bermuda when navigating the DraftKings player pool this week. Following a withdrawal by Rahm (undisclosed), this field consists of 156 players and there will be a top-65 and ties cut taking place after the second round. Bargain hunting is always a key to DFS golf so we can roster some studs in our lineup, and below I give four of my favorite plays priced under $7,500 on DraftKings this week.
Sepp Straka, $7,400
For his first start of 2021, Straka carded a T25 last week at the Sony Open. In this finish, the 27-year-old stuck the greens at Waialae Country Club at a high rate of 77.8%, lifting him to 4.0 SG APP for the event. This marks the sixth straight tournament that Straka has gained strokes with his irons and he now ranks 7th in SG APP over his last 24 rounds. The strong ball striking has helped him make six consecutive cuts and Straka has only missed one weekend in his last nine events on the PGA TOUR.
Now, the Austrian will look to extend his cut streak at The American Express, where he finished T4 a year ago in only his second attempt at the multiple course tournament.
Cameron Tringale, $7,400
His last time out, Tringale put on a ball striking clinic during his T3 at the RSM Classic. For the week, he finished 5th in both SGT2G and SG APP at Sea Island Golf Club. The veteran has now proceeded to the weekend in four of his past five with three finishes of T29 or better during this run. Plus, over his last 12 rounds, Tringale ranks 7th in GIR, 4th in BOB% and 10th in SGP.
The 32-year-old grew up about two and half hours away from La Quinta and he has always been fond of this PGA TOUR stop in his home state. This will be the 11th straight season that Tringale has appeared at The American Express and he is 8/10 at the event. Not only should he get us four rounds of golf, but Tringale has top-10 upside if his outstanding tee-to-green form from the RSM Classic continues.
Brendan Steele, $7,300
Steele clearly used the short offseason to work on his irons. After missing two straight cuts to close out the fall with an ugly GIR rate of 59.75%, Steele hit 83.3% of the greens last week in Honolulu. This was good enough to rank him T3 in greens found for the week and his T4 at the Sony Open was Steele’s best finish since last March.
The Cal product will now look to carry this performance over to The American Express, where he is eight for ten for his career, with a pair of top-10s. The 37-year-old has been playing on the weekend in ten of his past 13 PGA TOUR events and Steele is one of the safer cheap options on the board this week.
John Huh, $7,200
I like to compare odds to win to DraftKings pricing to find values each week, and Huh at $7,200 sticks out like a sore thumb. Via DraftKings Sportsbook, the 30-year-old carries +7000 odds to take home the top prize this weekend at The American Express. These are the same odds at Patton Kizzire ($8,400), who costs a notable $1,200 more than Huh on DraftKings.
The strong odds shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how well he was playing before the new year. In his last start, Huh finished T20 at the RSM Classic and this was his third top-20 in only four starts during the fall swing. Furthermore, the California native has made nine of his last ten cuts overall and is 5/6 at The American Express. He has finished inside the top-30 three times here in La Quinta, most notably with a T3 in 2018.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.