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PGA DFS Primer: The American Express (2022)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Jan 19, 2022
Jon Rahm

The Sony Open offered late-round drama, with Hideki Matsuyama mounting a massive comeback to oust Russell Henley in a one-hole playoff. Waialae challenged many of its players throughout the four days, as seen with Webb Simpson finishing one-over-par in the third round, plummeting him to T61 at five-under-par. Other notable performances included Seamus Power, Michael Thompson, and Russell Henley, who produced at least one round of seven-under-par or better.

The American Express tournament resumes at its primary location in La Quinta, California, on Thursday. It’s a unique spin, as 156 players will compete on three different courses during the first three rounds. The cut occurs after 54 holes, where all players remaining will compete on the PGA West Stadium Course on Sunday. It’s also a Pro-Am, meaning amateurs will be competing alongside the professionals during the first three rounds. Strong tee shots, accurate drives, and converting greens in regulation comprise some of the essential aspects when attempting to win at La Quinta Country Club this weekend. Players with past success who are also riding momentum from recent top finishes are the prospects to target when constructing your DFS lineups for The American Express.

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Previous Winners

  • 2021 – Si Woo Kim (-23)
  • 2020 – Andrew Landry (-26)
  • 2019 – Adam Long (-26)
  • 2018 – Jon Rahm (-22)
  • 2017 – Hudson Swafford (-20)

Course Overview

The unique setup at La Quinta Country Club offers players three different courses to adjust to during the tournament’s first three rounds. All three courses run as stock par 72s, with the Stadium course running a smidge shorter than the Nicklaus Tournament course at 7,113 yards. All players will get a chance to experience all three courses before the 54-hole cut eliminates a significant portion of the competition. Amateurs will not advance regardless, so it’s either the professionals who have experienced past success at La Quinta or those producing consistently high finishes to start the 2022 season that offers the best upside value.

Accurate tee shots, a strong driver, and scrambling are all critical skills to possess when competing on the three courses at La Quinta. The Stimpmeter measures the Bermuda greens at 11 feet, meaning players will need to nail their approach shots to give themselves the best opportunity at sinking birdies on the tiered surfaces. Stadium Course, in particular, has over six holes with massive bodies of water flanking the greens and running parallel to the fairways. Four par 5s and four par 3s offer players a chance to improve their scores or tank them, depending on how they fare during the opening three-hole stretch of par 4s. It’s a course that rewards strong drivers and irons while penalizing inaccurate shots via the scattered sand bunkers, rolling hills, and bodies of water that substitute for the traditional tree-lined rough. In addition, it’s an open course with a beautiful backdrop of the surrounding mountains in the Coachella Valley.

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
  • Driving Distance
  • Greens in Regulation percentage
  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Birdie average

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Jon Rahm ($11,200)
Adding Jon Rahm into lineups is essentially a no-brainer. The 27-year old Spaniard dominated the PGA Tour last season with an impressive 15 top-ten finishes and five finishes inside the top-three. Rahm made his season debut last week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui and looked in premiere form, firing off a nine-under-par round during the third day to climb into a second-place finish at 33-under-par. He is currently ranked first in the Official World Golf Rankings, ranks second in strokes gained tee-to-green, and averages 6.17 birdies per round. He also has the highest GIR percentage (81.48%) on Tour thus far and won at La Quinta back in 2018. Rahm is worth every cent of his salary, so make sure you insert him into lineups as your blue-chip anchor.

Talor Gooch ($9,700)
30-year old American Talor Gooch offers consistent high-end finishes at La Quinta, having placed T25 or better in three previous American Express tournaments. Gooch is currently ranked second in the FedExCup standings and is excellent in strokes gained around the green and approaching the green. His irons are the best parts of his game, which is why he has had such consistent success in past years. Gooch is another player with a significant GIR percentage (75%) and averages 4.63 birdies per round. He can be inserted into lineups at a discount under a $10,000 salary, making Gooch a high-upside value play this weekend at The American Express.

Russell Henley ($9,000)
Russell Henley nearly held off Hideki Matsuyama but fell short in the one-hole playoff at Waialae last weekend. Henley was superb despite his shortcomings in the playoff round, amassing a 15-under-par score across the first two rounds last weekend. He’s red-hot in his previous three events, earning T7, T22, and second-place finishes. The 32-year old American has only one finish lower than T25 this season and averages nearly five birdies per round. His accurate driver, immaculate GIR percentage (75%), and great strokes gained approaching the green make Henley a top-caliber player to acquire in lineups this weekend. Henley has missed the cut in numerous previous appearances at The American Express tournament but is playing with red-hot momentum. This is the year he’ll make the cut at La Quinta, and he’s a solid salary-saving option too at $9,000.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000

Seamus Power ($10,600)
The 34-year old Irishman Seamus Power has been lighting up scoreboards all season. Competing in eight events thus far, Power has missed two cuts but finished at least T21 or higher in the other six tournaments. In his last three outings, Power has T4, T15, and T3 finishes, the latter occurring in Hawaii these past two weekends. Power has managed two top 25 finishes at PGA West since turning professional in 2016 and is equipped with an accurate driver and an even better GIR percentage (76%) to make him highly appealing in lineups this weekend. Not to mention, he also averages 4.64 birdies per round, which significantly raises his floor. There’s a reason why Power is 14th in the FedExCup rankings this season. He’s heating up at the right time, so make sure to grab Power for his high-floor and his ability to sink four to five birdies per round.

Matthew Wolff ($10,900)
One of the game’s best young players has to be Matthew Wolff. The 22-year old American has finished T17 or higher in all four events that he’s competed in during the 2022 PGA Tour season. Wolff has spent two months off resting and practicing, so he should be fresh and prepared to make a run at the top of the leaderboard at La Quinta this weekend. He is ranked inside the top 12 for strokes gained around the green, strokes gained putting, and strokes gained tee-to-green. That alone is the holy trinity to follow. Factor in Wolff’s birdie average (5.13), his top-three driving distance (321 yards), and the top-ranked scoring average (68.8) he’s accumulated through four events. He offers virtually no downside, and oddsmakers have him pinned with the 14th highest odds (+2800) alongside Seamus Power, Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, and Russell Henley. Wolff offers the highest floor amongst this group, so make sure to lock him into your lineups.

Michael Thompson ($8,500)
One of the best value plays on the slate is 36-year old American Michael Thompson. After a two-month respite, Thompson got off to a hot start at seven-under-par while also closing out his final round at Waialae with seven-under-par. This production yielded a T5 finish at 18-under-par, the best outing for Thompson through six events this season. While last season’s American Express tournament eliminated amateurs and shifted the courses around a bit, Thompson did produce a T5 finish (-15) after missing the cut in 2020. In 2019, Thompson hung a ninth-place finish (-18) when it was named The Desert Classic, which shows that he is pretty comfortable balancing the three courses at La Quinta Country Club. Thompson possesses a solid GIR percentage (73.6%) and is a quality scrambler whenever an errant shot finds the bunker. At this salary, Thompson is an absolute steal. Plug him into lineups with confidence and save some money for other blue-chip prospects in the process.

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Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup  — to learn more.

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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