The American Express Fantasy Golf Preview

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The American Express Fantasy Golf Preview

Lonely at the Sony

In all truth, it was a poor week at the Sony Open as only Talor Gooch made the cut of our three selections. He played steady golf all week, which is pretty much what we expected. However, he needed that one magical round that would have put him in contention. Unfortunately, Im and Smith never got going all weekend, and the writing was on the wall early for both.

Our attention turns to the American Express this week as we look to get our first win of the calendar year. We will begin, as always, by taking a look at the history of the tournament as we start to build this week’s BeerLife profile.

The History

The Desert Classic, CareerBuilder Challenge, Palm Springs Golf Classic, Bob Hope Desert Classic, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and Humana Challenge were previous American Express names. The Palm Spring Classic, which began in 1960, is the tournament’s origin. In 1965, comedian Bob Hope became Chairman of the Board and attached his name to the event. The celebrity Pro-Am competition, which has drawn some of the most famous people from each era, was and continues to be the Classic’s most significant draw.

Arnold Palmer won the first tournament with a final score of 338, or 22 under par. Palmer won the race five times: in 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, and 1973. The tournament is best known for David Duval’s final-round 59 in 1999 when 59s were less common. Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, and Phil Mickelson are among the other notable champions.

Let’s turn our attention to the form of the previous five winners, analyze their rounds and see if we can find some crucial links to begin our BeerLife profile.

Past Results

2021 Si Woo Kim – 265 – Form 25/34/CUT/17
2020 Andrew Landry – 262 – Form CUT/CUT/CUT/CUT
2019 Adam Long – 262 – Form CUT/CUT/CUT/63
2018 Jon Rahm – 266 – Form 2/36/7/5
2017 Hudson Swafford – 268 – Form 13/36/46/29

The Course

Before a weekend on the former, the field will play a round on PGA West’s Stadium and Nicklaus courses. The Stadium course, created by Pete Dye, is often two or more strokes harder than the Nicklaus, owing to challenging rough, substantial bunkering, and water in play on two-thirds of the holes. Both courses have Bermudagrass greens, with the latter being significantly more accommodating off the tee and giving the bombers a chance to let go. As they compete for position moving into the weekend, players will be trying to capitalize on their round at the Nicklaus.

As you would expect, the weather looks decent this week. However, we might see a bit of wind around on Saturday, and if there are some tricky pin locations, it could make life slightly more challenging.

The Field

Given Jon Rahm’s level of performance over the last two seasons, it’s no wonder that he’s the overwhelming favorite in any tournament he plays. This week is no exception, as Rahm is the overwhelming favorite at the American Express Championship, where he won his second PGA Tour title of the year. On Monday, the World No. 1 was given a 6-1 shot at winning the tournament for the second time. Interestingly the last time he won this tournament, he finished second at the Sentry, and where did he place there this year? Yep…you guessed it, second.

Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Corey Conners, Matthew Wolff, and defending champion Si Woo Kim are other famous names. Lucas Glover, Talor Gooch, and Seamus Power, along with Ancer, Im, and Si Woo, are teeing it up for the third week in a row to start the year. Scheffler and Wolff are off to a good start this year. Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Gary Woodland, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, and Will Zalatoris will make their 2022 debuts. Cameron Champ is back with COVID-19 after missing the Tournament of Champions.

Key Stats

We run each player in the field through our BeerLife profile analysis to develop our selections. This is what we are looking for this week:

Fast out the gate – Looking over the rounds of the past five winners; it’s clear that a fast start is critical this week. This is especially the case if the wind does pick up on Saturday, as the birdies might dry up slightly.

Round 1 Scoring Average

  1. Corey Connors
  2. Russell Henley
  3. Matthew Wolff
  4. Talor Gooch
  5. Andy Ogletree

Second shot success – This event is known as a second shot event. By that, we mean the most significant stat has been strokes gained on the approach over the years.

SG: Approach The Green

  1. Ben Crane
  2. Satoshi Kodaira
  3. Russell Henley
  4. Collin Morikawa
  5. Tom Hoge

Five alive – This event has sent the lowest par-five scoring of any event on Tour.

Par 5 Scoring Average

  1. Jon Rahm
  2. Collin Morikawa
  3. Cameron Smith
  4. Seamus Power
  5. Sergio Garcia
  6. Tony Finau
  7. Justin Thomas

Who’s a pretty birdie – With more low-scoring expected this week, it will pay to keep things simple. More birdies mean lower scores.

Birdie Average

  1. Justin Thomas
  2. Jon Rahm
  3. Viktor Hovland
  4. Cameron Smith
  5. Collin Morikawa

Draft Picks

After looking at the above data and running the field through our Beerlife profile builder, we have selected the following picks.

Must-Have Players – These are the players you need to have in your lineup regardless of the price.

Jon Rahm Headshot
Jon Rahm
Odds To Win +650
DraftKings $11,300
FanDuel
For the second week in a row, we have to side with the tournament favorite. While it didn’t pay off last week with Cameron Smith, we have Jon Rahm this week. No disrespect to Smith as he’s a fantastic player, but he isn’t Jon Rahm. It’s hard to ignore the fact that the last time Rahm won here, he finished second at the Sentry in his tournament before this one, and he achieved that feat once again this year. He is also a previous winner of this event and placed sixth on his last outing here the year after his win. We could wax lyrical about Rahm’s game for hours, but everyone knows how good he is, so that isn’t necessary here. One stat that caught my eye for this event is that the field made birdie or better 27% of the time when they made the fairways, which is higher than any other event on the PGA Tour. Looking at Rahm’s stats, he has hit the fairway on his last 27 holes in a row, which is higher than anyone else on Tour this season. Yes, picking the Spaniard will blow your DFS budget, but if you have the winner of the tournament, who cares? You only need to find lower-budget players to make the cut, and your lineup should be quids in.

Steady Eddies – These guys should give a good account of themselves and are good additions to your lineup.

Russell Henley
Odds To Win +3500
DraftKings $9,000
FanDuel
Although Henley agonizingly missed out last week at the Sony Open, losing in a playoff, I believe he will be spurred on to go one step further this week. Ordinarily, I would avoid such a player, but Russell seems level-headed, and I think he will dust himself off and be out to prove doubters wrong here. Especially seen as he has missed the cut here on the previous four occasions, he has played this event and has something to prove here. Before his second-place last week, he also had a seventh-place finish at the Houston Open this season, so he is in good touch. While we have seen that isn’t necessarily a winning formula here, it can’t hurt our chances. He has some excellent approach play which should set up plenty of scoring chances this week. He has also made nine consecutive cuts making him a reliable option for any team.

About the author:

Freelance Sports Writer | + posts

Hey Guys

My name is Dean, AKA The Stat Man. I am a Sports Betting Analyst who uses math, algorithms, probability and logic to create my posts. I specialize in many sports, with Golf being the primary focus. You can find a lot of my work on various websites but the best content is found here on Beer Life.

I live in the UK, on the outskirts of London but my background and heritage is Irish. I'm an avid Manchester United fan who sees following them as a religion. Sport is pretty much my life, as I live and breathe it daily. If there is something I don't know it's probably not worth knowing as I have over 20 years industry experience and insight.

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As always, believe in the power of statistics!