PGA Picks: The American Express Golf Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The PGA Tour returns to the mainland after two weeks in Hawaii. This used to be the old Bob Hope Open before corporate sponsorships, but some of the past roots remain in place.
After a year off with virus concerns, this tourney will have a full 156 player field, and everyone will have an amateur partner. That is part of the charm of these early year events, and each pair will play on all three courses Thursday through Saturday before the field is cut to 65 for Sunday.
For whatever reason, this tournament has close calls, with only three of the past 12 events decided by two strokes and all the rest by a single shot, with three of those needing extra holes to crown a champion.
Si Woo Kim is the defending champion. And like last year, he’ll be a long shot with +6600 golf odds to make it two in a row in the California desert.
Get free golf picks for every event on Doc’s Sports PGA golf expert picks page.
A Look at the Field
Here is a look at the Top 12 and ties with the lowest golf odds to win it all at online sportsbooks.
Jon Rahm +650 - Patrick Cantlay +900 - Scottie Scheffler +1800 - Sungjae Im +2200
Tony Finau +2200 - Corey Conners +2200 - Matthew Wolff +2500 – Talor Gooch +2500
Abraham Ancer +2800 – Russell Henley +3300 - Seamus Power +3300
Patrick Reed +4000 – Will Zalatoris +4000
Rahm for years has been a stud on the West Coast swing, and don’t expect that to change. At this venue, his track record at the AmEx includes a win and a sixth over three starts. Rahm boasts a 67.6 tournament scoring average in those appearances.
The one player that almost everyone agrees can knock off Rahm is Cantlay. His end of the season run in 2021 seems to have elevated his game to another level, and his confidence is soaring. Sure, he’s putted well in a few big events, but his ball-striking is on par with Rahm’s at this time.
Scheffler is well known for scoring well on shorter courses and can string together a host of birdies. A true threat.
Im, Finau and Ancer all fit a particular profile to do well in LaQuinta. However, each has given reasons for concern, though modest, and we’ll say only one of these players finishes in the Top 15. Which one? Take your best shot.
After a lost 2021 season, Wolff has four Top 20’s, which includes a runner up at TPC Summerlin in the fall of a new season. He can overpower these courses if he maintains his cool.
Conners just missed a Top 10 last week and Gooch was 17th and 27th in Hawaii, and both are highly thought of coming into this week.
Power was T3 at the Sony last week (one of my winners), and that was his fifth Top 15 finish in the last six starts.
Henley should have won last week in Hawaii but couldn’t come up with the big shot or putt. That disappointment could linger.
Course Characteristics of Those Who Can Win or Secure Winning Golf Bets
None of the three courses will be a real test of golf for this field as all are short by Tour standards, meaning the potential for birdies and eagles will be ample.
Two of the three courses used to be hard tracks. However, with amateurs playing, they have simplified everything for everyone.
The Stadium Course at PGA West is a Pete Dye design and has been back in the rotation since 2016 after being all but boycotted by the players until changes were made to make it easier. That’s not to say there isn’t trouble, as seven of the holes have water very much in play and a potential birdie can turn into a double bogey in an instant. This will serve as the Sunday course exclusively.
The Nicklaus Stadium course is somewhat simpler without as much water. And like the Stadium Course, the par 4’s are mostly below 440 yards and the par 5’s are 550 or fewer yards; both that will provide birdie chances.
La Quinta Country Club for years was the toughest in the rotation, but now it is probably the easiest. It has been shortened to just over 7,000 yards (the other two are roughly 7,150) and what made it hard was narrow fairways and small greens.
The rough for this tourney is rather short and not thick, which encourages long ball hitters to generate max distance, followed by hitting wedges into the greens.
To win this event, you have to dominate the par 5’s. And any day you are only -2 or higher, you will take yourself out of contention swiftly.
The greens will be fast and quick for the amateurs, but not the pros, and historically they roll true. Those with the earlier tee times won’t have as many spike marks to deal with.
With the course’s setup, the fairways accessible, great putting conditions, and weather, those that execute will have an opportunity to win.
Golf Picks: Who to Consider This Week
If you are looking to make a ‘Win’ bet, Jon Rahm and Cantlay are excellent choices and they offer little betting value elsewhere. Keep in mind, 12 of the last 13 winners at this tourney played in Hawaii.
For Top 10 action, Schleffer, Wolff and Conners are good selections coming in.
In making Top 20 wagers, Power has +odds, as does Wolff. And if Adam Hadwin is not on this betting ticket and part of head-to-head action, you are probably missing out. Why? Hadwin has two runner-ups and has not finished below T6th in four starts here.
Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports was in the golf business for over 20+ years and understands the ins and outs of what it takes to find winners on the Tour. Last week he picked up +390 at the Sony Open.
Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports has - 23 Documented No. 1 Titles - 96 Documented Top 10 Finishes - 2 Handicapper of the Month Awards. (Latest: MLB September 2021) Doug as a professional handicapper/writer has written for various well-known sports betting websites and several football newsletters.