The American Express 2022

Goodbye Hawaii, Hello California

image source: golfdigest.com

The PGA Tour will come back stateside this week for The American Express golf tournament— known colloquially as just the AmEx — in La Quinta, California.

It’s an interesting event that I can really only describe as a bit wacky.

image source: thegolfnewsnet.com

Like 19-foot bunkers wacky? Indeed.

image source: USA Today

Like Jason Dufner’s near hole out from these rocks on hole #17 on route to winning wacky? Absolutely.

But it’s not just the quirks of PGA West’s Stadium Course — err, should I say courses. The AmEx features not one, not two, but three different courses across the four days.

Golfers will rotate over the course of the first three days between the Stadium Course at PGA West, La Quinta Country Club, and the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Unlike most other weeks on the tour, the cut will happen after three rounds (54-holes) instead of two. The golfers who make the cut will subsequently all play the Stadium Course for the final round on Sunday.

And if this event wasn’t already strange enough, you add in an entire pro-am element — the golfers play in foursomes that include two “celebrities”.

Weird Event = Dial Back?

For me, yes.

As someone who enjoys the 4-day sweat of a golf bet or daily fantasy golf lineup, it’s just a little bit less enjoyable trying to follow the action across 3 different courses — two of which don’t have shot tracker to follow.

To that end, the lack of shot tracker means less data, which means less knowledge about what type of golf it takes to succeed at these courses.

So while I want that 4-day golf sweat, I’d prefer it to be on picks or bets I feel more confident in.

I also don’t mind tuning into an event on Sunday with nothing on the line financially. I recall watching last year’s Sunday battle between Si Woo Kim and Tony Finau at the AmEx — with Patrick Cantlay making a charge himself — and being thoroughly entertained.

The Field

image source: golfidigest.com

All that said, we do have an interesting field with golfers we love to win but more often lose money on.

It’s headlined by the #1 ranked golfer in the world Jon Rahm, and the #4 golfer Patrick Cantlay…who in my mind are in a tier of their own this week.

To me, it feels like Rahm or Cantlay could truly play their B/B+ game and be right there with a chance to win come Sunday. Both have consistently experienced success at this event in the past as well.

After Rahm and Cantlay are a second tier of guys: Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Tony Finau, Abe Ancer, Patrick Reed.

The gap at the moment just feels so wide between these groups of players. At their absolute best these guys can go toe-to-toe with Rahm and Cantlay, but these super elites have just been on another planet the past several months.

It’s for that reason I feel like I may start with Rahm OR Cantlay in every single DFS lineup I create for the AmEx.

Wacky Winners

While I’m very high on Rahm and Cantlay, I’m also mindful that the American Express has produced some wacky winners in recent years — guys with long odds, in some cases VERY long.

Recent Winner Odds at The American Express:
2021: Si Woo Kim +6000
2020: Andrew Landry +20000
2019: Adam Long +50000
2018: Jon Rahm +800
2017: Hudson Swafford +5000
2016: Jason Dufner +4000
2015: Bill Haas +2500
2014: Patrick Reed +6000
2013: Brian Gay +8000

Truly anyone can come from the clouds and win this week.

Why?

Again, we don’t have the perfect data to know for sure, but the three courses they’ll play for the AmEx are very easy. All three ranked in the bottom-5 (or top-5?) for easiest courses on tour in 2020.

So it’ll be a low-scoring affair with birdies galore, which I think just opens up the possibility of many shapes and sizes of golfers getting scorching hot for a week.

I think course history is certainly something to keep in mind this week, perhaps slightly more than most weeks given the lack of data for the La Quinta course and Nicklaus Tournament course.

At the same time, you CAN quantify (and maybe should account for) who has faired well at the PGA West Stadium Course, which does have strokes gained stats and which will be the venue where golfers have to close the deal at come Sunday:

Top 10 golfers at the Stadium Course (SG: Total):

  1. Cantlay
  2. Scheffler
  3. Hadwin
  4. Rahm
  5. Fowler
  6. R. Moore
  7. Finau
  8. Landry
  9. Im
  10. Svensson

It’s still early into the 2022 campaign, and a lot of golfers have yet to tee it up. So — much like last week at Sony — I think there’s merit to considering who got a chance to play in Hawaii to at the very least shake off some rust.

According to PGA Splits on Twitter, 11 of the last 14 winners of the AmEx played the week prior at the Sony Open.

Coming in with some sort of form is always nice too — whether it was in Hawaii or during the fall swing.

First Click & Final Thoughts

image source: bleacherreport.com

In the true spirit of this event, we go all the way down to 100/1 odds to bet Chris Kirk.

Kirk finished 27th at Sony last week and was fairly solid in every statistical metric. He comes back to the AmEx on the back of a 16th place finish last year, and a 21st place finish in 2017.

This just feels like great odds on a guy who was knocking on the door often last year, but just never burst through on Sunday…And it all kind of started around this time last year for Kirk when he finished T2 at Sony, T16 at AmEx, and T16 at Pebble Beach.

Let’s hope to bring some of those good vibes back.

I’ll keep my betting card light this week, and not just because I think Rahm or Cantlay could run away with this and win by 7 shots.

This is just an event I don’t feel especially comfortable with navigating. For that reason I’ll take my few dart throw outrights and make just enough other bets to enjoy the full unveiling of the PGA Tour Live on ESPN+ coverage this week.

Anyway, thanks for reading and happy GOLF.

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“Strokes Gained: Narrative” is a PGA Tour betting and DFS blog aiming to supplement golf data and stats with storylines and humor.

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Nick DeMott

Nick DeMott

Golf Writer + Naturalist + Old Man at Heart

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