Following the first full field event of the 2024 PGA Tour season at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the Tour returns to the continental United States.
The Tour heads to PGA West for the first tournament of the season in the continental United States in The American Express.
This event also serves as the first Pro-Am of the season, as each of the first three days will see a professional paired with an amateur.
Also unique to this event is the fact that it is staged over three different courses across the first three days with the cut coming after 54-holes.
Across each of the first three days, golfers will play each of the Stadium Course, Nicklaus Tournament Course and the La Quinta Country Club. Although different, each course is part of PGA West and are essentially different forms of birdie-fest type venues.
Professionals who make the cut will then return to the Stadium Course for the final round on Sunday.
Each of the first three days will see two professionals and two amateurs per hole, which also makes each round on average, the longest of the season.
The cut will consist of the top 70 golfers plus ties.
It’s also worth noting that there is only strokes gained data for the Stadium Course this week.
This week’s field is one of the better ones we’ve seen at The American Express in some time.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler leads the charge and will be joined by three others within the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) in Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark.
Other notable names teeing it up this week include Tom Kim, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Sungjae Im, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.
Jon Rahm is the defending champion but of course will not be in attendance due to his recent move to the LIV Tour.
Former winners of this event playing this week include Si Woo Kim, Andrew Landry and Adam Long.
The much anticipated return of Daniel Berger will take place this week as well as the American returns to action following injury for the first time since the 2022 U.S. Open.
Although the event takes place over three different courses, for the sake of this article I will be focusing on the Stadium Course due to it being played twice this week and the only one of the courses to have strokes gained data.
The Stadium Course
This is easily the most difficult of the three venues golfers will play this week.
It is a Pete Dye design that emulates TPC Sawgrass - home of THE PLAYERS Championship.
It plays as a Par 72 at 7,187 yards,
Water is the course's main line of defense as it comes into play on seven holes. Avoiding the water will be the biggest challenge golfers face this week.
Beyond the water, this course’s other main line of defense is its par-threes. Three of the par-threes featured this week rank as the first, second and fourth toughest holes on the entire course.
Being able to navigate these challenging par-threes will be the key to an hopeful winner.
Overall, there are ten holes at the Stadium Course with a scoring average below par.
Nicklaus Tournament Course
As previously mentioned, both the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the La Quinta Country Club are much easier than the Stadium Course.
The Nicklaus Tournament Course plays as a Par 72 at 7,147 yards
This is also the only course on the PGA Tour to feature two island greens.
La Quinta Country Club
This is the easiest of the three courses and at one point, between 2017 and 2020, played as the easiest par-72 on the entire PGA Tour.
It plays as a par-72 at 7,060 yards.
Both the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the La Quinta Country Club offer very low scoring, as they both feature a scoring average of -2.1.
They also share the same concentration of short par-fours and reachable par-fives.
Golfers must capitalize on their two rounds at these two courses if they want a chance to win.
Each of the three courses feature Bermuda greens and as this event lines up to be a birdie-fest, putting will be the difference.
As of the time of writing this, Sunday is the only day calling for a chance of precipitation with a 40-percent chance. Temperatures will range from 71-to-73 degrees for Thursday through Saturday with Sunday being the lowest at 68 degrees. Winds will also be a non-factor as they are set at two-or-three miles-per-hour across all four days. In all, it appears to be an ideal four days for some golf.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda (SG: PUTT Bermuda)
Hit Fairway Percentage
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par 5 Average Scoring
Par 3 Average Scoring
Sand Saves Percentage
Proximity to the Hole from 150-175 Yards
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
With just four options in this price range I’m going to suggest just one golfer here and two in the other price ranges. With that being said, my overall favorite this week by a large margin is Xander Schauffele ($10,900.) Schauffele finished last season first on Tour in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, third in SG: APP, 15th in birdie or better percentage, 16th in par five average scoring, 33rd in sand saves percentage, 34th in both par three average scoring and scrambling, 43rd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 60th in GIR% and 113th in hit fairway percentage. We last saw Schauffele at The Sentry Tournament of Champions where he placed T10th. I’m all in on Schauffele this week in both DFS and betting as he’s on my betting card at +900 for three units.
Leading the charge in this price range is Tom Kim ($9,900.) He’s a bit pricey, especially with attempting to pair him with Schauffele but boy does his game line up perfectly for this week. We last saw Kim at The Sentry Tournament of Champions where he didn’t have the best of weeks, placing T45th in a limited field. However, he finished last season tenth on Tour in SG: APP, 11th in hit fairway percentage, 14th in par five average scoring, 16th in birdie or better percentage, 26th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 29th in GIR%, 50th in par three average scoring and 62nd in scrambling. It comes down to the putter for Kim as it does every week. He’s currently 152nd on Tour in SG: PUTT Bermuda. He’ll need a spike putting week this week to keep pace but everything else lines out ideally. I’m playing a unit on him at +2800. Also consider Rickie Fowler ($9,200.) If you need to save a few dollars, Fowler is a decent consolation price to Kim in this price range. Fowler had a tournament to forget at The Sentry Tournament of Champions with a 56th place finish in a field of 59 golfers. Either way, he finished last season seventh on Tour in SG: APP, eighth in par three average scoring, 21st in birdie or better percentage, 23rd in par five average scoring, 43rd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 45th in sand saves percentage, 64th in scrambling, 71st in GIR%, 97th in hit fairway percentage and 131st in SG: PUTT Bermuda. Like Kim, he’ll need to catch a hot putter this week, but the rest of his game lines up perfectly.
This is typically a price range I’m not in love with, but both of my suggestions this week, I’m really high on. First up we have Eric Cole ($8,800.) Cole finished last season third on Tour in par three average scoring, eighth in birdie or better percentage, 19th in SG: APP, 26th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 28th in scrambling, 30th in par five average scoring, 35th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 48th in sand saves percentage and 134th in GIR%. Cole’s downfall is that he can get a bit wild off the tee as he ranks 159th in hit fairway percentage. If he can remain calm off the tee, he has a real shot this week. The defending PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has had a good start to the season, placing T14th at The Sentry Tournament of Champions and T13th at the Sony Open in Hawaii. I’m playing a unit on him at +3500. Just as I did in the prior price range, I’m playing one guy in the top end and one guy in the lower end of this price range. That guy in the lower end is Andrew Putnam ($8,000.) Putnam finished last season eighth on Tour in par three average scoring, 13th in sand saves percentage, 16th in scrambling, 23rd in GIR%, 25th in SG: APP, 32nd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 33rd in hit fairway percentage and 41st in par five average scoring. Of course he’s going to come with some red flags such as an 129th placement in birdie or better percentage and 149th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. He did place T40th at The Sentry Tournament of Champions but bounced back with a T10th at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii. I’m playing a unit on Putnam at +8000.
As I stated previously, I typically don’t like the $8,000-$8,900 price range but I do normally enjoy this price range. However, that script is flipped this week as I’m not in love with the opinions here. Either way, I do like Chesson Hadley ($7,100) this week. Hadley will be making his 2024 debut this week but did place T7th at both the Shriners Children’s Open and World Wide Technology Championship during the PGA Tour’s Fall Swing. He finished last season 19th on Tour in par three average scoring, 33rd in birdie or better percentage, 37th in GIR%, 42nd in SG: APP, 49th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 50th in sand saves percentage, 62nd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 86th in scrambling, 123rd in hit fairway percentage and 132nd in par five average scoring. Overall, not a bad resume for someone that is at the bottom of this price range. Also consider Mark Hubbard ($7,200.) Hubbard did play at the Sony Open in Hawaii where he made the cut, finishing T57th. That’s the extent of what I’m asking out of him this week. He finished last season 13th on Tour in par three average scoring, 14th in SG: APP, 42nd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 66th in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 68th in GIR%, 71st in scrambling, 75th in both hit fairway percentage and sand saves percentage and 132nd in par five average scoring. If you can play a guy who is above average in nine-of-ten key statistics in this price range, that’s a must in my book.
I’m ready to be hurt again. Ryan Moore ($6,900) once again popped in my model. If we look at his statistics, it’ll tell us why. He finished last season fourth on Tour in hit fairway percentage, eighth in SG: PUTT Bermuda, ninth in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 21st in scrambling, 22nd in SG: APP, 27th in sand saves percentage, 32nd in GIR%, 50th in par three average scoring, 62nd in par five average scoring and 98th in birdie or better percentage. Man, that’s a lot of boxes checked - all of them in fact. He did miss the cut last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii but it was by just one stroke. We’re asking Moore to just make the cut. I think that is doable. Also consider Nate Lashley ($6,600.) If you played Schauffele and Kim and need to save a few dollars, Lashley is the way to go. He finished last season 16th on Tour in par five average scoring, 22nd in GIR%, 34th in par three average scoring, 40th in birdie or better percentage, 45th in SG: APP, 62nd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 66th in hit fairway percentage, 93rd in SG: PUTT Bermuda, 121st in scrambling and 141st in sand saves percentage. We’re looking for our guys in this price range to make the cut and I think Lashley can do just that.
Xander Schauffele (+900) - 3u
Tom Kim (+2800) - 1u
Eric Cole (+3500) - 1u
Andrew Putnam (+8000) - 1u
Adam Hadwin (+8000) - 1u