This is a full-field event at 156 golfers and also the first of two pro-am events featured in the early part of the season. Each pro will be paired with an amateur for the first three rounds of this event, and the cut will be placed after 54 holes this week, with only the top 65 and ties playing the final round on Sunday. Three courses will be in play, with TPC Stadium (the host course) hosting the final round. The venues in play are some of the easiest on the PGA TOUR and this event almost always ends up being an outright sprint to 20 under or better.
It is worth noting that we have some cooler weather in store for this season which may affect birdie rates (see below for full weather preview).
The field for this year’s event has more strength to it than usual, as well. Nine of the world’s top 20 players are in attendance with 2018 Amex champion Jon Rahm in the field, along with other top 10 players in Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau. Xander Schauffele (back) is teeing it up this week after pulling out of the TOC in Maui in Round 2. Schauffele looks like he’s avoided major injury but his status will need to be watched as the week progresses.
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 a three-course rotation. The 54-hole cut means that every player in the field will get a shot at playing all three courses once before the cut moves every remaining player in the event over to the Stadium Course for the final round.
Both La Quinta and the Nicklaus Tournament venue play as very short par 72s and pop up as some of the easiest to score on every season. The rough at both courses is non-penal and there’s little in the way of dangerous hazards. For showdown purposes, understanding where your player will be teeing off for each round will be crucial this week. Given that the Nicklaus Course still plays slightly tougher (and features slightly more bunkers and dangerous approaches) you should be giving heavier weight to anyone playing La Quinta — with the Stadium being the worst draw for your player. All of these courses offer up chances for your player to go low, however, and TPC Stadium has gotten easier from an average scoring perspective over the past few seasons.
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 aggressive as the rough is kept low, but the site lines and setup on this Dye design mean there will be lots of places where less than driver will be the play off the tee. The most popular range on approach tends to be from 150-175 yards, which again speaks to the fact that laying back off the tee will be necessary on at least some of the par 4s.
The course also 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. Despite smaller greens and lots of bunkers, scrambling rates at TPC Stadium are higher than the PGA TOUR average and around the green play (while always important) hasn’t been a huge factor for most of the past winners.
One final note on putting. The easier setup generally means players will be closer to the hole here on approach than at tougher courses. There’s often a spike in birdie opportunities from 20 feet and in (compared to other PGA TOUR venues) so looking at players with solid make rates from that distance is something else to consider this week.
2023 Weather: The weather this year could certainly make scoring a little more challenging. Temperatures aren’t expected to rise above 60 degrees F for most of the week and we’ll see early starters go off in 45-50F temperatures. That’s certainly cooler than normal and we will also see the winds kick up a little in the afternoon on the first two days with Friday p.m. looking like the slightly windier wave of the two. We have a three-day cutline and a big spread in tee times as a result of the pro-am format, but avoiding the Friday afternoon crowd may be somewhat helpful. Every player will have to deal the same elements but it is possible the TPC Stadium Saturday starters may have a slight advantage given it is the harder course and will be played in slightly easier conditions.
Last 5 winners
2022—Hudson Swafford -23 (over Tom Hoge -21)
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)
- 12 of the past 13 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 10 winners, seven played in the Sony Open the week before and five of the seven made the cut there, finishing T28/T25/9th/13th/31st (Adam Long and Andrew Landry missed the cut at the Sony in 2019 and 2020, respectively, before winning here).
- Nine of the past 10 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
Hudson Swafford (2022 winner at 23-under-par)
2022 lead-in form (T48-MC-T35-T33-T32)
- Two of the last three winners here (Adam Long and Andrew Landry) 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 in 2021; last season Hudson Swafford put in a mediocre T48 in Hawaii before blowing the doors off with a big week.
- The stats only include two rounds at a measured course (Stadium), but we can see that Strokes Gained: Approach rates out as vitally important. That’s where Si Woo Kim gained the biggest edge in 2021 (he was second in the field in that stat). Swafford was also dominant on approaches but gained more with the putter, while also being just average off the tee.
- Both players gained over 3.0 strokes putting and gained most of their strokes on the greens from within 20-feet.
This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
Tom Hoge +3500 and $8,400
· Taylor Montgomery +3500 and $8,800
· Si Woo Kim +3500 and $9,200
· Aaron Wise +4000 and $9,000
Denny McCarthy +8000 and $7,800
· Justin Rose +10000 and $7,900
· J.T. Poston +8000 and $8,000
· Taylor Pendrith +8000 and $8,000
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Adam Hadwin ($8,200; 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 7-for-7 in made cuts for his career and leads the field in strokes gained total stats over that frame as well, having landed three top-three finishes at TPC Stadium (but no win) since 2017.
2. Patrick Cantlay ($10,100; best finishes: 2nd-2021, T9-2019 + 2022): 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 in 2021 and has finished top 10 in his last three American Express starts. He’s a deserving lead horse this week.
3. Sungjae Im ($9,800; best finishes: T11 - 2022, T10 - 2020): Im has been very consistent at this event, paying off DFS lineups with top 12 finishes in four of his career starts at TPC Stadium. While he’s never been able to sink enough putts to grab a win or top five, you should expect a bounce-back from the South Korean after a surprising missed cut last week in Honolulu.
4. Andrew Putnam ($8,700; best finish: T14-2022, T10-2020): It’s hard to think of a better prototype for this week’s event than Putnam, who is an elite short to mid-range putter who is also quite good with his short irons. He’s finished top 25 or better at this event in four of the last five seasons and is currently in some of the best form of his career.
5. Brian Harman ($9,300; best finishes: T3-2017 and 2022): 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 has finished top five at TPC Stadium twice in his career now, gaining over 4.0 strokes on approach each time. Harmon was just mediocre last week but has now finished top 25 in six of his last seven starts and should be a great bounce-back candidate.
1. Jon Rahm ($10,800, Recent finishes: win-T4): Rahm is coming off an incredible comeback win in his last start. Counting his play on the DP World Tour, he’s won three times in his last five starts, overall.
2. Taylor Montgomery ($8,900, Recent finishes: T12-T15): Montgomery picked up right where he left off in Hawaii, posting yet another top 15 finish. The putting wizard has seven top 15 finishes over his last eight PGA TOUR starts.
3. Andrew Putnam ($8,700, Recent finishes: T4-T21): Putnam has now made a ridiculous 19 straight cuts on the PGA TOUR. He did gain over 10 strokes putting last week and will likely need his irons to pick up if he wants another top 10 finish in the desert.
4. David Lipsky ($7,300, Recent finishes: T4-T22-T10): Lipsky has shown better consistency over the last few months. He’s gained over a stroke on his approaches in five straight starts and been a very solid, low-owned play in DFS lately.
5. Ben Taylor ($7,000, Recent finishes: T4-T21-T3): Taylor is another new player to the PGA TOUR who has shown good upside with his irons and putter since the fall. He now has two top 10 finishes over his last three PGA TOUR starts and looks like he’ll set up well for the shorter venues in play at this event.
Cash Games: Zalatoris and Young great upper tier values
We have an immense field with nine top 20 golfers playing. With that in mind we’re seeing some very affordable prices on young players like Cameron Young ($9,100 - see below) and Will Zalatoris ($9,600) that make paying down a great way to build out cash game lineups. I wrote about Young as a player to target below, but Zalatoris shouldn't be shied away from either. Zalatoris is a great iron player and he ranks 3rd in proximity from 150-175 yards. Even if the putter isn’t cooking he’ll likely be one of the leaders in opportunities for the week. Some other solid names to consider for building more balanced lineups include KH Lee ($8,300), Adam Hadwin ($8,200), Joel Dahmen ($7,600), and Justin Lower ($6,800 - see below)
Tournaments: Scheffler and Bezuidenhout worth considering
This tournament makes it difficult to get 6/6 players through the cutline, given the large field and rotation of courses, so a high variance/stars and scrubs approach for GPPs can certainly be considered. Scottie Scheffler ($10,500) is still hitting the ball great but he’s dropped significantly in putting, especially from inside 20-feet. Once that club pops back, though, his next win should come quickly and betting that it happens this week isn’t a wild idea, as has putted well at this venue before. Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,700) is another low sentiment option to ride with in GPPs. He had a terrible start last week in Hawaii but ranks out as one of the best putters on the PGA TOUR from within 20 feet. Other GPP targets to look to this week include Justin Rose ($7,900), Callum Tarren ($7,200), David Lipsky ($7,300), Russell Knox ($7,100), Harry Hall ($6,600) and Nicolas Echavarria ($6,200).
My Pick: Cameron Young ($9,100)
We certainly think of Young as more of a power player — and he remains one of the best drivers of the ball in the game — but his stats bear out that he’s also well equipped to take advantage of more technical setups like the ones in play this week. He ranks out top 10 in putts made from 5-10 feet in long term form and is also top 10 in proximity to the hole on approaches from 150-175 yards and from 75-100 yards. In short, Young is a better wedge and iron player than people realize and also a very adept short to mid-range putter.
His results also speak to a player who can handle himself on a tricky Dye setup as he posted a T3 at the Dye designed Harbour Town Golf Links last season, on what was his first go round that course as a pro. 2021 also saw both his Korn Ferry Tour wins come with winning totals of 18 under par, or better — so there’s more than enough evidence to support that he can get hot enough with the non-driver parts of his game to win at an event like this.
This will be Young’s second time playing the Stadium rotation after landing a T40 at this event last season. He posted a solid four rounds in Maui to start 2023 and should be able to build on that and go after a much better week in the desert. At under $9,500 on DraftKings, and at +2200 in the outright market on DraftKings Sportsbook, Young is a great target to build around in betting and DFS this week.
My Sleeper: Justin Lower ($6,800)
With a volatile format and success heavily dependent on how many 10-15 feet puts you can make this week, it may be a good time to consider Justin Lower again. The American had a solid fall swing that was highlighted by a T4 at the Fortinet Championship and a T8 in Bermuda. Lower’s biggest assets are his short irons and putting and he ranks top 10 (in long term form) in strokes gained putting (5-10 feet, 10-15 feet) and proximity (from 150-175 yards).
Considering this week’s setup provides players with lots of easy approaches and plenty of birdie opportunities from close range — especially if you are dialed in on approach — Lower seems like he’ll have a great chance to spike again considering his elite make rate from 20-feet and in. Two missed cuts to end his fall (both were narrow misses) also has his DFS salary under $7,000 which makes him an ideal value to target in stars and scrubs builds. At +600 on DraftKings Sportsbook, he’s also a solid target in the top 20 betting market.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.