This is a full-field event with 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 — with the winner often coming in at 25 under or better.
The field for this year’s event is solid from a strength perspective once again. There are five top-10 players from the OWGR in the field, including world Number one Scottie Scheffler. World numbers five and six, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay are also playing. Past winners of the American Express in the field this week include Si Woo Kim, Adam Long and Adam Landry. Some other big names that are teeing it up this week include Tony Finau, Jason Day and last week’s winner Grayson Murray.
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 the remaining players 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 the play off the tee will be less than the driver. 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.
2024 Weather: The weather for this year’s event looks about as benign as it could get. The temperatures seem like they’ll top out in the 70-75F range, which isn’t bad in the desert for this time of year. There is also set to be little to no wind, which is rare for the open setting. Sunday may see things cool off a touch with the potential for small showers, but those may not last for more than an hour — and are not expected to bring much wind. If you’re stacking this week in DFS, you may want to try and stack by course (the three waves start at different courses each day) rather than time. The conditions at the easier courses (La Quinta and Nicklaus Tournament) may be more scoreable early in the week when the greens will be at their most receptive.
Last 5 winners
2023—Jon Rahm -27 (over Davis Thompson -26)
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)
- 13 of the past 14 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 11 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 the Amex).
- 10 of the past 11 winners had played in this event at least once before their win — the exception was Adam Long in 2019.
Winners’ Stats and Course Highlights
Jon Rahm (2023 winner at 27-under-par)
2023 lead-in form (win-T4-T15-T8-T5)
- Two of the last four 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 numbers) before arriving here and grabbing a win in 2021; in 2022, 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 Jon Rahm gained the biggest edge in 2023. Rahm lost strokes putting on TPC Stadium but was so good putting on the other courses that it didn’t matter.
- Rahm gained strokes off the tee last year but other winners have overcome far worse OTT stats and managed to prevail. Ultimately, the venues this week correlate strongest with SG: Approach, Putting, and Around the Green play.
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.
Eric Cole +2800 and $8,800
· Wyndham Clark +3500 and $8,900
· JT Poston +3000 and $9,100
· Chris Kirk +4000 and $9,000
Taylor Montgomery +4500 and $8,100
· Si Woo Kim +4500 and $8,600
· Akshay Bhatia +5000 and $8,200
· Adam Hadwin +5000 and $8,300
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Adam Hadwin ($8,300; 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 8-for-8 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 ($10,800; best finishes: 2nd-2021, T9-2019 + 2022): Cantlay is second in strokes gained total stats at this event since 2019. He’s developed great synergy with some of the Pete Dye venues on the PGA 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 three of his last four American Express starts. He’s a deserving lead horse this week.
3. Sungjae Im ($10,100; best finishes: T11 - 2022, T10 - 2020): Im has been very consistent at this event, paying off DFS lineups with top-20 finishes in all five 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 good week from the South Korean after he started strong with a T5 in Maui.
4. Andrew Putnam ($8,000; best finish: T14-2022, T10-2020): It’s hard to think of a better prototype for this week’s event than Putnam — 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 six seasons and is coming off a strong week at the Sony.
5. Si Woo Kim ($8,600; best finishes: win-2021, T11 -2022): Kim held off Cantlay in dramatic style to win this event in 2021. The South Korean also has a fantastic record at Pete Dye venues, with a win TPC Sawgrass being the pinnacle of his career to date. Kim’s played once in Hawaii (T25 in Maui), but expect form from him this week.
1. Eric Cole ($8,800, Recent finishes: T13-T14-T3): Cole posted yet another top 20 last week in Hawaii. He’s now finished no worse than T14 in five straight starts and leads the field in birdies or better gained over the last 50 rounds.
2. JT Poston ($9,100, Recent finishes: 6th-T5): Poston shot a career-best 61 to close at the Sony Open. He’s finished T6 or better in three of his last four starts and excelled everywhere but off the tee last week.
3. Chris Kirk ($9,000, Recent finishes: T18 - win): Kirk is coming off a win two weeks ago in Maui and followed that up with a T18 at the Sony. He also led the field at the Sony in SG: Approach stats.
4. Taylor Montgomery ($8,100, Recent finishes: T8-T31): Montgomery struck the ball extremely well last week, gaining over 7.0 strokes on approach. He’s now finished T16 or better in three of his last four starts.
5. Austin Eckroat ($7,300, Recent finishes: T42-T8): Eckroat was up near the lead for portions of last week’s event before falling back Sunday. He comes into the week off four made cuts while also showing some improvement in ball-striking.
Cash Games: Trust Scheffler to deliver
Scheffler has looked comfortable playing this event in the past, posting a 3rd at this venue in 2020 and a T11 here last year. He’s booked career wins in Phoenix (desert) and TPC Sawgrass (Pete Dye). While his putter may stop him from gaining the win, ultimately, it’s hard to see him finishing worse than he did here last year — this makes him a great pay-up option for DFS. Further down, the ball-striking of late from Chris Kirk ($9,000) and Taylor Montgomery ($8,100) make them very solid targets. Both men finished top five at this event last season and looked in great form at the Sony. Other potential targets for this format include Adam Hadwin ($8,300), Taylor Pendrith ($7,800), and Patton Kizzire ($7,000).
Tournaments: Look for Thomas to start 2024 strong
One spot for DFS and betting we need to be aware of for 2024 is the potential bounce-back for Justin Thomas ($9,800). Over the fall, the American played a decent amount of golf, landing a T5 in his only start on the PGA TOUR (Fortinet) while also taking part in the Ryder Cup and landing a T4 over on the DP World Tour playoffs (Nedbank). He’s played well in this event before making him a solid GPP target to chase this week. Further down, both Alex Noren ($7,800) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,300) have the kind of putting upside that is worth chasing at these kinds of events. Bezuidenhout played well here last season, posting a T11. Other GPP targets this week include Jason Day ($9,600 - see below), Beau Hossler ($7,800), Sam Ryder ($7,200), Chris Gotterup ($6,800) and Zac Blair ($6,500).
My Pick: Jason Day ($9,600)
Day will make his second start of the season this week after finishing a solid T10 at the Sentry to kick off his year. While his approach numbers at the Sentry don't jump off the page, Day has never been the most consistent ball-striker on the PGA TOUR— even when he was the number one player in the world. What was encouraging about his start in Maui was the scoring parts of his game, as he ended that event gaining 6.2 strokes around the green + putting, and looking sharp from an all-around perspective.
Day also looks solid from a setup perspective. He’s a former winner at the Pete Dye-designed TPC Sawgrass and, last season, was able to grab a comeback win at the Byron Nelson — which was played on another low-scoring TPC setup (TPC Craig Ranch). I like the way the Aussie played in the opener and he’s booked wins in January multiple times in his career (Farmers Insurance Open 2015, 2018). He makes sense to me as a core target this week for DFS as well as a player to target in the outright market at +3300 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
My Sleeper: David Lingmerth ($6,100)
This one could officially be labeled a “super sleeper” or just plain reckless, whichever term you prefer. Lingmerth is hardly someone we want or need to trust in DFS every week, but the Swede has proven that he can spike at the right setups. He produced five top 10s across the 2022-23 season and as a player has always had a fancy for these Pete Dye-designed setups — ones that give the players smaller targets and take power off the tee out of the equation.
For his career, Lingmerth has posted two top-10 finishes at TPC Sawgrass (in just six starts) and has also finished runner-up at this week’s event twice. While his form doesn’t give us much reason to be bullish on him, in this spot, he’s rarely been a player whose recent form has held him back from spiking — his T3 at last year’s Scottish Open, which came off the back of six missed cuts, being a great example.
In the end, the Pro-Am nature of this event, the three-course rotation, and the 54-hole cut make it a volatile one, and there are always a few huge surprises on the leaderboard come Sunday. You don't need to go crazy, but if you’re looking for a sub-1% play to round out a stars and scrubs build, Lingmerth would be the name in that range that has my money.
On the betting side, his +5000 top 10 odds on the DraftKings Sportsbook, also stand out as he’s proven that if he can get himself across the three-day cut in this event, he’s more than capable of moving up the leaderboard on the final day on the tricky Stadium course.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.