The PGA Tour rolls onto its third event since the winter break and this week players and fans alike will be congregating at PGA West in California. Formerly known by several names, the American Express will once again be hosted at both the TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses, where 12 months ago Si Woo Kim reigned victorious.
2022 American Express General Information:
- Date: January 20 – January 23rd, 2021
- TV-Time: Golf Channel 3:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: PGA West
- Location: California
- Prize Money: $6,000,000 ($1,125,000 1st Place)
- Winner last year: Si Woo Kim
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
Unlike many tournaments on the PGA Tour, the American Express has a very unique feel to it, as it’s typically played over three courses, though because of COVID-19 protocols, just the two courses at PGA West were used last season. This time around, we return to three.
Designed by Pete Dye, the courses at PGA West are among the easiest on the PGA Tour. They lend themselves to attacking play and scores tend to be low, so expect no shortage of birdies. Those who can hit plenty of greens in regulation and get the ball close on approach should pick up plenty of shots.
Plenty of big names will be missing from the field this week, with only two of the current world’s top 10 in attendance, while only five of the top 20 will feature. Jon Rahm, who remains world number one, will be the highest ranked player in action, followed by world number four Patrick Cantlay.
Expert Pick #1 – Patrick Cantlay to Win @+900
At odds of +900, there’s not a great deal of juice in Patrick Cantlay this week, though there’s lots to like about the chances of the current world number four, so much so that he probably could be a bit shorter in the betting.
For starters, the man who claimed the prestigious FedEx Cup at the end of last season arrives here in good form having finished a very credible fourth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which bodes well considering that in terms of rankings at least, this is a less demanding field.
This is also an event that Cantlay can handle having finished a close second here last season. On that occasion, he posted some very strong strokes-gained numbers. At this venue, the 29-year-old ranks as the best in the field when it comes to strokes gained: tee-to-green and strokes gained: around-the-green, not to mention third for strokes gained: approach, as well as second for strokes gained: overall. Ignore Cantlay at your peril.
Fedex Cup Rank: 76 | Fedex Cup Points: 135 | OWGR: 4
Approx. Start Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
Expert Pick #2 – Sungjae Im Top 10 Finish @+250
South Korean sensation Sungjae Im will be hoping to match the achievement of the countryman Si Woo Kim, who won this event last year, and given how the 23-year-old has been playing this season, he probably won’t be far off doing just that.
The two-time PGA Tour winner failed to make the cut last week, though we shouldn’t read too deeply into that. After all, that was the first cut that he’s missed since the start of June last year, and he’s since posted eight top 20’s, four top 10’s and a win.
Moreover, Im tends to take well to this event, finishing no lower than 12th in three attempts. Only five players in the field have a lower 18-hole average score at PGA West than Sungjae Im, who averages 68.00 here. He also picks up an average of 1.24 strokes with the putter here, which is particularly eye-catching given that strong putting has been a key ingredient for success on this track in recent years.
Fedex Cup Rank: 5 | Fedex Cup Points: 718 | OWGR: 24
Approx. Start Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
Expert Pick #3 – Adam Hadwin Top 20 Finish @+300
Canadian Adam Hadwin hasn;t exactly been in scintillating form of late, the highlight of his last three events being the mere fact that he made the cut, though this is a venue that he likes, so there’s reason to believe that he’s on the large side in the betting.
Nobody in this field averages a lower score at PGA West than Adam Hadwin, who after six events averages 67.58. During that time, the 34-year-old has been somewhat prolific in terms of high finishes, finishing sixth, second, third and second between 2016 and 2019. Unsurprisingly, Hadwin ranks as the seventh best in the field in terms of strokes gained overall here, which makes odds of +300 for a top 20 finish seem slightly generous.
Fedex Cup Rank: 151 | Fedex Cup Points: 126 | OWGR: 82
Approx. Start Time: 11:40 a.m. ET
2022 American Express Odds
*Odds as of Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.
2022 American Express Additional Picks
One player to finish top-five.
Si Woo Kim (+900)
Simply because it rarely happens, it would be a big surprise if Si Woo Kim won this event for the second year running, but his overall efforts in this tournament suggest that he’s capable of playing well, so those wishing to take a chance on him for a top-five finish, at eye-catching odds, shouldn’t be put off. After all, the South Korean rates as the best player in the field for strokes gained: total at this venue.
One player to finish top-10.
Patrick Reed (+400)
After a couple of decent efforts of late, Patrick Reed is a viable top-ten option. He got going a tad too late at the Sentry Tournament of Champions but some excellent late golf saw him surge to a T15 finish, while he was in fine form when finishing third at the Hero World Challenge before that. On top of that, the Texan has previously won this event, ranking as the third-best in the field for strokes gained: total on this track.
One player to finish top-20.
Doug Ghim (+350)
World number 225 Doug Ghim doesn;t exactly offer up much in terms of solid recent form, though he does have some respectable form in the book at PGA West. The 25-year-old finished fifth here last season, and as a result arrives this week as the ninth-best in terms of strokes gained: total. Strong numbers in terms of strokes gained: approach and strokes gained: tee-to-green give him strong top-20 credentials.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Jon Rahm (+2000)
If you’re interested in a first round leader bet, then look no further than the man who currently tops the world rankings. Jon Rahm has the ability to start fast and top any field on his day, while he tends to come flying out of the gate at this tournament. In three visits, Rahm has both held the lead after round one, and been inside the top five after the first day. The leader after the first round in three of his last seven events, who better to side with in this market?
The Big Hero
Underdog with chances to win.
Phil Mickleson (+12500)
If there’s an outsider to side with this week, then surely it’s Phil Mickelson. The six-time major winner is no longer in the sweet spot of his career as it were, but as we saw on occasion last season, he can still tussle with the best on his day. He’s won this tournament twice before, while he’s finished inside the top three twice since 2016.
Since the return of the PGA Tour following the festive downtime, we’ve seen lots of attacking golf, plenty of birdies and no shortage of low scores, and we should expect more of the same from this week’s action at PGA West, where the two courses in use rank among some of the most friendly on tour. The set-up at TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament Course should help players take a forward-thinking approach, that’s for sure. Of those in the field, Patrick Cantlay is the one to watch most, though there are a few others at bigger prices who can rise to the challenge too.