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Vincenzi’s American Express betting preview: Jason Day to continue to thrive on West Coast

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The PGA Tour heads to California this weekend to play the 2024 American Express.

The tournament is played at three different courses: PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club.

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 very low winning scores.

The 2024 American Express field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. The field is the strongest it’s been in recent memory, with some notable entrants to the event including Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Jason Day, Sam Burns, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Shane Lowry. Daniel Berger will also be making his return to the PGA Tour after being on medical leave since 2022. 

Past Winners at The American Express

  • 2023: Jon Rahm (-27)
  • 2022: Hudson Swafford (-23)
  • 2021: Si Woo Kim (-23)
  • 2020: Andrew Landry (-26)
  • 2019: Adam Long (-26)
  • 2018: Jon Rahm (-22)
  • 2017: Hudson Swafford (-20)
  • 2016: Jason Dufner (-25)
  • 2015: Bill Haas (-22)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for PGA West to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

The American Express is another tournament where distance off the tee is not going to be a major factor. With none of the three courses being long this week, strong iron players tend to do very well at PGA West.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+24.8)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+23.7)
  3. Sam Ryder (+22.4)
  4. Erik Van Rooyen (+20.5)
  5. Eric Cole (+19.4)

Opportunities Gained

All three courses this week are among the easiest on Tour. In order to win, golfers are going to have to go very low. Creating as many chances as possible to make birdies from 15 feet and in this week will be crucial.

Total Opportunities Gained in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+40.5)
  2. Chris Kirk (+22.7)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+22.5)
  4. Justin Thomas (+22.2)
  5. J.T. Poston (+22.0)

Proximity 150-175

Approach shots from 150-175 are the most common yardages year after year at The American Express. 24% of approach shots come from this range as opposed to the Tour average of 20.3%.

Proximity 150-175 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Akshay Bhatia (+14.9)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+11.7) 
  3. Sam Ryder (+11.5)
  4. Taylor Pendrith (+11.3)
  5. Mark Hubbard (+11.2)

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

With small greens, there are very few three-putts in this event. Golfers will need to ball strike their way to low scores with smaller greens than Tour average.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+41.4)
  2. Erik Van Rooyen (+31.1)
  3. Jhonnatan Vegas (+29.9)
  4. Patrick Cantlay (+29.5)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+28.0)

SG: Pete Dye 

With two of four rounds on the Pete Dye-designed PGA West, it will be important to target players who excel on Pete Dye tracks. Golfers with good history at these styles of course tend to pop up on leaderboards of Dye designs on a regular basis.

Total Strokes Gained: Pete Dye in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+52.5) 
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+47.0)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+41.4)
  4. Sungjae Im (+39.1)
  5. Justin Thomas (+38.4)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (27%); Opportunities Gained (22%); SG: Ball Striking (22%); Proximity 150-175 (12%); and SG: Pete Dye (17%)

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+650)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+1000)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+1000)
  4. Sam Ryder (+12000)
  5. Eric Cole (+3500)
  6. Chris Kirk (+3500)
  7. Shane Lowry (+6000)
  8. Doug Ghim (+12000)
  9. Erik Van Rooyen (+10000)
  10. Alex Smalley (+6500)

2024 American Express Picks

Jason Day +3500 (FanDuel)

Jason Day kicked off his 2024 season with a solid performance at The Sentry, finishing in a tie for 10th. The veteran will now get ready for the west coast swing, which has historically been the stretch of the season where Day has played his best golf, and last season was no exception. The Australian finished 18th, 7th, 5th and 9th at the American Express, Farmers Insurance, Waste Management Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational. Day showed his preference for putting on west coast greens during that stretch gaining 4.9, 5.8, 3.7 and 4.3 strokes putting respectively.

Day doesn’t typically play at PGA West, but he did last year, finishing 18th in his second ever start at the event. He also showed he can win a low scoring event at last year’s AT&T Byron Nelson, shooting -23 for the event. Another reason to believe Day will have success this week is his history on Pete Dye designed courses. In his past 50 rounds, he ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Dye tracks.

I believe Day will build on his resurgent 2023 and contend in one or more of these west coast tournaments.

Sam Burns+3500 (DraftKings)

Sam Burns has some encouraging history at the American Express. In his four starts at the course, he has finishes of 18th, 6th and 11th to go along with a missed cut. He also has loved the west coast swing, with a 3rd place finish at Riviera (2021), a 6th place finish at the WMPO (2023), and a 7th at the Fortinet (2020).

Sam Burns has been consistent on Pete Dye designs, ranking 8th in his past 24 rounds on Dye designed courses. The fact that he will play two of the four rounds at the stadium course, including the final round, gives me confidence in his chances to win if he gets in contention.

The American Express can turn into a putting contest, and if it does, Burns has the ability to beat anyone in the field.

Tony Finau +4000 (FanDuel)

Tony Finau is another player who’s done some of his best work on the west coast. In 2021, he finished 2nd at both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Invitational. In total, Finau has seven top-5 finishes on the west coast including the American Express in 2021, where he was narrowly defeated by Si Woo Kim down the stretch.

Finau didn’t start his season well at the Sentry but managed to gain strokes on approach and with the putter. I believe a trip to a course that he’s contended on in the past will serve him well and is one of the most talented players in the field. Finau has also showed that he loves Pete Dye designs in the past, ranking 9th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds.

Although he’s been inconsistent, the win equity Finau offers is too tempting to ignore at this price.

Adam Hadwin +6500 (FanDuel)

Adam Hadwin is the type of player who consistently performs well on his favorite courses on the PGA Tour. The rotation of courses at the American Express certainly fit that description. In his past seven starts at the event, Hadwin has finished in the top 20 five times, including four of those in the top 6.

Hadwin missed the cut at last week’s Sony Open, but he was top-20 in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach in the first round. He’s also shown in the past his Sony Open results don’t translate to the American Express. In 2019, the Canadian was 59th at Sony, losing strokes on approach for the week, and finished runner-up at the American Express the following week.

Hadwin hasn’t won since 2017 and it feels as if he’s long overdue for a win. Three of his seven top-3 finishes on Tour have come at this event. If there’s anywhere that I feel confident that he can get it done, it’s PGA West.

Alex Noren +8000 (DraftKings)

Alex Noren has sneakily played some fantastic golf since the end of the 2023 PGA Tour season. In November, he finished 2nd at the Butterfield Bermuda and 23rd at the RSM Classic. He also finished 3rd at the Shriners in October, which is a course and region that has plenty of similarities to what we will see this week at the American Express.

In addition to the 3rd at TPC Summerlin (2023), Noren also has a 2nd at the Farmers (2018) which ended in a six-hole playoff loss to Jason Day, a sixth at the WMPO (2022) and a 12th at the Genesis Invitational.

The Swede has yet to win on the PGA Tour but has won ten times on the DP World Tour. Noren certainly has the talent to win and is showing signs of returning to the form that made him a Ryder Cup participant in 2018.

Erik Van Rooyen +11000 (FanDuel)

Erik Van Rooyen won in Mexico at the end of 2023 and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down since. He finished 22nd at the Sentry, gaining 3.3 strokes on approach. He followed it up with an even better iron performance last week at the Sony Open, gaining 4.8 strokes on approach.

EVR finished 6th at the American Express last year despite being in poor form at the time, missing cuts in six of his past seven cuts entering the event. The South African has proven he can win birdie-fests in the past and this is an event where players have consistently won at triple digit odds.

In his past 24 rounds, Van Rooyen ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Patton Kizzire +27000 (FanDuel)

Patton Kizzire finished 11th at the American Express last year after a 76th place finish at the Sony Open. He finished 22nd in 2022 and has seemingly begun to figure the courses out if his gradual improvement is any indication.

Kizzire has two top-5’s at the Shriners and a 7th place finish at Torrey Pines in his career, so he’s no stranger to playing well on the west coast. Kizzire has also played well at similar events as Hudson Swafford, who’s won the American Express twice.

A two-time PGA Tour winner, Kizzire is the type of long shot who I believe can pull off an upset if he gets involved over the weekend at PGA West.

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  1. Chris Truong

    Jan 16, 2024 at 5:53 pm

    Love the breakdown! Let’s go!

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19th Hole

Collin Morikawa makes surprising late putter switch at Masters

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Collin Morikawa has had plenty of success with a blade in his hands over the course of his young career, but after a lean spell on the greens lately, it appears that the 27-year-old is ready to try something new.

The California-native began the year with his TaylorMade TP Soto before switching to a Logan Olson proto last month. Now at this week’s Masters, Morikawa has been spotted with a Spider Tour X, the same flatstick that Scottie Scheffler will be using at Augusta.

The move would represent a big change, but it has been a very frustrating year on the greens for Morikawa, who will hope the TaylorMade mallet can offer him a similar upturn in fortune to that of Scheffler. In 2024, Morikawa ranks 164th for Strokes Gained: Putting, and 157th for Total Putting.

We’ll keep an eye whether Morikawa puts the mallet into action on day one of the Masters.

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19th Hole

Dave Portnoy places monstrous outright bet for the 2024 Masters

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Fresh off of winning $2.76 million on UConn’s victory over Purdue on Monday night, Barstool Sports’ founder Dave Portnoy has just placed a massive bet for this year’s Masters.

Tweeting on Wednesday morning, Portnoy revealed that he has placed $300,000 on Scottie Scheffler to win this year’s Masters at odds of +450.

Should he win, that’d be a total payout of $1.65 million.

Scheffler is one of the shortest priced favorites of recent times at the Masters, and is looking for what would be his third win in his last four events.

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19th Hole

Brooks Koepka was asked if a 59 was possible at this year’s Masters. His answer did not disappoint

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During Brooks Koepka’s pre-tournament press conference for this week’s Masters Tournament, the five-time major champion was asked a bit of a silly question and gave a brilliant response.

Q. It sounds like the course is already pretty dialed this week, but under softer or optimal scoring conditions do you think 59 is obtainable on this golf course?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Have you played here?

Q. Not yet.

BROOKS KOEPKA: I can tell by the question.

Q. What number is attainable in your mind? 63’s the low.

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, now, anything’s attainable. But, yeah, if you want to go play the members tees and maybe play like 15 holes, yeah, I could do that.

With the course record being 63, it’s somewhat unclear why the reporter thought a soft golf course would be enough to result in a score four shots better than the record.

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