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DraftKings PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf Preview: The American Express Course History vs. Current Form

Zach Thompson takes a look at some of the golfers with the best course history and current form ahead of the American Express.

The PGA TOUR is back in the U.S. Mainland this week to start the West Coast swing at The American Express in La Quinta, California. Although this event has had several name changes and will also have a slightly modified format this year, most of the players know the courses at PGA West pretty well. The primary course will be the Stadium Course at PGA West with the Nicklaus Tournament Course used for one of the first two rounds before the cut, as well.

Each week this season, I’ll take a look at two of the key factors to consider when building DraftKings lineups. We’ll take a look at players who have a good history at the specific course being played (or similar courses if it’s a new venue), and we’ll also take a look at some of the golfers coming in with the best recent results.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $600K Approach Shot [$200K to 1st]

Course History

This event has had multiple sponsors during its time on the PGA TOUR and was originally known as the Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic when it made its debut in 1960. Different courses in the Palm Springs and La Quinta area have been used over the decades, but this year we’ll have just two courses in play instead of the usual format with three courses and a cut after 54 holes. That format is expected to return next season when the celebrity and amateur portions of the event are re-introduced, but due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s event will be just PGA West Stadium Course and PGA West Nicklaus TC. Here are some of the players who have fared well at this event over the past five years:

Course History

Player Name Salary 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Player Name Salary 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Patrick Cantlay $11,100 -- -- -- 9 --
Tony Finau $10,800 CUT -- -- -- 14
Patrick Reed $10,200 56 12 CUT -- --
Sungjae Im $9,900 -- -- -- 12 10
Kevin Na $9,200 3 70 42 17
Abraham Ancer $9,100 CUT -- 76 18 2
Phil Mickelson $8,800 3 21 CUT 2 CUT
Brian Harman $8,100 11 3 20 CUT 21
Adam Hadwin $8,000 6 2 3 2 --
Charles Howell III $7,800 11 12 20 34 CUT
Chez Reavie $7,200 17 12 36 28 CUT
Andrew Landry $7,000 -- -- 2 28 1

As you can see, the players at the top of the salary chart have very little if any course history at this event, but there are some more affordable plays that have made La Quinta a regular stop and have been productive in multiple trips here. Patrick Reed ($10,200) and Phil Mickelson ($8,800) are both on the chart above, but it doesn’t go back far enough to capture their wins at this event. Reed won in 2014 at what was then called the Humana Challenge, and Mickelson won in 2002 and 2004. He has become the host for the event the past few years and will have added responsibilities as a result, but he has been a boom-or-bust asset with a pair of top 5 finishes and a pair of missed cuts in the past five years.

Sungjae Im ($9,900) and Abraham Ancer ($9,100) both posted top 10 finishes last year at this event and the duo could come in a little under-the-radar after struggling last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Ancer missed the cut entirely for the first time in 10 starts, while Im ended up T56 with just 14 birdies. He lost 2.3 shots on the green last week, but he could turn things around quickly if he can figure out the flat stick this week.

Canadian Adam Hadwin ($8,000) is an interesting case in course history vs. current form. He’s posted top 6 finishes — highlighted by two runner-up finishes — in four-straight trips to this event before not playing last year. He comes in with rough current form, though, having missed his final three cuts of 2020 at The Masters, The RSM Classic and the Mayakoba. If there is a spot for him to get back on track, this would seem to be it, but his recent struggles raise his risk at $8K.

While he hasn’t been able to contend as often as Hadwin, Andrew Landry ($7,000) has been in the top two in two of the past three tournaments and comes in as the defending champ. While he missed the cut last week and struggled at Kapalua two weeks ago, he did have a T4 at the RSM Classic, so he comes in with some current form to consider along with his course history. As solid plays, but maybe without quite as high a ceiling as the others on this list, Brian Harman ($8,1000) and Chez Reavie ($7,200) both have had long-running success of making the cut and posting strong finishes.

Current Form

Not many players that played both weeks in Hawaii will be teeing it up at PGA West this week, but there are a few notable players coming in with good form. Remember there was a three-week holiday break between the Mayakoba and the Sentry, so consider that when weighing recent form.

Current Form

Player Name Salary Houston Open The Masters RSM Classic Mayakoba Sentry TOC Sony Open
Player Name Salary Houston Open The Masters RSM Classic Mayakoba Sentry TOC Sony Open
Sungjae Im $9,900 40 2 CUT -- 5 56
Kevin Na $9,200 -- 13 -- -- 38 1
Abraham Ancer $9,100 -- 13 -- 12 17 CUT
Russell Henley $9,000 29 -- 30 CUT -- 11
Patton Kizzire $8,400 11 -- 10 32 -- 7
Charles Howell III $7,800 -- 46 30 23 -- 19
Chris Kirk $7,600 44 -- 18 46 -- 2
Sepp Straka $7,400 5 -- 44 52 -- 25

One of the rare players to tee it up both weeks in the Aloha State and play this week is last week’s winner Kevin Na ($9,200). Na has a good history at this event as you can see above and was very impressive last week. He always seems to do good work with the flat stick, but usually loses shots on approach. That wasn’t the case last week as he finished third from tee-to-green and was particularly hot down the stretch with four birdies in his final six holes. He gained 1.4 shots on approach per round. His form before the win wasn’t great, but he’ll look to ride that surge of momentum to start the New Year. He has a history of getting hot and stringing together top finishes and could be poised to do that again this week.

Since going low is typically needed to contend in La Quinta, you’ll want someone who can do just that. Na finished third in the field in birdie-or-better last week, tied with Peter Malnati ($7,200), who had a good week and a disappointing Sunday. Malnati didn’t quite make the above chart but he does have four top 25 finishes since October.

Another player heating up is Patton Kizzire ($8,400), who has always been one of the best putters on the PGA TOUR. He has increased his driving distance so far this season from 294.8 yards to 306.3 yards. That added distance has not resulted in a loss of accuracy, either, since his driving accuracy has improved from 54.0% to 58.7%. Some of that is definitely due to the courses he has played to this point of the season, but it also shows a positive trend for him. He also gained over seven shots in strokes-gained around-the-green and SG: Putting combined last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Kizzire has missed the cut in each of his last two trips to this event, though, so you’re relying on his form to turn around his course history if you put him on your roster this week.

Charles Howell III ($7,800) continued his long run of success at Waialae last week, making his fifth-straight cut and posting his second-straight top 25. CH-triple-sticks shot a red-hot 64 on Sunday picking up 3.4 shots on the green and dropping six birdies in a bogey-free final round. He has made the cut in 12 of his 15 career trips to La Quinta, as well, so he’s a solid way to round out a balanced lineup even though he doesn’t have a lot of PGA TOUR trophies to show for his long successful career. Another cheaper play that has a nice confluence of current form and course history is Sepp Straka ($7,400). The 27-year-old Austrian has made six-straight cuts — highlighted by a T5 at the Vivint Houston Open — and he posted a fourth place finish with a 20-under score last year at The American Express.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $600K Approach Shot [$200K to 1st]

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