Like night follows day, the PGA Tour‘s traditional yearly start in Hawaii is followed by the California swing. We start at the American Express, a tournament hosted by Phil Mickleson last time out. Here’s everything you need to know…
The American Express: Details
Venue: PGA West, California, USA
Date: January 21-24, 2021
Course stats: Par 72; 7,113 yards (Stadium); Par 72; 7,160 yards (Nicklaus)
Course summary: The field will play a round on each of PGA West’s Stadium and Nicklaus courses for the opening two rounds, while both weekend rounds will take place on the former. 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. Both courses use Bermuda grass greens, with the latter much more generous from the tee and an opportunity for the bombers to let it rip. Players will be hoping to capitalise on their round at the Nicklaus as they jockey for position heading into the weekend.
Purse: $6.7 million
Defending champion: Andrew Landry (-26)
The American Express: TV coverage
Thursday: Featured groups coverage on Sky Sports Golf from 4.30pm; Main coverage on Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 10.30pm
Friday: Featured groups coverage on Sky Sports Golf from 4.30pm; Main coverage on Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 10.30pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 10.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 8pm
The American Express: Staking plan
Rookie of the year Scheffler returns to the event where he had his best finish of 2020, and should fancy his chances of capturing his first PGA Tour win. Three of the last five winners here have ranked in the top 5 for SG: Off-the-Tee and four out of five have ranked in the top 10 for Putting Average. Scheffler currently ranks 10th Off the Tee, 15th for Driving Accuracy, and although his Putting Average sees him ranked 81st, he fairs much better in birdie average at 17th. Three top 20s in his last four events, including the Masters, add to his appeal and this seems to be the type of event Scheffler could win.
Patton Kizzire – 1pt e/w @ 55/1 with Bet365
Kizzire is a man in form, with three top-11 finishes in his last four events, most recently when tied 7th in Hawaii, and despite very average course form I fancy Kizzire to carry that over to this event. In the last three months, Kizzire ranks inside the top-15 for SG: Total on the PGA Tour alongside some of the biggest names in the game. When you look at the last 30 days, Kizzire jumps into the top 10 for this measure, further highlighting the improvement in his game. Kizzire’s approach play has been his Achilles heel in recent weeks, but a 77% GIR average at Waialae demonstrated improvement and I am happy to side with him each-way this week.
Sam Burns – 1pt e/w @ 60/1 with bet365
Two T7 finishes book-end Burns’ five starts this season, and despite a long break he fits the profile of a winner here. Burns ranks 3rd for SG: Off-the-Tee this season, a huge hitter who doesn’t sacrifice accuracy for power, and he finds the green more often than not, ranking 5th for GIR. Burns has two top-20 finishes in two previous attempts here, including when 6th last season, demonstrating how well his game suits this venue. The putter will need to fire this week, which is my only question mark over this selection, but I believe he certainly offers value for an each-way bet.
Gooch was perhaps unlucky to miss the cut in Hawaii last week, especially considering he ranked in the top 5 for SG: Off-the-Tee in the event. This week, Gooch returns to a tournament where he has had back-to-back top-20 finishes, including when 4th in 2019. His recent form is just as impressive, with a 4th place in Houston and a 5th place in Las Vegas, meaning he has now already matched his best season for top-10 finishes after just eight events. This progressive player is in the form of his career, ranking inside the top 15 for SG: Total in the last 3 months, and at this price I am more than happy to gamble on Gooch.
KH Lee – 0.5pt e/w @ 300/1 with Bet365
After a disappointing start to this season, Lee impressed in Hawaii with four rounds in the 60s including a closing 64 – a career low – to finish T19. And it was no surprise considering he ranked in the top 15 for SG: Putting, SG: Around-the-Green, SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Tee-to-Green. Lee had four top-25 finishes last year, including when 21st at this event 12 months ago, and after his performance in Hawaii looks to have some each-way value at a huge price.
For more prices, visit Bet365.
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