FanDuel PGA: The American Express Picks and Strategy

FanDuel PGA: The American Express Picks and Strategy

This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.

The American Express


  • PGA West Stadium Course (7,187 yards, par 72)
  • PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course (7,147 yards, par 72)
  • La Quinta Country Club (7,060 yards, par 72)

Purse: $8,000,000
Winner: $1,440,000 and 500 FedExCup points

Tournament Preview

The PGA Tour's West Coast Swing begins this week with one of the best fields in the history of the Desert Classic. Five of the top-seven players in the OWGR will be teeing it up in the Coachella Valley led by 2018 AmEx Champion Jon Rahm who is coming off a comeback victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Scottie Scheffler will have a chance to return to the No. 1 spot in the OWGR this week, but he has still not won since the Masters. Hudson Swafford won this event for the second time last year, but he will not be amongst the field in 2023 after deciding to join LIV Golf last summer. The 2021 champ in Si Woo Kim will tee it up this week, however, after scoring his fourth career PGA Tour victory at last week's Sony Open in Hawaii. 

The American Express is one of two pro-ams on the schedule that feature three courses before a 54-hole cut is made. The other is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am which we will see in a couple weeks time. The Stadium Course at PGA West will act as the host course for the eighth straight year, as all players that make the 54-hole cut will play the final round at the most difficult course in the rotation. La Quinta Country Club will be in the rotation for the 50th time, passing Bermuda Dunes for the most years as a venue for the Desert Classic. La Quinta has typically been the easiest course in the rotation since the PGA Tour went with this trio starting in 2016. The Nicklaus Tournament Course rounds out the rotation and last year Will Zalatoris set the course record with an 11-under 61 in the second round. This tournament has been the site of two of 12 sub-60 rounds in PGA Tour history with David Duval in 1999 at the PGA West Palmer Private Course and Adam Hadwin in 2017 at La Quinta. 

There's a reason we've seen so much good scoring over the years at the Desert Classic. It has been described by many as playing golf in a dome due to the warm conditions and lack of wind. It won't be quite as warm as we've seen in years past, but the wind will be pretty benign. Last year actually featured some of the highest winds we've seen in tournament history, but five players were still able to reach 20-under-par for the week. We will get a softer trio of courses this year with all the storms that have hit California in January, which will do nothing but further help the scoring this week. Expect another 54-hole cut in the 7-to-10-under range. 

Recent Champions

2022 - Hudson Swafford (-23)
2021 - Si Woo Kim (-23)
2020 - Andrew Landry (-26)
2019 - Adam Long (-26)
2018 - Jon Rahm (-22)
2017 - Hudson Swafford (-20)
2016 - Jason Dufner (-25)
2015 - Bill Haas (-22)
2014 - Patrick Reed (-28)
2013 - Brian Gay (-25)

Key Stats to Victory

  • SG: Approach
  • GIR Percentage
  • SG: Putting
  • Birdie Average 

Champion's Profile

The keys in a shootout are usually pretty simple. Hit greens and sink putts. That's what we'll be looking for this week. Having three different courses in the rotation can sometimes make it a headache to predict what's going to happen each day as it relates to tee times and such, but it's a pretty balanced looking weather forecast so I think we can put that strategy out of mind. We've seen players of all lengths be able to compete in this event over the years and there is virtually no rough at all, so driving stats are not something I'm really focusing on this week. Due to the nature of this being a pro-am, the pin locations for the first three rounds will be pretty simple to protect pace of play. The longer rounds can make it hard to stay in rhythm, so experience playing in either this event or the Pebble Beach Pro-Am is certainly a plus. The bunkers can be challenging at the Stadium Course, so your two rounds there will hold you more accountable for poor shots than the "Nick Tourney" or La Quinta.

FanDuel Value Picks

Patrick Cantlay ($11,700)

I have more confidence in Cantlay than just about anyone else in the field in this style of event. He's finished T9-2nd-T9 in his last three starts at the American Express and also has finished T11-T3-T4 the last three years at the other pro-am at Pebble Beach. Cantlay has only made two starts this season, but he leads the PGA Tour in GIR percentage and birdie average while also ranking fifth in SG: Putting. 

Cameron Young ($10,700)

Last season's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year comes into this week pretty under-the-radar and at a tasty price. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone better at getting you a birdie than Young, as last season he ranked sixth in birdie average and early this season is fifth in that department. There's been a noticeable jump in his iron play as well this season and he was fourth in putts per round a season ago. Young came into the final round T5 at the AmEx last year, but fell to T40 after a 77 on Sunday. 

Brian Harman ($10,300)

Harman is striking the ball about as well as he ever has in his career. He is gaining nearly 0.9 strokes per round both Off-the-Tee and Approaching-the-Green. Harman is also 17th in GIR percentage and 12th in birdie average this season. The Georgia product has finished T21-or-better in six of the seven times since the Desert Classic used this rotation of courses and is a whopping 49-under-par over the last three years in this event. 

Tom Hoge ($10,200)

Hoge had a bit of an off week at the Sony Open, but this price is too good to pass up on. Hoge has five top-15 finishes this season and is leading the PGA Tour in SG: Putting. The 33-year-old finished T6 in 2020 and was a runner-up last year at PGA West. Hoge also picked up his first win at the other pro-am on the schedule last year. There's really nothing not to like here considering that Hoge has also turned into quite a strong putter. 

Longer Shots with Value

Andrew Putnam ($9,800)

Putnam can get red-hot on the greens with the best of them, as he showed last week when he gained over 10 strokes with the putter en route to a T4 finish. Putnam has now made the cut in each of his nine starts this season and totaled six finishes in the top-30. The 33-year-old now resides in Phoenix, so he's familiar with desert golf, and has posted top-25 finishes in four of the last five Desert Classics. 

Thomas Detry ($9,100)

Over the last six months it has not mattered where on this planet Detry has teed it up in, he has found success. The Belgian native has posted a whopping 10 top-15 finishes over his last 17 events, many of those while traveling across oceans from one week to the next. Detry will do the same this week after helping Continental Europe to win at the Hero Cup last week in Abu Dhabi. Detry is gaining strokes across the board on the PGA Tour this season and is 17th in birdie average.

Russell Knox ($8,600)

Knox has found a lot of success in these pro-am formats over the years. He has gone 4-for-5 with a pair of top-20s in the desert and has six top-35s in nine starts at Pebble Beach. Knox was a little rusty at Waialae after a long layoff, but he was still able to make his eighth cut in nine starts this season. The Scot is going to give himself a lot of looks this week because he ranks eighth in SG: Approach and fifth in proximity to the hole. 

Nick Taylor ($8,500)

Taylor is hitting the ball as well as he ever, ranking 21st in SG: Approach and 18th in proximity to the hole this season. On top of that he is 16th in putts per round and is coming off a T7 at the Sony Open for his fourth top-25 finish in seven starts this season. Taylor has made the cut in five of his last six starts at the AmEx and also has three top-15 finishes in his last six tries at Pebble Beach, including a win in 2020. 

Strategy Tips This Week

Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap

While this is a top-heavy field, we have seen a lot of players with very low odds win the Desert Classic over the years. A lot of that just has to do with the uniqueness of this event playing in a pro-am with three different courses. With there being a 54-hole cut as opposed to a traditional 36-hole cut, I think that can allow DFS players to be aggressive in their selections because you won't get penalized as much if you one or two of your golfers miss the cut. Outside of Cantlay, I think this is the type of week to lean away from most of the players north of $11K who will garner the highest ownership. 

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Ryan Andrade plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Ku_Bball_Fan, FanDuel: ku_bball_fan.
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Ryan  Andrade
Ryan has covered golf, college basketball, and motorsports for RotoWire since 2016. He was nominated for "DFS Writer of the Year" in 2021 by the FSWA.
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