Dean Burmester
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
DFS Dish

DFS Dish: The American Express

by Josh Culp
Updated On: January 19, 2023, 5:29 pm ET

The PGA TOUR returns to the mainland for this week's American Express at PGA WEST, in La Quinta, California. 

This year's event has attracted a wide array of superstars so gamers will have plenty of options to choose from when building their DFS rosters. 

With so many big names to choose from at the top of the board, finding some value options will be crucial. Let's dive into some historical stats to see who might like the relatively easy test at PGA WEST. 

Going Low in the Coachella Valley

The trio of courses used this week average a 25 percent birdie-or-better rate, combined. 

For comparison, only Kapalua and Keene Trace are regular TOUR stops that exceed that 25-percent mark. This is a true scoring party. 

"I think you need to hit your irons well here. I think you need to give yourself as many birdie opportunities as possible. Putting is a big part of this event, but the greens are a little tricky to read with the overseed, so I think that iron play is huge here" -Hudson Swafford in 2018

"Unlike at Q-School, the pins are a little bit more accessible, because you're playing with amateurs as well, they're not going to put pins three paces from the edge, because then you might not finish. So, they put the pins a little bit more accessible, that's why you see a little lower scores. If they were to tuck the pins like they normally do on PGA TOUR weeks, the score would get cut in half. " -Patrick Reed in 2017

Reed provides an easy answer as to why the scores get so low at this event. With an amateur pro-am taking place alongside the main event, they setup the course up on the easy side of the spectrum to keep pace of play moving along as quickly as possible. 

It really becomes a mental battle to compete in a shootout so let's see who have passed that test in the past. 

Here are the top performers in adjusted strokes gained per round when playing on easy courses, over the last two years: 

Patrick Cantlay
Jon Rahm
Xander Schauffele
Tony Finau
Sungjae Im
Scottie Scheffler
Sam Burns
Tom Kim
Jhonattan Vegas
Will Zalatoris
Dean Burmester
K.H. Lee
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Tom Hoge
Aaron Wise

We can also look at performance versus baseline to see who shows the largest increase in performance compared to their typical scores: 

Patrick Cantlay
Erik van Rooyen
Ben Griffin
Taylor Montgomery
Jhonattan Vegas
Taylor Moore
Austin Eckroat
Kevin Yu
Dean Burmester
Brandon Wu
Andrew Novak
Aaron Baddeley
Callum Tarren
K.H. Lee
Harry Hall

Overlap List: names that show up on both lists include Patrick Cantlay, Jhonattan Vegas, Dean Burmester, and K.H. Lee

Vegas has been out of action since the Playoffs, due to injury, so he's more of a wildcard than usual this week. 


K.H. Lee a Lover of Low Scores

The 31-year-old Korean arrives with top 10s in two of his last four starts and a T28 last week at the Sony Open. What catches my eye is his love of going low. Looking at his career he's carded eight sub-270 weeks. Six of his top seven finishes have come on weeks where he's reached 15-under or lower. If a birdie-fest breaks out at PGA WEST, like it typically does, then Lee is well-equipped to contend. 


Bombs Away for Burmester

The AmEx gets a reputation for turning into a putting contest. You'll surely have to make a fair amount of putts to eclipse 20-under, but the main driver of those scores is just that, the driver. These trio of courses will give you a lot of short irons and wedges if you can drive it confidently. You either need to be straight as an arrow or long off the tee. Burmester certainly checks the length box as he currently ranks 23rd on TOUR in driving distance and he was 4th on the DP World Tour last season in that department. 

Josh Culp

Josh Culp joined NBC Sports Edge in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.