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The American Express – PGA DFS Proximity Predictions

We have a three-course rotation for the first time this PGA DFS season. The American Express is played on La Quinta Country Club, Nicklaus Tournament Course, and the Stadium Course.1 Each of the golfers in the field will get a crack at each course before playing the Stadium Course for a second time in the final round. That means 54 holes from each guy that you roster even if they go on to miss the cut. 

Three’s A Crowd …

La Quinta Country Club was the easiest course on the PGA Tour schedule last season. It’s a par 72 that plays about 7,060 yards. It’s the only course over the past two seasons that has allowed an average of 5-plus birdies or better per round for each golfer. 

The Nicklaus Tournament Course isn’t far behind. It has been the second easiest course on tour each of the last two seasons. The Nicklaus Course is a par 72 as well but plays about 100 yards longer at 7,159 yards on the scorecard. That 100-yard difference doesn’t make it any more difficult, though, as the field has averaged 4.9 birdies or better per round.

Lastly, the Stadium Course is a par 72 that is just 7,113 yards. It’s not a tough course, by any stretch of the imagination. In 2019, the Stadium Course played 1.2 strokes more difficult than the Nicklaus course and 1.5 strokes tougher than La Quinta CC. As you can see from our Splits App, this tournament provides more scoring opportunities than the average track. 

Introducing Expected Birdies

I wrote about the thought process behind proximity predictions last week. Now we’re going to put them into a more actionable format. Over this past weekend, I discussed the idea of Expected Birdies with RV alum Anthony Amico and he helped me get it off the ground. This week’s field has Version 1.0 in the table below. I included the total number of holes as a way to gauge how confident you should be in each projection, but more on that in a bit. 

NameSalaryExpected BirdiesPredicted - <125Birdie or Better (<125)Predicted - 125 to 150Birdie or Better (125 to 150)Predicted - 150 to 175Birdie or Better (150 to 175)Predicted - 175 to 200Birdie or Better (175 to 200)Predicted - 200+Birdie or Better (200+)Total Holes
Rickie Fowler115002.9850.2540.1930.1610.1510.3311482
Sungjae Im110003.1350.2610.1760.1910.1610.362072
Paul Casey107003.0050.2530.2140.1710.1510.316925
Tony Finau105002.7860.1930.1830.1810.1810.377314
Byeong Hun An103002.6950.240.230.1410.1410.333622
Charles Howell III101002.7050.2340.1830.1310.1410.3215094
Kevin Kisner99002.6450.2410.250.1520.1110.2910162
Billy Horschel97002.7450.2320.250.1510.1610.3211066
Scottie Scheffler95003.4250.2740.2730.1810.1510.3338
Cameron Champ93002.7260.1840.1820.210.2110.351537
Francesco Molinari92002.8550.2710.1550.1620.1210.274685
Jason Kokrak91002.6950.2140.1730.1610.1510.3410884
Matthew Wolff90002.8750.1940.1230.210.3510.5140
Abraham Ancer89002.7550.2610.1750.1520.1210.323572
Brendon Todd88002.5040.2410.260.1520.110.245479
Phil Mickelson87003.0450.2540.230.1710.1410.3510535
Brian Harman86002.6750.2310.1850.1620.1310.312210
J.T. Poston85002.8650.2430.1940.1410.1710.324157
Alex Noren84002.4950.2140.1530.1310.1210.331765
Ryan Moore83002.8750.2610.2250.1620.1310.2911564
Lucas Glover82002.7150.2240.1730.1510.1410.3410337
Russell Knox81002.6450.2210.250.1720.1110.278857
Chez Reavie80002.7750.2310.250.1720.1410.2710125
Vaughn Taylor79002.8050.2600.260.1620.1210.2910237
Andrew Putnam78002.8650.2610.2150.1720.1210.283485
Kevin Na78002.7950.2400.2360.1720.1310.2911102
Zach Johnson77002.9150.2710.2150.1620.1410.2812783
Harris English77002.7150.2140.1930.1510.1510.3311417
Denny McCarthy76002.9350.2520.250.1510.1510.382443
Rory Sabbatini76002.8150.2410.1950.1620.1510.3211713
Daniel Berger75002.8850.2240.2130.1610.1410.326406
Brendan Steele75002.6450.2140.1830.1410.1410.3311235
Sebastian Munoz74003.0750.2640.230.1510.1710.362313
Scott Piercy74002.8850.2430.240.1510.1510.3111460
Aaron Wise73002.9750.2440.1930.1510.1910.362548
Danny Lee73002.8250.2510.1950.1720.1310.319390
Bud Cauley73002.6550.2230.1740.1410.1210.337264
Nate Lashley72002.7050.2410.250.1420.1310.331927
Joel Dahmen72002.6550.2310.2160.1410.1310.342894
Carlos Ortiz72002.6450.2240.1630.1410.1410.344253
Adam Long72002.4750.2210.1850.1220.1410.291586
Austin Cook71002.7050.1910.250.1720.1710.342889
Talor Gooch71002.6950.2130.1840.1610.1510.312326
Henrik Norlander71002.6150.2210.1550.1520.1310.332341
Cameron Tringale71002.5850.2310.1850.1420.110.313002
Brian Stuard71002.5240.2310.1960.1520.1210.2510776
Ryan Armour70002.8340.2710.260.1820.1110.254204
Harold Varner III70002.7250.2240.1830.1510.1310.345807
Kyle Stanley70002.6750.2310.1850.1620.1310.3210622
Brian Gay70002.6340.2510.2160.1620.1110.2311090
Nick Taylor70002.6050.2310.1760.1410.1110.327351
Si Woo Kim70002.5550.2210.1650.1320.1410.335494
Harry Higgs69002.9750.240.2530.1610.1710.32376
Wyndham Clark69002.8860.2230.1930.1410.1710.411402
Cameron Davis69002.7950.2440.1630.1510.1910.341287
Lucas Bjerregaard69002.7260.2530.1230.1410.1110.32107
Kevin Streelman69002.5850.2210.1850.1520.1310.3213097
Brice Garnett69002.5050.2110.1750.1620.1110.35453
Doc Redman68003.3250.3540.1630.1510.1810.3412
Russell Henley68002.8650.2410.260.1710.1510.38945
Bronson Burgoon68002.7050.2230.1740.1510.1210.333353
Jhonattan Vegas68002.6050.2140.1730.1410.1510.339992
Richy Werenski68002.5250.2110.1950.1420.1210.323897
Tyler Duncan68002.3850.2110.1950.1120.1310.312948
Bo Hoag68002.1150.1810.1260.110.110.36450
Nick Watney67002.9050.2440.1930.1610.1410.3211526
Stewart Cink67002.8850.2430.1940.1710.1410.2910257
Hudson Swafford67002.8250.2440.1730.1610.1410.327356
Kevin Chappell67002.7650.2140.230.1410.1310.3210450
Matthew NeSmith67002.6050.210.1950.1620.1310.36338
D.J. Trahan67002.5650.240.1730.1510.1210.325048
Bill Haas67002.5250.2210.1960.1310.1210.312688
Jimmy Walker66002.8850.2440.1930.1510.1310.3212541
Beau Hossler66002.8750.2440.1830.1610.1310.333081
Charley Hoffman66002.8550.2340.1930.1510.1510.3413262
Patton Kizzire66002.7750.2310.1960.1710.1310.315254
Peter Malnati66002.7250.2500.1960.1520.1410.285658
Michael Thompson66002.6550.2110.1950.1720.1310.39978
Scott Stallings66002.5950.2140.1630.1410.1310.3210890
Max Homa66002.5250.2330.1540.1210.1410.332522
Sam Ryder65003.1250.2840.230.1510.1310.342695
Scott Harrington65002.8950.2540.1930.1110.1410.39374
Tom Hoge65002.8050.2410.250.1720.1410.36041
Andrew Landry65002.7750.2410.1750.1720.1410.273311
Jason Dufner65002.7650.2410.1950.1620.1310.2911116
Greg Chalmers65002.6550.2600.1860.1420.1310.259455
Patrick Rodgers65002.6250.240.1830.1410.1410.335781
Roger Sloan65002.5150.2110.2160.1310.1210.322179
Kramer Hickok65002.4550.1910.1750.1420.1410.311356
Steve Stricker64002.9350.2800.2660.1520.1610.314348
Xinjun Zhang64002.8850.2440.1930.1510.1410.321392
Adam Schenk64002.8250.2440.1830.1410.1410.332916
Martin Laird64002.7250.2240.1730.1610.1410.3411977
Luke List64002.7160.2130.1630.1410.1610.376302
Aaron Baddeley64002.6750.2410.1850.1420.1410.3211297
Cameron Percy64002.6450.2210.1860.1510.1110.315129
Fabian Gomez64002.6450.2310.1750.1520.1210.298139
Troy Merritt64002.6250.2310.250.1520.1210.39751
Rob Oppenheim64002.4850.2500.1860.1320.1310.242286
Chase Seiffert63002.9850.2240.230.2110.1110.35305
Chesson Hadley63002.8150.2430.1940.1510.1510.326985
Ben Martin63002.8050.2410.1950.1620.1410.37522
Grayson Murray63002.7750.2240.1730.1510.1510.372743
Anirban Lahiri63002.7150.2510.1860.1510.1210.294411
Seung-Yul Noh63002.6950.2230.1840.1510.1310.327501
Mackenzie Hughes63002.6650.2430.1640.1310.1310.334385
David Hearn63002.6550.2400.260.1520.1310.2611819
Josh Teater63002.6150.2230.1740.1310.1310.348292
John Huh63002.5850.2100.260.1720.1310.2710156
Zac Blair63002.5640.2510.1860.1520.1110.245636
Kyoung-Hoon Lee63002.3950.2110.250.1120.1510.321344
Maverick McNealy62003.3050.2540.1830.2110.2410.45337
Hank Lebioda62003.1550.2830.1840.210.1410.311343
Sepp Straka62003.0950.2540.2430.1310.1710.341344
Robby Shelton62002.6950.2810.2150.1220.1110.3374
Brandon Hagy62002.6660.1930.1730.1510.1410.371479
Chris Stroud62002.6550.2310.1950.1620.1210.2812188
Scott Brown62002.6450.2310.1750.1520.1310.2910460
James Hahn62002.6050.2110.1860.1610.1410.318024
Tim Wilkinson62002.5150.2500.1960.1320.1110.244219
Wes Roach62002.5050.210.2160.1410.1310.322734
Mark Anderson62002.4450.2110.1750.1420.1210.292185
Doug Ghim62002.1850.2510.2550.0420.1410.22232
Tyler McCumber61002.8460.2230.2330.1210.1810.3339
Matt Every61002.7450.2410.250.1620.1310.38062
Hunter Mahan61002.7450.2330.1840.1510.1210.311062
Sam Burns61002.7150.2240.1930.1310.1610.331426
Rhein Gibson61002.6450.2340.1630.1310.1610.291164
Ricky Barnes61002.6350.2310.1950.1620.1210.2911674
Michael Gellerman61002.6250.1830.1740.1810.2110.28305
Isaiah Salinda61002.6060.230.1330.1410.210.41142
Robert Streb61002.5950.2210.1860.1410.1410.39103
Ben Crane61002.5940.2610.260.1520.1210.2510140
Ryan Brehm61002.5660.230.1230.1610.1710.331461
Joseph Bramlett61002.5450.240.230.1210.1110.311363
Mark Hubbard61002.5050.2300.1660.1420.1210.294069
Sebastian Cappelen61002.2050.2340.1130.111010.28267
Kristoffer Ventura60003.0450.1740.2330.2510.2210.3265
Ben Taylor60002.8850.2730.1640.1510.1810.26303
Sam Saunders60002.8350.2330.2140.1410.1410.345507
Vince Covello60002.8050.2340.2330.1110.0310.39233
J.J. Spaun60002.6950.2310.260.1510.1310.34028
Bo Van Pelt60002.6850.2210.250.1620.1210.337509
Kevin Stadler60002.6150.2210.1950.1620.1310.36345
John Senden60002.5950.2210.1950.1420.1510.39084
Michael Gligic60002.5650.2140.1630.1610.1210.25269
Rafael Campos60002.5650.2330.2240.0910.1210.31302
Akshay Bhatia60002.5350.2140.2430.0410.1410.25125
Mark Wilson60002.3340.2310.1960.1320.110.258233
Nelson Ledesma60002.3250.1740.1130.2110.1210.29266
Martin Trainer60002.1650.1740.1530.0910.0910.311170
Vincent Whaley60002.0950.1840.1330.0610.0710.44232
Chris Baker60001.6150.1310.150.1120.0610.19198

Standouts

The outliers seem like Scottie Scheffler ($9,500), Doc Redman ($6,800), and Maverick McNealy ($6,200). To be totally frank, we don’t know nearly enough about this trio to feel confident in the sample and, therefore, the prediction. They may be worth a GPP flier because of these numbers but they won’t be gracing the cash lock section just yet.

In the top tier, Sungjae Im ($11,000) has the highest expected birdie count. We have plenty of reason to be confident in him. If not for a boneheaded triple-bogey on Sunday, Im would’ve been in the top 10 at the Sony Open. 

Sebastian Munoz ($7,400) is at a very reasonable price this week and this course seems to fit what he does well. He’s joined by Scott Piercy ($7,400) and Denny McCarthy ($7,600) in the mid-$7,000 range with a seemingly high upside. 

If you’re going bargain hunting with this metric, Sam Ryder ($6,500) seems like an interesting target. He’s one of just a couple of golfers under $7,000 with more than three expected birdies per round combined with reasonable sample size. 

Image Credit: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Sungjae Im.

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