The American Express Odds: Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay Lead The Pack
The American Express Odds: Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay Lead The Pack
After a fortnight in Hawaii to start the year, the PGA Tour heads to California for the first of a three-week stretch on the West Coast. The American Express, formerly known as the Desert Classic, CareerBuilder and Humana Challenge in recent years, is an event that has been on TOUR since 1960 and was well known for being a 5-round, 90-hole event until 2012. Formerly the Bob Hope Classic, this is an event that is rich in history, even if the courses themselves offer very little in terms of imagination or prestige. 14 of the world’s top-50 players will be here, including current World No.1, Jon Rahm and reigning FedEx Cup Champion, Patrick Cantlay. As world’s No.1 and 4 respectively, Rahm and Cantlay will garner the most attention, but this is an event that has been kind to longshots in the past. The event returns to its usual 72-hole, pro-am format this year, where the cut will be made after 54 holes once the whole field has played each of the three courses in rotation.
How To Watch The American Express
- Television: Thursday-Sunday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m (ET) - Golf Channel
- PGA TOUR Live (Various from 12 pm Thu, Fri and 11:30 am Sat, Sun)
The American Express Odds
Qualifying Criteria For The American Express
Winner of the PLAYERS Championship before 1996 PLAYERS Championship winners (five-year exemption) Major Winners (five-year exemption) WGC Winners (three-year exemption) Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial Tournament winners (three-year exemption) FedEx Cup Champion (five-year exemption) Members of most recent U.S. Ryder Cup Career Money Exemption Past Champions of American Express PGA Section Champion Sponsor’s Exemptions PGA Tour Winner (two-year exemption) Top 125 of last year’s FedEx Cup Major Medical Exemption Leading Points Winner - Korn Ferry Tour Korn Ferry Tour Graduates (reshuffled)
Si Woo Kim emerged victorious last year, despite the efforts of Patrick Cantlay who shot a course-record 61 at the Stadium Course on Sunday. We have seen sub-60 rounds here, most recently Adam Hadwin in 2018, who was playing La Quinta CC, a course that’s back on the rota this week after an absence last year due to COVID. This 61 however was special, coming both on the Stadium Course, and on Sunday when in contention. Kim held firm with a final-round 64 of his own though, which included two birdies in his last three holes, an incredible performance when under the pressure of one of the best in the world charging with the best score in course history. Kim was just one of three 54-hole leaders here 12 months ago, as Tony Finau and Max Homa also went into Sunday with designs on winning, but both ultimately disappointed. Finau still finished 4th and just four shots back, while Homa dropped down to 21st, not taking an advantage of that one-stroke lead.
Jon Rahm (+600)
The undisputed World No.1, whenever it looks like it is time Rahm gave up the mantle to Collin Morikawa, he reaffirms his dominance.
After a poor end to 2021 which saw him miss the cut at the Fortinet, finish T17 back home in Spain, and then miss the cut again at Valderrama, it looked like Rahm may have burnt out. In his first start of 2022 however, after putting down the clubs for two months, Rahm went toe-to-toe with Cameron Smith at the Tournament of Champions, which the Aussie won by one stroke, in record-setting fashion.
This event was the scene of Jon Rahm's second victory, as he outlasted Andrew Landry, beating him in a playoff after the pair got to -22 thru 72 holes. and he will clearly have some fond memories of PGA West.
In his only visit since, Rahm finished 6th as the defending champion, and he will be looking for another victory this week.
Patrick Cantlay (+900)
Like Jon Rahm, no one knew what to expect from Cantlay at the Tournament of Champions, as we had not seen him since the Ryder Cup, but he managed a fantastic 4th place finish that week.
Now rested after a week off, he returns to this event where he's had relative success in limited visits, and as a California boy he should feel right at home.
Cantlay missed the cut here on debut (2013), but since reemerging as one of the best in the world, Cantlay has finished T9 (2019) and 2nd (2021), so its fair to assume both him and Rahm will be in the mix come Sunday, even if the winner may come from way down the betting board.
Scottie Scheffler (+1800)
Scottie Scheffler now has the unwanted title of "best player without a win on the PGA Tour", but he will look to squash that quickly, and with an experienced caddie now on the bag, I suspect his fortunes will change sooner rather than later.
Ted Scott, who had a long and fruitful relationship with Bubba Watson, started working with Scheffler at the RSM Classic, and while he could only finish T57 that week, he managed a 2nd place finish next time out, at the Hero World Challenge.
Unlike others that faltered on Sunday in the Bahamas, Scheffler actually matched winner, Viktor Hovland's 66, but it was one shot too many to make up, after he opened the week with a disappointing 71.
The Phoenix Open last year was one of the tournaments Scheffler arguably should have won, but his T7 there where he was right in contention is encouraging given the desert link.
Scheffler was 3rd here in 2020, and like the Phoenix Open 12 months ago, a final-round 70 cost him a chance of victory, and he missed the cut upon his return last year. All in all, this looks like a perfect venue for Scheffler's breakthrough victory, I just don't feel the need to chance it comes here at the odds.
Matthew Wolff (+3000)
Matthew Wolff has been electric since returning from a long break to work on his mental health, and I fully expect 2022 to be filled with success for the outstanding young talent.
Already a winner on TOUR and a runner-up in a major, Wolff knows what it takes to win and compete at this level, and he's already gone close once in this new season, finishing 2nd in the Vegas desert at the Shriners.
He wasn't great on the final day that week, but Sungjae Im still had to be lights out to win, as a Sunday 62 gave the Korean a 4-shot victory over Wolff who shot a 68.
17th, 2nd, 5th and 11th to start the new season, Wolff is in the kind of form that suggests he's trending toward a victory and a birdie-fest in the desert looks right in his wheelhouse.
Event form of T61 and T40 doesn't leap off the page, but it was this time last year he started battling with injuries and personal issues and the T40 on debut can be forgiven, so I definitely expect a huge improvement on his form here, given his two 2nd place finishes at the Shriners, another desert event.
Abraham Ancer (+2800)
Ancer has gone off the boil somewhat in recent starts, finishing T35 in a 39-man field at the Tournament of Champions, followed by a missed cut last week at the Sony, but he returns to this event where he's much more suited.
2nd and T5 in his last two starts here, Ancer clearly loves the challenge this event presents and he's also finished 4th at the Shriners, so its clear he likes playing desert golf, even if the two events are not too similar outside of both being birdie-fests in the desert.
This looks like a good get-right spot for the Mexican, and he will no doubt be popular as people look at his past history in this event.
PGA West (Stadium Course)
Length: 7,113 Yards
Designer: Pete Dye
La Quinta Country Club
Length: 7,060 Yards
Designer: Lawrence Hughes
PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course)
Length: 7,159 Yards
Designer: Jack Nicklaus
Correlating Courses & Events
Waste Management Phoenix Open
- Phil Mickelson, Mark Wilson and Kenny Perry are both winners of both events in recent history.
- Jason Dufner won here in 2016 and lost in a playoff to Mark Wilson in Phoenix in 2011.
- Charley Hoffman won here in 2007 and then lost in a playoff to Kenny Perry in Phoenix in 2009.
- Jesper Parnevik, John Rollins, Ryan Palmer and Bubba Watson have all been runner-up in both events.
- Gary Woodland has won in Phoenix and was runner-up here in 2011, before the format changed to 72 holes.
- Adam Long won here in 2018 and finished 8th in Phoenix, where he was three off the pace going into the final round in 2020.
Shriners Hospital for Children Open
- Phil Mickelson has won multiple times here and finished runner-up at the Shriners.
- Chad Campbell won here and lost in a playoff at the Shriners.
- Patrick Cantlay has been runner-up in both events.
- Adam Hadwin has three top-3 finishes here and two top-6 finishes at the Shriners.
- Sungjae Im won the Shriners last year and has three times been in the top-12 here.
- Martin Laird has won the Shriners twice and finished 2nd, and has multiple top-15's here.
- Austin Cook was runner-up at the Shriners and finished T14 here in 2018, but led thru 54-holes.
- Abraham Ancer was 2nd here and 4th at the Shriners.
The Players and other Pete Dye Courses
As Pete Dye designed the course that will be used for 36 of the players 72 holes here, it is worth looking into his designs, but I will place the most emphasis on Sawgrass due to the Water Hazards and most crossover.
- Si Woo Kim has won both events.
- Phil Mickelson has won both events.
- Jhonattan Vegas has won here and finished T3 and T7 at the Players.
- Tim Clark has won the Players and twice been runner-up here.
- Matt Kuchar has won the Players and finished runner-up here.
- David Lingmerth has been runner-up in both events.
- Brian Gay has won the Heritage and this event.
- Matt Kuchar has won the Heritage and finished runner-up here.
- Si-Woo Kim has won here and lost a playoff at the Heritage.
- Abraham Ancer has finished runner-up here and at the Heritage.
Overall Course Correlation Strategy - If you can find someone who likes desert golf (here, Shriners or Phoenix) and won or contended at a Pete Dye layout, look to them if the current form is there and the irons are hot.
Key Stats & Trends
SG Approach & Putting - Like last week, this is all about hot irons and and a streaky putter. There is very limited trouble here, barring the water hazards and the rough is far from penal. Hit as far as you can, take dead aim at the pins, and roll in as many putts as you can. Its a very basic formula of course, but its a very basic setup.
Approaches 150-175 Yards - This is the range where the most approaches are going to come from, so see how a player is performing from this distance.
13 of the last 14 winners had played one of the first two events of the year in Hawaii - Bill Haas is the only exception in 2015.
Pro-Am experience and form - Pro-Am events are not for everyone, so look to those that have perhaps played well at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and use it as a tie-breaker if needed.
Top-10 for adjusted scoring average over the past fifteen weeks. Jon Rahm - 17-MC-2 Matthew Wolff - 17-2-5-11 Russell Henley - 21-25-56-7-22-2 Patrick Cantlay - 4 Corey Conners - 17-40-22-11 Luke List - 17-MC-7-MC-11-10 Taylor Moore - 17-24-MC-8 Danny Lee - 2-7-MC Seamus Power - MC-21-12-11-MC-4-15-3 Carlos Ortiz - MC-47-25-WD-2
Event Form (since 2016)
Below is the Top-10 for adjusted scoring average since 2016 when the Stadium Course took over as the main course:
Patrick Cantlay - 9-2
Adam Hadwin - 2-3-2-32
Jon Rahm - 34-1-6
Scottie Scheffler - 3-MC
Tony Finau - 14-4
Sungjae Im - 12-10-12
Adam Svensson - 18
Rickie Fowler - 10-21
Andrew Landry - 2-28-1-64
Talor Gooch - 67-4-17-21
Past Champions (10 years)
2021 - Si Woo Kim (-23) 2020 - Andrew Landry (-26) 2019 - Adam Long (-26) 2018 - Jon Rahm (-22, playoff) 2017 - Hudson Swafford (-20) 2016 - Jason Dufner (-25, playoff) 2015 - Bill Haas (-22) 2014 - Patrick Reed (-28) 2013 - Brian Gay (-25, playoff) 2012 - Mark Wilson (-24)
Seamus Power (+3500)
I am going to stick with Power, despite his ever-reducing odds, because he looks set to win for a second time on the PGA Tour.
I listened to a podcast he did with Fit For Golf yesterday, which detailed some very basic changes he made to his swing, that have led to a dramatic improvements in results and his form suggests he's here to stay.
Now 49th in the World and guaranteed a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs due to his hot start, Power will be looking to secure his Masters invite by remaining inside the top-50 until the end of March.
The Irishman was T21 here in 2017 and T11 here in 2018 when a final-round 70 cost him a chance of winning, as he finished just four adrift of Landry and Rahm who contested the playoff.
Two top-4's and three more top-15's to start this new season, we are seeing a real emergence to the very top of the game from Power and this sort of challenge suits a man in his sort of form.
Luke List (+8000)
I am quite bullish on Luke List's future, and if you're looking for another breakout candidate, later in their career, a la, Jason Kokrak then List might be your man. He is the same age as Kokrak and while he may not quite have the same ceiling, the skill set is very similar between the two.
List lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas at the 2018 Honda Classic and finished T3 and one shot out of the playoff at the 2018 RBC Heritage and he's looking likely to replicate that sort of form in 2022.
2020 saw him win a Korn Ferry Tour event when golf resumed after the lockdown and it is now time for him to win at this level.
He likes California, having finished 6th in this event in 2016 and 10th at Torrey Pines in 2021 and I expect him to add to this despite missing both events to start the year.
List has finished T17, T7, T11 and T10 alongside two missed cuts to start this season, and in an event that will reward strong driving and iron play, I will take the man who leads in SG Tee-to-Green and ranks 11th in SG Approach among this field over the past 15 weeks. List also ranks T5 on Tour in SG Off-the-Tee so far this season, with the most measured rounds of anyone in the top-5.
Michael Thompson (+10000)
This may be a case of missing the boat this week, as Michael Thompson finished T5 last week at the Sony, but I will chance he can keep it going for another week here in California.
Thompson has T5 and T9 finishes to his name here, finished 2nd at the US Open in California and won a birdie-fest at the 3M Open back in 2020, all positive signs.
He ranked 3rd in SG Approach last week and 6th in SG Tee-to-Green and with the Sony Open being his sixth-straight made cut, there must be something clicking for him.
That 5th last week was his best finish since his T5 here last year, but a T15 in Mexico before Christmas was recent enough to suggest the form is steady at the moment. His two top-10's at the RBC Heritage, only strengthen his case as well.
We know he has winning upside, and he can go well here.
Andrew Putnam (+17500)
Andrew Putnam has had a fairly inconsistent career on the PGA Tour to say the least, but he's played some nice golf in the right places for me to think he could go well here.
T7 in Phoenix and T11 at the Shriners last year both correlate nicely from a desert golf perspective, while his T13 finish at the Travelers Championship (also in 2021) gives us some Pete Dye form to ponder.
6 of his best 20 finishes according to the OWGR came in 2021, showing a marked improvement in his game and having won already on TOUR, as well as finishing runner-up on three occasions, Putnam is no stranger to contending.
He's made 6 of 8 cuts this season, highlighted by a T11 at the Shriners, and his T27 last week, where he shot four rounds of 68 or better was a good enough warm up to pique my interest.
Putnam has been really solid in this event since the Stadium Course took over in 2016, going 4/4 for made cuts, with three top-21's and a best of 10th. He was 6th after 54-holes the year he was 10th, and inside the top-10 in each of the opening two rounds last year as well, so I can see another good effort from him this week.
• Abraham Ancer • Paul Barjon • Christiaan Bezuidenhout • Jonas Blixt • Joseph Bramlett • Wesley Bryan • Hayden Buckley • Bronson Burgoon • Jonathan Byrd • Patrick Cantlay • Cameron Champ • Kevin Chappell • Wyndham Clark • Corey Conners • Austin Cook • Jason Day • Luke Donald • Brett Drewitt • James Hart du Preez • Jason Dufner • Tyler Duncan • Tony Finau • Rickie Fowler • Dylan Frittelli • Brice Garnett • Brian Gay • Doug Ghim • Michael Gligic • Lucas Glover • Talor Gooch • Lanto Griffin • Emiliano Grillo • Scott Gutschewski • Bill Haas • Chesson Hadley • Adam Hadwin • Brandon Hagy • James Hahn • Nick Hardy • Brian Harman • Russell Henley • Jim Herman • Kramer Hickok • Harry Higgs • Lee Hodges • Charley Hoffman • Tom Hoge • Charles Howell III • John Huh • Sungjae Im • Zach Johnson • Sung Kang • Chan Kim • Si Woo Kim • Chris Kirk • Kurt Kitayama • Patton Kizzire • Russell Knox • Ben Kohles • Kelly Kraft • Anirban Lahiri • Martin Laird • Andrew Landry • Nate Lashley • Hank Lebioda • Danny Lee • K.H. Lee • David Lipsky • Luke List • Adam Long • Davis Love III • Justin Lower • Peter Malnati • Denny McCarthy • Tyler McCumber • Graeme McDowell • Max McGreevy • Kyle Mendoza • Troy Merritt • Phil Mickelson • Francesco Molinari • Ryan Moore • Taylor Moore • Trey Mullinax • Sebastián Muñoz • Matthew NeSmith • Seung-Yul Noh • Alex Noren • Henrik Norlander • Andrew Novak • Carlos Ortiz • John Pak • C.T. Pan • Taylor Pendrith • Pat Perez • Scott Piercy • J.T. Poston • Seamus Power • Andrew Putnam • Jon Rahm • Aaron Rai • Chad Ramey • Chez Reavie • Doc Redman • Patrick Reed • Seth Reeves • Davis Riley • Patrick Rodgers • Justin Rose • Sam Ryder • Rory Sabbatini • Scottie Scheffler • Adam Schenk • Greyson Sigg • David Skinns • Roger Sloan • Alex Smalley • Austin Smotherman • Brandt Snedeker • J.J. Spaun • Scott Stallings • Brendan Steele • Sepp Straka • Robert Streb • Kevin Streelman • Chris Stroud • Brian Stuard • Adam Svensson • Hudson Swafford • Nick Taylor • Sahith Theegala • Curtis Thompson • Michael Thompson • Brendon Todd • Martin Trainer • Cameron Tringale • Kevin Tway • Peter Uihlein • Dawie van der Walt • Harold Varner III • Jhonattan Vegas • Camilo Villegas • T.J. Vogel • Jimmy Walker • Nick Watney • Richy Werenski • Vince Whaley • Mark Wilson • Matthew Wolff • Gary Woodland • Brandon Wu • Dylan Wu • Cameron Young • Will Zalatoris
Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!