The PGA Course Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the Fantasy Labs Trends Tool and metrics to highlight stats for the upcoming tournament.
The PGA Tour heads to California for the 2020 American Express, which was the Desert Classic last year, and the CareerBuilder, the years before that.
Unlike your typical tournament, golfers are guaranteed three rounds here, with a cut coming after the third round. They’ll get two rounds on Stadium Course (one of them the fourth round), which is the only course where Shotlink data is available, and the only course where my backtesting was done from our Trends tool.
The three courses are as follows:
- Stadium Course: Par 72, 7,113 yards
- La Quinta Country Club: Par 72, 7,159 yards
- Nicklaus Tournament Course: Par 72, 7,159 yards
Let’s dive in.
As always, I back-tested various metrics in our PGA Models to find out those that have been the most valuable at the Stadium Course (PGA West). Per our Trends tool, here’s how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done at this course (in Plus/Minus valuation).
Historically, this course has yielded averages of 69.40 DraftKings points and a +20.18 Plus/Minus with a 78.6% Consistency Rating to the field.
Metrics that tested with at least a +1.00 Plus/Minus:
- Long-Term Par-5 Scoring: +7.37
- Recent Par-5 Scoring: +6.77
- Recent Eagles: +5.52
- Recent Missed Cuts: +3.99
- Recent Birdies: +3.47
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: +3.01
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +2.70
- Recent Driving Distance: +2.64
- Long-Term Birdies: +2.58
- Recent Par-3 Scoring: +2.52
- Long-Term Missed Cuts: +2.02
- Recent Scrambling: +1.56
- Recent Greens in Regulation: +1.54
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation: +1.28
- Long-Term Eagles: +1.18
Trying to overfit golfers by fitting them to all three courses seems like the definition of paralysis by analysis. The metrics from the Stadium course should suffice considering it’s the more difficult of the three courses that will be played. All three courses also close in yardage and feature four par 5s on all of them.
Capitalizing on the par 5s here will be crucial as they sit atop the metrics I backtested. La Quinta is the easiest course of all three and features the shortest par 5s, checking in at 516, 527, 543 and 547 yards.
There are also eagles to be had out there on these par 5s as there were 51 total eagles in 2019. So, not only targeting golfers who can make birdies is beneficial but if they have the distance to reach these par 5s in two, you’re baking some upside into your lineup.
And even though it doesn’t show up in the backtesting, I typically target golfers who excel on par 4s as well. Par-4 scoring just missed the +1.00 Plus/Minus threshold. One golfer who immediately comes to mind as a fit for this tournament is Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler has a strong approach game, ranking ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 50 rounds (Fantasy National), and he excels everywhere else that I am keying in on. Over the last 75 weeks, he’s averaged 1.2 eagles and 16.0 birdies per tournament. And in that same time frame, Scheffler has averaged -3.3 and -6.5 adjusted strokes on par 4s and 5s. All of those metrics are inside the top three of this field.
Overall, targeting golfers with solid approach games who do well on par 5s is a good place to start when narrowing down your player pool.
Key metrics: Par-4 and par-5 scoring, birdie or betting scoring, Strokes Gained: Approach
And as usual, I like Long-Term (LT) and Recent Adjusted Round Scores (Adj Rd Score) as catch-all metrics.
Pictured above: Scottie Scheffler
Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images