Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: The American Express

The PGA Tour heads to California where golfers face three courses and a Pro-Am format. Will we see another birdie-fest in the Desert?

This week's event offers a unique challenge for PGA Tour professionals, as they'll be paired with a different amateur on a different course for each of the event's first three rounds. Perennially some of the longest rounds of the year, a certain kind of golfer does well in these conditions. Patience will prevail, as the amateurs in each group drag the pace of play to a screeching halt.

The field will divide their first three rounds among the Stadium Course at PGA West, the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, and La Quinta Country Club. Scoring conditions are among the friendliest the field will see all year, with only the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, to be played once over the first three days and again on Sunday for those who make the 54-hole cut, putting up much resistance.

Last year, Adam Long stunned Phil Mickelson and the entire golf world with his first career victory on the strength of a Sunday 65. He's back in the field this week after a strong fall that saw a runner up at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and three other top 25s.

You'll have to look back at the Desert Classic last year and the CareerBuilder Challenge prior to that to measure course history, as this is a new sponsor this year. Radars show some showers on Thursday but otherwise, near-perfect weather conditions are expected for this event.

Let's dig into the courses and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.

Course and Tournament Info

O/U Par
2019Stadium Course at PGA West72711370.238-1.76240
2018Stadium Course at PGA West72711371.181-0.81936
2017Stadium Course at PGA West72711371.588-0.41230
2016Stadium Course at PGA West72711370.818-1.18241
2019Nicklaus Tournament Course
at PGA West
2018Nicklaus Tournament Course
at PGA West
2017Nicklaus Tournament Course
at PGA West
2016Nicklaus Tournament Course
at PGA West
2019La Quinta Country Club72706068.718-3.28249
2018La Quinta Country Club72706068.831-3.16951
2017La Quinta Country Club72706069.635-2.36549
2016La Quinta Country Club72706069.148-2.85248

Each course features bermudagrass greens overseeded with ryegrass and poa trivialis. Nicklaus and La Quinta are walkovers, the two easiest courses by score relative to par in each of the past two years. Single round bettors and DFS players will be keen to identify which course their choices are playing before locking in, though many shops will post course-by-course odds. The Stadium Course puts up more of a fight, but this is still a short track with four par 5s.

The course comparisons are essentially the same as course history, as each of these courses correlate with the other. We can also draw some lines to the other California Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula CC, and Spyglass Hill GC. The format and location make sense, though the Pebble rotation isn't quite as birdie-friendly as these tracks. We also have a recent example in Mickelson, who was runner up at this event last year then won the Pro-Am at Pebble three weeks later.

Key Stats

These stats have proven vital to success at the American Express.

Key Stats for The American Express
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Strokes Gained: Approach
Birdies or Better Gained
Strokes Gained: Par 5s

With three courses to cover, all of which give up the goods, we'll keep this straightforward. Long did his damage on the greens last year, but the next three finishers -- Mickelson, Adam Hadwin, and Talor Gooch -- were the top three players in strokes gained: tee to green last year and were all top 10 in strokes gained: approach.

Reaching 20-under par is the norm at this event so birdies are obviously in high supply. Gaining on the field will be difficult but with all the par 5s the eagles are out there as well. Long reached 26-under par last year and was fifth in par 5 scoring (Hadwin and Gooch were first and second, respectively). Jon Rahm won in 2018 and led the field in par 5 scoring.

Course History Studs

With Hadwin (four straight top-six finishes) missing after the birth of his child, there is a vacuum at the top of the course history ranks. Mickelson has four top 25s and a missed cut the past five years with his T2 last year trailed only by a T3 in 2016.

Brendan Steele will be hard to trust after his collapse in Hawaii, but he's made five straight cuts including a T2 in 2015 and a T6 in 2017.

Lucas Glover has unspectacular but solid finishes of T12, T29, T41, T17, and T15.

Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.