The PGA Tour returns to continental USA after its Hawaiian swing with The American Express. Played on three courses over four days and with amateurs involved over the first 54 holes, the tournament is one of the most unique on the PGA Tour schedule, and features a star-studded field in 2023. Scroll down to see who I think will win The American Express, but first…
The American Express
Venue: PGA West, La Quinta, California
Date: January 19–22, 2023
Course stats: Par 72; 7,113 yards (Stadium); Par 72; 7,160 yards (Nicklaus); 7,060 yards (La Quinta)
Course summary: The field will play a round on each of PGA West’s Nicklaus, La Quinta and Stadium courses before a Sunday on the latter. The Pete Dye-designed Stadium course typically plays two or more strokes harder on average than the Nicklaus, largely due to troublesome rough, heavy bunkering, and water in play on two thirds of the holes. All three courses use Bermuda grass greens, with the Nicklaus much more generous from the tee and an opportunity for the bombers to let it rip.
Purse: $8 million
2022 champion: Hudson Swafford (-23)
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf from 4:30pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 11pm
Friday: Sky Sports Golf from 4:30pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 10:30pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf from 4:30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf from 4:30pm
2023 The American Express betting tips
The Banker: Will Zalatoris @ 20/1 with Bet365
Will Zalatoris returned to the PGA Tour at the Sentry Tournament of Champions following a back injury which kept him out since late August. Before that break, he had won the FedEx St Jude Championship, his first win on the circuit, and I like what I saw of him last week at the Sentry.
His final round in Hawaii was his best. He posted a 65, and that suggests he is healthy once again. Had his scores regressed throughout the week I’d have been worried about fitness, but he only improved, and given how much tougher that walk at Kapalua is to this week, I have no injury concerns.
The doubt some may have is whether Zalatoris can make enough putts, as we are accustomed to him contending in tougher events, where there is a premium on ball-striking, but you only have to go back to his Korn Ferry days to know he can go low when the courses allow. Add to that, his 6th place finish here last year, and he looks a good fit.
He was being backed at 33-1 in a strong field last time out, when we had no idea how his back would hold up, and now we have a week of good form banked, and he is coming back to an event he is already played, I am more than happy to take him at 20-1 to win this one.
The Each-Way Play: Sahith Theegala @ 50/1 with Bet365
Sahith Theegala is my favourite bet of the week at 50/1, and I believe he has all the tools to win this event. Last year he played here and finished 33rd, but he was 11th going into the final round before a Sunday 75 saw him fall away. He is the aggressive type and was more than likely pushing within a hard to climb leaderboard, so mistakes ultimately caught up with him in the end.
Theegala started his week with a 72 at La Quinta which is awful, and can be easily improved on, and he is likely to shoot closer to 62 than he is 72 this time around! Add in the fact he did shoot 62 at the PGA West (Nicklaus Course) and a 3rd round 68 at the Stadium Course, there is every reason to believe this is an event he can win.
A 3rd place finish in the desert at the Phoenix Open, where he maybe should have won, 2nd at a Pete Dye design at the Travelers, where he definitely should have won, and another more recent 2nd at the RSM Classic, which is another multi-course birdie-fest event all point to a good week ahead of him here. We may not see 50-1 about Theegala for very long, so take advantage while you can.
The Long Shot: David Lipsky @ 100/1 with Bet365
I love David Lipsky’s progressive form, and his 4th place finish at last week’s Sony Open, where he was within touching distance all week, was his best PGA Tour finish so far. Add that to 3 more top 10’s at this level since 2021, and the fact he’s only in his second full season, and things are looking up, for a player that has two DP World Tour wins, and another on the Korn Ferry.
Lipsky has played six Pete Dye courses in his career, and he has a win and a runner-up at two of them on the Korn Ferry, he finished 4th in the Zurich Classic with Aaron Rai, and he also finished 14th here on debut, when he wasn’t close to the form he’s in now.
Everything points to a good year for Lipsky right now, and I think that only continues here on a suitable golf course, where his lack of length is negated.
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