This week, PGA Tour kicks off the West Coast Swing portion of the year with the tournament formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic and most recently referred to as the Careerbuilder Challenge and now known to few as The American Express.
There is a three-course rotation for this tournament based out of Palm Springs, California. It will be a 4-day tournament where golfers will play one course twice.
- This particular golf course is the TPC Stadium Course and plays fair for resort-style links. It ranks 40th in difficulty of the 49 current PGA Tour courses.
- The other two courses, the tournament course designed by Jack Nicklaus is much fairer with a ranking of 48th in difficulty.
- The only set of links on the PGA Tour that is easier is the Pacuzza redesigned La Quinta Course. That, of course, ranks as the most playable on Tour at 49th.
Good weather is expected for most of the weekend. There have been rather dry conditions in the California desert…go figure, but the greens are always well maintained and shouldn’t play considerably fast.
I would expect very low scores by the end of play on Sunday.
Adam Long shot 26 under par here a year ago and the baby-faced assassin Patrick Reed managed an astronomical 29 under strokes under the “I’m doing okay” line back in 2013.
The field isn’t loaded with the world’s best as there is the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship taking place this week as well.
The “Pastel Pompadour” Rickie Fowler sits atop the betting board at 11 to 1 to take home the trophy followed by South Korea’s Sungjae Im at (+1600).
Sungjae owes us as we lost our first bet ever on him last week. I really thought we could get him top 20 at a sexy (+150) and while he was 11th on Saturday, the young man fell back 10 spots to the dreaded 21st position on the final leaderboard.
We didn’t get our other two bets either giving us our first winless week in a while.
This week’s courses fit his play much better and I am very hesitant to come off of him due to anger and disgust.
When it comes to betting, I know you may enjoy the rush and all that jazz but we have to remember that emotions are our mortal enemy when making that fateful (hopefully not) click of cash each time we make out wager.
Paul Casey, Tony Finau, and Sungjae’s countryman, Byeong Hun An are next as we make our way down the betting board. After those guys, there’s a couple of golfers who played exceptionally well last week in Kevin Kisner and Charles Howell III.
Kis and Howell are both 28 to 1 and I definitely have my eye on both of them.
MyBookie.ag has the betting lines for us this week at the AMEX.
Let’s get to the picks!
Sungjae Im to Finish Inside the Top Twenty
These are rather expensive odds for a top twenty, yes I know, but I truly believe this kid is going to be one of the best golfers of the 20s.
Maybe I just like saying “The 20s”. The teens and 2000s just weren’t doing it for me and the 10-year span a century ago was rather prosperous so it just sounds fun.
No, I like Sungjae here. Even though he plays like a veteran most of the time, it’s the resort level courses where we see the young golfers thrive the most.
Putting has been the most important part of a golfers game on these courses in the past and Sungjae has been on fire with the flat stick in his hands.
He is second among golfers in the field over the past couple of months in putting average. That’s even better than Brendon Todd who has won 2 tournaments in that time.
I think falling to 21st after a top ten finish seemed highly likely on Saturday will fuel the South Korean’s focus this week.
Scottie Scheffler to Finish Inside the Top Twenty
This will be the first time playing this tournament for the only 23-year-old Dallas native and Texas Longhorn but what Scottie doesn’t know won’t hurt him too badly this week.
I imagine he has had a little bit of time to get used to the course but as we pointed out earlier, two of the three courses are ranked easiest and second easiest on the Tour while the course played twice, the TPC Stadium Course doesn’t seem to challenge the pros too much at 40th out of 49.
There will be some celebrities on hand as well, pairing up with the professionals as this is a pro/am.
I don’t know if that will hurt or help the younger guys like Scottie and Sungjae but both have burst onto the PGA Tour with high levels of success.
Scheffler led the minor league Korn Ferry Tour in points this past year and has been nothing short of consistently very good thus far since moving on up to the big leagues.
He is young, yes, but on courses that play as friendly as these do, I expect him to play as aggressive as he has been all season.
Make no mistake, the AMEX will be a birdie fest and Scottie knows birdies. He is 5th in birdie average and 2nd in total birdies on the season.
Scheffler is also 12th in overall scoring average on the Tour and already has rounds of 7, 8, and 9 under par in just a few months on the PGA Tour.
I’ll take the young man to finish inside the top twenty this weekend for a nice plus money payout.
After all, he’s probably a Cowboys fan hailing from Dallas and we know he won’t be distracted and checking his phone on Conference Championship Sunday because, well, ‘Dem Boys didn’t even make playoffs.
Kevin Kisner to Finish Inside the Top Twenty
Kis is back!
Last week, the 35-year-old from Aiken, South Carolina finished up play on Sunday in Honolulu tied with Charles Howell III for 4th place at the Sony Open.
In the stacked field at the Tournament of Champions in Maui, Kevin managed a 14th place finish.
Both of the previous two tournaments had a higher level of competition than he will see this week and I don’t see the man slowing down too much.
We took him at the RSM Classic for a top twenty but I think he was still emotionally damaged after his umpteen stroke penalty the week prior for using an unapproved golf ball.
There was nothing wrong with it and kudos to Kev for voluntarily telling on himself. Tour officials really laid the hammer down on him.
I thought this would be enough to fire tune his focus but he missed the cut the following week.
After that, though, he has been lights out.
He finished 7th at the Hero Word Challenge behind some pretttty good golfers…Stenson, Rahm Reed, Woods, Rose, and Justin Thomas were the only golfers ahead of him.
After that was the previously mentioned two weeks in the Aloha State.
Historically, an excellent putter with a solid short game, Kevin Kisner is playing excellent golf right now.
He has not played these courses at the highest level in the past but I prefer course fit and current form over course history.
Kis is rolling right now.
That wraps it up for this week, team. This is a resort course and pro/am tournament. I will take the golfers that are young, hungry, and/or need a solid performance.
As far as Kevin Kisner goes, he appears to be on a mission after three straight top 15 performances.
Sungjae slipped up last week in Honolulu which is rather uncharacteristic of the Korean wonder kid. Im’s skills along with his grit and competitive spirit should shine in the Palm Desert at the AMEX.
Scottie Scheffler is a name that we will all likely learn in 2020. The former Korn Ferry Tour crusher’s play has somehow improved even more since he joined the PGA Tour only months ago.
He could be a Rookie of the Year candidate and what better way to get his name out there than with a standout performance this week in Cali?
Tune in, turn up, and bet hard, team!