The best prop bets for The American Express
Two weeks in Hawaii for some of the world’s top golfers has come to an end, and for the first time in 2022 we are back on the mainland and, specifically, in La Quinta, California.
The American Express is a Pro-Am staged over three different courses, which can make it a difficult betting proposition for those that like to follow course trends. However, what we do know is this is an absolute birdie fest.
With amateurs in the mix (like wrestling legend Goldberg in 2002!), the setups for each course are deliberately easier than you’d usually see on the PGA Tour, and so the best players usually make hay. The rough is minimal and the greens are fair, meaning we can expect plenty of low scores across the weekend.
The winner is going to be whoever can hole the most putts over the four days, so when picking the props, I want someone with good recent form and even better par 4 scoring.
The PGA West Stadium Course is the hardest of the three and will be played twice this week. It’s designed by Pete Dye, so anyone with good form on his other courses may also hold an advantage.
The American Express 2022
Mon, January 24 2022, 12:00 AM
I put up Seamus Power in this column last week as Top European Player (+300), and the Irishman duly obliged, as he finished in a tie for third, two shots clear of any other European. While I’m not confident in backing him in the same prop this week against Jon Rahm, it’s well worth taking the +150 on him finishing in the top 20.
The Waterford man finished fourth in the RSM Classic in his last start of 2021 and then opened this year with a top-15 finish in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, before last week’s third. That’s some red-hot form that he is taking into an event this week, which he has performed well at in the past.
He was 21st on debut here in 2017, and then built on that to finish 11th in 2018. He missed the cut in 2019, but that can be forgiven a touch, as he was in hopeless form (this event fell in the middle of seven missed cuts in a row for Power).
His form is far stronger currently, and he ranks 13th on Tour in par 4 scoring average. Last week, he opened the Sony Open with a round of 63 — the lowest round of his season — and if he maintains that form here, he should be bang in the mix for another top-20 finish.
Like Power, Talor Gooch comes into this event with some good early 2022 form, and he looks a solid bet to beat Matthew Wolff this week. We haven’t seen Wolff swing a club since November 14, and although that came in the Houston Open, when he posted his fourth top-20 finish in a row, the concern is he will need this event to blow off some of the cobwebs.
We did it!! Nothing will ever compare to winning my 1st @PGATOUR 🏆 with my wife and daughter right there with me @TheRSMClassic. See you in Maui!! @callawaygolf @titleist @easypost @janikingtowel @LevelwearGolf @LEOCyberSec @FliteGolf @EmpireSportsSC #wilsoncadillac pic.twitter.com/Tb1Fd7dfNR— Talor Gooch (@TalorGooch) November 22, 2021
Gooch, on the other hand, is in fine form, having finished 15th at the Tournament of Champions and 27th last week in the Sony Open. He missed a straightforward birdie opportunity on a par 5 last week, which would’ve given him a top-20 finish, but he’s shown enough form to think he should perform well again.
In his last three events here, he has finished fourth, 17th, and 21st, so he clearly has a liking for the course. His putting average holds up for this birdie fest (he ranks 27th on Tour this season), and he finished fifth at TPC Sawgrass last year in The Players Championship at another Pete Dye-designed course.
Kim is an exceptionally talented, but equally frustrating golfer for bettors, because it’s so hard to know when he’s going to come good. After winning The American Express in January last year, his results were: missed cut, 50th, missed cut, missed cut, withdrew (after shooting 80), and then he finished in the top 10 in The Players Championship before going another three months without a top-10 finish.
What we can draw from that is Kim would appear to excel on very particular courses. His top 10 in The Players Championship came at TPC Sawgrass, where he won the event in 2017. He also has three top-five finishes at Sedgefield since winning the Wyndham Championship there in 2017.
He has a top-10 finish here in 2019, so hopefully this is another tournament that suits his strengths and helps me overlook his 55th-place finish last week.
While Kim has been inconsistent, the Korean has shown flashes of form, with six top-30 finishes in his last 10 events, going back to his runner-up effort in the Wyndham last August. In 2022, he recovered from a poor opening round of 71 to finish in the top 25 at the Tournament of Champions, before last week’s disappointing effort in Hawaii.
Hopefully a return to La Quinta is all Kim needs to rediscover his touch.
Regular readers of my golf pieces will know how much I buy into the Diaper Dimension, so it should be no surprise that I’m looking at a good week for Rickie Fowler, who became a dad for the first time at the end of November. After what is undoubtedly a busy, but magical first Christmas in the Fowler household, Rickie is back and well worth a punt for fellow believers in the theory.
Fowler is trying to get his career back on track after falling to 85th in the world, after having been top 10 in 2018. His last win came in 2019 at the Phoenix Open, but he put in his best performance in some time last October, when he finished third in the CJ Cup.
Well it wasn’t the Sunday we wanted but it sure felt good to be back in the mix! A big thank you to the CJ Cup for a great week and the Summit Club for hosting! Congrats to @McIlroyRory on #20…impressive stuff! Looking forward to doing it again! pic.twitter.com/8Y38i2sdl1— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowler) October 19, 2021
Those two facts in themselves are a good pointer to Fowler’s abilities in desert conditions. He’s won the Phoenix Open, won the 2016 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and has three top-10 finishes in the Houston Open in Texas.
Some of his best finishes last year were third in the CJ Cup (Summit Club, Nevada), 11th in the Memorial (Muirfield Village, Ohio), and 17th in the Texas Open (San Antonio). In another tough year for Fowler to see three top-20 finishes in desert courses is a big plus.