Yahoo DFS Golf: Desert Classic
Yahoo DFS Golf: Desert Classic

This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.

Desert Classic

La Quinta, California
PGA West (Stadium Course) - Par 72 - 7,113 yards
PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course) - Par 72 - 7,159 yards
La Quinta Country Club - Par 72 - 7,060 yards
Field - 156 Entrants
Purse - $5.9M

The Preview

The PGA Tour's West Coast Swing commences with the Desert Classic in La Quinta, California where a trio of courses will accommodate a massive, yet underwhelming field of 156. It will be the fourth consecutive year of the Stadium-Nicklaus-La Quinta rotation as multiple venues are necessary to host the pro-am format. Each of the 156 entrants will be paired with an amateur, which makes 18 holes of golf feel more like a marathon. This could be part of the reason only three members of the Official World Golf Ranking's Top 25 will be in attendance. The field will be cut down to the low-70 and ties after three rounds rather than a usual 36-hole cut, but players will need to take advantage of the much easier Nicklaus and La Quinta layouts before potentially advancing to the Stadium Course for their second attempt at PGA West's gem during Sunday's final round.

Recent Champions

2018 - Jon Rahm
2017 - Hudson Swafford
2016 - Jason Dufner
2015 - Bill Haas
2014 - Patrick Reed
2013 - Brian Gay
2012 - Mark Wilson
2011 - Jhonattan Vegas
2010 - Bill Haas

Key Stats to Victory

Birdie-or-better percentage - 14 entrants averaged six or more par-breakers per round here last year

GIR percentage - Racking up birdie opportunities is key in almost any DFS format

Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green - Ball striking is paramount, though accuracy off the tee wasn't an indicator of success in 2018

Yahoo Value Picks - based on $200 salary cap

Cream of the Crop

Justin Rose - $46

The World No. 1 has decided to play in the first leg of the West Coast Swing for his 2019 debut, having enjoyed a holiday break since placing T17 at the Asian Tour's Indonesian Masters. Rose collected his second win of 2018 in early November at the Turkish Airlines Open, but he also has finished top-3 in five of his last eight starts worldwide.

Jon Rahm - $45

The defending champion is hanging onto the tournament's best betting odds by a thread over Rose, as the latter hasn't appeared in this event since 2010. Rahm followed up his recent win at the Hero World Challenge with a T8 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he excelled tee-to-green but lost strokes with the flat stick. The Spaniard's elite ball-striking ability will be a major advantage against such a weak field.

Patrick Cantlay - $41

The UCLA product and Cali native heads for the West Coast Swing with finishes of T5-2-T7 in his last three starts, as he climbed to 18th in the OWGR following the Hero World Challenge. Cantlay ranks seventh on Tour in proximity from 150-175 yards and sixth in par-4 scoring.

Glue Guys

Charles Howell - $38

Howell is a combined 45-under-par at this event since 2016, amassing three straight top-20s in the process. He carded only five bogeys or worse at the Sony Open, where he also ranked seventh in SG: Putting and hit 55 of 72 GIR to gather his fourth top-15 of the 2018-19 campaign.

Chez Reavie - $37

Reavie turned heads during Round 2 of the Sony Open when he eagled a trio of par-4s by sinking three approach shots from over 100 yards out. In turn, he would go on to lead the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and muster 23 par-breakers. At No. 23 in the FedExCup standings, Reavie heads to the Desert Classic, where he's gone T36-T12-T17 the past three editions of the event.

Lucas Glover - $31

Glover has finished top-30 in three of his past four appearances in this event, but he's also been on fire this season with no result worse than a T17 in four starts since a solo-second at the Web.com Tour Championship. The 39-year-old journeyman is 10th in both GIR percentage and scoring average, and is hitting just over 78 percent of his greens in regulation.

Bargain Bin

Hudson Swafford - $26

The 2017 champion of this event fired a bogey-free 64 during Sunday's final round at Waialae to notch his best finish since that win in La Quinta two years ago. Swafford collected 21 birdies en route to his T3 at the Sony Open and was fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green.

Corey Conners - $21

The Canadian has joined the top 20 in the FedExCup standings thanks to his second top-3 result of the season at the Sony Open, where he racked up a tournament-best 24 birdies. Conners, who made the cut at the Desert Classic as a rookie in 2018, ranks seventh on Tour in GIR percentage and 11th in SG: Tee-to-Green.

Harris English - $20

English picked up his first top-25 of the season in Honolulu last week, cruising to four strolls of 68 or better throughout the tournament. Despite falling outside of the top 300 in the OWGR due to struggles in 2017 and 2018, he hasn't missed a cut in six starts this season and finished T11 at the Desert Classic last year.

Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week

With scattered showers in the forecast for Thursday, it could be beneficial to avoid stacking players who begin their weeks at the much tougher Stadium Course venue. All 156 entrants will be guaranteed three rounds with La Quinta CC and the Nicklaus Tournament Course possibly becoming birdie-fests, so target par-breaker potential. Those who made at least one appearance during the Hawaiian Swing may also have a slight advantage, as others will be forced to shake off the rust from their holiday retreats.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryce Danielson
Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.
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