Forelinx DFS Tournament Preview ⏤ The American Express

Fantasy Golf

Pgawest Stadium1A

The PGA TOUR finally returns to the mainland as the Aloha Swing through Hawaii comes to a close and the West Coast Swing begins at The American Express in Palm Springs, California. The beautiful PGA West Resort will play host for the fifth consecutive year, but for a change this event will not feature its usual pro-am rotation across three courses. In fact, the pro-am portion of this event has been shelved entirely and a fairly standard PGA TOUR event will be played over just the infamous Stadium Course and the friendlier Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West.

Despite the difficulty of the Stadium Course for your average golfer, the fact remains that the layout has not proven to be too difficult for the professional players. Last year's event was won by Andrew Landry with a four-day total of 26-under par 262 and the previous edition of the event was won by Adam Long with the same four-day total. In fact, in the nine editions of this tournament since they shrunk it to 72 holes (from five rounds), the highest winning score was 2017's total of 20-under 268 in the event claimed by Hudson Swafford. The pros know that pars aren't going to be good enough this week and so you may want to fade the grinder-type players who might be out of their comfort zone at this shootout event.

The Field and the Favorites

Recently this event has suffered from a somewhat-weak field, but this year's edition of the event has brought out a relatively strong crowd as compared to past years. Brooks Koepka is making a surprise appearance, but curiously enough he is only the fourth favorite at +2000. Instead, local favorite Patrick Cantlay (born just a couple of hours away in Long Beach) enters the week as the betting favorite at +1100. Intuitively, it would not seem like this is a great fit for him as he tends to have success at golf courses that don't require crazy-low scoring. However, given that most of the heaviest hitters on the PGA TOUR (like Rahm, McIlroy, Thomas, etc.) are taking the week off, it isn't so crazy to see Cantlay at the top of the board. Koepka has hardly been on fire of late and there is reason to question whether or not his game is all the way there.

The two golfers in between Cantlay and Koepka on the board are the promising rookie Scottie Scheffler (+1400) and former Masters Champion Patrick Reed (+1600). Reed doesn't seem like such a stretch as he's one of the few recent major champions in the field and he sure can make plenty of birdies when his game is on. However, Scheffler is relatively green as it relates to being in contention to win on the PGA TOUR. He finished T4 at last year's PGA Championship, but he's still in search of his first PGA TOUR win so it seems a bit optimistic to put him among the five favorites to do it this week.

We know that Phil Mickelson is no spring chicken, but he might be worth a flyer at +6600 in one of his favorite events on the PGA TOUR. The ageless Mickelson is just two years removed from finishing one shot short of Adam Long's winning total and won this event in both 2002 and 2004. If he can drive the ball in play, the par fives should represent great opportunities for Mickelson to make hay and the intricate green complexes should reward his creative short game.

The Golf Course

After runs at a number of other Palm Springs area facilities, The American Express has found a home over the last few years at the much-feared Stadium Course at PGA West. Perhaps Pete Dye's best design on the West Coast, this layout has been consistently rated among the toughest tracks in the United States for the recreational player. It's been named to Golf Digest's Top 50 Hardest Courses on a number of occasions since its creation in 1986 and tormented the PGA TOUR in its first appearance on its schedule at this event in 1987. In fact, famous LA Times sportswriter Jim Murray quipped that the course required “a camel, a canoe, a priest and a tourniquet to get through it.”

The PGA TOUR professionals rallied together the following year to get the course removed from the schedule, but today's professionals have found a far different experience. Birdies have been the order of the day around this track in its last few years and level par might not even make the cut let alone sniff the top of the leaderboard. No longer do the best professionals in the world fear challenges like the famous Alcatraz hole at the island par-three seventeenth or the thirty-foot deep bunker at the par-five fifteenth are just a few of the tricks up Dye's sleeve. Dye's penchant for visual intimidation is known by these pros as merely a psychological ploy from the master designer and they've fired at flags here with little to no fear for the consequences.

The closing stretch will be absolutely critical as the players take on the unique challenges of the finishing holes. The sixteenth hole offers the best birdie opportunity as the final five-par hole on the golf course. The fairway bends left towards a green that appears to be relatively undefended from the approach, but its left side drops off into the famous thirty-foot deep chasm that lies in wait for the wayward player. The par-three seventeenth plays from atop a small hill down to the island putting surface perched atop a rock outcropping in the midst of a lake. The final hole looks to be nearly a mirror image of the last at TPC Sawgrass with a fairway that curls all the way along the water to where the last green awaits. All three holes can be had with birdies, but carelessness at the end of a round at PGA West can be absolutely devastating.

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