After two weeks in Hawaii, the PGA TOUR returns to the US this week, specifically La Quinta, California, for The American Express. After an unusual setup last year due to the pandemic, this event goes back to its standard three-course format this season. Each of the 156 players in this field will play a round on the PGA West Stadium Course (par 72, 7,113 yards), the Nicklaus Tournament Course (par 72, 7,159 yards) and at La Quinta Country Club (par 72, 7,060 yards). Then, there will be a top-65 and ties cut following the first three rounds, and the golfers that advance will play their final round at the Stadium Course. With two of the four rounds being held on this par 72 and this being the only track of the three to deliver SG data, the Stadium Course is the venue we need to focus on for research this week. At this Pete Dye Design, most players will elect to club down OTT to improve their accuracy. As a result, we don’t need to prioritize long hitters. Instead, we need to target strong iron players, given the fact that four of the past five champions in La Quinta have ranked inside the top-10 in SG APP during their victories.
The Stadium Course is home to four par fives, three of which rank as the three easiest holes on the scorecard, and converting birdies on these holes will be a necessity to climb the leaderboard. In fact, defending champ Si Woo Kim was the fourth consecutive American Express winner to finish the event inside the top-five in SG on the par fives at the Stadium Course. Finally, with all three courses featuring Bermuda greens, targeting players with positive splits on this type of surface is a sharp move.
With 54 holes of golf guaranteed for each player barring a WD or DQ, building stars and scrubs lineups is an optimal strategy this week. Below are four of my preferred options under $7.5K on DraftKings for The American Express.
Taylor Moore ($7,300)
Moore earned his PGA TOUR card back in July after securing his first win on the Korn Ferry Tour, and then proceeded to produce three top-25 finishes in his first five starts as a full-time member on TOUR. All three of these finishes came on Bermuda grass, including an impressive T8 at the RSM Classic to close out the fall, which like The American Express, is an event that features multiple courses.
Moore has shot under par in 11 of his past 14 rounds, and while this is his debut in La Quinta, the 28-year-old carries +8000 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook to win The American Express this weekend. Relative to his low DFS salary, these are great odds for Moore and to put this in perspective, these are the same odds as Carlos Ortiz, who is priced at $8,200 on DraftKings this week.
Brendan Steele ($7,200)
Ignore that Steele failed to make the cut at the Sony Open and take a chance on the veteran this week. Including a T2 at the Zozo Championship and T17 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, Steele had made five of his six previous cuts before last week. More importantly, the California native loves competing in La Quinta every season. For his career, Steele has made nine of 11 cuts at The American Express, with four top-25s coming over the last seven years.
Fresh off the MC last week, the 38-year-old shouldn’t come with much ownership and brings top-30 upside at an affordable cost.
Andrew Putnam ($7,100)
This past weekend, Putnam gained strokes in every major category, en route to a T27 at the Sony Open. This marked the 32-year-old’s eighth made cut and fourth top-30 finish in his last 12 starts. Putnam now brings this compelling form to The American Express, which is an event he has flourished at throughout his career.
Putnam owns a spotless 4/4 record at this multiple-course tournament, including three top-25s. Furthermore, when we compare this field’s history in La Quinta, he impressively ranks fourth in career total strokes gained. At only $7,100, Putnam is one of the better bargains on the board this week.
Henrik Norlander ($6,900)
Norlander has made three straight cuts in La Quinta, most notably with a T12 a year ago. The Swede now returns as the maker of 13 of his past 17 cuts on TOUR, with five top-30s coming during this stretch. Additionally, Norlander’s irons have been top-notch, ranking eighth in SG APP over his last 24 rounds, and by a wide margin, his best career putting splits come on Bermuda.
Norlander is vastly underpriced for his chances of advancing through the cut and is a strong option for all formats.
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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.
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