- Full preview of the American Express PGA with The Golf Insider
- Four value picks from $34 to $67
The American Express PGA tournament is a regular on the schedule, despite more name changes than an FBI fugitive! This week we have a fascinating renewal with a host of players in with a chance of success.
Here’s a preview of the action in the Golden State…
PGA American Express: The Tournament
The event is probably better known as the Bob Hope Classic, then the Humana Challenge, and more recently the CareerBuilder Challenge… then the Desert Classic… and now The American Express! It’s been on the schedule since Arnold Palmer won the inaugural event in 1960. In a previous life it was also a five-round tournament, but since 2012 it has been reduced to the standard four rounds. It remains a pro-am though, with regular tour pros and celebrities of various stature making up the field. The first event on the “West Coast Swing”, it kick-starts a series of tournaments in and around California.
PGA American Express: The Course
The event is played over three courses. The Pete Dye-designed PGA West TPC Stadium Course (par 72, 7,300 yards) will be used twice this week: once in the opening three-day rotation, and then again for Sunday’s final 18 holes.
Also played once this week is the PGA West (Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course) which is laid out over 7,204 yards and is also a par 72.
And finally, the oldest of the three courses, La Quinta (par 72, 7,060 yards) which dates back to 1959. Each course has four par 5s, is conducive to low scoring, and features generous fairways and not-too-severe rough. The emphasis this week is very much on and around the greens. Putting will be the key in this expected birdie-fest.
260: Ryan Palmer (2014)
PGA American Express: Past Winners
2019: Adam Long
2018: Jon Rahm
2017: Hudson Swafford
2016: Jason Dufner
PGA American Express: Past Winners
There will be 156 golfers playing this week along with a number of famous names. Rickie Fowler is the $12 favourite with BetEasy.
PGA American Express: The Weather
The players won’t see a drop of rain all week. Cloud cover will be minimal and temperatures will sit in the mid-20s. And with wind speeds barely high enough to ruffle a pringle sweater, the players should enjoy perfect playing and scoring conditions.
PGA American Express: Outright Value Bets
Scottie Scheffler (currently $34 with BetEasy)
This event is wide open. Fowler always cuts an uncomfortable figure when market leader, and next in the list (Sungjae Im) is a definite winner-in-waiting, but still a maiden so it’s hard to justify his price as value. Casey also looks to be in the grips of the layers. As for Tony Finau… he’s no regular visitor to the winners circle. So the top of the market is tough to back with confidence or on the grounds of true value. Scheffler is a player I believe has a big future, and this week’s pro-am format might well suit this young, super-talented KFT graduate. With five Top 25s from seven starts this season Scheffler is playing well, and provided he doesn’t suffer too much from resting up over the holidays, this birdie-fest should suit him down to the ground. Excellent tee-to-green, if he can get his putter hot then Scheffler can make a big charge for a first PGA Tour win.
Brian Harman (currently $51 with BetEasy)
“Whilst this tournament will play to the strengths of the super-aggressive, it will also suit those guys who can play the courses efficiently, avoid what trouble there is, and quietly accumulate birdies. Harman is a neat and tidy player, excellent from tee-to-green and solid around the greens. He missed the cut here last year, but previous figures of 20-3-11 show that the Georgian (the state not the country!) likes both the format and the courses in use this week. Harman has started off the 2019-20 season in typical fashion making six cuts from seven starts with four Top 25s. He’s a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, so knows how to win, and with no really big names playing this week, it’s a great chance for Harman to add a third title. Well worth backing in my opinion.
Daniel Berger (currently $67 with BetEasy)
Berger comes out well on my algo this week, which puts him at nearer the 40/1 mark. Berger was 12th here last year on debut, and as another player who is right on it in terms of tee-to-green play, much will come down to his birdie conversion rate this week. He’s not been hugely busy over the past few months, but a steady effort in the Sony Open (38th) will have blown away a few of the cobwebs. Berger is another who will benefit this week from an absence of many of the tour’s more accomplished players, but when you look back through his record on tour (which only dates back to 2015, but includes two titles) Berger undoubtedly has the ability to compete with Top 10s in WGC events and Majors. This week’s tournament is there for the taking, and on the numbers Berger is value to challenge in conditions that should suit.
Kevin Na (currently $67 with BetEasy)
Possibly because he’s not “all-American”, Na doesn’t get the credit he deserves on the PGA Tour – or with many layers. But this four-time PGA Tour winner (including a title in each of the last three years) is much too big a price given his record. The last of these titles came as recently as October where back-to-back rounds of 62 and 61 helped him to land the Safeway Open. And with such scoring ability, form in these conditions and a previous third in this tournament (2016)… again, Na is much too big in the market. He failed to break par in the recent Tournament of Champions, but I’m not hugely concerned as he has no real form in Hawaii. This week will be much more to his liking and I think Na is a cracking piece of value and must be backed.
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