PGA Tour best bets: The American Express

The PGA Tour heads to the Pete Dye Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif. for The American Express, an event that Si Woo Kim won last season.

Which players are the favorites this time around, who offers good odds and what props are worthwhile?

Betting analysts Chris Fallica and Anita Marks as well as sports betting deputy editor David Bearman offer their best bets.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.

Bets to win

Patrick Cantlay to win (8-1); top-10 finish (+110)

Bearman: Two big names headline The American Express field this week. Jon Rahm, the world’s top-ranked player and Patrick Cantlay, the reigning Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that they are also the top 2 betting favorites this week. You probably can’t go wrong playing either or both this week, so why am I on Cantlay? For starters, he finished with a Stadium Course record 61 on Sunday last year to finish runner up to Si Woo Kim. That was just the first sign of things to come in the record-breaking 2021 season for Cantlay. He also finished T-9 in 2019 when all 3 courses were used. Last we saw him, he finished 4th at Kapalua in his first event since the Tour Championship as he took a well-earned break. The entire tournament is usually a birdie fest and he finished last year T-17th in par breakers. While I don’t think Cantlay will match last season’s success, he will pick off a few wins and this could be one of them.

Tony Finau to win (20-1); top-10 finish (+225)

Bearman: If you are an avid reader of this column, you’ll probably remember me playing a lot of Top 10s for Finau but refusal to play him to win until he got one in the bag. Well, he did just that last August, taking home The Northern Trust, the first playoff event. Since then, Finau had top-15 finishes at the remaining two playoff legs, was part of Team USA’s Ryder Cup win and has back-to-back T-20s at the Hero World Challenge and Sentry. The pressure to win is now off, so I expect the big guy to add some more to his resume. He’s played well here the last two years, both as a 3-course event (T-14) and last year as a Stadium Course-only event (4th). He held a share of the 54-hole lead before Si Woo Kim’s 64 took the title. It was not one of the Finau Fades he was known for as he shot a final-round 68, but it just wasn’t low enough.

Fallica: Another horse for course coming off a T-4 and T-14 the last two years at PGA West. He got that full-field win out of the way last year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up another one or two this year. Played just two events since the Houston Open in mid-November, but they were a T-7 and T19. So expect him again to play well here.

Abraham Ancer to win (25-1); top-10 finish (+260)

Fallica: He’ll probably be a popular pick this week given a pair of consecutive Top 5 finishes the last two years, the latter coming after a missed cut at the Sony — just like he did last week. The price is still decent given the presence of Rahm and Cantlay in the field and the Top 10 price is juicy too.

Talor Gooch to win (25-1); top-10 finish (+225)

Bearman: It’s hard not to like everything that Talor Gooch has going right now. The 30-year old has a win and 3 Top-10 finishes in 8 events in the 2021-22 season. His win was at The RSM Classic, an event that also uses multiple courses like this week’s American Express. That November win got him the trip to Maui, where he recorded a 15th place finish and followed it up with 4 sub-60 rounds last week at the Sony for a 27th place finish. He’s had success in this event, finishing T-21, T-17 and 4th each of the last 3 seasons. Just as important, after a one-year change due to Covid, we are back to using 3 courses and Gooch did well on all 3 of them in 2019 and 2020. He’s 5th in SG: total on the Nicklaus Course, where you have to go low to keep pace and has done well on the Stadium Course, which will be used twice.

Seamus Power to win (33-1)

Marks: Eleven of the last 12 winners at the AmEx played in either the Sentry or the Sony or both. Six of the last nine winners made the cut at the Sony — so those are the golfers I’m targeting this week. Power finished T-3 last week at the Sony — despite average iron play. He he’s landed in the top 15 in six straight starts and is first in par 4 scoring, a key metric this week.


Talor Gooch top-5 finish (4-1)

Marks: In 2019 Gooch finished T-4 at the AmEx, and finished no worse than 21st in his last two starts in La Quinta. Coming off a strong showing the last two weeks (T-15 and T-27), Gooch’s SG Tee-To-Green was top 5 in Hawaii and he was masterful around the greens.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout top-10 finish (5-1); Tourney matchup (-125) over Adam Hadwin

Marks: Bezuidenhout had amazing success in Europe, and now brings his dominant game to the states. He finished T-17 at the Sony and is one of the best on approach from 150 to 175 out, which will be important in Cali this week.

Michael Thompson top-20 finish (+275)

Marks: Thompson was terrific last week at the Sony (T-5), with a strong Sunday finish, gaining almost 7 strokes on his approach. He loves playing at PGA West and should crack the top 20 — considering he finished in the top 10 the last two times he played at the AmEx.

Round 1 Matchup: Chris Kirk (+120) over Russell Henley

Marks: This is more of a fade on Henley than anything else. It was an emotional Sunday at the Sony for Henley after he was chased down by Hideki Matsuyama. Henley has missed the cut 4 of 6 times he has teed up here, and T-49 was his best finish.

Jon Rahm top-10 finish (-150)

Bearman: I mentioned above that Rahm and Cantlay are the top two on the board this week and you couldn’t go wrong playing either one. While I am playing Cantlay to win at his longer 9-1 odds, it’s hard to advise the 6-1 price on Rahm, who hasn’t tee’d it up here since 2019. But I do want to play him, so I will play it a bit safer and take him to get a top 10, which he has done in two of his three appearances here, including his win in 2018. Shoot he have a so-so opening round on Thursday, he’s a prime live betting candidate to win once his odds get longer into double digits, so watch for that.

Patrick Cantlay top-10 finish (+110)

Fallica: There’s no need to deeply go into why, the reasons are fairly obvious. Runner-up with course-record 61 last year and T-9 in previous trip.

Adam Hadwin top-10 finish (+550); top-20 finish (+250)

Fallica: If searching for a longer price to play well this week, Hadwin is where I would start. From 2016 to 2019, he went T-6, 2, T-3 and T-2 here. Yes, his form hasn’t been great since late 2019, but he did post a T-6 out west at the Shriners in October so maybe a return to a comfortable setting will turn the clock back some.

Francesco Molinari top-10 finish (+1200); top-20 finish (+500)

Fallica: Speaking of turning back the clock, Molinari’s game was off form for a while after his Masters debacle and it was mostly due to off-the-course circumstances. But he relocated to California and posted at T-8 here last year and actually had a very good west coast swing — Top 10s at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis as well. He hasn’t played since withdrawing from Houston in November, so who knows what his game will look like after a two-month hiatus. But 5-to-1 on Top 20 isn’t unrealistic.

Adam Hadwin top-20 finish (+280)

Bearman: I came oh so close to putting this write-up at the top as a suggested 80-1 shot this week. His history at this event is among the best with four consecutive top-6 finishes from 2016-19, including runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2019. However, he finished T-32 last year and has not had good form of late with only one top-50 finish in 6 events this season and only made the cut in 3 of his last 9 events of 2021, although 2 of them were Top 10s. He’s definitely a high risk, high reward type of play that can win the event but also could miss the cut. Neither would surprise. He could be worth a sprinkle last minute at the 80-1 or longer price, but almost 3-1 on a top-20 is the way I am playing it at press time.

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