The American Express - Winner

With covid restrictions shelved this event returns to the pro-am format we are used to and the three-course rotation also. The data we have from this event down the years is only from the Stadium course which is used for two rounds this year, with the La Quinta and Nicklaus courses in use for the other two rounds. The cut arrives after Saturday's play once everyone has played all three and they return to the Stadium Course for the final round. The Pete Dye designed Stadium course is the best course of the three and the most challenging. I use that term loosely as this is a week where birdies on almost every other hole are needed to win the event. Those who bag plenty of red numbers are the ones to look at this week. Form across Desert golf like Scottsdale is worth a glance as is form across Dye designs, most notably Sawgrass. It's a week where proximity counts from the fairway and you won't get away with a cold putter this week. 

Patrick Reed at 33/1 (8 places)

Patrick Reed went off around the 25/1 mark at the Sentry and following a first round of 74 followed that in with rounds of 64-66-68 to finish in a tie for 15th. We arrive in California with a much weaker field to that Hawaii event so when you consider Reed is a former winner here it is extremely interesting to see quotes of 35/1. Reed has struggled off the tee somewhat over the last few months although we can't read an awful lot into that given the fact we have no stats for 3 of his last 5 appearances and within that time he has managed a 2nd and a 3rd. More room off the tee should help Reed and the rest of his game is perfectly suited to this test. He ranked inside the top 40 last year in birdie average and showed no signs of letting up after shaking off the rust in Maui after round 1. I was thinking that max we would see is 25/1 so more than happy to play around the 33/1 mark.

2pts each-way P.Reed  33/1  (1/5 8)

Patrick Reed - 2pts e/w @ 33/1

The American Express - Winner

Matthew Wolff at 30/1 (8 places)

Matthew Wolff looks one of the best prospects sub 50/1 along with Patrick Reed. After some personal struggles Wolff got back towards his best stuff at the end of 2021. 2nd at the Shriners (correlated Desert course) was followed with a top 5 in Mexico then 11th at the Houston Open. It was a solid end to a winless year, his second on the trot having battled some issues off the course. He remains a dangerous golfer and one capable of winning the best events on his day. Two runner ups at the Shriners is a sign of his suitability to desert golf in general. He can make plenty of birdies which is necessary here and providing he can hit the ground running he should hold a decent chance of landing his second tour victory. He has taken breaks from the game before and come back with little ill effect so I'm hopeful he can perform well despite not teeing it up competitively since November. 

1.5pts each-way M.Wolff 30/1  (1/5 8)

Matthew Wolff - 1.5pts e/w @ 30/1

The American Express - Winner

Russell Knox at 100/1 (6 places)

Russell Knox looks a very tasty price at triple figures and having made the cut in five of his last six efforts here must be supported off the back of recent evidence. Knox finished 7th last week in Sony with a notable improvement in the flat stick. His ball-striking has been in great shape of late and that is a huge advantage heading to California. If he has found something with the putter then he is likely to be a dangerous operator over the coming months at the right venues. He has top tens secured a Summerlin and Scottsdale and with three top 20s here clearly can play well on Desert tracks. The signs last week were positive and he looks one of the better prospects above the 50/1 mark.

1pt each-way R.Knox  100/1  (1/5 6)

Russell Knox - 1pt e/w @ 100/1

The American Express - Winner

J.T. Poston at 250/1 (7 places)

JT Poston is a lively outsider here this week and must be supported at 200+. 42nd last week was a fair return having once again struggled on the greens. That being said it was his first outing since November and a respectable effort. He has been struggling on the greens now for a number of months but certainly, last week at the Sony was an improvement to what we had seen towards the end of 2021. 4th at the Shriners in 2017, 11th last year at Scottsdale and 7th here at this event a couple of years ago suggest he really plays best on Desert courses. The Wyndham win and Heritage top 10s are another positive on his CV for this event. A slight improvement on the greens could see him figure and with Bermuda being his favoured surface we have to take the gamble here.

1pt each-way J.T. Poston  250/1  (1/5 7)

J.T. Poston - 1pt e/w @ 250/1

The American Express - Winner

Hayden Buckley at 125/1 (7 places)

Hayden Buckley finished the year off being the only rookie with multiple top 10s in the recent season posting 4th at the Sanderson and 8th at the Shriners. All aspects of his game have been firing of late and gaining strokes in all departments last week at the Sony was a great return upon finishing 12th. His form towards the end of the KFT last year was also impressive so that adds up to around 4 or 5 months of exceptional golf. Having shown form at the Shriners this test could be right up his street and this is certainly one of those events where we've seen surprises before and someone like Buckley will fancy his chances of playing well here. Anything up to 150/1 is available and if he continues with this form shouldn't be far away.

0.75pt each-way H.Buckley  125/1  (1/5 7)

Hayden Buckley - 0.75pts e/w @ 125/1

The American Express - Winner

Hudson Swafford at 150/1 (8 places)

Corey Conners ticks all the boxes of this event and I'd be surprised if he's not in the conversation come the weekend. Around the 20/1 mark just isn't enough juice to get excited for. Doug Ghim finished 5th here last year and is an interesting prospect at triple figures. Lack of tournament golf in the past few weeks is the only aspect that puts me off the 25-year-old. Target golf should suit Hudson Swafford here this week and if he can manage an upturn on the greens then he could manage his second victory at this event. Interestingly he didn't putt all that well the week he won this back in 2017 so a better return on the Bermuda greens can not be ruled out. The rest of his game is firing with approach play a particular strength right now and that should grant him plenty of opportunities to get into the shake-up after a couple of days here. Struggling around the greens is an issue but with the pro-am setup we should see easier pins and this may just be the week where he gets some reward for his solid long game of late.

0.75pt each-way H.Swafford  150/1  (1/5 8)

Hudson Swafford - 0.75pts e/w @ 150/1

The American Express - Winner

Bill Haas at 500/1 (8 places)

I can't help but add a tiny bet on Bill Haas at 500/1. Haas has won this twice and also finished runner up. He missed the cut on the number last week finishing 4 under for the 2 rounds at Sony. Previous to that towards the end of last year he made two of his last three cuts finishing inside the top 50 in both of those. His long game was in solid enough shape last week in Hawaii but he struggled on the greens. It may be a Hail Mary selection but it's one worth having in an event such as this. He has a tremendous record here and game maybe isn't in as bad a shape as people may think. Worth a pop at 500/1!

0.5pt each-way B.Haas  500/1  (1/5 8)

Bill Haas - 0.5pts e/w @ 500/1