• The PGA Tour returns this week after a great week at the Sony Open. Si Woo Kim fired a 64 on Sunday to capture his fourth PGA title. It was carnage for the top of the DraftKings board as Tom Kim, Sungjae Im and Jordan Spieth all missed the cut. Hideki Matsuyama and Tom Hoge meandered to finishes of T46 and T40.

    We move on now to the American Express which features a three-course rotation at PGA West (Stadium Course, Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club). This event is a full field 156 player Pro-Am, so groupings for the first three days will feature two professionals and an amateur playing each course once. The top 65 and ties will advance to the final round which is held at the Stadium Course.

    The important thing to remember for Pro-Am events is that pin locations the first three days are very accessible to cater to the amateurs, which in turn leads to a lot of scoring with a historical cut line of 9 under par after 54 holes. All three courses have similar features and don’t offer much variety between them. All are slightly under 7,200 yards and contain four Par 3s, ten Par 4s and four Par 5s. There is some bunker and water trouble prevalent on the Stadium Course which presents the hardest scoring conditions of the three in rotation. Before we get more into the field, let’s look at the past five winners at this event:

    2022: Hudson Swafford (-23)

    2021: Si Woo Kim (-23)

    2020: Andrew Landy (-26)

    2019: Adam Long (-26)

    2018: Jon Rahm (-22)

    The average odds for the past five winners are 215-1 (266-1 if you remove Rahm’s 10-1 win in 2018) so it has been historically an event where longshots have prevailed. Why has this happened? Generally, this event has not attracted the top players in the world which levels out the playing field naturally. You could also look at the easy setup of each of the courses, which neutralizes the abilities of what few top players did participate and reduce the event to a “putting contest” as John Rahm colorfully referred to it as last year.

    However this year, we are seeing the best field at this tournament in recent memory as eight of the top-15 and ten of the top-20 players ranked in the Official World Golf Rankings are teeing it up. Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Tom Kim, and Will Zalatoris are just a taste of what the top of the board looks like this week. It will be interesting to see if the longshot theory prevails again or if a top-ranked player is able to assert themselves and emerge victorious come Sunday.

    Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.

    1. SG: Approach– A staple stat that translates to any course. It is the stat that has been proven to be stickiest over a long sample and correlates with long term success.
    2. SG: Putting 5-10/10-15 Feet– Putting is volatile and is difficult to predict week-to-week. Because of this, I tend to weight putting diminutively in any models I run. However, making putts are going to be major factor in determining a champion this week. More specifically, I will be looking at short-term results in these ranges.
    3. BOB Gained- Birdies or Better gained is a stat tells you exactly what the name states. It compares how well a golfer shoots a birdie or better compared to his peers. Given the low-scoring nature of this event, making birdies and making a lot of them will be crucial.
    4. Par 5 Scoring Gained: Again, we are leaning on the scoring stats this week. We want to back golfers who can take advantage of all the Par 5 opportunities this week. Golfers who do not score well on the Par 5’s this week will not be in a good position.

    Follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional thoughts and I’ll be happy to help out with any lineup questions you have. Let’s make some money!

     

    Round 1 Props

    Thrive Contest Plays for Thursday’s Round 1 Action

    Cameron Young 4.5 Eagles + Birdies MORE (110 PTS) – He went over this number in 3-of-4 rounds last year. A final round 77 derailed Young’s chances of contending last year, but he certainly has the firepower to get this done. He ranks 4th in BOB and has an excellent putter to take advantage of the opportunities these courses present scoring-wise. Plus we get the added bonus of an eagle counting towards this total which is certainly on the table for Young, as he is one of the best drivers of the ball in the field.

    Will Zalatoris 3.5 Birdies MORE (80 PTS) – Willy Z came out strong in his return to golf at Kapalua after multiple months off due to his back. Possibly the best iron player in the field who ranks 2nd over the past 50 rounds in BOB. Expect Zalatoris to be putting for birdie within a reasonable range often on Thursday and four is certainly doable.

    Jon Rahm 2.5 Bogeys LESS (85 PTS) – Rahm Has eclipsed this number three times in sixteen career rounds at this event. Coming off his win at Kapalua, Rahm is in excellent form having played well overseas recently as well. If Rahm doesn’t start at the Stadium course, this should be near automatic. Even if he does start his tournament there, I trust Rahm to not get into enough trouble to go over this line.

     

    Props Record YTD

    4-2

    DFS Top Tier Play

    Patrick Cantlay

    Salary: $10,100

    I love this spot for Cantlay. He checks all the boxes we are looking for stats wise this week. He is ranked number one in SG: Par 5 over the last 50 rounds to go along with his excellent iron play in which he has only lost strokes to the field in that category twice since last May (once was in his first appearance this year at the Sentry). We know he can get extremely hot with his putter and rack up the birdies as evidenced by his 3rd rank in BOB over the last 50 rounds. He also has three top-10s in this event in his last three appearances (9th, 2nd, 9th). I don’t account of event history too much this week, but that certainly doesn’t hurt.

    Others Considered: Scottie Scheffler ($10,500), Sam Burns ($9,400)

     

    DFS Mid Tier Play

    Sahith Theegala

    Salary: $8,600

    Cameron Davis ($8,800) and Tom Hoge ($8,400) are going to get the ownership around Theegala which may lead to him being overlooked. We have seen Sahith play well at desert style courses in the past (T3 at TPC Scottsdale last year) as well as other Pete Dye courses (T2 at TPC River Highlands). We have seen him get into trouble off the tee from time to time, but that should be of no consequence here. The rough hardly puts up a defense at any of the courses played at this event, reducing the need for accuracy off the tee. Staying on brand, I am attacking players who take advantage of Par 5s where Theegala ranks 26th in the field over the last 50 rounds. Sahith has the type of upside that makes him an excellent tournament play.

    Others Considered: Adam Hadwin ($8,200), Andrew Putnam ($8,700)

     

    DFS Value Play

    Stephan Jaeger

    Salary: $7,300

    Jaeger is a birdie maker and lots of them. He is top-20 in the field in the key BOB stat we are looking at. He has also gained strokes with the putter in eight of his last nine events played where strokes gained data was collected. Jaeger has also been remarkably consistent for a player in this price range as he has one missed cut in his last eleven events including three top-15 finishes in that run. His iron play can be streaky which can be worrisome, but his putting and prowess off the tee can help hide those issues.

    Others Considered: Matthew NeSmith ($7,100), Callum Tarren ($7,200)

     

     

    Outright Betting Picks

    *All odds are curtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

    Cam Young (+2200)

    Sam Burns (+3500)

    Sahith Theegala (+6000)

    Taylor Pendrith (+8000)

    Ben Griffin (+18000)

    Lineup Builder

    Position Player Name DK Salary
    G Patrick Cantlay $10,100
    G Sahith Theegala $8,600
    G Stephen Jaeger $7,300
    G
    G
    G
    REMAINING BUDGET $24,000 for 3 plays

     

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