This is a full-field event at 156 golfers. Last year, the Pro-Am version of this event was canceled, but this year it returns. Each pro will be paired with an amateur for the first three rounds of this event, and the cut will return to being after 54 holes (as it is most years). Three courses will be in play, with the TPC Stadium (the host course) hosting two rounds and both the Nicklaus Tournament venue and La Quinta Country Club each hosting a single round. The event should retain most of its usual appeal, which includes nice desert weather and low scoring (the winner here always gets to 20-under or better).
The field for this year’s event has some strength to it, as well, with world No. 1 (and 2018 champion) Jon Rahm in the field. World No. 4 (and TPC Stadium record holder) Patrick Cantlay will also be in attendance, along with Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler finished third in his debut here two years ago and will be making his 2022 debut this week.
PGA West—Palm Springs, California
TPC Stadium (home course, played twice) 7,113 yards, par 72
La Quinta Country Club: 7,060 yards, par 72
Nicklaus Tournament 7,159 yards, par 72
The tournament this week will again be played on three courses. Last year, the event used just the Nicklaus Tournament venue and the host Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, but this year, the 54-hole cut will also mean each player gets a crack at the very soft La Quinta layout.
One constant is the fact the TPC Stadium course will still act as the host venue for the week. The Stadium course can stretch to 7,300 yards, although generally it will set up at around 7,000-7,150 yards for the week, making distance less of a factor. Players can still be very aggressive here, though. The rough is generally kept low, and the par 5s are almost all reachable in two with a solid drive. In 2020, the Nicklaus venue played as the second-easiest on TOUR, yielding a 69.059 scoring average while the Stadium course was the 10th-easiest (out of 49). Patrick Cantlay’s tournament-ending 61 last year on the Stadium Course exemplifies the type of scoring that is available to the pros on these setups.
While it has been tamed lately by PGA pros, the Pete Dye-designed Stadium venue was once rated as the fourth-toughest course in America by Golf Digest and has the highest slope-and-stroke ratings of any of the three venues used for this event. The course shares a lot of similarities with its more famous sister venue, TPC Sawgrass, down in Florida. Water comes into play on seven holes, and the 17th is a near replica of the famous par 3 island green 17th at Sawgrass. There’s a ton of sand here, too, with over 90 bunkers. In terms of stats, you’ll need someone to get hot with their putter, but strokes gained approach is the thing to key in on. Four of the past five winners have gained +3.0 strokes or more on Approach at Stadium in their two measured rounds there for the week. Great wedges and short irons are essential.
One final note: the greens are still predominately Bermuda, but they will play slightly differently than the ones last week because of the climate. Players with good course history at this event can be bumped up slightly, in terms of fantasy value, because a couple different courses are in play here. Seven of the last eight winners had played this event at least once prior to winning.
2022 Weather: This is generally an event where we don't have to worry about the weather much, but things could actually get interesting over the weekend. The highs over the first couple of days will be decent for this time of the year and likely top out in the mid-70s. However, calm skies will give way to some higher winds on Saturday with gusts that have the potential to top 20 mph. Slightly cooler weekend forecasts will be in the cards, as well. With the three course layout in play, things could get interesting for DFS, and avoiding the Stadium course on Saturday may prove wise with your selections, as that venue has the toughest layout and most water. Watch the weather this week to see if the forecast shifts at all.
Last 5 winners
2021—Si Woo Kim -23 (over Patrick Cantlay -22)
2020—Andrew Landry -25 (over Abraham Ancer -24)
2019—Adam Long -26 (over Phil Mickelson -25)
2018—Jon Rahm -22 (over Andrew Landry playoff)
2017—Hudson Swafford -20 (over Adam Hadwin -19)
- Eleven of the past 12 winners of this event played in one of the two season-opening events in Hawaii in the year of their respective wins — the exception was Bill Haas in 2015.
- Of the past nine winners, six played in the Sony Open the week before and four of the six made the cut there, finishing T25/9th/13th/31st (Adam Long and Andrew Landry missed cut at the Sony in 2019 and 2020, respectively, before winning here).
- Eight of the past nine winners had played in this event at least once before prior to their win — the exception was Adam Long in 2019.
Winners Stats and Course Highlights
Si Woo Kim ($8,300; 2020 winner at 23-under-par)
2021 lead-in form (T25-T34-MC-T17-T8)
· Two of the last three winners here (Adam Long and Andrew Landry) have had almost zero lead-in form, with Landry coming in off five straight missed cuts to win in 2020 (he was 500-1 pre-event). Si Woo Kim had posted a nice T25 in Hawaii (with positive strokes gained approach number’s) before arriving here and grabbing a win.
· The stats here only include two rounds at a measured course (Stadium), but we can see that Strokes Gained: Approach rates out as vitally important, again, as that’s where Kim gained the biggest edge in 2021 (he was second in the field in that stat).
· Four of the last five winners of this event gained +3.0 strokes or more on approach in their two rounds at the Stadium Course over the field.
This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
Patrick Reed +3500 and $8,800
· Russell Henley +3500 and $9,000
· Cameron Tringale +4500 and $8,900
· Will Zalatoris +5000 and $9,100
Adam Hadwin +6500 and $7,900
· Brian Harman +9000 and $7,900
· Charles Howell III +9000 and $8,000
· Carlos Ortiz +8000 and $8,200
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Adam Hadwin ($7,900; best finishes: T2-2019, T3-2018, T2-2017): Hadwin has turned into a bit of a final boss for this event. He is a perfect 6-for-6 in made cuts and has only finished outside the top six once in his last five starts at the venue. He’ll be making his first start of the year but has been able to turn things on quickly at this event.
2. Patrick Cantlay ($10,900; best finishes: 2nd-2021, T9-2019): Cantlay has started to develop a great synergy with some of the Pete Dye venues on TOUR, and this venue has perhaps become his favorite. He shot a record-breaking 61 on the Stadium venue last season and has finished top 10 in both his recent starts here (since the change in venues). He’s a deserving lead horse this week.
3. Andrew Landry ($7,200; best finishes: win-2020, second-2018): Landry has somehow managed to turn the jets on here every season, even if he’s coming in with horrid form — which was the case in 2020. In six appearances at TPC Stadium/Nicklaus Tournament, he’s managed to make the cut in every start and has gained at least +2.0 strokes on approach in all but one of those starts.
4. Abraham Ancer ($9,200; best finish: second-2020, T4-2021): Ancer has found some consistency at this event since turning pro and enters with a clean 4-for-4 made cut streak at this venue. He nearly won in 2020 and posted another top-five finish here last season. He ranks sixth in strokes gained total stats at this venue over the last five seasons.
5. Brian Harman ($7,900; best finishes: T3-2017): Harman has been very consistent at this event in his career, flashing solid upside with three top-12 finishes in eight career starts. The lefty finished T8 here last season, gaining over 4.0 strokes on approach. He was also T3 here back in 2017 and has finished outside the top 25 here just once in the past five years.
1. Seamus Power ($9,500, Recent finishes: win-T38-T13): He comes into this week on a clear heater with four top-12 finishes in his last six PGA starts. He climbed into a T3 position last Sunday with a great week of putting.
2. Talor Gooch ($9,700, Recent finishes: T13-T19-T32): Gooch has been in great form since the middle of last fall and put together a couple of solid finishes over in Hawaii. He ranks second in this field in SG: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds.
3. Russell Henley ($9,000, Recent finishes: T7-T32-T10): Henley played fantastic last week but got caught down the stretch by one of the game’s elites. He’s made 12 of his last 13 cuts on TOUR and ranks first in SG: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds.
4. Patrick Cantlay ($10,900, Recent finishes: T2-T46-T18): Cantlay would likely be higher in this ranking, but he’s only played once since shipping the Jackpot at the end of the TOUR Championship rainbow last fall. He finished T4 in Maui, though, with phenomenal ball-striking.
5. Corey Conners ($9,400, Recent finishes: T2-T46-T18): Conners deserves a shoutout for his consistency. He ranks top 10 in ball-striking stats over the last 50 rounds and has made nine cuts in a row. He’s looking in solid form after a T11 at the Sony.
Cash Games: Conners and Bezuidenhout offers decent safety
When you can pair two of the most consistent young players in the game together and get both for well under $9.5K, it’s usually a good strategy for DFS cash game action. Both Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,700) and Corey Conners ($9,400) have one missed cut each over their past 10 starts and are both coming off strong finishes at the Sony Open, where they showed quality iron play. I made Bezuidenhout my choice last week and almost went with him again here. He ranks in the top 20 for all major proximity approach ranges and had his short irons in good form last week. I added more on Conners below. Other potential cash game options here include the likes of Adam Svensson ($7,000 - see below), Chris Kirk ($7,800), and Adam Hadwin ($7,900)
Tournaments: Call in the Wolff
There’s little doubt that this event will require low scores, and we know from Matthew Wolff’s ($9,300) time on TOUR, and as an amateur, that birdie-making is an area he excels in. Wolff ranks third in birdie or better percentage over the last 50 rounds and will be playing this event for the third time in his career. He’s coming off a fall that saw him grab a runner-up at the low-scoring event that is the Shriners — an event played only a couple hours away in the desert of Las Vegas. I’d also add Alex Noren ($8,400) as another player who could excel here out of the gates, as his putting is nearly unmatched, and if the wind gets up, he’ll likely benefit. Other GPP targets here include Kramer Hickok ($7,200) and Hayden Buckley ($7,200).
My Pick: Corey Conners ($9,400)
Numerous Canadians have thrived at this event and venue over the last few decades. Adam Hadwin has posted numerous top-5 finishes here over the last five years, but we can also go back to Mike Weir, who grabbed a win in Palm Springs when the event was still the Bob Hope in 2003. Corey Conners is now poised to become the next great Canadian golf star, and his form suggests he could make some noise this week.
Conners’ last two starts on the PGA TOUR have seen him gained +4.8 and +5.9 strokes with his approaches exclusively, and he’s begun to shown some penchant for playing well on Pete Dye-designed venues. Conners claimed T4 and T7 finishes at Hilton Head and TPC Sawgrass last season and will now be making his third trip around TPC Stadium. His last two visits here didn’t go great, but Conners has improved a lot since 2019 and likely is looking at this week as a great chance to capitalize on some burgeoning form. After a good start last week, it’s possible he catches some of the other top players a little off their game. He makes for a great DFS pick at well under $10K and a solid outright option for betting cards at +2200 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
My Sleeper: Adam Svensson ($7,000)
We are going all-Canadian for our picks this week and are well justified, as this an event that has been good to Canadians in the past. Svensson started off his season well with a T7 last week and actually pipped our main selection there by a couple places. Svensson is making his second run as a full-time TOUR member this year after he lost his card following the 2019 season. The 28-year-old landed a late-season win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 and appeared to find some form with his irons last week. Svensson gained +6.1 strokes on approach alone at the Sony Open and also yielded a hot putter, a club that will be pivotal for anyone wishing for big success at the American Express.
Like most of his countrymen, Svensson has found the going good around Palm Springs and posted one of his best TOUR finishes ever here in early 2019, landing a T18 while gaining strokes across the board. His accuracy and solid short-iron game will certainly play around these shorter courses and he has the kind of form we want to back this week for DFS.
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