The PGA Tour moves from Hawaii to California this week for the 2022 American Express. It’s an event headlined by world number one Jon Rahm and defending FedEx Champion Patrick Cantlay. The field will battle it out over three separate courses this week in an effort to win and take home the $1.26 million first-place prize.
Before we preview what is bound to be a top-class weekend of golf, let’s review last week’s Sony Open.
Heartbreaking is the only way we can describe last Sunday. It was a tough evening for this writer as my beloved Dallas Cowboys forgot the rules of the game and crashed out of the NFL playoffs – whilst wallowing in my misery, I flicked it over to the golf channel and saw two of my picks, Corey Connors and Keegan Bradley both manage to finish in a tie for 11th place with both narrowly missing out on place money. Whilst I sulked even further, we witnessed a great end to the tournament with Hideki Matsuyama overcoming Russel Henley in a playoff to become the first multiple winner on Tour this season and claim his 8th PGA Tour title of his career.
Putting that misery behind us, let’s focus on events this week.
The American Express is a tournament played over three courses, the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club. Each player will play a round at these courses over the first three days of the tournament before the cut is made on Saturday after the third round of the tournament.
The final 65 will then come back to the Stadium Course on the Sunday to play the final round.
All the courses used at this event will be playing as a par 72 and all courses measure roughly around the 7,200 yard mark. It’s regarded that the Stadium Course plays as the toughest course out of the three on the roster whilst La Quinta is the easiest.
PGA West and La Quinta are quite similar courses in layout – the fairways are wide and the rough is minimal, players will only struggle on these courses if they end up beating themselves. Players will need to capitalize at these venues and will need to putt really well if they are to be in the shake-up on Sunday afternoon.
The Stadium course is a different ball game. A Pete Dye design, the course takes inspiration from TPC Sawgrass with its many bunkers and water hazards. If a player does stray offline they could face the penalty and a player will need to keep his ball in play if he is to mount a serious charge. A bad round here could end any hopes a player has so it’s important that a solid round is put together here.
A score in the -20s is going to be what it takes this week to win and the winner is going to be the player that adapts the best over the three courses, has a hot putter, and is incredibly accurate with his ball-striking. Past winners of this event include names such as Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, and Jason Dufner. The defending champion is Si-woo Kim.
The American Express – betting tips.
MAIN BET: Scottie Scheffler +1600
Arguably the best ‘maiden’ on the entire PGA Tour, it’s amazing to think that Scheffler is yet to break his duck and win on Tour. Scheffler has been in the shake-up numerous times but things just haven’t quite fallen his way.
Scheffler is teeing it up for the first time in 2022 and whilst I usually never like backing players the first time out, since the Ryder Cup Scheffler has been playing so well I am willing to make an exception. I think he has the ingredients to go really well this week.
A formidable driver of the ball, Scheffler finished 21st on Tour in strokes gained from tee to green, when approaching the green he finished 45th in green in regulation percentage and when on the green he was one of the most prolific scorers, finishing 7th in birdie average and 3rd in total birdies with 430 scored.
As long as Scheffler isn’t too rusty – he has a great chance of success this week and at odds of +1600, he could provide a bit of value in what is a really tight betting market.
DARK HORSE: Justin Rose +5500
Justin Rose is a man who hasn’t been able to play his best golf for some time but there were a few signs towards the end of 2021 that his game was potentially coming back and I think a tournament like this could really play into Rose’s strengths.
Despite missing the FedEx Cup playoffs, Rose signed off 2021 with a T12 finish at the RSM classic. It’s also important to remember that Rose played some of his best stuff in the Majors last season, finishing 7th at the Masters and 8th in the PGA.
What let Rose down at vital times last season was both his driving and iron play, however on layouts as generous as this week Rose should get away with the odd errant drive or wayward approach. On the greens, Rose was good last season with the Englishman finishing 14th in total putting. If Rose can keep his ball in play and his accuracy high he could spring a surprise this week.
We like his odds of +5500 for the win and odds of +800 for a top 5 and +450 for a top 10 finish could provide some nice value.
LONG SHOT BET – Patton Kizzire +15000
One man who might be able to cause a surprise this week at a big price is Patton Kizzire.
Kizzire is a man who can score with the very best of them, last year Kizzire finished in 17th for total putting and 2nd in putting average. He finished second on Tour with 431 total birdies so clearly can get the putter hot.
What let Kizzire down is his driving and approach play but similarly to our argument for Justin Rose the lenient layout this week could be forgiving and that could give Kizzire the opportunity to score more birdies. If he can get on a roll he could be a tough man to peg back.
Odds of +2500 for a top 5 and +1000 for a top 10 finish could be a fantastic way to play.
Passionate writer about golf and the PGA Tour, you won’t find me on the fairway but instead hacking my way round the course. Terrible driver of the ball, even worse putter.
Love all sports but have decided to make my sporting life as miserable as possible by supporting Tottenham Hotspur and the Dallas Cowboys, who between them have gone almost a century without a major league title.