Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's The American Express Tips 2022

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Low scoring is again the key this week as the PGA Tour reaches California for The American Express at PGA West. It was latterly known as the Desert Classic or CareerBuilder Challenge, but I’ll always remember this as the Bob Hope Classic. It used to be played over 4 courses and 5 days as a Pro-Am, but 2022 sees us returning to a 156 man, 3 course rota, Pro-Am format. Course-wise we have host course PGA West Stadium, the PGA West Tournament Course, and freshly reinstated for 2022 La Quinta Country Club. Low scoring yet again will be the order of the day and we could well see something around the -26/262 mark being needed to grab the $1,368,000 first prize and a coveted Masters invite for those who haven’t received a letter through the post recently.

Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im, Patrick Reed and Matthew Wolff play from inside the OWGR top 30 in the Californian desert this week.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding The American Express, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System, Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: A 3-course rotation always makes this a unique proposition on the PGA Tour, especially with the Pro-Am format. The PGA West facility hosts 3 of the 4 rounds at the Stadium Course (Host Course) and Tournament courses. The PGA West Stadium course hosts 36 holes including the final round. A 5 mile drive is required to the 3rd course in the tournament rotation, namely La Quinta Country Club. This tournament is the ultimate resort course challenge with 3 short Par-72 courses featuring extremely receptive and pure TifDwarf Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis green complexes.

Stadium Course, PGA West, Palm Springs, California: Designer: Pete Dye, 1986; Course Type: Desert, Resort; Par: 72; Length: 7,147 yards; Holes with Water In-Play: 7; Fairways Tifgreen Bermudagrass with Ryegrass; Rough: Tifgreen Bermudagrass with Ryegrass, 2″; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring TifDwarf Bermudagrass with Poa Trivialis; Stimpmeter: 11ft; Course Scoring Average 2016: 70.82 (-1.18), Difficulty Rank 41 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.59 (-0.41), Difficulty Rank 30 of 50 courses. 2018: 71.18 (-0.82), Difficulty Rank 36 of 51 courses. 2019: 70.24 (-1.76), Difficulty Rank 40 of 49 courses. 2020: 70.36 (-1.64), Difficulty Rank 36 of 41 courses. 2021: 70.81 (-1.19), Difficulty Rank 36 of 51 courses.

Tournament Course, PGA West: Designer: Jack Nicklaus, 1987; Par: 72; Length: 7,181 yards; Holes with Water In-Play: 5; Greens: 7,000 sq.ft average featuring TifDwarf Bermudagrass with Poa Trivialis; Tournament Stimp: 10.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2016: 68.94 (-3.06), Difficulty Rank 49 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.74 (-1.26), Difficulty Rank 39 of 50 courses. 2018: 69.45 (-2.55), Difficulty Rank 50 of 51 courses. 2019: 69.06 (-2.94), Difficulty Rank 48 of 49 courses. 2019: 70.24 (-1.76), Difficulty Rank 40 of 49 courses. 2020: 69.24 (-2.77), Difficulty Rank 40 of 41 courses. 2021: 70.95 (-1.05), Difficulty Rank 36 of 51 courses.

La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta: Designer: Lawrence Hughes, with Pascuzzo re-design, 1999: Par 72; Length: 7,060 yards; Greens: 4,000 sq.ft Bermudagrass with Ryegrass and Poa Trivialis; Tournament Stimp: 11; Course Scoring Average 2012: 70.68 (-1.32), Difficulty Rank 41 of 49 courses. 2013: 69.49 (-2.51), Difficulty Rank 41 of 43 courses. 2017: 69.64 (-2.36), Difficulty Rank 49 of 50 courses. 2018: 68.83 (-3.17), Difficulty Rank 51 of 51 courses. 2019: 68.72 (-3.28), Difficulty Rank 49 of 49 courses. 2020: 69.18 (-2.82), Difficulty Rank 41 of 41 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus designs include:

Pete Dye:

  • Austin Country Club – WGC Dell Matchplay since 2016
  • Crooked Stick – 2012 and 2016 BMW Championship.
  • Harbour Town Golf Links – RBC Heritage
  • Ocean Course – Kiawah Island – 2012 + 2021 PGA Championship
  • TPC River Highlands – The Travelers
  • TPC Louisiana – Zurich Classic of New Orleans
  • TPC Sawgrass – The Players Championship
  • Whistling Straits – 2010 and 2015 PGA Championship

Jack Nicklaus:

  • Annandale Golf Club – Sanderson Farms Championship through 2013
  • Glen Abbey – RBC Canadian Open – 2008, 2013, 2015-2018
  • Montreux Golf & Country Club – Barracuda Championship through 2019
  • Old Greenwood GC – Barracuda Championship 2020 onwards
  • PGA National – The Honda Classic
  • PGA West – Nicklaus Private – Humana Challenge through 2015
  • Sherwood Country Club – Thousand Oaks – World Challenge through 2013 + 2020 ZOZO Championship
  • Valhalla Golf Club – 2014 PGA Championship

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the PGA West Stadium Course (host) and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:34; 325:31; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.

Course Overview: As some of you will remember, the Covid pandemic meant that last year’s tournament here was a non Pro-Am played over just PGA West Stadium Course (54 holes) and the Tournament Course (18 holes). 2022 sees a return to the Pro-Am format with a field of 156 professionals teamed with 156 amateurs.

Since 2012, in terms of the Pro-Am format, this tournament has played a 3-course rota over 72 holes. 2016 saw the PGA West Stadium Course added to the rota as the host course (36 holes including the final round) and the Nicklaus Tournament Course was also added for the very first time. Stadium hosted a round of the Bob Hope Classic back in 1987 and has been home to the PGA Tour Q-School numerous times including 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012. The Nicklaus-designed Tournament Course shared hosting duties across these Q-Schools as well.

The Stadium host course is a Pete Dye design and is viewed by many as the sequel to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The course features its own island 17th hole which will play as a 165 yard par-3 this week. As per last year, Stadium will play as a 7,113 yard, Par 72 and has plenty of water in play. With a scoring average of 70.81 in 2021 it had a difficulty rank of 36 of 51 courses on the PGA Tour last season, in comparison to 33rd for the Tournament Course, although Friday’s play saw gusting 20mph winds. Going back to the last Pro-Am in 2020, La Quinta was the easiest course on the PGA Tour, the Tournament Course was 2nd easiest and host course PGA West Stadium was the 6th easiest that season.

Statistically Stadium is an interesting course where flagrant power is seemingly negated a little. The par-5s play relatively tough, especially compared to the par-4s which yield plenty of birdies. With so much water in play, brute power alone doesn’t work here – instead crisp wedge play from within 125 yards is critical. Scrambling on the course is easy for these PGA Tour pros and the TifDwarf Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis greens are pure enough that One-Putt Percentages are always in the top 6 on the PGA Tour.

The Desert Classic follows a Pro-Am format similar to the AT&T Pebble Beach but with the Pro-Am being played across the first 3 days of competition as opposed to all 72 holes. A cut is then made for the final round at the Stadium Course venue on Sunday. If more than 78 golfers survive the scheduled cut then only the top 60 players and ties will play. A 156 player field allied to the pro-am nature makes for painfully slow play which some players can’t handle.

This tournament is a testament to US resort-style golf – go low or go home, it’s that simple. Since 2012 when the tournament moved to a conventional 72-hole format; -24/264, -25/263, -29/259, -22/266, -25/263, -20/268, -22/266, -26/262, -26/262 and -23/265 have been the winning totals. Birdie or better conversion rates at 36% (2012), 38% (2013), an astonishing 44% (2014 by Patrick Reed), 32% (2015), 42%, 36%, 38%, 36%, 43% and 33% last year are traditionally some of the highest we see all year.

the american express tips

Winners: 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); 2014: Patrick Reed (-29); 2013: Brian Gay (-25); 2012: Mark Wilson (-24).

Cut Line: 2021: -4 (36 holes); 2020: -9; 2019: -9; 2018: -8; 2017: -5; 2016: -9.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -23.
  • 2020: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -15; Round 3 -21; Round 4 -23.
  • 2019: Round 1 -12; Round 2 -16; Round 3 -22; Round 4 -26.
  • 2018: Round 1 -10; Round 2 -16; Round 3 -19; Round 4 -22.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Abraham Ancer, Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, Seamus Power, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Michael Thompson.

Tournament Winners & Prices: 2021: Kim 66/1; 2020: Landry 200/1; 2019: Long 600/1; 2018: Rahm 10/1; 2017: Swafford 66/1; 2016: Dufner 40/1; 2015: Haas 30/1; 2014: Reed 135/1; 2013: Gay 80/1; 2012: Wilson 125/1; 2011: Vegas 200/1; 2010: Haas 100/1. Past 8 Renewals Average: 143/1; Overall Average: 138/1.

For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 75. Wind SE 5-10 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 67. Wind SSE 8-12 mph, gusting to 18 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy with occasional showers. High of 62. Wind SE 6-12 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 64. Wind NW 7-14 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 68. Wind SE at 5-10 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 68. Wind NE 4-8 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 72. Wind E 3-6 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 77. Wind ESE 3-6 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Mostly cloudy and rainy. High of 66. Wind SE 6-12 mph. Due to fog, play at La Quinta Country Club was delayed one hour (9:30 a.m. start) and delayed at the Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament Courses one hour, 15 minutes (9:45 a.m. start). Friday: Sunny. High of 74. Wind NW 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 75. Wind light and variable 4-8 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 74. Wind SE 4-8 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 78. Wind variable 4-8 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 78. Wind variable 5-10 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 65. Wind NW 20-30 mph, with gusts to 40 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 66. Wind variable 4-8 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Overcast, with light morning rain. Mostly sunny in the afternoon, with a high of 64. Wind W 8-15 mph. Friday: Overcast, with intermittent rain throughout the day. High of 61. Wind NE to SSE 8-15 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 63. Wind NW 10-15 mph, with gusts of 25 mph. Sunday: Cloudy, with intermittent rain throughout the day. High of 61. Wind SSE 8-15 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Clear skies with an afternoon high of 74 degrees. Wind SE 4-8 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 73 degrees. Wind SE 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 71 degrees. Wind SE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with an afternoon high of 82 degrees. Wind NW 7-15 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for La Quinta, California is here. Weather in the main looks okay for The American Express, Despite little rain in the Californian desert, greens are always watered and responsive here. No rain is expected for tournament week, and expect minimal breeze for the opening 36 holes. The only twist could be a cold front which passes through for Saturday and Sunday. Lower weekend temperatures of 16-19 degrees Celsius and 10-15 mph north-westerly breezes will affect the scoring to a degree.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the CJ Cup / Andalucía Masters which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Rickie Fowler; 2) Luke List; 3) Charles Howell III; 4) Troy Merritt; 5) Patrick Cantlay; 6) Tyler McCumber / Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Sungjae Im; 9) Rory Sabbatini; 10) Will Zalatoris; 11) Tony Finau / Lanto Griffin; 13) Davis Riley; 14) Corey Conners / Doug Ghim / Matthew Wolff; 17) Si Woo Kim; 18) Jason Dufner; 19) Carlos Ortiz / Nick Watney; 21) Aaron Rai; 22) Phil Mickelson; 23) Paul Barjon / Justin Rose; 25) James Hahn.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Carlos Ortiz; 3) Corey Conners; 4) Scott Piercy; 5) Luke List; 6) Dylan Wu / Will Zalatoris; 8) Troy Merritt / Aaron Rai / Chez Reavie; 11) Russell Knox; 12) K.H. Lee; 13) Jon Rahm / Hudson Swafford; 15) Wesley Bryan / Talor Gooch; 17) Abraham Ancer / Jonathan Byrd; 19) Tom Hoge / Tony Finau / Tyler McCumber; 22) Rickie Fowler / Russell Henley; 24) Bronson Burgoon; 25) Phil Mickelson.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Matthew Wolff; 2) Jonathan Byrd; 3) Luke List; 4) Rickie Fowler; 5) Michael Thompson; 6) Troy Merritt; 7) Brendon Todd; 8) Phil Mickelson; 9) Patrick Cantlay / Taylor Moore; 11) Tony Finau; 12) Kevin Streelman / Cameron Tringale; 14) Peter Malnati; 15) Seamus Power; 16) Nick Taylor; 17) Sebastian Munoz; 18) Talor Gooch; 19) Sungjae Im; 20) Brandt Snedeker; 21) Scott Gutschewski / Will Zalatoris; 23) Luke Donald / Si Woo Kim; 25) Denny McCarthy.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Rickie Fowler; 2) Luke List; 3) Patrick Cantlay / Troy Merritt; 5) Carlos Ortiz; 6) Corey Conners; 7) Will Zalatoris; 8) Tony Finau; 9) Russell Knox / Jhonattan Vegas; 11) Russell Henley; 12) Charles Howell III; 13) Aaron Rai; 14) Sungjae Im / Matthew Wolff; 16) Lucas Glover / Talor Gooch; 18) K.H. Lee / Seamus Power; 20) Tyler McCumber; 21) Andrew Novak / Chez Reavie; 23) Abraham Ancer / Tom Hoge / Phil Mickelson / Taylor Moore.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Wesley Bryan; 2) Patrick Cantlay / Kevin Tway; 4) Matthew Wolff; 5) Brian Gay / Phil Mickelson; 7) Robert Streb; 8) Kevin Chappell; 9) Harry Higgs; 10) Jonathan Byrd / Wyndham Clark / Sung Kang / Cameron Young; 14) Adam Hadwin; 15) Justin Rose; 16) Jason Dufner / Russell Henley / Scott Stallings; 19) Denny McCarthy / Adam Svensson; 21) Cameron Tringale; 22) Kramer Hickok; 23) Patrick Reed / Martin Trainer; 25) Brice Garnett / Nick Hardy.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Rickie Fowler; 2) Patrick Cantlay; 3) Luke List; 4) Matthew Wolff; 5) Corey Conners; 6) Russell Henley; 7) Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Troy Merritt; 9) Charles Howell III / Carlos Ortiz; 11) Tyler McCumber; 12) Wesley Bryan / Denny McCarthy; 14) Talor Gooch / Sungjae Im / Phil Mickelson; 17) Kramer Hickok / K.H. Lee; 19) Lucas Glover / Hank Lebioda / Adam Long; 22) Seamus Power; 23) Wyndham Clark / Cameron Tringale; 25) Justin Rose.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at the host PGA West Stadium Course since 2016 click here.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends: Analysing the Strokes Gained final stats of Amex winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2021, Si Woo Kim (-23). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 16th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 8th.
  • 2020, Andrew Landry (-26). SG Off the Tee: 5th, SG Approach: 9th, SG Around the Green: 65th, SG Tee to Green: 13th, SG Putting: 6th.
  • 2019, Adam Long (-26). SG Off the Tee: 40th, SG Approach: 43rd, SG Around the Green: 30th, SG Tee to Green: 46th, SG Putting: 9th.
  • 2018, Jon Rahm (-22). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 60th, SG Tee to Green: 12th, SG Putting: 28th.
  • 2017, Hudson Swafford (-20). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 71st, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 44th.
  • 2016, Jason Dufner (-25). SG Off the Tee: 26th, SG Approach: 42nd, SG Around the Green: 8th, SG Tee to Green: 23rd, SG Putting: 14th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 14th, SG Approach: 18th, SG Around the Green: 42nd, SG Tee to Green: 17th, SG Putting: 18th.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of Amex winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2021, Si Woo Kim (-23). 300 yards (29th), 73.2% fairways (16th), 81.9% greens in regulation (1st), 30’2″ proximity to hole (15th), 84.6 % scrambling (4th), 1.61 putts per GIR (11th).
  • 2020, Andrew Landry (-26). 286 yards (61st), 75.0% fairways (3rd), 76.4% greens in regulation (7th), 27’11” proximity to hole (16th), 76.5 % scrambling (25th), 1.46 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2019, Adam Long (-26). 291 yards (28th), 69.6% fairways (12th), 70.8% greens in regulation (41st), 29’5″ proximity to hole (30th), 85.7 % scrambling (7th), 1.51 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2018, Jon Rahm (-22). 310 yards (5th), 64.3% fairways (28th), 72.2% greens in regulation (20th), 328″ proximity to hole (31st), 75.0 % scrambling (21st), 1.56 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2017, Hudson Swafford (-20). 307 yards (5th), 55.4% fairways (61st), 80.6% greens in regulation (1st), 30’2″ proximity to hole (27th), 71.4 % scrambling (30th), 1.66 putts per GIR (24th).
  • 2016, Jason Dufner (-25). 290 yards (49th), 75.0% fairways (5th), 75.0% greens in regulation (15th), 30’6″ proximity to hole (20th), 72.2 % scrambling (40th), 1.54 putts per GIR (5th).

Traditional Skill Set Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 30th, Driving Accuracy: 21st, Greens in Regulation: 14th, Proximity to Hole: 23rd, Scrambling: 21st, Putting Average 8th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how the American Express sets up with the Stadium Course as host plus what skill sets the course favours:

Si Woo Kim (2021): ” Yeah, I have great memories with this course. So for Q-School, I passed the Q-School on this course, and then I have great memories and then that’s why I feel confidence whenever I come to this course. So that helps a lot for me this week, especially I try to focus on the memories that gave me good scores, so that’s why it drove me to the win.”

“So on the back nine there’s a lot of birdie chances and I had to know what’s going on, so that helps me how to play my game the final round. So I kept watching the leaderboard. I knew that Cantlay played really well. So I knew I have a lot of chances on the back nine for birdies, so I tried to keep patient and I believed in myself and I got the chance on 16 and 17 and that’s when I could make it and I’m happy with that.”

Andrew Landry (Nicklaus Course): “I like that atmosphere over there, there’s some good holes, there’s some mediocre holes, you just got to drive the ball well out there, you got to hit your irons very well out there and you got to play smart, because there’s some par-5s out there that can jump up and bite you if you’re not playing smart. So we got a good game plan for it, we played well there in the past, and now we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

The key to this week has been good putting. I’ve been putting the ball absolutely beautifully and just kind of everything’s been there, my wedge play has been there, I hit some really good wedges. I went to a 54 degree this week instead of a playing a 52, 60 and it’s just kind of given me that 105 to 115 number just a lot better. And I’ve had it three or four times and I’ve hit every one of them gimmie. So the wedges are there, the putting’s there, just need to go out and go do it again tomorrow.”

Adam Long: “I had some pretty good hopes, I guess, because I played well in my practice rounds and made a lot of birdies and felt pretty good leading up to Thursday, so I would have been surprised had I not had a good start. But yeah, it’s three awesome golf courses and you hit fairways and greens and you can make a lot of putts because these greens on all three courses are just perfect. So you can make them from all over. I played here for Q-School in 2011, so, yeah, it’s been a bit. I think a junior tournament too before that. But been here a few times, but it’s a great place to play golf and, yeah, I’ve had good mojo here and hope to keep it going.”

Jon Rahm: “This area, the courses are always in really, really good shape, so it’s tough to pick one. But just because I’m familiar with it I would say the Nicklaus, just because I played it, I mean, this would be about my ninth round on this golf course, so I know it pretty good. But again, I feel like any other person, when you have a good day, any course is fit for you. It’s about making good shots. Well, yeah, I mean I’ve been living in this area for five years and most of the college tournaments we played was around here, so exactly, we played here – we played the Norman course as well – I’m just familiar with this type of golf course.

The Stadium Course, it’s a Pete Dye design, where I played four years of my life, it’s a Pete Dye design. Very, very similar type of golf. You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important. With the small greens, you have water in play, you need to be more precise, clearly the hardest golf course. If you can have 5- or 6-under there you’re going to pick up a lot of shots. So hopefully have an organized round like I did yesterday, not have to fight too much to shoot under par.

Hudson Swafford (Stadium): “Absolutely, yeah, no, this is a tough golf course. When you come to the desert, all you think is birdies, usually the scores yield birdies. But this Stadium Course has kind of changed that. I know there is a lot of good rounds out here, but one errant shot, it’s very penalizing. So you got to be super patient on this golf course.

Jason Dufner: “I came out before I went to Sony and played these golf courses, both of them, twice. Spent some time out here practicing and playing. So I felt good. We have had some great weather, obviously that helps. The courses are in great shape. So I’m pretty comfortable right now.

The Stadium Course, it’s a difficult golf course. There’s a little bit of room to play off the tee, in my opinion, but if you get off the path a little bit, you can get into some trouble. He’s got some water out there, he’s got some tricky bunkers, you get some uneven lies here and there. The greens kind are difficult. They run on some angles and there’s some slope. So it’s definitely the most difficult of the courses we have played here in the desert area. But today it just was one of those days, but I had a wedge in my hand. So just be aggressive. I know that, if I miss, it’s a soft fade to the right, so I can manage that.

Kevin Na: “It’s quite a bit of a change. The Nicklaus, no. But the Stadium, yes. We get to play these courses every year and you get comfortable. You don’t even have to have play a practice round, you just want to go out and – we’re playing holes just to see how the course is playing, how it’s bouncing, the firmness or the wetness, whatever the rough might be. But it’s a big change. I think the Stadium’s going to play a lot more difficult than the Palmer Course, in my opinion. But the Nicklaus Course will be about the same.

Path to Victory: Below are the end-of-round positions for the last 6 Amex winners since the tournament moved to the current PGA West Stadium host course rota:

  • 2021 – Si Woo Kim: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2020 – Andrew Landry: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – Adam Long: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2018 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2017 – Hudson Swafford: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2016 – Jason Dufner: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 6 Amex winners since the tournament moved to the current PGA West Stadium host course rota, and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2021 – Si Woo Kim: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2020 – Andrew Landry: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2019 – Adam Long: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2018 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2017 – Hudson Swafford: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2016 – Jason Dufner: Round 1: level, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 2 ahead.

Form of winners since 2016:

  • Si Woo Kim: 25th Sony/34th Masters/MC Houston/17th CJ Cup.
  • Andrew Landry: MC Sony/MC RSM/MC Mayakoba/MC Houston.
  • Adam Long: MC Sony/MC RSM/MC Sanderson/63rd Safeway.
  • Jon Rahm: 2nd ToC/1st DPWTC/36th HSBC/MC Valderrama.
  • Hudson Swafford: 13th Sony/36th RSM/46th Mayakoba/23rd HSBC/29th CIMB.
  • Jason Dufner: 9th Sony/1st Shark Shoot/9th RSM/40th Mayakoba.

Course Rotation since 2016:

  • 2021 – Si Woo Kim: Round 1: Stadium; Round 2: Tournament. (2 Course Rota).
  • 2020 – Andrew Landry: Round 1: Stadium; Round 2: La Quinta; Round 3: Tournament.
  • 2019 – Adam Long: Round 1: Tournament; Round 2: Stadium; Round 3: La Quinta.
  • 2018 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: La Quinta; Round 2: Tournament; Round 3: Stadium.
  • 2017 – Hudson Swafford: Round 1: La Quinta; Round 2: Tournament; Round 3: Stadium.
  • 2016 – Jason Dufner Round 1: Tournament; Round 2: Stadium; Round 3: La Quinta.

6 of the last 10 winners, namely Si Woo Kim, Jason Dufner, Bill Haas, Patrick Reed, Brian Gay and Mark Wilson, had all won PGA Tour titles on Bermudagrass greens prior to capturing the title here in La Quinta. Jon Rahm extends that trend to a degree, on the basis he’d won the DP Tour Championship on the European Tour at the Earth Course in November 2017, prior to winning this in January 2018.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of Bermudagrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 4 – Jason Day, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed.
  • 3 – Si Woo Kim, Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 2 – Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Scott Piercy, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Robert Streb, Jimmy Walker, Mark Wilson.
  • 1 – Abraham Ancer, Jonas Blixt, Wesley Bryan, Jonathan Byrd, Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Champ, Austin Cook, Tyler Duncan, Talor Gooch, Lanto Griffin, Adam Hadwin, James Hahn, Jim Herman, Charles Howell III, Sungjae Im, Sung Kang, Patton Kizzire, Andrew Landry, Adam Long, Peter Malnati, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Sebastian Munoz, Carlos Ortiz, C.T. Pan; Pat Perez, J.T. Poston, Rory Sabbatini, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Brian Stuard, Hudson Swafford, Nick Taylor, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Jhonattan Vegas, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland.

Recent champions here include Vegas and Long (both Tour Rookies); Swafford, Perez, Hoffman (all 1st time PGA Tour winners); Trahan, Reed and Landry (1 win at the time); Campbell and defending champion Si Woo Kim (2 Wins); with Dufner, Gay (3 Wins) plus Wilson (4 wins). Bill Haas won this title in both 2010 and 2015, being his 1st and 6th PGA Tour titles. The very elite Jon Rahm won this in 2018 – he had won 3 main Tour victories in 2017, one of which was a PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines. Pick the bones from that little lot!

The plot thickens further when you look at the circumstances prior to victories for recent winners. Defending champion Si Woo Kim had finished 25th the week before at the Sony Open, which has been his opening event of 2021, where he opened with a -6/64. Prior to that his form was decent with 34th at The Masters, a 17th at the CJ Cup and 8th at the Shriners Open the highlights.

Andrew Landry had inbound form of MC/MC/MC/MC/MC before winning here in 2020. He has missed the cut the week before at the Sony Open. Out of 6 seasonal outings he had a single 23rd to his name. Course form lovers could have plucked out a 2nd place finish here 2 years earlier, where he lost in a play -off to Jon Rahm, but let’s be frank – Landry was a find and a half.

Then we have Adam Long who was 600/1 prior to winning this. In 4 previous starts on the PGA Tour he had 3 Missed Cuts and a 63rd to his name. Again pick the bones from that! Rahm in 2018 had finished 2nd at Kapalua 2 weeks before winning this tournament. Hudson Swafford in 2017 finished 13th the week before at Waialae – he had been T3 after 54 holes. 2016 saw Jason Dufner win this after another showing the week before at Waialae. He ultimately finished 9th at the Sony Open and had been 6th after 54 holes. He had also won the Franklin Templeton Shoot Out in late December with Brandt Snedeker.

So what’s the right recipe for success this week? In all honesty it’s very hard to gauge as it would be at a tournament where the average winning price over the past 8 renewals has been 154/1 and where the past 4 winners have been 66/1, 200/1, 600/1 and the 10/1 Favourite. If previous renewals are anything to go by then all types of player can thrive here, from the long bomber or accurate ball-striker to a player who has a personal record-breaking week with the putter.

My The American Express Tips Are As Follows:

Matthew Wolff 2pts EW 30/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

The elite player at the top of the market who seems to have a little value built into his price is Matthew Wolff.

The Californian is a great talent and he undoubtedly has the ability to go low. 11th at the Houston Open, 5th at the WWT Championship at Mayakoba and 2nd at the Shriners Open highlights a player in great nick. 1st for Scoring Average, 11th for Birdie Average, 11th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 5th for Strokes Gained Putting so far this season, the 23 year-old from Simi Valley has plenty to like about him going into this, and PGA West is just 170 miles away from where he grew up.

61st (2020) and 40th (2021) on his 2 appearances here have not set the world alight, but it’s worth noting that Matthew has a penchant for shooting low scores. -9/62 at the 2019 3M Open (finished 1st);  -8/64 followed by -8/64 at the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic (finished 2nd); -10/671 at the 2020 Shriners Open (finished 2nd); -7/65 at 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship (finished 17th); -7/64 at the 2021 Shriners Open (finished 2nd); -10/61 at the WWT Championship (finished 5th).

2nd (2018) and 4th (2019) on his opening outings as an amateur highlight an elite sort who can hit his straps straight out of the box, and you have to like his 2 runner-up finishes in the Las Vegas desert at TPC Summerlin for correlating course form. I also think the Poa overseed on the putting surfaces will help Matthew, who with his west coast heritage plays well on them. RESULT: MC

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Seamus Power 2pts EW 33/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

I’m also going to follow Seamus Power this week at a resort course where consistency and not making mistakes is critical.

Take his last 7 appearances on the PGA Tour this season and Seamus has racked up 6 Greens in Regulation ranks of 17th or better, plus 3 Ball Striking and Total Driving ranks of 11th or better. In short he’s never hit the ball more solidly. From a Strokes Gained perspective he has 4 Tee to Green ranks of 18th or better from his last 5 appearances, and the putter warmed last week at the Sony Open where he produced his best putting performance going back to the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July.

Inbound form of 3/15/4/MC/11/12/21 is excellent and it’s worth going back to Power’s early PGA Tour career. A couple of appearances here across 2017 and 2018 allowed the County Waterford man to finish 21st (2017) and 11th (2018). The 11th, when ranked 348th in the OWGR, was Power’s second highest finish on the main Tour at that point, and he was 9th going into Sunday.

With the carrot of Republic of Ireland Number 1 golfer now very much within his grasp – Seamus is 49th in the OWGR, Shane Lowry who competes in Abu Dhabi is 48th – Power is the sort who backs up top-10 performances. He’s also now a Las Vegas resident who uses TPC Summerlin as a training base, so he’s certainly very acclimatised to the west coast and desert golf. RESULT: T14

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Hayden Buckley 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

There’s a lot to like about Hayden Buckley this week in my opinion, in an event where Adam Long won as a rookie in 2019. Now Buckley is no 600/1 chance on the basis that he has acquitted himself to the main Tour so well this season, but at this price I am more than happy to back him this week.

4th at the Sanderson Farms Championship. 8th at the Shriners Open and 12th last week at the Sony Open, Hayden has mixed it in some decent fields. He’s certainly shown no fear and I like his game shape for the PGA West test this week.

2nd for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 17th for Tee to Green last week at Waialae, across the whole of this season to date he ranks 10th for Off the Tee and 18th for Total Driving. Strong drivers thrive here and I like the mix of Accuracy (27th for Driving Accuracy) and Driving Distance (+300 yards), which should work a treat here in the Californian desert. He was also 2nd at the 2021 Utah Championship, played on the short Par 71 at Oakridge Country Club. RESULT: MC

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Tom Hoge 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

All prices are in play this week at a tournament where 6 of the last 12 winners have been at triple-digit odds, and a long-shot who always catches my eye for desert golf tests is Tom Hoge.

He missed the cut at the Sony Open last week having shot an opening round 66, which was hardly disastrous for his first competitive round of 2022. 4th at the RSM Classic prior to that, 17th at the ZOZO and 14th at the Shriners Open across 3 of his last 6 starts of 2021, Hoge is playing some lovely stuff. And let’s not forget his 4th place finish at the Northern Trust, played at Liberty National, where he was up there with the very best on the PGA Tour.

For me, Tom thrives on desert golf courses: 10th (2015), 4th (2017) and 6th (2019) at the Barracuda Championship when it was played at Montreux in the desert at Reno, Nevada; with Modified Stableford scoring rules, eagles and birdies are a huge currency at the Barracuda. 7th (2018) and 14th (2021) at the Shriners Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Tom was also 6th here back in 2020 when we were on board at 200/1.

I also like another line of enquiry with Hoge, this time when it comes to green surfaces. The greens this week feature TifDwarf Bermudagrass base and that surface is shared with Waialae and Seaside (RSM Classic). Tom has finished 3rd (2018) and 12th (2020) at the former and 9th (2016) and 4th (2021) at the latter, making 8 cuts from 14 appearances. Hoge is the sort who’s trending nicely, plays positively on the west coast, and whose putting performances often spike on TifDwarf Bermudagrass greens. RESULT: 2nd

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Kramer Hickok 1pt EW 150/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Kramer Hickok is undoubtedly elevating himself on the PGA Tour. 17th on my rolling 8-week Strokes Gained Current Form tracker. 25th for Tee to Green last week at the Sony Open, his putting has been positive across Houston, Sea Island and Waialae Country Club – which all feature Bermudagrass greens.

Best known to this point as Jordan Spieth’s once house mate in Dallas, Texas, Kramer is undoubtedly starting to plough his own furrow on the PGA Tour. 14th at Colonial in May was followed by 2nd place at the Pete Dye-designed TPC River Highlands at The Travelers in June. Many of you will remember the mammoth play-off where Harris English eventually prevailed. And those 2 results are Hickok in a nutshell – he undoubtedly prefers shorter courses and of late he has been performing very well on Bermudagrass greens.

4th at the Houston Open in November saw Hickok right in the mix with Jason Kokrak, Scottie Scheffler, Russell Henley and Matthew Wolff. 20th last week at Waialae featured a 65 and 66 and his visit here 12 months ago saw him finish a career-best 21st here at PGA West. Up 170 spots in the OWGR to 130th right now, I think this week in the Californian desert could be another step forward for the 29 year-old University of Texas product. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:00GMT 17.1.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.