American Express Golf Betting Tips
Rob Cobley’s World Tour Championship Betting Tips
The American Express is a newly-named, but a long-established event held in the Californian Desert. It was previously known as the Bob Hope Classic (played over 90 holes) and more recently as the Humana Challenge. Until this year, the event was played across three courses (similar to the Pebble Beach Pro-AM). However, this year it is only two, with La Quinta dropping off the rotation. The event is known for its low scoring and eventful, tight, finishes. Each of the courses provides a slightly different challenge, but all are suitable low scoring venues, and the winning score is typically around 25 under par. The courses are in the desert around Palm Springs; two hours drive east from Los Angeles.
PGA West Stadium Course - 7,200 Yards, Par 72
The PGA West is the toughest of the three courses in the rotation and typically plays 2.2 shots more than La Quinta and the Tournament Course. Designed by Pete Dye, the architect of many of the more quirky and challenging courses on the Tour, such as TPC Sawgrass and Kiawah Island, the Stadium Course has extensive bunkering water in play on nine holes. These predominantly protect the approach shots, although the colossal lake that runs the length of the left side of the par five 18th hole is as iconic as it is treacherous. There is more difficulty from the tee than the other venues, with man-made mounds and bunkers at landing distance, meaning that the players have to put more thought into their long game and cannot just unload drives as they can at the other two, shorter, courses. The approach shots are tricky. As well as the bunkering, there are water and run-off areas to contend with, and mistakes here, though not easy to come by, are punished. There are four reachable par fives, and par five scorings is a massive driver to success at this venue. The Stadium Course is played three times by each player and all remaining players compete here at the weekend.
PGA West Tournament Course - 7,160 Yards, Par 72
Over the first two days of the event, each player will have one round on the Tournament Course. Designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1987 (and formerly referred to as The Nicklaus Course), this is another easy resort course where the players just need to hit it long, and effectively hope that they get lucky on the greens. The tee shots here are as comfortable as at last year's venue, La Quinta, with little to no effort required, and even the worst drivers of the ball can pull the big dog without fear of repercussions. The approach shots become a little more challenging with the ryegrass around the greens, making some harder into the grain chip shots. Overall though, this is another course where anyone playing well, and hot with the putter, should, and will, go low.
Last Five Winners
The Market Leaders
In what is always a highly competitive and open event, the betting has no stand out favourites this week, with American Patrick Cantlay (12/1) leading the way. Cantlay is undoubtedly the biggest name in the field, and the market has to settle somewhere, so that is understandable. Still, the American Express is a graveyard of favourites, and it's hard to support Patrick, who has only made the cut once here. That was admittedly a strong showing when he finished 9th back in 2019, but there is a fair argument to say that his game is too good for this event. With the winner averaging 28 birdies over the four days traditionally (that is seven per day), this often turns into a putting contest. Cantlay can hold his own in that department for sure, but his long game talents are primarily wasted here, and his price doesn't do enough to reflect this for me.
Patrick Reed (14/1) won here in 2014. It was memorable for me as a 150/1 winner, but he has done little to follow up that strong showing in subsequent visits, with more missed cuts than top 10s. Reed began this year with a 21st at Kapalua, and there is enough to suggest that he could go well here. He putts exceptionally well, and the whole place suits his game. I just don't feel there is enough value in the price.
Brooks Koepka (16/1) and Scottie Scheffler (16/1) have enjoyed contrasting fortunes over the last year. Brooks has struggled for form, but did close out the year with consecutive top 10s, including Augusta. He makes his first-ever appearance here; perhaps a sign of the fact that he is still searching to find his best game. He is another who could go well, but his strengths aren't suited to here. I will be leaving him. Scheffler looks the better bet as he continues to improve his remarkably consistent game. He was third here last season and had top 25 finishes in his previous five events. Putting is very much Scottie's leading strength, and if he has a good week on the greens, he looks the value at the top of the market to me.
Rob’s Golf Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
Charley Hoffman is quite the enigma; most known amongst the betting fraternity as the best first-round leader bet going (he led or joint lead three years running after the opening round at The Masters). However, he is also a player who is incredibly suited to playing golf in this beautiful part of Palm Springs. Between 2014-2016, Hoffman posted three consecutive top 10s in this event; culminating in a 2nd place, and there's a reason I believe this week he could go one better.
The removal of La Quinta makes this a slightly stricter test (I expect around two shots over the week), which will suit Charley who has a more complete game than most of the field. He hits fairways and greens for fun and will be helped by the absence of La Quinta's famed short par fives that would give some of the bombers an edge here. Added to that, Charley performed excellently last week at Waialae, where he finished 14th, but was well in contention going into the final round. He has been backed in places, but the price still seems like good value to me, and I have backed Charley with 2 points e/w at 70/1.
Wyndham Clark makes his third appearance at the American Express, having finished 18th in his first start before missing the cut here last year. Clark is still young at 27 and continues to improve rapidly. At the end of last season, he picked up a 2nd place at the Bermuda Championship, which was on the back of an impressive 13th amongst a strong field at the Shriners in early November. Clark now makes his first start of 2020 and does so at a course that suits him well. Wyndham is an explosive player, capable of matching anyone in the field for total birdies (9th in Tour in 2020). He occasionally makes errors, but he will find few more forgiving venues than PGA West to make them. In 2019, he shot just two under at La Quinta, or else he would have been right in contention, and possibly the winner on Sunday (had he been five shots better, which is not unfeasible). He would have been 2nd if just this week's courses were in play, and I’m encouraged to back him at this price. I have had 2 points e/w at 100/1.
Following a rolling profit of 300 points for the 2019 & 2020 seasons, I am looking for a great 2021, and have some great bets lined up for events throughout the year on both the PGA and European Tours. Each week I will pick between two to four selections at each event, and suggest a suitable staking plan.