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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Sony Open prop bets: Why Kevin Na is the man to back in Hawaii

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Across the bay this week to Waialae and, as always, the idea behind the prop bets column is to highlight some of the side bets available away from the win market, covered by colleague Matt Vincenzi. 

Here are the three players for you to take a look at this week on some side markets in Hawaii.

Kevin Na Top 5/Top 10 +550/+275

It was extremely tempting to get with Marc Leishman, but his price has now disappeared and Kevin Na rates better value to nab a place on the front page of the leaderboard.

Both played well last week with world number 27, Na, continuing a season of excellent results that started when winning here last year and concluding with his fifth win in four years at the season-ending Tour Championship.

That win from a high-class field came via a top-15 at Augusta, and a pair of tied-second placings at the John Deere and, more significantly, at Sedgefield amongst a top-10 that included winner Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson and Russell Henley, two of those being past winners at this event.

Looking down the list of best finishes, the 38-year-old repeats form at the same places, winning twice at the Shriners and medalling at the FBR (Pheonix) Open, no surprises given the skill set required – forget driving distance, get it on the fairway, and give yourself a chance.

Figures at the Plantation course read well given the length of the track, and he comes here having improved his 2021 finish by 25 places.

With a victory and three top-10 finishes at Waialae already in the bag, he can go very close to joining Ernie Els and Jimmy Walker as two-time winners.

Aaron Rai Top 10/Top 20 +700/+330

It’s nearly five years since the 26-year-old took the Challenge Tour apart with three victories before the middle of Summer and he hasn’t stopped since, justifying his lofty reputation.

Like many of the more tactical players in the game (Simpson, Kisner, Na et al. ) Rai is far more a thinker than a bomber, his win in the horrendous conditions of the Scottish Open a testament to the patience and game-play he shows from week to week.

Whilst he, perhaps, should have won the Irish Open the week before, he succumbed only to another accurate short game wizard in John Catlin before ending the year high in the lists of everything that involves accuracy over strength.

It’s taken a short while for Rai to settle on the PGA tour via a runner-up on the Korn Ferry tour and the finals, but results at the end of 2021 suggest if he gets the right conditions, he can compete in this grade.

Three consecutive top-20 finishes read well – at Mayakoba (where four players have won there and at this week’s track), Houston and at the RSM Classic, the Sea Island track giving form links with Kisner and Simpson again as well as Charles Howell III, winner at the coastal track and with ten top-10 finishes here.

Rai is tidy off the tee, rarely ranking outside of the top-20 for accuracy, thinks hard when calculating his approach shots, and this is almost a perfect course for him. As discussed on the Across The Pond podcast, it’s doubtful that he will hole enough to get to the winning number, but he is young and ambitious enough to continue to improve, and any repeat of results over the last couple of months of last season will see him land the wager.

Aaron Rai to be Top English player +120

I make the case for Rai above, and surely anything near his better play will be enough to see off David Skinns, Callum Tarren and Luke Donald at a generous odds-against.

As with Leishman last week, it is not only the strength of one but the weakness of the opposition that makes a valid play, and I see no reason or how there is any evidence to support any of the other three combatants.

Consider that 44-year-old Donald has seen much better days, with just a couple of top-10 finishes in four years and little to speak of since a top-20 at the 3M Open. Het he looks the only real alternative given the zero encouragements from the remaining pair. That isn’t saying much.

Skinns is a PGA rookie at 39 years of age, lost strokes everywhere from tee-to-green in all four PGA starts at the end of last season, has never played here and simply can’t hold a candle to Rai’s standard level of form, whether that be top-15 at Wentworth or 26th at the WGC St Jude. Cross him out.

Tarren at least may have a semblance of improvement there but has failed to win anywhere as a professional.

Winless at a much lower level, he missed the cut at the KFT finals before starting his PGA career with three missed-cuts. In between those, the Englishman was disqualified at the Bermuda Championship for incorrectly signing his card at halfway, although he was almost certain to miss the weekend, anyway.

Odds against? Yummy. Bet of the week.

Brian Stuard – Top 10/Top 20/Top-40 +1000/+400/+150

A tad more speculative, take the 39-year-old to be ready enough to make a profit at one of his favourite courses.

Looking over his history, Stuard has appeared on the upper echelons of the leaderboard at Mayakoba, Sea Island, at Riviera and at the Pheonix Open. All courses that link to players that have placed at Waialae over the past few years.

In amongst a series of missed cuts in 2021, Stuard finished tied-6th at the 3M but more significantly, top-15 at Sedgefield and in the top-10 at the John Deere, surrounded by Kevin Na, Patton Kizzire and Russell Henley, all winners here at the Sony.

Returning at a course on which he has four top-10 finishes from nine starts, expect to prove better than his outright odds show. 

Finally, I won’t put the bet up as it is odds-on but with Abraham Ancer playing some of the worst golf of recent years at last week’s event, course specialist Russell Henley is well worth a look in a pick-em betting heat.

Finishing his season with a couple of top-7 finishes in a run of eight cuts made, he also boasts three top-20 finishes alongside the win here, a figure that far outstrips his opponent’s best of 29th and two missed-cuts in four tries.

Your choice, but I’d have made the older man a touch shorter in the market.

 

 

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  1. Slow Na

    Jan 18, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    Well that didn’t end well

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 American Express: Best DFS plays from each price range

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The PGA Tour heads out west to California for the 2022 American Express.

The tournament is usually a Pro-Am played at three different courses: PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course, and La Quinta Country Club. Last year, with the Pro-Am being dropped, the round at La Quinta Country Club was also. This year the event will be played at all three courses once again.

Therefore, each golfer will play two rounds at PGA West Stadium Course, one round at PGA West Nicklaus Course, and one round at La Quinta Country Club. The Stadium Course is a 7,113-yard par 72 that was designed by Pete Dye in 1986. The Nicklaus Course is a Par 72 measuring 7,159 yards. La Quinta Country Club is a par 72 measuring 7,060 yards. All of the courses are short for a Par 72 and typically play easy, resulting in some low winning scores.

The 2022 American Express field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. Some notable entrants to the event include Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Phil Mickelson, Matthew Wolff, Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, and Tony Finau.

10,000+

Jon Rahm $11,300

There is no doubt that Rahm will be incredibly popular in DFS this week, and for good reason. While most weeks I advise pivoting off of the most popular golfer on the slate, this week, I believe the correct move is starting your lineups with him.

The floor for Rahm is incredibly high this week. As we saw at the Sentry Tournament of Champions when he was playing off of a three and a half month layoff, he doesn’t need his “A” game to be better than the rest of the field. Rahm is simply the best player in the world, and it isn’t particularly close. He now comes to an event which he has been excellent at, winning in 2018 and finishing in sixth in 2019.

It will be incredibly difficult for anyone to take down “Rahmbo” this week.

9,000+

Abraham Ancer $9,200:

Another golfer with fantastic course history at PGA West is Abraham Ancer. The Mexican star finished 2nd in 2020 and 5th in 2021. Coming off of a down week where he was popular at the Sony Open, there may be a slight ownership on him, although he will still be fairly popular.

Desert golf has been kind to Ancer and I expect that to continue to be the case this week. Despite missing the cut last week, he managed to gain 1.0 strokes on the field on approach, so I don’t find the tough week for him to be incredibly concerning. It feels like a bounce-back spot for the 30-year-old.

8,000+

Justin Rose $8,600:

Rose seems intent on being committed to the PGA Tour this season, and playing in The American Express this week (an event he rarely plays) is proof of that. At the Hero World Challenge, Rose finished in a tie for 9th and ended the week hot and fired -6 on Sunday.

Sitting at 47th in the Official World Golf Rankings, “Rosie” is highly motivated and should begin his 2022 season with a chip on his shoulder. Although he hasn’t played at PGA West much, he does have some recent success at Pebble Beach, another shorter West Coast track where he contended for the U.S. Open in 2019. The Englishman has the ability to get hot with the putter on Bermudagrass, which is what we’ve seen many winners of this event do in the past.

7,000+

Michael Thompson $7,500:

Michael Thompson was one of the most impressive golfers at last week’s Sony Open. The 36-year-old gained 6.5 strokes on approach, was third good for third-best in the field. He struggled a bit off the tee, but that shouldn’t be much of a detriment at The American Express, with the rough not being overly penal on any of the three courses.

In addition to his performance last week, Thompson also has shown he likes playing at PGA West. Last year, he finished in 5th place and also finished 9th at the event in 2019. Early in the season, journeyman golfers who get hot tend to stay hot for a stretch, and Thompson has been a streaky player throughout his career. 

6,000+

James Hahn $6,400:

Despite some up and down form in 2021, I believe James Hahn has some win equity relative to his odds heading into 2022. With two Tour wins on his resume, he has shown he is capable of getting it done on a week where he finds himself in contention.

The 40-year-old has played some of the best golf of his career on desert tracks on the west coast. He has a 4th place at PGA West back in 2013, but it’s his recent performances on corollary courses that make him stand out this week. Hahn has a 5th place finish at the Shriners in 2020, and a 10th place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last season. The South Korean always plays TPC Scottsdale well, and there has been some obvious carry over on leaderboards between that event and The American Express.

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Be the Number

Be the Number: 2022 American Express fantasy, betting, and preview

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Stats and strategy guru Spencer Aguiar (@teeoffsports) offers picks, predictions, DFS, GPP, draws, fades, bets, and more!

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The American Express: Outright betting selections

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The PGA Tour heads out west to California for the 2022 American Express.

The tournament is usually a Pro-Am played at three different courses: PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course, and La Quinta Country Club. Last year, with the Pro-Am being dropped, the round at La Quinta Country Club was also. This year the event will be played at all three courses once again.

Therefore, each golfer will play two rounds at PGA West Stadium Course, one round at PGA West Nicklaus Course, and one round at La Quinta Country Club. The Stadium Course is a 7,113-yard par 72 that was designed by Pete Dye in 1986. The Nicklaus Course is a Par 72 measuring 7,159 yards. La Quinta Country Club is a par 72 measuring 7,060 yards. All of the courses are short for a Par 72 and typically play easy, resulting in some low winning scores.

The 2022 American Express field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. Some notable entrants to the event include Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Phil Mickelson, Matthew Wolff, Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, and Tony Finau.

Outright Betting Selections

With Rahm and Cantlay at the top this week, who both have a very strong chance to win, it will be wise to limit exposure and see if we can get a long shot in the mix.

Justin Rose +5500 (DraftKings)

I am incredibly bullish on Justin Rose overall for the 2022 season. At 41 years old, he should still have a few seasons left where he can play at a high caliber level before moving to the next stage in his career.

Rose seems intent on being committed to the PGA Tour this season and playing in The American Express this week (an event he rarely plays) is proof of that. At the Hero World Challenge, Rose finished in a tie for 9th and ended the week hot and fired -6 on Sunday.

Sitting at 47th in the Official World Golf Rankings, “Rosie” is highly motivated and should begin his 2022 season with a chip on his shoulder. Although he hasn’t played at PGA West much, he does have some recent success at Pebble Beach, another shorter West Coast track where he contended for the U.S. Open in 2019. The Englishman has the ability to get hot with the putter on Bermudagrass, which is what we’ve seen many winners of this event do in the past.

In a week where it will be tough to beat the two superstars at the top (Rahm and Cantlay), there is a lot of value on starting a betting card at a great price on Justin Rose.

Michael Thompson +9000 (DraftKings)

Michael Thompson was one of the most impressive golfers at last week’s Sony Open. The 36-year-old gained 6.5 strokes on approach, was third good for third-best in the field. He struggled a bit off the tee, but that shouldn’t be much of a detriment at The American Express, with the rough not being overly penal on any of the three courses.

In addition to his performance last week, Thompson also has shown he likes playing at PGA West. Last year, he finished in 5th place and also finished 9th at the event in 2019. Early in the season, journeyman golfers who get hot tend to stay hot for a stretch, and Thompson has been a streaky player throughout his career. At close to triple-digit odds, it makes sense to see if he can roll the momentum into another strong performance this week.

Phil Mickelson +10000 (DraftKings)

I still am of the belief that despite being 51 years old, Phil Mickelson is still capable of winning on the PGA Tour in certain spots. PGA West is one of those spots.

In 2019, “Lefty” finished in 2nd place at The American Express, despite losing 2.0 strokes the field putting, which is uncharacteristic. He also has a 3rd place finish in 2016, with some other solid finishes sprinkled throughout his career. The veteran lives close to the course and has always played some excellent golf in the area. There also might be something to be said for his affinity to socializing during the pro-am. Two weeks after his second-place finish here in 2019, Mickelson won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Lucas Glover +13000 (DraftKings)

Lucas Glover put in an excellent performance last week at the Sony Open, finishing in 5th place. Glover gained 9.5 strokes on approach, which led the field by a large margin. At a course where approach play will be a major factor with smaller than Tour average greens, it should be a nice fit for his hot irons.

Glover’s course history at PGA West is a bit up and down, but he may be in a bit of a career resurgence have just won the John Deere Classic in July after a ten-year winless streak (2011 Wells Fargo Championship).

It’s rare that you can bet a golfer who led the field in approach the previous week at well over 100-1 on the odds board. If he can find a way to putt to field average, he has a great chance to contend for the second consecutive week.

James Hahn +25000 (DraftKings)

Despite some up and down form in 2021, I believe James Hahn has some win equity relative to his odds heading into 2022. With two Tour wins on his resume, he has shown he is capable of getting it done on a week where he finds himself in contention.

The 40-year-old has played some of the best golf of his career on desert tracks on the west coast. He has a 4th place at PGA West back in 2013, but it’s his recent performances on corollary courses that make him stand out this week. Hahn has a 5th place finish at the Shriners in 2020, and a 10th place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last season. The South Korean always plays TPC Scottsdale well, and there has been some obvious carry over on leaderboards between that event and The American Express.

Hahn is a volatile golfer, but as win only bet on a course where longshots have historically come through quite often he is worth a shot.

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