Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: The American Express

With the pro-am and one of the rotation courses out the window, we can expect a different vibe at this year's American Express. Here's all you need to know about the courses and the field.

The PGA Tour returns to the mainland for the American Express, with some new wrinkles that will make this year's edition quite different from prior seasons. Traditionally a rotation event where the field plays three different courses with a pro-am over the first three days and a 54-hole cut, the rotation will be limited to just the PGA West Stadium Course and the Nicklaus Tournament Course, with La Quinta Country Club out of the rotation until next year.

Both courses are short par 72s in La Quinta, California. Brooks Koepka makes his 2021 debut in his first try at this event, doubtless devastated he does not get to share his weekend with a D-list celebrity or wealthy financier. After two straight top 10s, he missed the cut at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, and as always at the non-majors, we have the motivation factor as a question mark for Brooks. Having seen a number of young golfers pass him in the rankings, Koepka should theoretically be eager to re-establish himself as the Tour's alpha.

Course-stacking is always a viable strategy at rotation events, but with the easiest of the three courses off the schedule this year that type of decision in single-round daily fantasy contests is a little bit murkier this week. Both weekend rounds will be played at the Stadium Course for cut makers, so we should look to golfers starting on the easier course and then playing three straight rounds at the same track.

Aside from some showers on Saturday, the forecast looks pretty clear this week. If playing weekend contests keep an eye out for who is going to be getting the benefit of the softest conditions, as we could see some late chargers post a number in the low 60s and vault up the leaderboard on moving day.

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

Course and Tournament Info

Course: PGA West Stadium Course
Par: 72
Distance: 7,113 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bermuda
Greens: Bermuda overseeded with perennial ryegrass and poa trivialis

Course: Nicklaus Tournament Course
Par: 72
Distance: 7,159 yards
Fairways/Rough: Bermuda
Greens: Bermuda overseeded with perennial ryegrass and poa trivialis

This event is known for its marathon days, as the amateurs gum up the rounds, and golfers are on the course for several hours longer than in a normal PGA event. Without that wrinkle, we can expect the field to tear up these courses, even with the easiest of the three off the schedule.

Overseeded bermuda on the West Coast and a "stadium" feel call to mind TPC Scottsdale (Waste Management Phoenix Open). Common strong performers include Jon Rahm (who was the initial favorite but withdrew), Brendan Steele, and Phil Mickelson. Rickie Fowler is a recent winner in Phoenix and held the 36-hole lead here last year before finishing 10th, his best finish of the 2020 season. Koepka looms large here, having picked up his first PGA Tour win at the Waste Management back in 2015.

Key Stats

These stats will be key to success in 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

Due to the unconventional nature of this event, we've seen some really off the wall winners over the past few years, including Andrew Landry last year and Adam Long two years ago. Taking out the pro-am and third-course variables should make this year's edition shake out as a much more straightforward affair. Tee to green is a catchall that makes up for our blind spots here to guide us just toward the best overall golfers as well as point us toward the occasional surprise whose form is better than the recent results.

Approach and birdies or better gained are evergreen stats that we can bank on, week in and week out, and making it count on these par 5s is an absolute must. Last year, only two golfers gained more on the par 5s than Landry, one of them being the third-place Scottie Scheffler. The year before, Long was fifth on the par 5s.

Course History Studs

Adam Hadwin missed this event last year following the birth of his daughter, but prior to that, he was a staple at the top of the leaderboard year in and year out. His finishes in 2016 through 2019 have been sixth, second, third, and second.

Landry is our defending champion, but it wasn't the first time he's played well at this event. He was T28 in 2019 and lost in the fourth hole of his playoff with Rahm in 2018. Over these three years, his worst round across all three courses was a bogey-free 70 at the Stadium Course on Saturday in 2018.

In just two appearances the past two seasons, Sungjae Im has shown well with finishes of T12 in 2019 and T10 last year. Ditto for Sam Burns, who was T18 and T6 in those years.

Sean O'Hair and Mickelson each have two top 10s in the past five years, though notably, Phil has a couple of missed cuts over that span as well.

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.