Desert Classic Picks

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Picks & Plays for the Desert Classic

Welcome back for another week of PGA DFS at DraftKings and FanDuel. We’re here to give you the full report on fantasy golf picks for the Desert Classic.

As always, our goal is for PlayPicks to be your first and last stop for an all-around PGA daily fantasy sports news source each week — and for free! Give me a follow at @DFSJimmie if you haven’t already. And while you’re at it, go ahead and like PlayPicks on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Now, back to your regularly scheduled PGA breakdown.

The course(s)

The Desert Classic is played across three different courses. The host course is the Stadium Course, which golfers will play twice, while the Nicklaus and La Quinta Country Club courses will each be played once.

Pete Dye designed the Stadium, and it’s the most difficult of the bunch. A short (7,077 yards) par 72 with Bermuda greens, it has some interesting desert features, forced carries and water that comes very much into play throughout. It’s a typically quirky and sometimes frustrating Dye design.

The Nicklaus and La Quinta courses are both easy, averaging a full two strokes under par. Both are 7,000-7,100 yard, par 72 courses with reachable par 5s and ample space off the tee. Golfers will need to post low rounds when playing these courses to keep pace with what is usually a high-scoring affair.

How it plays

As is the case with the other two courses in play this week, the par 5s at the Stadium are short and very gettable. Players must take advantage of this group of holes. In turn, the more challenging crop is the three long par 3s. Given the average of a quarter-stroke over par, expect players to struggle here. The 6th and 13th holes are the toughest.

While the course will challenge players with the par 3s, the remainder is benign enough to be tamed with a few birdies here and there. While the Stadium course is much more difficult than the other two, it’s conquerable for the golfer who can position himself appropriately. What’s more, its short length should allow lower-tier players to compete this week.

In fact, when you look through course history (see my course preview video here), some of the shorter hitters and more tidy games have found success in the past few years.

The main point to keep in mind this week is that we have three resort courses and an entire full field of professional golfers. Thus, expect a lot of birdies, and look for players who can score. Any of these guys can show up and bink a win or strong week at an event like this; it used to be called the Career Builder after all.


The breakdown



Key stats

  • Par 5 scoring
  • Birdie or better (Keep an eye for eagles, too)
  • Strokes gained approach
  • Long par 3 scoring for bogey avoidance
  • Short par 4 scoring


Top tier: $11.4k-$9.6k

Jon Rahm ($11.6k) 

John Rahm is the defending champ this week and loves desert golf, having attended Arizona State.

Rahm’s game is suited for any course, really; he’s one of the most prolific scorers in golf today. His elite length and ultra-aggressive style work well at high-scoring events like this one. He should give himself plenty of good looks at birdies and eagles this week. Rahm’s strong putter should keep him in the mix throughout the week on these slower greens.

Expect Rahm to get aggressive early and often this week as he looks for a title defense.

Justin Rose ($11k) 

Justin Rose is making his career debut at this event, as he added it to his schedule this year to meet his PGA Tour obligations. Rose is one of the best long-iron, ball-strikers on the planet. His skill-set should serve him well this week on those long approaches and tough par 3s. Not having any course history doesn’t worry me too much with a world-class golfer like Rose. Again, these are resort courses.

Rose also comes in ranked No. 1 in my overall model this week and very clearly the No. 1 among the top-priced golfers.

Patrick Cantlay ($10.6k) 

Patrick Cantlay is making his second career appearance here.

The last time was pre-accident and pre-injury in 2013, and he missed the cut. Given all that has changed, I am basically tossing out that result; I’m only noting that Cantlay has seen this course before and should be familiar enough with it to find success. Cantlay has the perfect game for the Stadium and ranks highly on Pete Dye courses over at Fanshare Sports.

A very talented but deliberate ball-striker, who happens to be a positive strokes gained Bermuda putter, Cantlay should be able to surge on the Stadium on Sunday.

Others to consider: Charles Howell III (golfing very well right now, plus a solid course history); Adam Hadwin (shakey form, but one of the best course histories in the field)

Middle tier: $9.5k-$7.9k

Aaron Wise ($9.4K)

The Oregon sensation, Aaron Wise, is starting to find some results at the tour level and, in doing so, has posted a 17th and a 34th in his only two tries here.

At the end of last year and into this year, Wise has posted five top 20s in his last seven events. Clearly a competitor and capable of putting four rounds together, Wise is also a strong Bermuda putter. With plenty of power off the tee, Wise will be attacking the short par 5s all week.

Look for his name on a leader board this weekend.

Luke List ($9k)

Is 2019 the year Luke List finally gets a win? He is one of the most powerful and consistent ball-strikers on tour with a putter that frequently lets him down in big spots.

Despite the weak putter, List is continuously on the leaderboards and relentlessly posting DK points as he attacks par 5s weekly with his length. The slow Bermuda greens should help List improve his putting this week, as long as his normal tee-to-green game is present.

If List was ever going to win an event, it’s one like this.

Sungjae Im ($8.1k)

Sungjae Im is certainly wasting no time making a name for himself within the DFS community.

The Jeju Island native is coming off a 16th-place finish last week — promising results for a tour rookie. Having already posted a top 15 and a top five in this part of the states last year, Im could well continue his run on the back of his powerful, off-the-tee game and aggressive ball-striking. They’re backed up by a solid putter that is currently netting him 2.8 strokes gained, and he likes Bermuda greens.

Others to consider: Beau Hossler, C.T. Pan, J.J. Spaun


Value tier: $7.8k and lower

Zach Johnson ($7.7k) 

We rolled Zach Johnson last week, and it didn’t pan out with Johnson losing strokes off the tee and ultimately missing the cut.

This week, Johnson once again carries solid course history. Here, he’s posted a couple of top 10s and 20s, along with a couple of MCs, too. The reason I am encouraged by Johnson this week is his strokes gained on approach. Even last week with an MC, he still managed to post 2.5 strokes gained on approach. This tells me his irons and wedges are dialed in, the most important tools for these courses.

I am looking for Johnson to bounce back at a lower price tag and ride his solid approach game to plenty of birdie opportunities.

Joaquin Niemann ($7.6k)

Joaquin Niemann is a big-hitting young golfer who has all the shots and, thus far in his career, has fared better on easier courses.

Niemann can score in bunches and has plenty of length to attack the par 5s for eagles this week. Aggressive and very confident in his game, Niemann is a winner who can contend down the stretch Sunday.

At $7.6k, Niemann has winning upside on a set of courses that should favor his game.

Grayson Murray ($6.6k)

Grayson Murray makes our list this week due to his strong course history.

Having played here only twice, Grayson posted a 12th and 14th. Despite his polarizing Twitter-generated baggage, Murray certainly can take advantage of gettable golf courses and post some low rounds and solid finishes.

Others to consider: Nate Lashley, Russell Knox, Daniel Berger


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