GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for the American Express

With three courses on tap, we embrace the variance at the American Express and eye some longer bets than normal for our betting card.

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for the American Express based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

The rotation is back to three courses this year, and with the return of La Quinta Country Club, we ramp the variance back up for how this tournament will ultimately shake out. Rounds at that track rate out as among the very easiest of the season dating back to the event's inception, and a score in the low 60s is in play for just about anyone in the field. That means more golfers have a path to contention than at a typical PGA Tour event, and we've seen some off-the-wall winners the past few years.

After a brief word on the favorites, we'll dive into this week's bets. We are looking for streaky golfers who can pile up birdies on the easy courses, but we'd prefer to balance that with some pedigree if we can.

For more info on La Quinta Country Club, PGA West Stadium Course, and the Nicklaus Tournament Course, along with this week's key stats, daily fantasy picks, and win simulations, check out Brandon Gdula's article.

At the Top

The top of the board is pretty clear this week, with Jon Rahm (+600) and Patrick Cantlay (+750) the top two in the market. Even at such a short price Rahm is still a value, and both he and Cantlay have two top fives here in the last four years. Rahm won in 2018 and Cantlay finished runner-up by a single stroke last year, and either would be a fine bet. We'd prefer Rahm even at the shorter number, but he won't make our card this week as the better allocation at an event with this much variance is to find plays further down the board that can give us a big return at a small risk.

Value Spots

Matthew Wolff (+3100) - It was something of a lost 2020-21 for Wolff. He started the season off with consecutive runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but failed to crack the top 10 the rest of the season while battling injury and COVID. He's started the new season off well, with finishes of T17, 2nd, T5, and T11, and he appears to be locked in. As a college standout, he overwhelmed "easy" courses with loads of birdies, and he'll have his day at La Quinta on Friday to pad his score heading into the weekend. He is not a perfect fit for the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, but we know he can hold his own on tougher courses. If he plays well on Thursday at the Stadium he could be a good live bet with the easier courses on tap.

Will Zalatoris (+4600) - Zalatoris was on a roll this time last year and even led a few markets early in the season, but the story is quite different now. A couple of strong finishes in the fall have been undone but poor efforts in Nevada and Mexico, but the talent is there and at 46/1 we simply can't pass up the value on Zalatoris. For much of last season, he was among the very best ballstrikers on Tour, and his strong efforts on the Korn Ferry Tour should serve as an indicator of his ability to tear up easier courses. He was 21st in his first crack at the Dye-designed TPC Sawgrass last year, and if the irons get close to where they were this time last year he should be a good match for the Stadium Course as well.

Long Shots

Alexander Noren (+6500) - Noren had his best season since 2018 last year, racking up all three of his top 10s in the summer including at both Playoff events he played. He was 14th at the AmEx in 2020 and when at his best he held his own quite well at TPC Sawgrass. He is a long way from the halcyon days of a top 10 player in the world, but these days he does his best work when scoring conditions are friendly, and he'll get a couple of cracks at a strong start as one of the first pairs out on Thursday at La Quinta. It's been a while since he won of course, and we still like him in other markets like as the Top European Player (+1000) and for a Top 40 Finish (+115).

Cameron Champ (+10000) - Champ has four wins as a professional in 101 starts over the PGA and Korn Ferry Tour, with three of the wins coming on the big boy's circuit in the past four years. That type of a hit rate at a high variance event puts Champ near auto-bet territory at triple-digit odds. We know he's going to mash it off the tee, and if any other part of his game clicks in any given week he stands a great chance to contend. Like Noren, he gets the La Quinta birdie-fest first, and a strong start is key to Champ's success.

Francesco Molinari (+19000) - Molinari played his best golf of last season in California, with finishes of T8 at this event, T10 at the Farmers Insurance Open, T8 at the Genesis Invitational, and 13th at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Not long ago he was an unstoppable force, traveling with ease from tee box to middle of the fairway to 10 feet from the cup. That was never meant to last, but 190/1 is too good not to add to our card knowing what Molinari is capable of. If there's a wave course/time advantage, Molinari ties nicely with Noren and is in the group right behind him teeing off La Quinta's 10th hole.