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PGA DFS Picks: The American Express

In this edition of PGA DFS picks, we’re looking for a big payday at the American Express and helping you find some winning teams!

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PGA DFS Course Notes:

  • Weaker, full field of 156 golfers (no Pro-Am this year)
  • Cut: 36 holes (instead of the venue’s usual 54), Top 65 and ties
  • 2020 winner: Andrew Landry (-25)
  • The courses: PGA West in Palm Springs, CA (TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament)
    • Both Par 72 (7,100-7,300 yards)
    • Reachable Par 5s and plenty of scoring
    • Rough not too penal, some wind expected
    • Bermuda greens, lots of sand and water
  • Focus Stat Categories: Strokes Gained: Approach, Birdie or Better %, Opportunities Gained, SG: Putting (Bermuda), SG: Off the Tee, Fairways Gained, Bogey Avoidance

The Picks:

Elite PGA DFS (DK $9,500 and up):

Tony Finau (DK $10,500) – I’ve said many times that I’d never again roster Finau – but that’s an attitude antithetical to winning DFS play. The 31-year-old tour veteran ranks seventh in the field in BoB gained and 12th in SG:OTT. If you’re fading the Patricks (Reed and Cantlay) and don’t want to go near Brooks Koepka, Finau is a great guy to get behind in the top tier.

Sungjae Im (DK $9,900) – My model loves Im (second overall behind Russell Henley), and there’s no particular area where this hardworking tour grinder’s game suffers. While Henley’s had his struggles at this venue (1/4), Sungjae is 2-for-2 with a T10 and T12. He’s a fine play in all formats.

Matthew Wolff (DK $9,700) – It’ll be interesting to see how much cash game love Wolff gets this week, considering he missed the cut in his first try at PGA West last season, but there’s really no reason to fade him in GPPs. His talent and ability to record birdies in bunches makes him a top play.

Scottie Scheffler (DK $9,500) – Scheffler debuted at this tournament with a solo third place finish, he’s No. 15 on my model, and he’s even better than Finau in the aforementioned two categories (No. 3 in SG:OTT and No. 5 in BoB%) that are big strengths here. In a field without too many big names, Scheffler’s looms large.

Also consider: Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka (GPP)

Mid-Range PGA DFS (DK $7,600 to $9,400):

Kevin Na (DK $9.200) – Na isn’t the kind of golfer we like to rely on for consistency, but his track record at this event is impressive: 6/6 with two top 20s since 2014. Last week’s champ might see his ownership spike considerably from last week, but he makes for an affordable cash game option who I’ll mix into a few GPPs.

Abraham Ancer (DK $9.100) – Ancer likes the venue and despite a few putting hiccups and his inability to close out tournaments, the price makes plenty of sense for Accurate Abe. He’s placed better each of the times he’s teed it up in Palm Springs, and a breakthrough win is only a hot putter away.

Cameron Champ (DK 8,900) – I haven’t heard a ton of chatter about Champ in a while, and that means it might be time to get aboard; he’s a player with all the talent in the world to rip this course apart. Tops in the field in SG:OTT and 22nd in BoB% (you should be noticing a trend here), Champ just needs to keep it in the fairways and score well on the Par 3s.

Adam Long (DK $8,500) – Long missed the cut last year after winning this event as a rookie in the 2018-19 season, and he’s already notched four Top 15s in eight starts this season. He’s not among my favorites to win, but he’s a solid GPP play in this price range.

Patton Kizzire (DK $8,400) – Kizzire might be the best putter on tour right now, and his usual issues off the tee have been mitigated by his performance on the greens. Think of him as a poor man’s Na without the requisite success at PGA West, and a guy that should be low-owned in tournaments at this increased price.

Sam Burns (DK $8,300) – He hasn’t played much competitive golf lately but Burns has a T18 and T6 in his two appearances here, and both he and Ryan Moore (also making his 2020-21 season debut) make for excellent plays in the $8,000-$8,500 range.

Ryan Moore (DK $8,000) – Burns and Moore rank at No. 8 and No. 9 in my model, respectively, though they occupy different ends of the putting spectrum, with Moore’s flat stick lagging considerably. The slight discount on Moore could help make the decision in cash games, but they both make sense for GPPs.

Adam Hadwin (DK $8,000) – The ultimate course horse, Hadwin’s performance at PGA West is downright astounding, with four straight finishes among the Top 6 from 2016 to 2019. I’ve tried 100 percent Hadwin ownership before and it worked out badly, but I’m tempted to try it again considering his unusual affection for the TPC Stadium course and the fact that the only reason he didn’t play here last year was due to the birth of his first child.

Also consider: Rickie Fowler (GPP), Paul Casey, Gary Woodland, Erik Van Rooyen, Aaron Wise (GPP), Alex Noren

Value PGA DFS (DK $6,600 to 7,500):

Doc Redman (DK $7,500) – The luster has worn off a bit after his T61 in Houston and MC at the RSM Classic, so I feel comfortable enough to call Doc a “sleeper” pick this week. The final ownership percentages will tell the final story on how much I’ll be using, but he’s all the way up at third in my overall rankings this week.

Talor Gooch (DK $7,400) –Gooch has a top 5 here (2019) and two straight MCs at the RSM and Sony will keep his ownership down. What’s really bizarre is that he’s almost interchangeable in terms of model ranking (12th vs. 13th), past performance (both have a T4 in the past two seasons) and price point (same) with Sepp Straka.

Sepp Straka (DK $7,400) – What I said about Gooch goes for Sepp, right down to my infatuation with both for GPPs. I’ll be building a whole smattering of tournament lineups with either – or both – of these golfers, and hoping they can keep it together the first couple days and make the cut.

Keegan Bradley (DK $7,300) – Bradley seems like a one week on, one week off type of golfer, so I’m less concerned about his MC at the Sony Open than I am his Top 25 upside. Bradley always flies under the radar despite a solid approach game and excellent ball-striking off the tee.

Matthew NeSmith (DK $7,100) – He’s cheap, he can fire at flagsticks and we know he can score (-18 for a T8 at the Shriners in October). NeSmith may not be exciting, but he’s No. 33 in my model this week, he finished T17 in his debut here last season, and he may improve on that this year.

Andrew Landry (DK $7,000) – My model is not kind to Landry this year, but he’s the defending champ and I’ll work in some ownership in MMEs. Not only did he win here in 2020, but he lost in a playoff in this event in 2018, so there’s something about the place he digs.

Vaughn Taylor (DK $6,800) – I find it difficult to pin down exactly when to play Taylor, but he’s 3-for-4 here with a Top 10 in 2019 – and his price (along with a Top 25 last week at the Sony) makes him an interesting punt option.

More value golfers to consider: Lucas Glover, Charley Hoffman, Cameron Tringale, Tom Hoge, Russell Knox (GPP), Chex Reavie, John Huh, Henrik Norlander, Adam Schenk

Longshot Punts PGA DFS (DK $6,500 and under):

John Augenstein (DK $6,500) – First-timers seem to fare well here, and Augenstein, playing in his pro debut this week, ranks at No. 53 in my model. He’s got the star power to make this price seem ridiculous in subsequent events. I’ll be overweight on the field and hoping for some Sunday airtime.

Chase Seiffert (DK $6,400) – Seiffert is actually playing with Augenstein, so he can relay stories of his T21 finish in his debut here in 2020 and maybe get those good vibes going again. Seiffert falls just behind Augie, Tom Hoge and Brice Garnett in my model at No. 56, so there’s plenty to like as a bargain bin value option.

Grayson Murray (DK $6,300) – He’s a course horse of the not-quite highest order (with Hadwin in a class by himself) because he’s notched three Top 15s here in his four attempts (MC in 2019). Don’t go overboard, but don’t completely forget about him either.

Additional punt options: Andrew Putnam, Will Gordon, Sebastian Cappelen (GPP) Nate Lashley, Sean O’Hair

Good luck this week! – Antonio D’Arcangelis

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