After a fortnight in Hawaii the PGA TOUR is hitting the mainland this week as it starts the traditional West Coast Swing. Back in the day, when the tour really was a tour, this was quite the ticket, the first of a group of tournaments hosted by big name celebrities. In this case, Bob Hope did the schmoozing. Nowadays, the money is quite literally provided by the moneymen and, as a consequence, the event has a slightly clumsy name. But the schtick remains similar: Three Palm Springs tracks, light-hearted fun, and a ton of birdies.
Last time out
Hawaii was not kind to us so we’re trading off the profits of last year. Good job we landed plenty of them. That said, the trends and theories stood up to the test in Honolulu so we were aiming at the right targets. Onwards to California, fortified by the thought that last year we were on the winner and another three players in the top 10.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||J. Rahm||$11,300|
Jon Rahm ($11,300): The World No. 1 can totally pick and choose where he wants to play these days so when he opts to journey to an event such as this we ought to take the hint: He’s doing it because he fancies his chances. He won the event last time he played it (in 2018), opening the week with a 62. And he confirmed that his elongated winter break did him good when second at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, carding a 61 in the third round. He’s a big salary but he’s worth it.
Russell Knox ($7,800) The Scot is 4-for-4 on this tournament course rotation and may have something to prove having been two blows back of the 54-hole lead 12 months ago before drifting to T–11. He also finished T–13 in the tournament back in 2014. He carded 67-67-64-65 to finish T–7 in the Sony Open and now has six sub-68 scores in his last eight laps.
Russell Henley ($9,000) Another cruel tournament last week for Henley, who has now had four 54-hole leads in the last two years without converting one. He admitted on Saturday, ahead of the final round, that he is poor sleeper and that won’t be changing this week, as he tosses and turns, wondering how he missed out yet again. His form on this tournament rotation is poor, too: T–49 followed by four missed cuts. Chapeau if he performs this week, but the big bucks are best spent elsewhere.
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Pete Dye Stadium Course
There’s a reversion to the standard format this year, with the event returning to its pro-am roots after the hackers had a year off due to Covid regulations. The 2021 edition also utilised just the two courses, but this year, as has been typical, it is back to using a trio of layouts.
The Pete Dye Stadium Course is the host and, as such, it will be used for the final round (the cut this week comes after the field has played 54 holes, 18 on each of the three tracks). Dye’s design has welcomed the last lap since 2016 and it has much in common with TPC Sawgrass, which is to say that there is potential for disaster out there, but, with three short-ish par-5s, there is also the chance to go low.
There are many water hazards, but bear in mind those amateurs. The course has to allow for them so it doesn’t play as difficult as it did when it hosted the Qualifying School in the past. It’s a par-72 playing to 7,158 yards with Bermuda grass greens, albeit overseeded with Rye.
Six years ago the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West joined the rota and it’s a similar length of test at 7,147, the same par (72), and it also has another trio of short par-5s. The ton of birdies we mentioned? There’s lots of them are available on the long holes this week. More Bermuda on the greens, but overseeded with Rye and Poa.
The last of the tracks is La Quinta Country Club, another par-72 and a little shorter at 7,060. This time, all four of the long holes can be reached in two and the course has tended to play easiest in recent times. The putting surface is again Bermuda, overseeded with drier grasses.
The weather forecast for La Quinta, California might throw a little curveball at us because, while it should be sunny all week, with constant temperatures in the low 60s and low humidity, the wind might freshen on Saturday. That’s to say the forecast says less than 10mph Thursday and Friday, above it Saturday. It’s not a huge difference, but keep an eye on it. It might pay to take heed of tee times and rotations.
Past Winners of The American Express
The 1960s and 70s were the glory days of this event, with celebrities wise-cracking and Arnold Palmer winning five times, while Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Doug Sanders, Hubert Green and Johnny Miller lifted the trophy, too.
Plenty of big names have won it since, Phil Mickelson twice, but with so many events now on the schedule this week has become one which many avoid. There are simply too many big weeks elsewhere on the calendar and not enough weight attached to this title.
The first champion when the Dye Course became host was Jason Dufner in 2016, following his defeat of the Swede David Lingmerth in a playoff. A year later Hudson Swafford bested Adam Hadwin by a shot, and in 2018 Jon Rahm took down Andrew Landry in extra holes.
Hadwin finished second again in 2019, alongside Phil Mickelson, and one blow behind the winner Adam Long. Then Landry added victory to his second place two years earlier in the 2020 renewal (leaving Abraham Ancer two shots in arrears). Last year Korea’s Si Woo Kim pushed Patrick Cantlay into second.
Note that strange things can happen this week: Long won off the back of eight failures to make the top 60 and Landry had missed seven cuts in his previous eight starts.
Course form? Yes. Hadwin and Landry have shown that a fondness for this event works. Pro golfers mostly like to know tournament tracks inside out and that’s tricky enough with one course, with three it takes a little time. Rookies will know less about the 54 holes at play this week than is common. Dye form? Yes. It was a bigger factor last year when 54 holes were on the Dye Course, but it’s still worth considering. Golfers who do well here have tended to have liked his other designs. The last six winners have something in common: they all played in Hawaii. Knocking their game free of rust has definitely aided the victory charge.
Here’s A Line-up of Core Picks For The American Express
|A list||P. Cantlay||$10,900|
|B list||S. Power||$9,500|
Patrick Cantlay ($10,900) As with Rahm, it’s big salary yet worth every cent (it also explains the many value picks below). Cantlay has proved himself a golfer who repeats his good form on favored tracks (Summerlin and Muirfield Village, for example). He was T–9 here in 2019 and thrashed a 61 to finish second last year. He ended 2021 with back-to-back wins, took three months off, and returned with T–4 in the Tournament of Champions. Strong Dye form at Harbour Town (two third place finishes).
Seamus Power ($9,500) The Irishman was superb last week in Hawaii, finishing T–3 and saying: “The game is in good shape, the best it’s been, I know what I’m doing.” He’s on a run of 14-for-16 with 11 top 20 finishes. That’s high quality and he can spin off that. Moreover, he’s got some decent event form, finishing T–21 in 2017 and T–11 in 2018. He’s three times finished top 10 on Dye tracks, at TPC Louisiana and Harbour Town.
Brian Harman ($7,900) The neat lefty has really tucked into this tournament rotation, landing five finishes of T–21 or better in six tries. That also includes three top 12 finishes. So we’ve got a guy who plays a lot of golf at the tournament and it is good golf, too. He’s not in the form he was at the start of last year, but he is still playing a lot of weekends. Seven in his last 10, in fact. Lots of upside with the salary.
Chris Kirk ($7,800) He’ll rue a Saturday 71 last week in Hawaii because otherwise he carded 66-65-66 to end the week T–27. He’s a big fan of TPC Sawgrass, making eight of his last nine cuts and logging three top 15s there. He also has Dye form at Louisiana and Crooked Stick, plus three top four finishes in the desert at TPC Scottsdale. He’s 2-for-4 since 2016, but has two top 25s from those weekends of action and a top 10 from a previous rotation.
Vince Whaley ($7,100) The 26-year-old is a strong putter, ranking 25th for Putting Average, 16th for Total Putting, 38th for Strokes Gained Putting and he was 10th for PA last week in the Sony Open. He missed the cut here last year, but was T–29 on debut in 2020. T–9 at the Barracuda Championship didn’t save his card last season, but he regained it at Web.com Finals and has made the cut in his last six events, including T–17 last week.
Cameron Tringale ($8,900) Still no win for Tringale, despite banging his head against the door almost as much as Henley has done in recent years. So no invite to the Tournament of Champions and he opted not to fly out to Waialae either. He could be a little rusty and this is not a rotation he has thrived on. T–14 on debut, but two missed cuts followed and three failures to land a top 40 thereafter. At the salary, he’s easy to dodge.
Other Player Options For The American Express
• Michael Thompson finished top five last week in Hawaii and he has two top 10s from his last two starts in this tournament.
• Matthew Wolff has got off to fast start in 2021/22, with four top 20s, but he didn’t play in Hawaii and he’s failed to make the top 40 in both his previous event starts. Will course or current form prevail?
• Kramer Hickok was an impressive T–20 last week, looking better with each lap. It was a third top 30 in five starts and he threatened to win last year on Dye’s TPC River Highlands. He’s 2-for-3 on the rotation and was T–21 last year.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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