We have arrived to American Express week on the PGA Tour, one of the worst tournament names in sports. The tournament takes place in California and will be spread out across three different courses; PGA Stadium Course (2x), Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta CC.

Due to the setup of the tournament the cut will take place after 54 holes (Round 3) instead of the usual 36-hole cut. Each golfer will play a single round at each course over the first three rounds, and if they make the cut, they will play the final round on the PGA Stadium Course. The PGA Stadium Course is also the only course we have historical strokes gained data from. 

All three courses are relatively short considering they are all par-72 layouts and all play under 7,200 yards. This leads to low scoring, with the winner habitually finishing mid-20 below par. There will be a lot of wedges and distance can be more of an advantage than usual. As always, this doesn’t mean it’s a “must have” to win as we have seen Adam Long and Andrew Landry among the recent winners. I did not make any major tweaks to my baseline model, but did give a slight bump to distance, a knock down to driving accuracy, and bumped up around the green more than an average week. 

Below are two free picks for the week. You can find all of my picks loaded into the Bet Tracker.

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Matchup | Cameron Tringale over Patrick Reed

+100, DraftKings Sportsbook

The only thing I could come up with for why this line opened here is the name recognition that comes with Reed. You can go back a full year and Tringale has consistently outperformed Reed. Does Reed have more winning upside? History says yes as Tringale has failed to lift a trophy, but he doesn’t need to win to beat Reed this week (probably). Perhaps Reed’s game is on the rise, but outside of a second place in a bad field in Bermuda he hasn’t done much since June. Tringale has his struggles OTT, which is the largest concern, but approach to green he’s been very good. It was a very abrupt change in Tringale’s OTT game having drove the ball great for eight months and then bam, May 2021 came and it was dreadful. Then we saw him come back in the fall swing and he was gaining strokes OTT once more. This is promising and if he fixed the driver, I expect that his improvements in his overall game will stick. As it stands, he should be the favorite in this matchup. 

 

Top 40 | Harold Varner III

+175, FanDuel Sportsbook

If you’re afraid of the “can’t win” narrative with HV3, then a top-40 bet should be up your alley. For all his struggles to cross the line and win, he’s consistently played since joining the PGA Tour in 2016. For some time, he has been one of the stereotypical “great ball striking, can’t putt” golfers we love to wager on. However, he may have turned a corner with his putting in 2021, which helped lead him to a new career mark in T20’s and consistently making cuts. While this may not translate into victories, it did translate into better finishes, habitually inside the top 40 if he made the weekend. I’m not sure what caused him to withdraw from the Houston Open (the last we saw him) but the fact he is in California to play is the only sign I need to know he’s ready. His OTT game and tidiness around the green should be slightly more beneficial this week and lead to my higher probability of him finishing inside the top 40 than the market.