This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
The American Express
- PGA West Stadium Course (7,113 yards, par 72) [Host Course]
- PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course (7,159 yards, par 72)
- La Quinta Country Club (7,060 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,368,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The 2022 version of the formerly known Bob Hope Desert Classic will feature one of its best fields in recent years. 2018 Champion and World No. 1 Jon Rahm will lead the brigade into the Coachella Valley for the start of the West Coast Swing. Joining him will be 2021 Winner Si Woo Kim and runner-up Patrick Cantlay. Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Matthew Wolff, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, and Phil Mickelson make up some of the other notables teeing it up this week. Russell Henley is hoping to bounce back from a tough playoff loss at last week's Sony Open in Hawaii.
This event has been around since 1960 and was one of the more unique tournaments on the PGA Tour calendar because of the tournament being at four different courses over five rounds and the celebrity pro-am feature. In 2012, the event decided to go to a more traditional 72-hole format with players facing three courses in three rounds before a 54-hole cut was made and players all played at the same course in the final round. Only the Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course were used in 2021 to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The 2022 edition welcomes back La Quinta Country Club to the rotation for the 49th time, which is the most of all courses that have been in the Desert Classic rotation. La Quinta has traditionally been the easiest of the three courses in the current rotation, while the Stadium Course at PGA West has been the most difficult and is where the final round will be played. To try to speed up play for the amateurs, the holes are usually cut in pretty easy positions for the first three days of the tournament, which should allow for the pros to attack.
For the third straight week we have great weather on tap for the PGA Tour event. Temperatures will be in the mid-50's each round for the morning starters, before heating up into the upper-70's in the afternoon. There will be plenty of sunshine in the California desert with mild winds overall. If there is one day that we could see mother nature play some impact it would be Saturday where winds are expected to increase to about 15 miles per hour. The winning score since moving to a 72-hole format has been at least 20-under-par, so we should be prepared to see quite a few birdies once again this week.
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)
2012 – Mark Wilson (-24)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Putting
In a shootout like what is expected this week in the desert, the key is typically hitting greens and sinking putts. Players that have shown the ability this season to make a lot of birdies is what you are looking for. The greens on these three courses are relatively average in size, but we will probably see a little more spring this week versus the two Hawaii courses that were very soft. All greens will also be prepped to run at 11 on the Stimpmeter, which is typically a good speed for a lot of putts to be made. When it was first introduced on the PGA Tour, the Stadium Course at PGA West was pretty controversial. Many players were critical of the Pete Dye design, but as time went on and equipment got better, those critics were silenced. The host course should play as the most difficult this week, mostly due to the fact that the penalty for missing a shot can be so severe. There are not many easy up-and-downs around the Stadium Course, so having a good short game will certainly be a benefit for the 36 holes you will have to play on that course.
FanDuel Value Picks
Patrick Cantlay ($11,900)
Cantlay shot a course-record 11-under 61 at the Stadium Course in the final round of last year's American Express to close out a solo second. In his previous start in the desert back in 2019 he secured a T9. Cantlay is coming off a solo fourth at Kapalua two weeks ago and is one of just a handful of players that are great in all areas of the game.
Scottie Scheffler ($11,500)
It would be hard to fathom if Scheffler made it through all of 2022 without notching that first PGA Tour win. He came very close down the stretch of 2021 with a solo fourth at Mayakoba, T2 in Houston, and a solo second at the Hero World Challenge. Scheffler scored a solo third at The American Express back in 2020.
Sungjae Im ($11,400)
Im was rolling, with four straight top-20s – including a win at the Shriners event – coming into the Sony Open last week. He just missed the cut at Waialae but now heads to PGA West, where he has gone T12-T10-T12 the last three years. Im ranks top-20 this season in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Around-the-Green, SG: Tee-to-Green, GIR percentage, and scrambling.
Seamus Power ($10,600)
Power is coming off an impressive T3 at the Sony Open last week which gave him five top-15 finishes in his last six starts on the PGA Tour. Power ranks ninth this season in scoring average and 15th in GIR percentage. He also has a pair of top-25 finishes at PGA West in three career starts.
Longer Shots with Value
Luke List ($9,600)
List put together a strong fall portion of the schedule where he scored four top-20 finishes. His ball-striking was remarkable and he currently leads the Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green and nearly two gained strokes per round. The problem is that he has just been really bad with the putter. If List can have just an average week with the putter, the ball striking is plenty good enough to contend for a win here. List finished T21 a year ago at PGA West.
Russell Knox ($9,100)
Knox is coming off a strong T7 finish a week ago at Waialae where he gained strokes on the field in every category, including ranking 10th in SG: Approach, T10 in driving accuracy, and T5 in GIR. Much like List, Knox has not been a great putter this season but he is going to hit a ton of fairways and greens. The Scot has made all four of his cuts at The American Express which includes a pair of top-20s.
Michael Thompson ($8,500)
Thompson is coming off a top-5 finish at the Sony Open where he finished top-8 in the field in SG: Approach, SG: Around-the-Green, SG: Tee-to-Green, scrambling, and putts per GIR. Thompson has made the cut in all six of his starts this season and posted a top-10 finish at PGA West two of the last three years.
Hayden Buckley ($8,400)
Buckley has had a nice start to his rookie season, notching a T4 at the Sanderson Farms, a T8 at the Shriners Open, and then a T12 in Hawaii last week. Buckley ranks 10th this season in SG: Off-the-Tee, 27th in driving accuracy, 23rd in GIR percentage, and 29th in sand save percentage.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
With all players getting at least three rounds this week it allows for some extra freedom with less of a penalty for having a couple players miss the cut. Players who have a history of being very up-and-down in recent years such as Matthew Wolff, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, and Adam Long, actually look like decent picks this week with less of a penalty for a missed cut. The field this week is very top heavy and you can make a very strong case for every player $10,500 and up. The key is just going to be trying to maximize your final one or two roster spots once things start to dry up under $9,000.