Following another Matt Kuchar win (two in his last three starts), The PGA Tour heads to La Quinta, California, for The 2019 Desert Classic. This is very different type of tournament, with three courses being used for the event. 156 players will play a round on each of The PGA West Stadium Course (Par 72, 7,113 yards), La Quinta Country Club (Par 72, 7,060 yards), and The PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course (Par 72, 7,159 yards) for the first three rounds, then a top 70 and ties cut will happen after Saturday, with the final round being played at The West Stadium Course. If more than 78 players make the cut, only the top 60 and ties will be competing on Sunday.
The Stadium Course has been the main course for the last three seasons and the winning score has been -20 or better since this change. Low numbers are possible on each of these three tracks and with all of them par 72s, par five scoring has been very important. John Rahm led the field on the par fives in his win last year and the past three champs have shot an average of -11.3 on these holes. Distance off the tee isn’t really needed and it is much more about your approaches at The Desert Classic, with the last three winners averaging a 76% GIR rate in their victories. Overall, with three courses being involved, I think it is wise to target strong birdie makers (two of the last three winners have ranked T1 in total birdies) and course managers. @Hunta512.
Justin Rose: (11,000)
Rose has never teed it up in this event, but I prefer the $600 savings the #1 player in the world presents from Rahm. Rose has simply been outstanding since missing the cut at The Northern Trust in back August, with six top fives in his last eight starts, including a win at The Turkish Airlines Open. He has gained 9.2 strokes in his last five events and ranks 1st in BOB%, and 2nd in SGT2G, over his last 24 rounds. Rose is a remarkable ball striker, who can dominate any course.
He should have no issues with the three course rotation and if we compare all of these golfers last 50 rounds on par 72s, Rose ranks 1st in total strokes gained. He should have no problems in his Desert Classic debut and Rose is my pick to win this weekend. (9/1 via Bovada)
Patton Kizzire: (8,700)
Kizzire has made nine straight cuts and he looked awesome in the Hawaii swing, finishing T8 at The TOC, and T13 at The Sony Open last week. He is averaging 6.3 SGT in his last three starts, including 3.6 SGP in his past two, which were both on Bermuda type greens. (all three of these course have Bermuda based greens)
Kizzire has made it to Sunday at each of the last three Desert Classics and he currently has the best odds to win of all the golfers priced under $9,000 this week. If he can continue with his promising form from Hawaii, Kizzire should make the cut, and has top 25 upside in this weaker field.
Hudson Swafford: (8,300)
Swafford picked up his first PGA Tour win at this event two years ago and he is 3/3 here overall, since The Stadium course became the host course in 2016. Swafford looked great at The Sony Open last weekend, finishing T3, behind some great iron play (T13 in GIR), and putting. (T5 in PPR)
He has been very consistent, making 10 of his last 11 cuts. Plus, in his last 24 rounds, Swafford is the 2nd best par five player in this field. His 40/1 odds are strong relative to his price and Swafford is easily one of the best values of the week at only $8,300.
Patrick Cantlay: (10,600)
Cantlay has made 13 cuts in a row and has a T7 (HSBC Champions) and T2 (Shriners Open) in his last two starts. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks 2nd in SGT2G, 2nd in BS, and 9th in GIR. Cantlay has never played in this event before, but he is one of the best ball strikers on tour, and should have no issues to contending in this type of field.
Adam Hadwin: (10,000)
Hadwin loves this tournament. Over the last three years, he has finished T6, 2nd, and T3, in that order. He has successfully made seven of his last eight cuts, with five of those finishes being T21 or better. Hadwin is a lock to finish inside the top 20 this weekend.
Andrew Putnam: (9,700)
In his Desert Classic debut, Putman posted a T17 at this event a year ago. He was just the runner up at The Sony Open, where he ranked T13 in greens hit, and 1st in average putts per round. Putman has made 12 straight cuts and has great upside in his second appearance in La Quinta.
Lucas Glover: (8,600)
Glover is 3/3 at this tournament and went T17, T14, and T7 in the fall. He ranks 4th in SG on par fives in his last 24 rounds and should still be playing come Sunday.
Si Woo Kim: (7,500)
Last week, Kim’s MC at The Sony Open, was his first in seven starts. He had four straight top 30s leading into last week and in his lone start at a Desert Classic, in 2016, Kim finished T9. He is 3rd in GIR over his last 24 rounds and Kim looks like one of the best GPP plays of the week, at only $7,500.
Bud Cauley: (7,400)
Cauley has some strong history here (T14, T3, and T14) and he went 3/4 in the fall swing. He can be an unpredictable player, but Cauley is worth a look, with this type of course resume.
Sam Ryder: (7,100)
Before The Sony Open, Ryder had made nine cuts in a row. His stats have been great in his last 24 rounds, ranking 4th in SG APP, 4th in SGT2G, and 8th in BS. In his first start here, Ryder finished T50 last season, and I think we see a better showing this year.
Brandon Harkins: (6,900)
Harkins has made it to the weekend in six of his last eight tournaments and last season, he produced a T8 at this event. He is extremely volatile, but Harkins has top 35 upside, if he can manage a decent showing with his putter.
Dominic Bozzelli: (6,400)
Bozzelli has made three consecutive cuts and he is 1/2 here the past two years, with that one made cut being a T5 in 2017. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks 6th in GIR, and 7th in SGP. He lacks upside, but Bozzelli has a decent chance of making the cut.
*Please note that some of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com