The PGA Tour returns to mainland USA this week for The American Express in La Quinta, California.
The tournament (called the Desert Classic last year) is played over three courses — TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club. It runs as a pro-am with a 54-hole cut before the remaining professionals tee it up on the Stadium Course for Sunday’s final round.
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The American Express Fantasy Golf Rankings: Top 30
Here are my top-30 fantasy golf rankings for the 2020 American Express.
30. Jason Dufner
The 2016 champion missed the cut last year, and he has slipped all the way to No. 265 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but he has fared very well on Pete Dye courses over his career.
29. Sebastian Munoz
Munoz missed the cut last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. It came just two events after his third-place finish at the RSM Classic. He had another strong putting performance last week and his weaker tee-to-green game will be mitigated here with all three courses shorter than 7,200 yards.
28. Brendon Todd
Already a two-time winner in 2019-20, Todd continued his climb in the OWGR with a T-21 result last week and now sits at No. 58. He hasn’t played this event since back-to-back missed cuts in 2015 and ’16.
27. Nick Taylor
Taylor has a strong approach game, as seen in his 1.27 Strokes Gained: Approach per round last week, according to Data Golf. He lost nearly a half-stroke per round putting, and an average performance would allow him to contend.
26. Cameron Davis
Davis was the 36-hole co-leader last week in Hawaii en route to a T-9 result. His driver was a big part of his performance, but it won’t be as valuable at the shorter courses this week.
25. Brendan Steele
Last week’s runner-up, Steele gained 1.49 strokes per round putting. That sort of success on the greens is rarely replicated week-to-week, but he also gained 1.61 strokes on approach and is worth a shot while he’s hot.
24. Jason Kokrak
Kokrak finished T-8 in 2018 and T-18 last year. The 64th-ranked golfer in the world missed just two cuts in 24 events last year and is a safe pick with a guaranteed 54 holes of play.
23. Alex Noren
Noren has made nine straight cuts in worldwide events. He’s coming off a T-32 finish last week despite losing 0.95 strokes per round with the flat stick.
22. Rory Sabbatini
Sabbatini has made three straight cuts in La Quinta, with last year’s T-57 finish his best result in that span. He missed the cut just once since last July.
21. Bud Cauley
Cauley has averaged 2.01 strokes gained per round on the Stadium Course, more than anyone else in this week’s field. He missed the cut last year, but a T-3 result in 2017 was sandwiched by T-14 showings in 2016 and ’18.
20. Billy Horschel
Horschel hasn’t played here since missing the cut in 2016. He already has two top 10s early in the 2019-20 PGA Tour season and has one of the best resumes in this week’s weaker field.
19. Cameron Champ
Champ took last week off after a T-14 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Safeway Open champ makes his debut at this event.
18. Brian Harman
Harman ranks second to Cauley in Strokes Gained at the Stadium Course among those in the field with a minimum of six rounds played. He used a well-balanced game to pick up a T-32 finish last week.
17. J.T. Poston
The Postman missed the cut last week, as he lost 1.26 strokes per round on approach. He’ll look to rebound at an event where he finished T-7 in 2019.
16. Kevin Na
Na skipped last year’s tournament, but he hadn’t missed the cut in any of his previous four appearances. He had a top showing of T-3 in 2016. He’s incredibly strong in proximity to the pin on approach shots from 100-125 yards. With many of the par 4s on all three courses ranging between 350-400 yards, he’ll have plenty of his favorite shots.
15. Russell Knox
Knox was third among those to make the cut last week with 1.47 strokes gained per round on approach. He was T-18 here last year following a T-29 in 2018.
14. Lucas Glover
Glover’s a regular contender in La Quinta with three top-20 showings in his last five appearances. His strong approach game sets up plenty of scoring chances at these shorter venues.
13. Phil Mickelson
The new co-host of this event, Lefty was a co-runner-up last year. He has slipped to No. 79 in the world entering this week, but he’s still a safe choice at these familiar courses.
12. Chez Reavie
Reavie had a rare missed cut last week. He has gained 1.45 strokes per round over eight career rounds on the Stadium Course, and he can create scoring chances.
11. Abraham Ancer
Ancer tied for 18th last year after finishing 76th in 2018. He gained 0.93 strokes per round on approach last week on his way to a T-38 finish.
10. Matthew Wolff
Wolff played just the first of the two events in Hawaii, picking up a T-11 result in his first Tournament of Champions. The PGA Tour sophomore has been struggling on his approach shots, but he’s very strong off the tee and on the greens.
9. Francesco Molinari
The odds may be stacked against the Italian Stallion, as only five non-Americans have won this event. He strung together a stretch of T-10, T-62 and T-12 from 2015 through ’17 before skipping the event the last two years.
8. Charles Howell III
Howell’s yet another course horse very familiar with all three tracks. He has collected three top-20 showings in his last five appearances, and he’s coming off a solid T-12 result last week.
7. Tony Finau
Finau’s the top golfer in the field from the OWGR (15), but he’s playing his first full-field PGA Tour event since the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He was fifth in last week’s Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour.
6. Byeong Hun An
An makes his debut at the event formerly known as the Desert Classic and CareerBuilder Challenge. He hasn’t participated in a tournament since early November’s WGC-HSBC Champions, but he already has three top 10s on the 2019-20 season.
5. Paul Casey
Similarly to Molinari, Finau and some of the other top-ranked golfers in the field, Casey may struggle to get up for this event as he looks ahead to next week’s Farmers Insurance Open. He hasn’t played in La Quinta since a T-58 result in 2017.
4. Scottie Scheffler
We haven’t seen Scheffler, a recent Korn Ferry Tour graduate, since a T-5 showing at the RSM Classic. He has three top 10s and two top 5s early in his PGA Tour season.
3. Rickie Fowler
Fowler skipped last week’s event following a T-5 finish at the TOC. He’s well worth backing ahead of his defense of the Waste Management Phoenix Open during Super Bowl week.
2. Kevin Kisner
Kis made the cut here each of the last three years but with a top showing of just T-25 in 2017. He finished T-4 last week while gaining 1.32 strokes per round on approach and losing 0.23 strokes putting. Nine of the last 10 champions here played in Hawaii the week before.
1. Sungjae Im
Im finished T-21 last week while picking up 0.84 strokes per round on the putting surfaces. He was T-12 in his La Quinta debut last year and is still looking for his first PGA Tour win.