The American Express sees the PGA Tour on the mainland for the first time in 2020. The calendar year began with the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii. Justin Thomas and Cameron Smith won the two tournaments, respectively. This is the first year the event in La Quinta, Calif. is under this name. Formerly known as the Desert Classic and CareerBuilder Challenge, Adam Long returns as the 2019 champion. He’ll look to hold off new host Phil Mickelson and a field including Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey and Matthew Wolff. Below, we’ll break down the best betting picks from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for the 2020 American Express.
Many of the top golfers from the Official World Golf Ranking are overseas this week for the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Next week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. will feature the 2019-20 season’s strongest and deepest field to date. It will also be the 2020 debut of World No. 7 Tiger Woods. We’re officially less than three months away from the Masters.
The courses: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club
The event runs under a pro-am format and will be played on three courses with a 54-hole cut. Two amateurs will be paired with two Tour pros for a foursome for each of the first three days, as they cycle around the three venues. The TPC Stadium Course at PGA West will be played for Sunday’s final round.
All three courses play to a par of 72. The Stadium Course measures 7,113 yards, the Tournament Course is 7,159 yards and La Quinta CC is 7,060 yards. Each course has been part of the tournament’s rotation for at least four years, so much of the field will be familiar. La Quinta CC will be played for the 11th year.
All three courses were designed by the recently departed Pete Dye and feature Bermuda grass greens. There’s not much rough on any of the three courses and a third of the 30 par 4s measure between 350 and 400 yards. Positioning off the tee is far more important than officially hitting the fairway.
Key stats to consider for The American Express
As with most Dye designs, we’re focused on Strokes Gained: Approach and Par 4 Efficiency: 350-400 Yards. We’re also looking at Opportunities Gained, as each of the last four winners finished at least 20-under par. Proximity: 100-125 Yards is our key distance for the approach. My model at Fantasy National looks at the most recent 50 rounds for each golfer in the field at Dye-designed courses.
Last year’s tournament had a Strength of Field of 233. It was sandwiched by the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Wyndham Championship. Only five non-Americans have ever won this event, but travel shouldn’t be viewed as an issue; nine of the last 10 champions participated in the Sony Open the week before.
The American Express betting picks: Sleepers and value bets
The 2016 champion enters the week ranked 265th by the OWGR, and he hasn’t made a cut since finishing T-57 at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. Dufner has performed well on Dye courses over his career, however, and these odds are far too attractive for a recent champ.
The five-time PGA Tour winner leads the stat model and leads the field in Opportunities Gained on Dye designs. He has averaged 1.74 strokes gained on the Stadium Course, according to Data Golf. He lost 1.03 strokes per round putting last week while missing the cut, but he should be able to give himself better looks this week at the familiar venue. He’s worth a small-unit wager with these odds returning a profit of $2,600 on a $10 bet.
Glover enters the week having made four straight cuts. He’s well-rested, having last appeared at the WGC-HSBC Champions in early November. He has three top-20 finishes at this event over the last five years, including 2019’s T-12. He has gained 0.71 strokes per round over eight rounds on the Stadium Course.
The 72nd-ranked golfer in the world ranks sixth in this field in Opportunities Gained and 11th in SG: Approach on Pete Dye courses. He’s a strong value play at DraftKings with +4200 odds at FanDuel. It’s always a good idea to exploit these discrepancies when one book seems to be undervaluing a golfer.
Knox ranked fourth in last week’s field in SG: Approach en route to a T-32 finish at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. The Scottsman would buck the trend of Americans winning this event, but he had a T-18 finish last year and a T-29 result in 2018. He has made eight straight cuts worldwide since beginning his season with a missed cut at The Greenbrier.
His last PGA Tour victory was the 2016 Travelers Championship. Knox ranks fifth in the stat model when set to Dye’s courses. He’s eighth in the field in the proximity distance and ninth in SG: Approach.
The American Express betting picks: Our winner
Kisner is ranked 30th in the world. He’s the sixth-best golfer in the field by the OWGR measure, but he’s ninth by the odds at FanDuel (sixth at DraftKings). He’s coming off a T-4 finish last week in Hawaii, in which he ranked seventh in the field with 1.32 SG: Approach per round. The three-time PGA Tour champ made the cut in La Quinta each of the last three years but with a top finish of just T-25 (2017).
Kis lost 0.23 strokes per round on the greens last week. A more average performance with the flat stick could secure his first stroke-play victory since the 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
This article was originally published on Tuesday. Odds subject to change.