The American Express: Molinari, Finau and Casey to contest title

Fresh from tipping Graeme McDowell to do well at last week's Sony Open, David Kristiansen is back to cast his eye over the field for the American Express, which takes place at La Quinta at the weekend...
David Kristiansen  |  14th January 2020

The 61st annual The American Express golf tournament, featuring many of the top PGA Tour stars, returns to the desert at three Coachella Valley courses – La Quinta Country Club, the Stadium Course at PGA West and the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West.

Adam Long returns to defend his 2019 title, and will be joined in the field by top stars such as World Golf Hall of Famer and two-time American Express winner Phil Mickelson, who is serving as the tournament’s host.

Among others in the field: Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, Tony Finau, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink. Past winners of the American Express in the field this year include two-time winner Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman, Pat Perez, Brian Gay, Mark Wilson. D.J. Trahan and Hudson Swafford.

Sony Open Recap

One of my personal favourites got it done in Hawaii when Cameron Smith beat Brendan Steele in a playoff to secure his first individual PGA Tour victory (He won the team event at The Zurich Classic with Jonas Blixt in 2017).

The sympathetic Australian took advantage of Steele`s mishaps down the stretch to complete the comeback after having started Sunday three shots back.

Kuchar (MC) and Niemann (T57) disappointed, but Graeme McDowell delivered a stellar Sunday 64 to get us almost a full each-way place and as he was 126.00, we saw a nice profit from last week’s bets.

Season overview:

Wagered: 65 units
Won: 85.91 units
Result: +20.91 units

American Express 2020 Preview

Course/Field

Course: Stadium Course at PGA West
Length: 7200 yards (Par 72)
Greens: Bermuda
Opened: 1986
Architect: Pete Dye

The tournament formerly known as the Desert Classic is back in La Quinta California but as the tournament name suggests with a new main sponsor.

This is a pro-am with the cut not being implemented until after Saturday’s round so expect long and grueling 5+ hour rounds all week as the tournament is being played on three different courses with the Stadium Course at PGA West being played twice, including the final round.

This tournament is usually one of the easiest on tour with a winning score between 25-30 under par so making birdies in bunches is a must.

All three courses are par 72 with four par 5s so Par 5 scoring will also be something I will be looking at as, in the last decade, it has produced winners like Jason Dufner, Bill Haas (twice) and Brian Gay, so length doesn’t seem to be a necessity around here.

All in all, this is a second-shot golf course and as with all birdie fests having a hot putting week is essential.

Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:

  • Par 5 scoring
  • Birdies or better gained
  • Bermuda putting
  • Strokes gained approach
  • Proximity 150-175 yards

The Picks

Matthew Wolff  at 34.00* (1.5 pts EW)

The 20-year-old secured his first tour win in just his third start as a pro and therefore kicked off his season two weeks ago at the Tournament of Champions where he delivered a solid season opener with a T-11.

Being some of the shorter tracks the long hitter should be able to club down and find a lot of fairways.

Over his last 45 rounds he ranks 2nd in the field in birdie opportunities so if his putter gets hot (he is a good Bermuda putter) he absolutely could get his second win in his home state.

Vaughn Taylor at 46.00* (1 pt EW)

The journeyman is in the midst of a late-career renascence, last season he had the most top 10 finishes (4) he’s had on tour since 2010 and he has already secured two top 10s in seven starts this season.

His stats over the last 50 rounds is of the chart ranking in the top 20 in approach, birdies or better gained, opportunities gained and in both the 75-100- and 150-175-yard range.

Add that he has three top 10 finishes at this course over the past decade including a T-7 last year and I think he has a real shot of getting his first tour win since 2016.

Ted Potter Jr at 251.00* (0.25 pts EW)

As you would expect with a 251.00* shot, everything doesn’t line up perfectly for the husky Floridian, but enough factors sway in his direction to make this a profitable bet in my opinion.

He has actually won a pro-am event when he went head to head with none other than Dustin Johnson and came out victorious at Pebble Beach two years ago.

He comes here in good form after a T-7 last week where he gained all his strokes in the most important categories this week approach (4,5 shots) and Bermuda putting (4,6 shots).

How to Watch

The American Express
January 15-19, 2020
PGA West, La Quinta, CA
Live on Sky Sports

 

*Odds subject to change

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