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  • Nate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: The American Express (2023)


Following the first full field event of the calendar year at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the Tour now turns its attention to The American Express.


As we’re starting to get grips on this 2022-2023 season and following the first full field event, we get another wrench thrown into things with this unique format.


Over the first three days of the tournament the field will play across three different courses. The courses are the La Quinta Country Club, PGA West Nicklaus Course and the PGA West Stadium Course.


What also makes this event unique is the fact that the cut comes after the third day of the tournament, opposed to the typical second. The top 65 scores and ties advance to Sunday where they’ll play a second round at the PGA West Stadium Course.


This makes it difficult to predict this event due there being three courses in play. For our analysis we’ll focus mainly on the PGA West Stadium Course as they play two rounds there as well as the PGA West Nicklaus Course which shares a few similarities.


The West Stadium is a Pete Dye design and is far-and-away the hardest of the three courses.


This is a hazard-ridden course with over 90 sand bunkers and water being in play in nine of the eighteen holes.


Hitting the fairway will be crucial this week with the amount of hazards in play.


Additionally, ball striking will be key. With most Pete Dye designs, there will be a multitude of forced layups with 150-175 yards being the most popular distance in approaching the green.


The four par fives at the Stadium Course will be the most crucial holes of the event as that is where most of the scoring will be done. With the course being as challenging it is, the par fives offer a breath of fresh air and are the easiest of the holes offered.


Par threes too will be important this week in terms of overall scoring.


The greens are Bermuda with heavy additional seeding of Ryegrass and Poa Trivialis forcing them to be slower.


With the smaller landing targets and the multitude of hazards combined with the narrow fairways, scrambling will be important as well.


As for the field, this is a pro-am event. Although the field is littered with amateurs, it is still the best field in modern history of the event.


Five of the world’s top seven golfers will be in attendance in Scottie Scheffler (2nd,) Jon Rahm (4th,) Patrick Cantlay (5th,) Xander Schauffele (6th) and Will Zalatoris (7th.) Other notable attendees include Tony Finau, Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Cameron Young and Sam Burns.


As for weather this week, temperatures will range from the low-to-mid 60’s with little to no chance of precipitation. Ideal for golf.


Important statistics this week include:

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Hit Fairway Percentage

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

  • Par 5 Scoring

  • Par 3 Scoring

  • Sand Saves Percentage

  • Strokes Gained: Scrambling (SG: SCR)

  • Proximity to the Hole from 150-175 Yards


$10,000+

Tony Finau ($10,200) continues to pop up in this series and that's for good reason. Finau has had a great start to the season. He already has a win on the season at the Cadence Bank Houston Open. He also placed seventh at both the Hero World challenge and Sentry Tournament of Champions. On the season across the Tour, he’s currently tops in par three scoring. He’s also third in birdie or better percentage, tenth in par five scoring, 12th in SG: APP, 17th in hit fairway percentage, 22nd in SG: SCR and 99th in sand saves percentage. His “downfall” is his current 165th placing in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. Finau is still an elite ball striker and he’ll climb the rankings in time. I’m not looking too far into that. Also consider Jon Rahm ($10,800.) Rahm will continually be one of the favorites no matter the tournament. In his three events played thus far this season he’s placed T4th at the CJ Cup in South Carolina and T8th at the Hero World Challenge. He topped all of that by winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii two weeks ago. He’s currently tops on tour in both birdie or better percentage and par five scoring. He’s also tenth in par three scoring, 27th in SG: SCR, 42nd in hit fairway percentage and 49th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. He currently ranks 120th in SG: APP but again, he’ll certainly improve on that ranking throughout that season and make his way towards the top of that statistic. He’s also near the bottom in sand saves percentage but has just eight attempts on the season. Rahm should be competitive into Sunday as usual.


$9,000-$9,900

Although I was burned by him last week, Tom Kim ($9,500) is my favorite this week. He’s top seven in four of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week and top 18 in seven of them. He’s currently second in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards which will be crucial this week. He’s also third in par three scoring, sixth in hit fairway percentage, seventh in SG: APP, 11th in birdie or better percentage, 13th in par five scoring and 18th in SG: SCR. He’s a hair below average in sand saves percentage ranking 119th. Kim burst onto the scene earlier this year with a win at the Shriners Children's Open. He’s also placed T5th at the sentry tournament of champions, T10th at the Hero World Challenge, T11th at the CJ Cup in South Carolina and T25th at the Zozo Championship. Also consider Brian Harman ($9,300.) Harman is actually one of two golfers we’ll mention in this article that is above average in each of the eight statistical categories we're taking into consideration this week. He’s currently fourth in SG: SCR, 12th in birdie or better percentage, 16th in both hit fairway percentage and par five scoring. He’s also 38th in sand saves percentage, 54th in SG: APP, 75th in par three scoring and 77th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. Harman has made the cut in all seven events he’s played thus far this season. In all of those seven tournaments, his worst finish was T32nd. He has two second place finishes at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and the RSM Classic. He’s as well rounded for this upcoming event as you can get.


$8,000-$8,900

I know I harp on it, but this is typically a price range I do not enjoy. However, per our module this week, the two options we have here are quality. First up we have K.H. Lee ($8,300.) Like Harman, Lee has played in seven tournaments on the season and has made the cut in all of them. His best finish was third at the CJ Cup in South Carolina. He also placed T7th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Across the Tour, he’s currently eighth in par three scoring, tenth in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 18th in birdie or better percentage, 19th in SG: APP, 36th in hit fairway percentage and 75th in par five scoring. Also consider ol trusty Tom Hoge ($8,400.) It wouldn’t be an Out of the Rough article if we didn’t include the statistical golfer that is Hoge. Hoge has played in eight tournaments on the season, missing the cut in just one of them. He recently went T3rd at the Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago. Additionally, he’s gone T4th at the Shriners Children’s Open and T9th at the Zozo Championship. Currently, Hoge is tops on tour in SG: APP. For a tournament where ball striking will be key, being the best on tour gives Hoge a big advantage. Additionally, he’s tenth in birdie or better percentage, 49th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 52nd in par five scoring, 56th in hit fairway percentage, 75th in par three scoring, 79th in SG: SCR and 108th in sand saves percentage. He’s above average in each of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration this week while being dead average in sand saves percentage.


$7,000-$7,9000

Matthew NeSmith ($7,100) has been nothing short of great with his approach shots to start this season. He’s currently fourth in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards and 14th in SG: APP. He’s also sixth in par three scoring, 36th in birdie or better percentage, 54th in sand saves percentage, 65th in par five scoring and 100th in hit fairway percentage. NeSmith has not been seen since the RSM Classic in late November where he missed the cut. Prior to that however he had a string of impressive performances. He went T9th at the Sanderson Farms Championship, T2nd at the Shriners Children’s Hospital Open and T9th at the Zozo Championship. Both these picks in this price range are quality in my book this week. Also consider Brendon Todd ($7,500.) Todd has had a good start to this season as well. Currently he is 18th in birdie or better percentage, 32nd in hit fairway percentage, 34th in par five scoring, 39th in SG: SCR, 46th in SG: APP, 62nd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards and 69th in sand saves percentage. He’s also slightly below average in par three scoring. In seven tournaments this season, he’s missed just two cuts. Last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, he placed T21st. He’s also gone T7th at the CJ Cup in South Carolina and T9th at the Fortinet Championship.


$6,900-

This is where the fun begins. Leading off this price range is Andrew Novak ($6,400.) Novak quietly placed T12th last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii and also went T17th earlier this season at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Novak is actually second on tour in sand saves percentage. Additionally he’s 13th in SG: SCR, 23rd in par 5 scoring, 29th in SG: APP, 34th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 110th in birdie or better percentage, 112th in par three scoring and 138th in hit fairway percentage. Those statistics at this price, you can’t go wrong. He’s also currently at +32000 to win. Do with that information as you will. Also consider Justin Lower ($6,800.) Lower has missed the cut in his last two events but prior to that, had a run of making five consecutive cuts, highlighted by a T4th at the Fortinet Championship and T8th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He’s 13th on tour in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 18th in birdie or better percentage, 36th in sand saves percentage, 41st in hit fairway percentage, 42nd in par five scoring, 79th in SG: APP, 95th in SG: SCR and 123rd in par three scoring. Those are some pretty well rounded stats for someone in this price range.

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