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Yahoo PGA DFS Picks: The American Express Cash and GPP Strategy

Yahoo PGA DFS Picks: The American Express Cash and GPP Strategy

The American Express

La Quinta, California
PGA West (Stadium Course) - Par 72 - 7,187 yards
PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course) - Par 72 - 7,147 yards
La Quinta Country Club - Par 72 - 7,060 yards
Field - 156 entrants
Purse - $8.4M

The Preview

The 2024 season-opening Hawaiian Swing culminated this past weekend with longshot Grayson Murray outlasting Byeong Hun An and Keegan Bradley in a three-man playoff, as the former birdied the par-5 18th in extra holes to secure his second career PGA Tour victory. As we now look ahead to a desert backdrop in the contiguous U.S. this week, sluggish rounds of five-plus hours await at The American Express where each of the 156 professional entrants will be paired with an amateur in a pro-am format. The action is spread out across an unusual three-course rotation from Thursday to Saturday, but despite the wonky setup, World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler has elected to attend, and he's joined by fellow household names such as Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. Following a 54-hole cut down to the top 65 and ties, PGA West's Stadium Course will host the final round Sunday.

All three layouts are relatively short in length for par-72s and they each feature several reachable par-5s, so they're especially easy from a scoring perspective with La Quinta Country Club serving as the most elementary. Given the bermudagrass is dormant at PGA West this time of year, the greens this week are all overseeded with poa trivialis, which will run on the slower side but also much smoother than the traditionally bumpy poa annua you hear about so often during afternoon broadcasts. Many west-coast players express their affinity for the poa trivialis putting surfaces on these specific tracks at The AmEx. Par-breaker opportunities will come in bunches without much wind in the forecast, so it's safe to expect the eventual winning score to surpass the 20-under-par mark.

Recent Champions

2023 - Jon Rahm
2022 - Hudson Swafford
2021 - Si Woo Kim
2020 - Andrew Landry
2019 - Adam Long
2018 - Jon Rahm
2017 - Hudson Swafford
2016 - Jason Dufner
2015 - Bill Haas
2014 - Patrick Reed

Key Stats to Victory

SG: Approach
Birdie or Better Percentage
SG: Putting (poa trivialis)
Par-5 Efficiency

Yahoo Value Picks

Based on $200 salary cap

Cream of the Crop

Scottie Scheffler - $45

A heavy 11/2 betting favorite at a sub-$50 salary is typically a bargain, but this especially rings true when that $45 player happens to be the best ball striker in the world. The flat stick obviously has been a major letdown for Scheffler, which might concern fellow gamers at a venue that's been described by some as a putting contest, but Rahm won last year's AmEX despite losing 2.3 strokes on the greens at the Stadium Course in the final round alone, and he racked up 29 total par-breakers throughout the tournament despite finishing outside the top-20 in putting average. Over his last 50 measured rounds, Scheffler sits No. 1 in SG: Approach, Opportunities Gained and average GIR Gained — all by a significant margin.

Patrick Cantlay - $44

The next of the elites is Cantlay, who's a collective 76-under-par across his past four visits to La Quinta, which include a runner-up effort here in 2021 when he set the PGA West Stadium Course record with a final-round 61. Cantlay rattled off four consecutive scores of 68 or better to open his 2024 campaign at The Sentry, where he ranked fifth among the field in SG: Off-the-Tee and T6 in GIR percentage.

Sungjae Im - $38

Less than two weeks removed from setting the all-time PGA Tour record for birdies in a tournament with 34 tweeters at Kapalua, Im heads to a venue that has seen him notch five straight finishes of T18 or better since his 2019 AmEx debut. The 25-year-old Korean gained a combined 6.4 strokes with his irons and putter at The Sentry, and he's sixth in Par-5 Efficiency over his last 36 rounds.

Glue Guys

J.T. Poston - $36

Gaining at least three strokes with the flat stick in each of his past four starts, Poston has secured a top-6 result in three of four outings dating back to the Shriners Children's Open, ascending to the No. 1 spot in SG: Putting and the No. 2 spot in Birdies or Better Gained over his last 36 rounds. This past year at the 2023 AmEx, Poston ranked T2 among the field in putting average en route to 30 total par-breakers and a T6 finish.

Andrew Putnam - $33

Putnam rarely grades well for me due to his deficiencies in the ball-striking department, but he now at least appears second in GIR Gained over his last 36 rounds, and despite losing 2.9 strokes on his approach shots this past week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, he actually gained an average of 6.4 in proximity from 100-125 yards, and he finished on the positive side of proximity gained from both 150-175 and 175-200 yards as well. The putter remains his greatest strength, and Putnam's track record at The American Express includes six consecutive finishes of T36 or better.

Taylor Montgomery - $31

Another first-class putter that's seen his ball striking improve as of late, Montgomery blew his previous career high in SG: Approach out of the water at Waialae last week, gaining 7.1 strokes with his irons on the way to a T13 finish. He uncharacteristically paced the field in GIR percentage during his AmEx debut here last year, posting a fifth-place result despite falling to just T41 in putting average. Over his past 36 measured rounds, Montgomery sits No. 1 in putting from 5-10 feet and eighth in Birdies or Better Gained.

Bargain Bin

Davis Thompson - $28

Thompson notched the best finish of his young career as a rookie at The American Express in 2023, sharing the 54-hole lead before losing to eventual Jon Rahm by one shot. Thompson's DFS scoring output was bolstered by five eagles that week, as he ultimately played the par-5s in 14-under-par. The 24-year-old former Georgia Bulldog most recently gained 4.3 strokes on the greens at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and he's eighth in GIR Gained over his last 24 rounds.

Carl Yuan - $24

Yuan fired a seven-under 63 this past Sunday at Waialae C.C. to place top-6 for the third time in his last six starts dating back to the Sanderson Farms Championship in October. He ranked top-10 among the field in Honolulu in both SG: Off-the-Tee and putting average, guiding him to 20 total birdies and an eagle across 72 holes. Yuan missed the cut in his AmEx debut last year, but he at least played the par-5s in a collective nine-under-par at these three courses before the early trunk slam.

Ryan Moore - $22

Moore has failed to make the cut in three straight editions of The American Express, but he tied for sixth here in 2020 when he gained 5.3 strokes on approach, and his iron play came on strong throughout the latter half of 2023 as he currently ranks sixth in overall proximity and seventh in SG: APP over his last 24 measured rounds. Moore closed out the FedExCup Fall with back-to-back top-8 finishes at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and The RSM Classic before a missed cut at last week's Sony Open. But, the MC by one shot in Hawaii isn't too concerning, given he gained 3.1 strokes from tee to green while losing 3.7 with the putter.

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