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The American Express: Preview, Props, Best Bets

Jan 22, 2022; La Quinta, California, USA; Patrick Cantlay watches his shot on the 17th tee during the third round of the American Express golf tournament at Peter Dye Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour returns to the mainland with The American Express, which begins Thursday in La Quinta, Calif.

One of only two Pro-Ams on the tour schedule, the event features five of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings: No. 2 Scottie Scheffler, No. 4 Jon Rahm, No. 5 Patrick Cantlay, No. 6 Xander Schauffele and No. 7 Will Zalatoris.

The 154-player field will compete across three different courses.

Our golf experts preview the event and provide their top prop picks and best bets to win this week.

THE AMERICAN EXPRESS
Location: La Quinta, Calif., Jan. 19-22
Courses: PGA West (Pete Dye Stadium Course Par 72, 7,158 yards; Nicklaus Tournament, Par 72, 7,147 yards; La Quinta CC, Par 72, 7,060 yards)
Purse: $8M (Winner: $1.44M)
Defending Champion: Hudson Swafford
FedEx Cup leader: Seamus Power

HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
Streaming on ESPN+: Thursday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Twitter: @TheAmExGolf

NOTES
–Scheffler and Cantlay have mathematical chances to move to No. 1 after this week.
–Pros will be paired with an amateur and play a round at each course over the first three rounds, with the low 65 pros (and ties) playing the final round on the Stadium Course.
–Schauffele returns after withdrawing from the Tournament of Champions due to a back injury.
–The winning margin has been two shots or less every year since the event moved to a 72-hole format in 2012.
–Si Woo Kim is seeking to be the first player to win in consecutive weeks on tour since Tony Finau in 2021-22 (3M Open, Rocket Mortgage Classic).
–Brian Harman has top-10s in the American Express each of the past two years. His 26 top-10s on tour since the start of the 2017-18 season are most among players without a win during that span.
–Chad Ramey and Chris Stroud withdrew and were replaced in the field by Charley Hoffman and Dylan Wu, respectively.
–J.T. Poston has moved into the top 50 in world for the first time in his career.
–Swafford is ineligible to defend his crown due to a suspension for joining the rival LIV tour.

PROP PICKS
–Denny McCarthy Finish Higher Than J.T. Poston (+105 at DraftKings): Poston has reached the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time after posting three consecutive T21 finishes. He tied for 25th in this event last year – seven shots behind McCarthy (T6). McCarthy is still seeking his first PGA Tour victory but he did post five top-10s in 28 events last year. He’s coming off a T32 at the Sony Open, where he did scuffle after opening with a 65 while Poston posted four rounds in the 60s to beat McCarthy by two shots.

–Chez Reavie (-150) to Beat Adam Long Round 1 (+100 at PointsBet): Both players missed the cut last year but we like the underdog odds on Reavie for several reasons. This isn’t a bomber’s event, which puts a premium on strong iron play and shorts games. Reavie did post four rounds in the 60s last week, when he finished one shot ahead of Long, who made the cut for the first time in his past four starts.

–Taylor Montgomery to Win Tournament Group (+330): Montgomery continues to rack up quality finishes in his rookie season, including at T12 in Honolulu that could have been much better if not for a third-round 70. Regardless, it was his seventh top-15 in nine starts this season. It’s a strong group that includes Will Zalatoris (+260), Tom Kim (+275), Aaron Wise (+330) and Cameron Young (+350), but we like Montgomery’s strong form over the past four-plus months along with a solid potential payout.

BEST BETS
–Jon Rahm (+600 at BetMGM) won the event in 2018 and is coming off a victory in the Tournament of Champions. His streak of 20 consecutive cuts made is the longest on tour. The strong pre-tournament favorite, Rahm had drawn only 2.0 percent of the winning bets and 2.2 percent of the money at BetMGM as of Wednesday.
–Scheffler (+1000) held a share of the lead after the second and third rounds in 2020 before finishing third, and enters with three consecutive top-10 finishes on tour.
–Cantlay (+1100) has three consecutive top-10s in the event, including a runner-up in 2021. He holds a scoring average of 67.17 and has averaged 6.17 birdies per round in four previous event starts.
–Tony Finau (+1400) has three wins and six top-10s in his past eight starts, and has been backed by 3.8 percent of the bets and 4.3 percent of the money.
–Tom Kim is a two-time winner on tour at 20 years old and has risen to 14th in the world. He has been backed by the third-highest handle in the field at 7.1 percent, leading his odds to shorten a bit after opening at +2500.
–Zalatoris (+2000) finished T6 in his tournament debut last year, including a second-round 61.
–Mongtomery (+4500) is still seeking his first tour victory but his recent form isn’t being ignored by the public, either. He is the second-biggest liability at BetMGM this week, having been backed by 8.3 percent of the bets and 9.5 percent of the handle.
–Cam Davis (+5000) is the sportsbook’s biggest liability as he leads the field with 9.0 and 11.0 percent of the action, respectively. He finished solo third in the event the last time he played in the American Express in 2021.
–Sahith Theegala (+5000) is the third-biggest liability, having been backed by 6.7 percent of the tickets. Also seeking his first tour win, Theegala grew up in nearby Chino Hills. He tied for 33rd here last year and has three top-10s in seven starts this season.
–Andrew Landry (+40000) has missed 21 of 37 cuts over the past two years with only two top-10s in that span. However, he does have three top-two finishes in his PGA Tour career – two of them being a playoff loss to Rahm in 2018 and a win at the American Express two years later.

–Field Level Media