GOLF

The American Express: Course Notes, Daily Fantasy Golf Picks, Win Simulations, and Best Bets

Is Jon Rahm a lock for betting cards and our FanDuel lineups? Who else is primed for a strong weekend?

The American Express is back to the usual process this week with a three-course rotation that leads to a 54-hole cut.

Last year, the course rotation was just two, but we've got La Quinta Country Club back on the menu along with the PGA West Stadium Course and the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Of course, 54-hole cuts reduce variance and allow the better golfers to separate. Is that what the simulations have to say? And which picks for FanDuel lineups stand out in this particular setup? Let's find out.

You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.

Course Information
Key Stats
Golfers With Great Course History
Win Simulations
Best Bets
Daily Fantasy Picks

Event Information

Past 5 Winning Scores: -23*, -26, -26, -22, -20
Past 5 Cut Lines: -4*, -9, -9, -8, -5

Even with just the two-course, 36-hole cut last year, we saw a 4-under cut and a 23-under winner (Si Woo Kim), pretty much in line with the historic trend of this being a birdie-friendly event that brings into play a lot of the field.

Just take a look back at past leaderboards, and you'll see what I mean.

Given that, the overarching theme should lead to birdie scorers being the focal point yet again this week on the PGA Tour.

PGA West (Stadium Course) Information

Par: 72
Distance: 7,113
Average Green Size: 5,000 square feet
Green Type: Bermuda
Stimpmeter: 11+

PGA West (Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course) Information

Par: 72
Distance: 7,159
Average Green Size: 7,000 square feet
Green Type: Bermuda
Stimpmeter: N/A

La Quinta Country Club Course Information

Par: 72
Distance: 7,060
Average Green Size: N/A
Green Type: Bermuda
Stimpmeter: N/A

The three courses are all par 72s with plenty of par 5s, and the low scores make sense with the guaranteed 54 holes.

Key Stats

- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Driving Distance
- Par 5 Scoring
- Birdie or Better Rate
- Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda

This recipe is getting a bit old and tiresome, but when you're digging into courses that require scores 20-under or better to compete for a win, you need scoring, and that comes from putting well and just being a good birdie-maker.

We're also dealing with three par 72s, and driving distance matters a good deal at the Stadium course while being about average at the two others in the rotation, per datagolf. Basically, no specific quirks are required here. Hit it long, pure the irons, and make the putts.

The Stadium Course is also one of the easiest places to pick up strokes around the green.

Golfers With Great Course/Event History

Past winners in the field include Si Woo Kim (2021), Andrew Landry (2020), Adam Long (2019), Jon Rahm (2018), Hudson Swafford (2017), Jason Dufner (2016), Bill Haas (2010, 2015), Patrick Reed (2014), Brian Gay (2013), Mark Wilson (2012), Jhonattan Vegas (2011), Pat Perez (2009), and Phil Mickelson (2002, 2004). Whew. So, all winners since 2009 are here.

Golfers with at least six rounds here and a strokes-gained-per-round average of at least 1.2: Patrick Cantlay (2.8), Si Woo Kim (2.8), Jon Rahm (2.3), Adam Hadwin (2.2), Justin Rose (2.0), Patrick Reed (1.9), Ryan Moore (1.8), Sungjae Im (1.5), Andrew Landry (1.5), Brandt Snedeker (1.4), Charles Howell (1.3), Tony Finau (1.2), Talor Gooch (1.2), Brendon Todd (1.2), Michael Thompson (1.2), Phil Mickelson (1.2), Scott Stallings (1.2), Jason Dufner (1.2), and Bill Haas (1.2).

Win Simulations

Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuel
Salary
Win% Top-
10%
Made
Cut%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win
Odds
Jon
Rahm
$12,100 13.8% 51.7% 91.2% +600
Patrick
Cantlay
$11,900 9.5% 44.7% 89.1% +750
Scottie
Scheffler
$11,500 4.4% 28.1% 78.7% +1900
Tony
Finau
$11,300 3.5% 23.6% 76.0% +2400
Sungjae
Im
$11,400 3.2% 21.8% 74.4% +2100
Corey
Conners
$11,200 3.0% 23.0% 75.5% +2400
Talor
Gooch
$10,700 2.7% 20.6% 72.8% +2900
Seamus
Power
$10,600 2.1% 16.8% 68.8% +3200
Russell
Henley
$10,500 2.1% 15.8% 67.3% +3600
Cameron
Tringale
$10,200 1.9% 18.5% 71.2% +4600
Abraham
Ancer
$11,100 1.8% 16.9% 69.5% +2900
Will
Zalatoris
$10,400 1.6% 15.6% 68.0% +4600
Jhonattan
Vegas
$9,700 1.6% 15.4% 67.4% +7500
Taylor
Moore
$8,800 1.4% 15.4% 66.9% +10000
Matthew
Wolff
$10,900 1.4% 14.4% 65.6% +3100
Justin
Rose
$10,300 1.3% 13.8% 65.6% +4600
Luke
List
$9,600 1.3% 13.5% 64.2% +7000
Alex
Noren
$10,000 1.1% 14.1% 64.2% +6500
Patrick
Reed
$10,800 1.1% 13.3% 63.7% +3400
Harold
Varner
III
$9,500 1.0% 13.6% 63.8% +12000
Christiaan
Bezuidenhout
$9,900 1.0% 11.4% 60.6% +5500
Carlos
Ortiz
$9,800 1.0% 10.6% 59.2% +7500
Kyoung-hoon
Lee
$9,000 0.9% 8.6% 54.2% +12000
Charles
Howell
III
$9,400 0.9% 8.3% 55.4% +9000
Alex
Smalley
$8,500 0.9% 10.6% 58.9% +16000
Kevin
Streelman
$9,200 0.8% 10.3% 58.7% +9000
Siwoo
Kim
$9,900 0.8% 7.9% 52.2% +4600
Sebastian
Munoz
$9,000 0.8% 9.7% 57.5% +12000
Lanto
Griffin
$8,900 0.7% 10.5% 58.4% +12000
Gary
Woodland
$9,300 0.7% 9.7% 57.0% +8000
Chris
Kirk
$9,400 0.7% 9.5% 56.9% +9000
Chad
Ramey
$8,000 0.6% 7.6% 50.9% +19000
Taylor
Pendrith
$8,100 0.6% 6.9% 50.6% +19000
Patton
Kizzire
$8,500 0.6% 7.1% 51.0% +16000
Rickie
Fowler
$10,100 0.6% 8.2% 54.3% +5000
Brendan
Steele
$8,700 0.6% 8.3% 53.6% +12000
Tom
Hoge
$8,600 0.6% 6.8% 50.4% +14000
Patrick
Rodgers
$8,600 0.6% 7.5% 52.3% +12000
Jason
Day
$8,900 0.6% 7.2% 52.0% +7500
Emiliano
Grillo
$8,800 0.6% 8.1% 53.8% +16000
Vincent
Whaley
$8,300 0.6% 6.4% 50.6% +16000
Denny
McCarthy
$8,800 0.6% 6.9% 50.3% +12000
Troy
Merritt
$8,700 0.6% 8.7% 53.4% +16000
Doug
Ghim
$8,700 0.6% 7.0% 50.7% +9000
Adam
Hadwin
$9,500 0.5% 7.7% 52.4% +7500
Russell
Knox
$9,100 0.5% 6.6% 49.4% +8000
Aaron
Rai
$8,600 0.5% 6.0% 48.3% +16000
Lucas
Glover
$8,900 0.5% 5.7% 47.7% +7500
Brian
Harman
$9,800 0.5% 8.0% 53.7% +8500
Michael
Thompson
$8,500 0.5% 5.8% 47.4% +7500
C.T.
Pan
$8,100 0.5% 6.4% 48.1% +19000
Scott
Stallings
$8,000 0.5% 6.3% 48.8% +28000
Nick
Hardy
$7,800 0.4% 5.5% 45.6% +19000
Harry
Higgs
$7,900 0.4% 6.4% 48.8% +19000
Danny
Lee
$8,600 0.4% 5.7% 47.4% +16000
Hank
Lebioda
$7,600 0.4% 6.5% 49.0% +28000
Pat
Perez
$7,700 0.4% 7.2% 50.2% +19000
Adam
Svensson
$8,300 0.4% 5.1% 45.9% +11000
Adam
Long
$9,100 0.4% 5.0% 45.1% +16000
Adam
Schenk
$8,300 0.4% 6.3% 49.5% +19000
Tyler
McCumber
$7,000 0.4% 5.5% 46.2% +28000
Davis
Riley
$7,800 0.4% 4.9% 44.4% +16000
Joseph
Bramlett
$7,400 0.4% 4.2% 41.8% +28000
Hudson
Swafford
$7,600 0.3% 4.5% 42.2% +19000
Chez
Reavie
$9,000 0.3% 6.1% 48.4% +12000
Andrew
Novak
$7,300 0.3% 5.9% 45.9% +35000
Kramer
Hickok
$8,400 0.3% 4.5% 42.6% +12000
Cameron
Champ
$9,700 0.3% 4.4% 42.1% +10000
Hayden
Buckley
$8,400 0.3% 4.2% 41.2% +12000

Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets

Though Jon Rahm's win odds are down at +600, it's actually a fair number. That doesn't mean I'd bet it myself, but usually, nobody with odds that short rates out as close to a fair value. Rahm does. That's how good he's been.

Patrick Cantlay is overvalued at +750, yet if we're not betting either Cantlay or Rahm, we can take a number of swipes at reasonable numbers.

That strategy would point me to Tony Finau (+2400), Talor Gooch (+2900), Cameron Tringale (+4600), Luke List (+7000), Jhonattan Vegas (+7500), Carlos Ortiz (+7500), and Taylor Moore (+10000). Finau and Gooch are in play for outright, and the others are more primed for top-10 and top-20 plays.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for The American Express

All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.

Best of the Best

Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,100 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +600) - There's no way around it: Rahm is worth the salary in head-to-head formats and is a strong consideration-with-pivots play in tournaments. He's 13.8% likely to win, per my simulations, and that puts him on par with the +600 odds he has on FanDuel Sportsbook. Across my adjusted strokes gained stats over the past year, Rahm is in the 91st percentile or better in all four of them. The only argument against him is game theory, and the argument against that is that he's guaranteed 54 holes to prove he's the best in the field.

Tony Finau ($11,300 | +2400) - Finau is really good across the board when it comes to the tee-to-green side of things, and over 54 guaranteed holes, that should help him separate while maintaining a high floor. Despite poor bermuda putting splits (he's really just losing -0.10 strokes per round on the surface over his past 100), Finau has finished 14th and 4th at this event over the past two years. The salary is low enough for him to fit as a second stud or as an anchor in a more balanced lineup approach.

Others to Consider:
Patrick Cantlay ($11,900 | +750) -
A prime pivot from Rahm and a clear cut above everyone else in the field.
Talor Gooch ($10,700 | +2900) - One of seven golfers to play the past two weeks (15th and then 27th); balanced across the board.
Seamus Power ($10,600 | +3200) - Also played the past two events (15th and then 3rd) and is in great form.

Mid-Range Picks

Jhonattan Vegas ($9,700 | +7500) - Despite pretty long win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook and just field-average bermuda putting splits (0.01 per round over his past 100), Vegas is really a core play for me. He's super long off the tee (97th percentile) and makes a ton of birdies (98th) due to striping the irons. With the fact that it's not that hard to pick up strokes around the green here, that helps someone like Vegas, who is just average with the wedges.

Luke List ($9,600 | +7000) - List will need to conquer his putting (7th percentile over the past year and even worse -- 1st -- on bermuda specifically); however, we can mitigate that a bit with the extra guaranteed round before the cut. List had finished 11th and 10th at the Houston Open and The RSM Classic, respectively, at the end of 2021. His results at the AmEx are mixed but include two top-25s in seven tries.

Others to Consider:
Cameron Tringale ($10,200 | +4600) - A strong option at a reasonable salary: 84th percentile or better in bermuda putting, approach, and around-the-green play.
Carlos Ortiz ($9,800 | +7500) - Someone we can probably bump up due to the wedge play narrative; a better ball-striker than short-gamer.
Gary Woodland ($9,300 | +8000) - Irons are 83rd-percentile the past year with adjustments, and he can go low (90th percentile in birdie or better gained).
Kevin Streelman ($9,200 | +9000) - A fine option in the low-$9,000 range; 85th-percentile tee-to-green numbers.

Low-Salaried Picks

Lanto Griffin ($8,900 | +12000) - Griffin has red-flag notices on his around-the-green play (19th percentile in this field), and again, that's a potential angle to pursue this week. Outside of that, Griffin is pretty great: he has 76th-percentile adjusted iron play and 78th-percentile adjusted putting over the past year.

Patton Kizzire ($8,500 | +16000) - A similar case is made for Kizzire, whose irons (74th percentile) and putting (77th percentile) are great and whose wedges (36th) are iffy. Kizzire, though, has S-tier bermuda splits (+0.69 strokes gained per round; 98th percentile). Though that hasn't translated to much success here recently, the path is there for him to thrive.

Others to Consider:
Sebastian Munoz ($9,000 | +12000) - Balance. Good putting. Typical Munoz story for this week.
Taylor Moore ($8,800 | +10000) - My win sims' ideal pick below $9,000; great off the tee and with short game but irons are lagging.
Alex Smalley ($8,500 | +16000) - Good birdie maker on Tour so far and adjusted form has him 86th percentile overall.
Taylor Pendrith ($8,100 | +19000) - Super long off the tee with positive putting splits on bermuda in a small sample thus far.