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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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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Charles Schwab Challenge: Best Outright Bets

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After an exciting 2022 PGA Championship, the PGA Tour heads back to Texas to play the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Colonial Country Club is a 7,209-yard par 70 and features Bentgrass greens.  The difficulty of the event this week could be influenced by course setup or wind. It can play relatively easy or relatively difficult depending on pin locations and firmness of the greens, but the last three seasons have all produced winners with scores between -13 and -15.

The Charles Schwab Challenge is an invitational that will host 121 golfers this week, and the field is very strong considering despite it being the week after a major championship. Some notable golfers in the field include Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Abraham Ancer, Will Zalatoris, Sam Burns, and Tony Finau.

2022 Charles Schwab Outright Bets

Jordan Spieth (+1500) (FanDuel):

Spieth was my headline bet at the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago, and although he didn’t get it done in the end, he did nothing to dissuade me from believing that a Texas win is imminent.

Course history has proven to be extremely important at Colonial, and there is no one better at the course (or even close) than Spieth. In his past six trips to Fort Worth, he has six Top-10 finishes, including a win and three runners-up. His form overall in the state of Texas is nothing short of immaculate.

Spieth’s performance at the PGA Championship wasn’t his best showing, but statistically, he continued his strong ball striking. He gained 8.6 strokes from tee to green, including a solid 4.7 strokes on approach.

He’s still struggling on the greens, as he lost 3.2 strokes on the field with the putter.

In his past four starts at Colonial Country Club, Spieth has gained 7.1 (2021), 8.6 (2020) and 7.5 (2019). If there were ever a place that the 28-year-old can find his putting stroke, it’s here.

Daniel Berger (+3500) (Bet365):

Berger is as predictable as it gets in regard to which courses fit his skill set. Shorter, Par-70 tracks — where accuracy is at a premium — have always suited the 29-year-old. He’s a fantastic iron player, but tends to struggle on long and difficult courses, which is why it’s no surprise that he didn’t do well in last week’s PGA Championship.

Colonial Country Club is an excellent fit for Berger’s game. The small greens give him an advantage over the field due to his accuracy on approach. He edged out Collin Morikawa — who also is one of the most accurate iron players on TOUR — here in a playoff in 2020.

Despite his poor showing last week, he still ranks in the top-10 in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Last week’s statistics may be a bit unfair, as well, as Berger was caught in the difficult AM/PM draw.

It’s certainly arguable whether or not Berger is in the best of form right now, but it feels as though we are getting a discounted price this week, making it worth the risk.

Webb Simpson +4000 (DraftKings):

It’s been a rough year for Simpson. Last week’s 20th-place finish at the PGA Championship was his first Top-20 finish of 2022. He’s missed plenty of events due to injury, but the six starts he had between Top-20 finishes was one of the longest stretches of poor form of his career.

Despite the brutal season, there seems to be some reason for optimism. Simpson gained strokes off the tee, on approach, around the green and putting at Southern Hills. That was the first time the 36-year-old has gained strokes in all four of those categories in an event since February of 2021.

Webb is also a strong course fit for Colonial, and has two Top-5 finishes here in his past four trips.

It was encouraging to see Simpson turn in such a well-rounded performance on a course that would typically be difficult for him due to its length. The fact that he hung around all week tells me he’s finally starting to round into form. His strong play could he attributed to his recent iron switch. He gained 2.6 strokes on approach, which is his best performance of the season thus far. When speaking about the switch, Webb made some encouraging comments.

“ I haven’t been hitting my irons great. Approach to the green is typically a strength for me; this year it’s been a weakness, and I’ve struggled out of the rough. I keep getting told that these the irons I’m playing are better out of the rough, better with distance control, better with mis-hits, and so I guess I was being stubborn but finally listened and I really like them.”

If he’s back, this is a small price to pay for the win equity the seven-time PGA TOUR winner possesses.

Justin Rose +6600 (bet365):

Rose came out of nowhere last week to finish in 13th place at the PGA Championship.

The timing of his game starting to come around couldn’t be at a better spot in the schedule, as Colonial is a course that “Rosie” has been sensational at throughout his career. The Englishman won the event in 2018 and finished in 3rd in 2020.

Rose’s statistics were perhaps even more impressive than his result last week. He gained over five strokes on approach at Southern Hills, which is something he’s done only one other time since August of 2020.

He also gained 4.2 strokes putting and is one of the best Bentgrass putters in the field.

His combination of strong iron play and putting make Colonial an ideal fit.

I believe Rose has another PGA TOUR win in him, and this event is one of the most likely spots for him to get it done.

C.T. Pan +10000 (Bet365):

Before withdrawing from the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago with an illness, C.T. Pan was playing some great golf. He’s gained strokes on approach in his past seven starts and has gained strokes from tee to green in his past eight starts.

The bronze medalist can’t contend on every course on TOUR, but he’s one of the better players if the course is short enough. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 13th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on par 70s that are under 7,200 yards.

Pan finished in 3rd place here in 2019 and was the only player in the Top 5 to shoot all four rounds in the 60s (68-67-68-69). His recent run of consistency paired with his quintessential course fit make him an ideal triple-digit target this week.

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Opinion & Analysis

Charles Schwab Challenge and Dutch Open: Best prop bets

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Once again, this column leaves the outright betting to Matt Vincenzi and concentrates on the best of the rest – the side bets.

Most bookmakers offer prices for the PGA and DP World tours for finishing positions and that is, once again, where we are headed this week.

Here’s five of the best….

Kevin Na – Top-20 +180 (FD)    

Up against a quote of just +130 from DK, one oddsmaker must be wrong and I reckon it’s the bigger quote that is out of line.

It was a close pick between previous Colonial winners Kokrak and Na, and whilst they both appear in relevant Greenbrier form, I just get the impression that Na is the player more on the up after a solid effort at Southern Hills, another track designed by Perry Maxwell.

The 38-year-old turns up at the same classic courses (he can’t compete with the length at the 7600-yard tracks) and wins here and at The Old White, alongside top finishes at Muirfield, Riviera and Copperhead all give reason to be ‘on’ should he arrive at a favoured track in any sort of form.

The best of his four weekends in a row includes a 14th place finish at The Masters whilst 26th at Harbour Town point again to his liking of trickier, wind-affected, tree-lines courses.

Unusually, Na missed the Byron Nelson, an event he does well at, but did well to finish in the top-25 in last week’s major given he was never really on top of his game.

In 14 starts at Colonial, the 2019 winner also has four top-10s, a pair of top-20 finishes and only two missed cuts and again overcame a poor driving performance in 2021, to rank top-10 in all other stats on his way to a place just outside a top-30.

Na shouldn’t have to worry too much about bombing it this week, and his tidy game and excellent recent approach stats should see him land the top-20.

Sebastian Munoz – Top-20 +200 (DK)

29-year-old Columbian Munoz is an obvious play for this type of market, having finished third here last season, and filling the same place at the Byron Nelson and Greenbrier Classic.

Not only does he bring in correlative form, but he is sneakily making his way inside the top-50 in the rankings, having been outside of the top-100 in 2019 and 66th at the start of the year.

Despite his claims in the book, his form is actually a tad better than the final figures suggest having led at Craig Ranch for three rounds, been top-3 throughout the RSM led into Sunday at the John Deere and been always prominent here in 2021.

Munoz hasn’t missed a cut in his last eight 72-hole events, efforts that include five top-30 finishes, many in events with an overall deeper field.

Over the last three months, the 54th best player in the world according to the OWGR, ranks 23rd for total driving, 9th for ball-striking, 10th for greens-in-reg and 15th for par-four performance, a huge factor in all the last five runnings of the event.

Nate Lashley – Top-20/Top-40 +600/+200 (DK)

Shock winner of the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, Lashley, is never the most obvious pick in any market, but that allows us to nab a better price than he should be.

Another player that simply cannot compete on the longer courses, over the last three months he ranks 130th for distance off the tee but just outside the top-50 for accuracy, paving the way for solid approach shots and green-finding (2nd in GIR).

Impressively, the 39-year-old ranks tied-second for par-four performance over the same period, tied with Jordan Spieth and Brandon Wu and just behind the recent PGA champion, Justin Thomas.

Form wise, the pick of the season’s form is a 7th at Puerto Rico, 15th at Corales, 11th in Mexico and more significantly a pair of top-20 finishes in Texas – 18th at the Valero and a last time effort of 17th at the Byron Nelson, when a final round 64 lept his name up the board.

At the sole victory in Detroit, Lashley beat Rory Sabbatini, a player with significant form here, whilst he can also boast career finishes of tied-third at the Pheonix and Greenbrier and a top-20 in Houston, where many of the top-10 feature heavily in most Texas events.

It isn’t insignificant that Lashley’s best figures for approach and tee-to-green have been at recent events in the state, and he can add an eighth career  top-40 to his Texas record.

Marcus Armitage – Top-10/Top-20 +600/+290

The DP World Tour visits the Bernardus golf course for the second time in succession, but the Dutch Open is now a pale shadow of one of the classic European Tour events, the KLM.

Still, there are profits to make and with a very open field, backing one of the best iron players on the tour will often reap rewards.

34-year-old Armitage took a long time to win his first European Tour event, some five years after his sole Challenge Tour win, but with 10 top-10 finishes and the same amount of top-20s in his last 56 starts, this is a chance for him to add yet another single-digit number to his record.

Armitage has missed just one cut in his last nine starts since a second-round 79 ruined an opening 70 in Abu Dhabi, and in that period alone has finished in the top-20 on five occasions, the highlight being a top-5 in Qatar.

A bit of a bomber off the tee, he should be able to club down enough to keep his accuracy, before building on that with the regular iron play that has seen him rank 16th for greens-in-reg over the last six months. Indeed, since March, he has tee-to-green figures of 23/1/9/7/25 and similar stats for his iron play.

This is his level, and he looks terrific value for both bets.

Richie Ramsay – Top-10/Top-20 +700/+320

It’s been a long time since Ramsay was ranked inside the top-100, but there have been enough signs recently to be with him on a track that has enough links-like quality for him to thrive.

In nine events this season, the Scot has three welcome top-30 finishes, but crucially his most recent outings have resulted in a tied-third at The Belfry and top-15 last time in Belgium.

Sadly, the effort at the British Masters has a tale.

After leading a ‘home’ event for most of the final round, Ramsay hit a poor second shot to the water at the front of the green, ultimately recording a six, and a two-shot loss.

As covered in an interview with The Scotsman, that hurt an awful lot and it is to his credit that he recovered to finish well inside the top-20 at the Soudal Open, after his opening two rounds left him in 53rd at the cut.

Ramsay’s method is to play a game of accuracy over brute power and there may be significance in the record of courses at which he plays well.

Shock 2021 winner Kristoffer Broberg, had past form at the Dunhill Links (T9), Crans (T10) and at Le Golf Nationale (T12 twice and t16) and Ramsay can at least match that with a win at Crans, two high finishes at the Links and top-five placings in France.

That may be something and nothing, and whilst the former US Amateur champion admits he is coming to the twilight of his career, finding fairways consistently will always give him a chance. Third for driving accuracy and first and sixth for greens over the last two events certainly gives hope that perhaps his last win is not behind him. Either way, he can certainly take his place in the higher echelons of this field.

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TG2: Shooting Tiger Woods’ Clubs with Greg Moore, legendary GolfWRX PGA Tour photographer

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Greg Moore is the man who provides you with all the WITB photos from the PGA Tour on GolfWRX. He shares some stories about handling Tiger’s clubs and his relationship with Joe LaCava. He lets us in on who is the hardest to photograph and shooting prototype gear on Tour.

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