The American Express 2024 Preview: Everything You Need To Know About PGA West
It’s another week of golf action on the PGA TOUR. The next stop is the 2024 American Express at PGA West. Find American Express odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential PGA TOUR golf betting payouts. Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, and Xander Schauffele project as the top favorites for this upcoming tournament.
The PGA TOUR heads east to PGA West for the first event of the season on the continental U.S., the 2024 American Express. We see the return of the Pro-Am format and three-course rotation between the Stadium Course, Nicklaus Tournament Course, and La Quinta Country Club. This isn’t my favorite event on the schedule. A variety of courses isn’t always a bad thing, but when there are different flavors of the same birdie-fest, it’s hard for me to get excited. The absence of ShotLink data on 50% of rounds played adds a layer of randomness, making it more difficult to accurately handicap players who suit the course.
Is this a putting contest? Yes. Rahm would tell you so himself in more colorful language. That is, if he were here. The two-time winner of this event wasn’t welcomed back since ditching the PGA TOUR for LIV.
At PGA West, the rough is essentially nonexistent across all three courses. Outside of the water hazards – which come into play on about one-third of the holes – there are very few hazards to offer resistance from tee to green. Unlike last week’s sub-7,200-yard setup, there is little reward for position off the tee across PGA West’s courses. Instead, we’ll look to hone in on players who thrived in other birdie-fests, comp conditions, and similar Pro-Am setups.
Let’s dive into the storylines and stats that matter most in 2024 American Express odds.
2024 OPENING American Express ODDS: THE FAVORITES
Find players with odds shorter than 10-1 below. Scroll to the bottom to compare complete outright odds across major sportsbooks in your state.
THE FIELD AT A GLANCE
We tend not to expect elite names to come in droves to a birdie-fest, let alone one laden with amateurs and six-hour rounds each day. Despite The AmEx’s modest purse this week, many of the game’s best still committed to making the trip to beautiful Coachella Valley in this full field of 156 players.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler headlines the field this week. Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and Wyndham Clark round out the field of OWGR top 10s. Other notable names in the field include Tom Kim, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Sungjae Im, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, and Tony Finau. There’s a significant upgrade to the field strength this year.
Daniel Berger also makes his long-anticipated return. He’ll have plenty of rust to shake off, not having played since the 2022 U.S. Open due to injury.
This event proved to be a gateway to the LIV TOUR, with Rahm and Hudson Swafford leaving after wins the last two years. Si Woo Kim, Andrew Landry, and Adam Long complete the list of former champions teeing it up this week.
- Join TheLines.com’s free sports betting Discord with more than 4,000 community members and our staff sharing betting ideas every day. Go to the #roles server to get push notifications to the Discord app from TheLines.com staff when they lock in a bet.
INTRODUCTION TO PGA WEST & THE PRO-AM FORMAT
The American Express is the first event of the season each year to feature a Pro-Am setup. That format is in place throughout the first three days of this tournament. Each pro pairs up with an amateur, so each foursome has two pros and two amateurs. In the three-course rotation format, that means about 50 pros will be playing the courses each day, rotating Thursday through Saturday before the 70-man, 54-hole cut. All players through the cut play the Stadium Course for a second time on Sunday.
In this event’s early days – known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic – the Pro-Am was a massive draw for some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood. Previous inclusions: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Gerald Ford. Over time, however, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am has attracted more celebrities to its field, with less notable amateur names coming to The AmEx.
It also adds three very important nuances compared to a typical PGA TOUR Event:
- More accessible pin locations
- Slowed down green speeds
- 6+ hour rounds
It’s a different animal and may explain why players like Phil Mickelson, Patrick Cantlay, and Tom Hoge have such strong history both here and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It’s not for everyone, but clearly some favor this unique format.
How It Breaks Down
The courses this week share many of the same traits. Each of them is Par-72, under 7,200 yards, overseeded dormant Bermuda grass, desert-style, and is very easy to score on. Particularly, they feature reachable Par-5s and shorter Par-4s.
Across the three courses, 41% of holes fall in the Par-4: 350-450 range. Par-5 Scoring will be crucial to keep pace this week as all three courses feature four reachable par-5s and a heavy concentration in the 500-550-yard range.
The Stadium Course – played once Thursday through Saturday and again Sunday – presents the greatest challenge of the three. It’s a Pete Dye design emulating TPC Sawgrass with challenging water hazards on seven holes. Avoiding the water on the Stadium Course will be key this week, as there will be very little resistance from the other courses. Its best defense is in its par-3s, as holes on the back nine rank No. 1, 2, and 4 in scoring difficulty. They have proven decisive in crowning a champion on Sundays.
Overall, there are 10 holes at the Stadium Course with a scoring average below par. The historical scoring average is -1.33.
La Quinta Country and Nicklaus Tournament Course are considerably easier. Players need to capitalize by going low on those two rounds to keep pace. Though they lack ShotLink data, both courses feature a scoring average of -2.1 and share the same concentration of short par-4s and reachable par-5s.
For PGA West course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past American Express winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our American Express odds page.
Event HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
We’ll sub out any “Course History” terminology with “Event History,” looking at players who played best across each of the three courses. Only half of the four rounds this week will be played at the Stadium Course, which holds all the SG data.
Looking at recent finishes, 10 players posted multiple T15 finishes over the last five years: Sungjae Im, Patrick Cantlay, Si Woo Kim, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Andrew Putnam, Tom Hoge, Sam Burns, JT Poston, and Roger Sloan.
Seven players avoided missing the cut in this event over the last five years (min. three appearances): Sungjae Im, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Adam Hadwin, Andrew Putnam, Henrik Norlander, and Josh Teater.
In terms of Event History list, it’s Sungjae Im who stands alone. Im finished inside the top 20 in all five career appearances. He continues to have strong results on comp desert-style courses. After Sungjae, the rest of the top 10 in Event History rounds out with Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar, Ryan Palmer, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, Sam Burns, and David Lingmerth.
I’d be hesitant to compare PGA West to many of the other short courses on TOUR. The courses at PGA West aren’t positional and don’t penalize players for missing the fairway. That is, as long as they avoid the water on the Stadium Course.
Of the short setups on TOUR, The Stadium Course is most similar to Sea Island (Seaside) and TPC River Highlands. Both short courses feature persistent water hazards. From fairway to green, PGA West also draws comparisons to desert courses (TPC Summerlin, TPC Scottsdale, Summit Club) and open, second-shot birdie fests (CC of Jackson, Keene Trace GC, Monterey Peninsula).
The Stadium Course is an authentic Pete Dye design, made in the image of TPC Sawgrass. Although it plays much easier, it’s definitely worth a closer look. Looking at SG: TOT over the last 36 rounds, the top 10 players in Comp Course History at these tracks are Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Adam Hadwin, Scottie Scheffler, Taylor Montgomery, JT Poston, and Seamus Power.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER FOR 2024 Amex ODDS
- SG: APP
- Birdies or Better Gained
- SG: TOT (Easy Scoring Conditions)
- Par-5 Scoring
- Par-4: 350-450
- Par-3 Scoring
- Good Drives Gained
- SG: P (L36)
- Course & Comp Course History
The Strokes Gained data only tells half the story this week. As a result, we’re flying blind for two of the four rounds (La Quinta, Nicklaus Course). There’s plenty of value still in what the Stadium Course numbers are telling us but, given that blind spot in data, I’m leaning on broader and overarching stats this week. These will be relevant across all four rounds.
Look beyond Rahm, and the list of past winners suggests that driving distance doesn’t matter here. Recent wins from Si Woo Kim, Andrew Landry, Adam Long, Patrick Reed, and Brian Gay defend that case. That would usually come as no surprise, but PGA West truly is a collection of second-shot courses which rewards players who can spike with their irons and putting. This week, the top 10 in terms of SG: APP leading in are: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Sam Ryder, Adam Schenk, Mark Hubbard, Alex Smalley, Eric Cole, Aaron Rai, Patrick Cantlay, and Chez Reavie.
La Quinta CC and the Nicklaus Tournament Course perennially rank in the top three easiest courses on TOUR. Rather than over-analyzing hole by hole, we can suffice to say the best birdie-makers should take advantage of these two courses. The top 10 players in Birdies or Better Gained are: Eric Cole, Scottie Scheffler, JT Poston, Xander Schauffele, Sam Ryder, Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Will Zalatoris, Justin Suh, and Patrick Cantlay.
Refining this down in the simplest terms – I’m looking for elite iron players, streaky putting, and those who have proven they can go low in comparable conditions. Six players in the field this week rank top-40 in SG: APP, SG: P, Birdies or Better Gained, SG: TOT (Easy Conditions), and Comp Course History: Eric Cole, JT Poston, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tom Kim, and Sam Ryder.
Since we only have historical Strokes Gained data from the Stadium Course, correlation charts should be taken with a grain of salt. But if you buy into the notion that if you can play well at the Stadium Course, you should also play well at the two easier courses, then this may still be useful.
At the Stadium Course, we see a notable jump in the importance of Par-3 Scoring, specifically Par-3: 0-150 Yards. Though the stock yardages don’t show it, No. 4 & No. 17 can play to <150 yards when tee boxes are moved around. That makes for viable birdie opportunities in an event where birdies are the prime commodity. The top five players in Par-3 Scoring are: Eric Cole, Mark Hubbard, Justin Suh, Greyson Sigg, and Sam Burns.
Driving Distance has been more helpful than TOUR average at this event, though not of paramount importance. The longer-range metrics like Prox 200+ and Par-4: 500+ have had no correlation with success here.
Taking each of the above key categories into account, seven players fall above average in all 10 categories at the Stadium Course: Eric Cole, JT Poston, Sungjae Im, Patrick Cantlay, Stephan Jaeger, Adam Hadwin, and Greyson Sigg.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: ADAM SCHENK
A birdie-fest accentuates the importance of high-level iron play and putting compared to your average week on TOUR. The AmEx has proven to be one of the most extreme examples of a birdie-fest over the last decade. If we narrow in on the players who are best at approach and putting, Schenk starts to stand out on a shorter list as a potential value in the event that has proven kind to longshots.
Ranking No. 3 in SG: APP over the last 36 rounds, Schenk is one of only 10 players in the field to rank in the top-40 in both SG: APP and SG: Putting. He began his year at the Sentry, where he ranked No. 11 in SG: T2G – not a bad display to shake off the rust in his first trip to Kapalua. Each of the last eight winners of The AmEx started in Hawaii in the weeks prior, so being able to log some competitive rounds should bode well.
From a value standpoint, we’ll likely see a discount on Schenk’s odds, thanks to the 16 strokes he lost at this event last year. A few unlucky bounces into the water on the Stadium Course turned a round sideways quickly, and course history is not highly predictive here. Hudson Swafford missed the cut in this event three times between his wins in 2017 and 2022, and Adam Long finished no better than T69 since his win in 2019.
In arguably the best form of his career, I expect Schenk to pick up his first PGA TOUR victory this season soon. I won’t be surprised if it comes in La Quinta.
2024 american express: DFS Player Pool
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early toward the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2024 American Express odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by actualized pricing/odds tier for DraftKings and rankings projections for Underdog Fantasy, with odds and pricing released earlier this week.
UNDERDOG GOLF DRAFT RANKINGS TIERS
Si Woo Kim
Model Results & Breakdown
For my model in Fantasy National this week, I’m prioritizing SG: APP, Comp Course History, BoB Gained, SG: TOT (Easy Scoring Conditions), and SG: P (L36), followed by a balanced mix of Par-5 Scoring, Good Drives Gained, and Par-4: 350-450 yards.
A boy among men in this field loaded with elite talents, it’s JT Poston who climbs to the No. 1 overall spot in my model this week. Poston is an ideal fit for PGA West’s combination of target golf at the Stadium Course and the birdie-fest that comes with La Quinta CC and Nicklaus Tournament Course. He ranks No. 1 in SG: Putting and No. 3 in Birdies or Better Gained. He’ll look to improve on his T6 finish here last year.
After Poston, my model’s top 10 rounds out with Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Eric Cole, Scottie Scheffler, Tom Kim, Adam Hadwin, Sungjae Im, Wyndham Clark, and Sam Ryder.
The trends suggest fading the favorites and building out exposure across a wider list of longshots. However, with an uncharacteristically strong field, I’ll be open to concentrating exposure to the favorites if the value is there. I’m not opposed to betting Scheffler, Cantlay, or Schauffele, but assuming their odds are too short, I am more likely to begin my card with players like Tom Kim, Eric Cole, Adam Schenk, and JT Poston.
Check back here on Monday when the odds are posted. Thanks for reading, and good luck navigating 2024 American Express odds!
2024 American Express Odds Comparison Table
Check back Monday for American Express odds.