American Express Tips and Betting Preview
We drew a blank last week on both tours which is not uncommon for me early season to be fair. This week, an A-grade field assembles for the Amex which is potentially a result of the new season format. A myriad of big names sit near the top of the betting in what is the strongest field I've seen here at the American Express.
Scottie Scheffler is a short-priced favourite at 11/2, while Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas sit at the top of the market. They are backed up by a host of star names such as Sungjae Im and Sam Burns. I’m expecting a big bounceback season from Sungjae in 2024. Daniel Berger makes his long-awaited comeback from injury at the Amex following an 18 month layoff.
The Course and Format
The Amex is a pro-am format played over three courses at PGA West - La Quinta, the Pete Dye Stadium course and the Nicklaus tournament course. The brief is to go low on an easy set up and some of the best greens the players will play on. Backing strong wedge players and those good with the flat stick has always been a betting angle here and the big names can be toppled in the desert by the short stick wizards. We've seen players like Brian Gay and Andrew Landry win, not to mention Adam long, all at big prices.
The Stadium course will host and is equipped with dormant Bermuda rough and a risk reward theme. The three courses will play as par 72s averaging around 7,100 yards. We'll be looking at stats like proximity to the hole, total birdies, approaches from 100-150 yards and putting from 5-15 feet to get an edge with the course and player profiling.
This is a Justin Thomas type test and relative to the
market leaders he looks a tasty price at 22/1. Thomas had a poor season on
paper in 2023 but says his game wasn’t that far off. The American was 7th
on his last appearance here near the beginning of his PGA Tour career. When on
form my manual shows him rating 10/10 for par breakers and approach shot
performance with a 9.0 rating for holing out. It’s his season debut but I like
the look of Justin here following a couple of top 5 finishes at the back end of
If we like a player who finds fairways, makes birdies in bunches and can get streaky with the short stick, then look no further than Tom Kim 22/1 who has begun his professional career on fire. Kim was 6th in the American Express last year and already has three PGA Tour wins to his name - all coming in birdie fests. “Tom” was 10th in strokes gained approach in 2023 and ranked 4th in approaches from 125-150 yards. He also sat 16th in par breakers.
I’m going to stick with Eric Cole 33/1 this week and Eric was 36th here last year on debut. Cole is simmering at the start of 2024 with two top 15 finishes but it’s his flatstick prowess which makes me want to keep him onside at the Amex. Cole ranked 19th in strokes gained approach in 2023 and led the total birdie stats. He averaged 26th in approaches from 100-150 yards and was 2nd in putting average last year.Let’s throw a couple of darts given the record of outsiders at the American Express and how about Adam Hadwin 50/1 who was 2nd at the Shriner’s shootout late in 2023. He started 2024 with a 14th place at the Sentry before narrowly missing the cut at the Sony Open (despite an opening 67). Hadwin has a great record at the American Express with a string of near misses from 2015-2018. In 2017 the Canadian held the 3rd round lead at the Amex (then Career Builder) after becoming the 9th player on the PGA Tour to shoot 59 (at La Qunita CC). Hadwin excels in the pitch and putt department and ranks 9/10 for driving accuracy.
The American Express Betting Tips