2023 Preview The AMERICAN EXPRESS

This desert life, this high life…

2023 AMERICAN EXPRESS Preview

Pete Dye’s Stadium Course at PGA WEST (host)

Nicklaus Tournament Course

La Quinta Country Club

La Quinta, CA

Weekly Readers:

Horses for Courses – click here

Statistically Speaking – click here

Expert Picks – click here

By now pgatour.com/golfbet should be in your bookmarks or in your history so it just pops up. All of our stuff is there so if you haven’t, do it.

I always read Rob Bolton’s stuff after I post and suggest you do the same.

Pour One Out:

Pick ‘Em LIVE, KFT Power Rankings and PGA TOUR Champions Power Rankings have been shelved. Will they return? Great question. Stay tuned.

NOW PLAYING:

Johnny Miller, The Desert Fox, is the only player to defend here and his record will remain intact after the 2023 edition as defending champion Hudson Swafford is not entered. The three courses in use (see below) won’t provide much resistance, nor should they, in a Pro-Am format. The weather will be cool but the wind won’t factor so pegging GIR and holing putts is the way forward, as always, in a shootout.

The first multi-course event kicks off three in a row as Torrey North and South go next week followed by AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (three courses) in two weeks. Also, this week is the first 156 player field.

Host CoursePete Dye Stadium Course
Yards (per official scorecard):7,158
Par:72 (36-36)
Greens:Tifdwarf Bermuda (Poa overseed); 5,000 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter:Pushing 11 feet.
Rough:Tifgreen 328 Bermuda at 2″.
Bunkers/Water Hazards/In Play90/7/7
Architect(s):Pete Dye (1986).
Purse:$8 million ($1.44 winner) plus 500 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion:Hudson Swafford (-23; not entered)
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:Bill Haas (2015, 2010).
72 Hole Tournament Record: Current Rotation262; Andrew Landry (2020) & Adam Long (2019).
72 Hole Tournament Record: All Time260: Patrick Reed (2014).
Stadium Course Record:61; Patrick Cantlay (2021).
Fact of the Week:Johnny Miller (1975-76) is the only winner to repeat.
Fact of the Week II:Only six international winners from 63 events but three of the last 11.
  
Nicklaus Tournament Course (NT) 
Yards (per official scorecard):7,147
Par:72 (36-36)
Greens:TifEagle Bermuda (Poa overseed); 7,000 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter:Pushing 11 feet.
Rough:Forman Bermuda at 2″.
Bunkers/Water Hazards:90/5/5
Architect(s):Jack Nicklaus (1987).
NT Course Record:61; Will Zalatoris (2022, Round 2).
  
La Quinta Country Club 
Yards (per official scorecard):7,060
Par:72 (36-36)
Greens:Poa Trivialis (Rye overseed); 4,773 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter:Pushing 11 feet.
Rough:Bermuda at 2″.
Course Record:59; Adam Hadwin (2017, Round 3).
Architect(s):Lawrence Hughes (1959).

Notes:

  • Field of 156; pro-am.
  • 54 hole cut after playing each course once.
  • Top 65 and ties play the final round at the Stadium Course.

Time for some target golf in the desert! Resort courses provide a scoring backdrop to get into the swing of things in 2023.

Birdie fests open the door to all, regardless of form. Short tracts with scoring opportunities on each tee box will cure what ails.

Better be ready to score all week. The WORST cut here during this three course rotation in the last few years has been SEVEN under. The average winning score approaches 23-under.

Score.

Season Winners

2022-2023 Season Winners

EventWinner
Fortinet ChampionshipMax Homa
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipMackenzie Holmes
Shriners Children’s OpenTom Kim
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPKeegan Bradley
CJ CUP at CONGAREERory McIlroy
Butterfield Bermuda ChampionshipSeamus Power
Mayakoba ChampionshipRussell Henley
Cadence Bank Houston OpenTony Finau
The RSM ClassicAdam Svensson (first TOUR win)
Sentry Tournament of ChampionsJon Rahm
Sony Open in HawaiiSi Woo Kim

Recent Event Winners

Italics – not entered this week

YearWinnerNotes
2022Hudson Swafford      (-23)Closed 66-64 on the Stadium Course and birdied 16 of his last 36 holes.
2021Si Woo Kim (-23)Worst round of the week was 68 at NT; Posted 66-67-64 on the Stadium Course to win by one over Patrick Cantlay.
2020Andrew Landry (-26)Circled 31 birdies to lead the field and won by two.
2019Adam Long (-26)Rookie won in his seventh start on TOUR while setting the tournament scoring record haha.
2018Jon Rahm (-22)Second youngest winner at 23 after defeating Landry in a playoff.
2017Hudson Swafford      (-20)Picked up his first TOUR win as he led the field in GIR and Birdies.
2016Jason Dufner (-25)Knocked out David Lingmerth in a playoff in the first year of this three course rotation.

This Week – The AMERICAN EXPRESS

Absolute blood bath last week at Sony. Plenty of fresher faces. Plenty of guys who were playing well. Some old forgotten names. None were on my radar. Momma said there would be days like these for sure.

Time to pick myself off the canvas, dust off the dried blood and dirt and down to the ATM we go to reload.

This week could easily be similar to what we witnessed at Waialae. Gotta score, par is the max score possible, plus we’re gonna add amateurs and two additional courses.

Oh, and something north of 20-under is going to be the only way to win.

Good news is four Par-5 holes daily will add to the scoring chances. Green speed will be tilted to the slow side because of the ams. Rough won’t be a level to bother the best of the bunch.

Of the OWGR top 20, 10 are in the field this week.

I’m going to lean to desert dawgs (think Las Vegas) and birdie makers this week.

Remember, you get 100% back of what it cost you to read this if I’m wrong!

LET’S GO!

Chalk (via BetMGM)

Jon Rahm (+600): OK, remember the advice I gave at Kapalua, right? If you like him, get him in play when you’ll get better odds. This is probably going to be a copy/paste for the rest of eternity. There were 18 of the top 20 OWGR in his last event. There are 10 of 20 this time around so wait again. 2018 winner knows this is a putting contest and will be fired up to prove he can win one of these. Again.

Scottie Scheffler (+1000): Should have won here on debut in 2020 but couldn’t handle the smoke from Andrew Landry in the final group. Yeah, shootouts (and he had never won on TOUR). Sat T2 in Maui last time out after 54 before fading to T7.

Patrick Cantlay (+1100): Check his record at TPC Summerlin in the Las Vegas desert. Check his record here. Has 61 at Stadium Course and 62 at La Quinta. Only thing missing is the trophy. Sign me up.

Tony Finau (+1400): Nothing wrong with his form entering as he was T7 in Maui and a winner in Houston. Impossible to ignore as he’s a GIR and Birdie machine.  Will not talk you out of him at any level.

Will Zalatoris (+2000): All of his top finishes last season were on big boy golf courses, minus this one. His 61 at NT set him up nicely but posted two rounds of 70 plus en route to T6. Rolls in off 24 birdies at Kapalua against just four bogeys. Not bad for his first action since August (T11).

Cameron Young (+2200): Only Rahm went lower at Kapalua in the final round with 63 as Young finally broke through with 64. Dude made THIRTY birdies BUT had nine bogeys and a double (T13). Sat three back of the 54 hole lead last year before blowing a tire for 77 in the final round.

Sungjae Im (+2200): Never better than 10th or worse than T12. Wasn’t inspired by his two weeks in Hawaii (MC-T13) but you gotta do you. Adjusting to married life, maybe?

Tom Kim (+2200): Won in the Las Vegas desert in October on 24-under so this won’t be new territory. MC last week as the favorite. MC in his only visit in 2021. Conflicted.

Xander Schauffele (+2200): WD in Maui with a back deal but he’s in the field so that should tell us what we need to know. First visit since 2017 is interesting. I’ll save him for when he’s played himself back into form on courses he prefers.

Sam Burns (+3500): He’s the next listed player after the guys at +2200. Last time there was this gap it was Max Homa at +3300 in Maui and he finished third.

Top 10

Brian Harman (+320): T3 and T8 in his last two visits so I’ll tag along. Closed with 65 last week at Sony and will be playing for the third week running. Time to floor it!

Taylor Montgomery (+333): Probably also needs a win ticket just in case. Las Vegas native should feel right at home in these surroundings. Super putter.

Andrew Putnam (+375): Cashed in eight straight including T4 at Sony. Trending in his last four and has plenty of positive vibes in the California desert.

David Lipsky (+600): T4/T10 in two of his last three so I won’t have to worry about him heating up! Solo 14th on debut last year will free him up this time around.

Matthew NeSmith (+850): Rattled off three straight in the top 10 last fall that involved T2 at TPC Summerlin as the best of the bunch. GIR machine but will need the putter to follow suit.

Kevin Yu (+1400): Always need a long shot, right? Former ASU Sun Devil won’t be bothered by the desert setting or making birdies. T21 last week with four rounds in the 60s to get his 2023 started.

First Round Leader

The two best rounds last year to open were both at La Quinta and both were 10-under 62.

Now comes the tricky part!

Patrick Cantlay and rookie Lee Hodges posted these scores and that encapsulates the challenge this week.

Cantlay, yeah, got it, shot 60 as an am in 2011 at TPC River Highlands. Shot 61 to set the course record at the Stadium Course the year before, roger that.

Hughes was making his ninth start with a TOUR card.

Maybe we’ll revisit this NEXT week when we know it’s going to come from the North Course at Torrey Pines.

If I’m going to dabble this week, I’m heading to La Quinta. Taylor Montgomery has a very comfortable pairing with Las Vegas buddy Justin Suh. Speaking of, Cantlay and Schauffele are also paired at LQCC so if you like a bit of chalk…

OAD

I’m back for another year of punishment, longing and second guessing.

Oh, and I’m in Spotter’s One and Done league again!

Each week I’ll throw five names in here who should or SHOULD NOT be looked upon when making your weekly suggestion.

With only 30-odd events in 2023 it will streamline our decision making quite a bit. Not going to want to roll into the final week with 3 or 4 premium players sitting on the bench!

Can’t be any worse than last week!

Alarming that big names (minus Rahm) do not flourish here so it might be the week to zag when they zig. The purse is only $8 million and the winner’s share of $1.44 is nice but not OAD-changing. The designated events and their big boy money will attract big boy attention so I’m saving my big guns for those events.

You gotta do you, I get it. I’m already a billion dollars behind so I get it.

Tom Hoge – No more distractions, just golf. His all-or-nothingness here is EXCITING, yet maddening. Sounds right up my alley!  LET’S GOOOOOOOOO.

Brian Harman – Veteran who won’t be bothered in the format and knows how to close a win. Too much good golf over the last year not to have a win.

Adam Hadwin  – Always have a course horse in here! Never missed in seven tries and has four top six paydays.

Andrew Putnam – 13 straight dating back to last year. Super putter runs into the desert off T4 last week. Wont’ have to worry about closing out for the first time on TOUR either.

Taylor Montgomery – Super putter. Plenty of birdies. Match made in heaven. Now go do it!

David Lipsky – ERRBODY INDA CLUB GETTIN’ LIPSKY

Just missed: Cam Davis, KH Lee (TPC Craig Ranch), Denny McCarthy, Davis Riley and Ben Griffin.

Long Shots

Carl Yuan (+20000)

Michael Thompson (+20000)

David Lingmerth (+25000)

Harry Hall (+30000)

Augusto Nunez (+50000)

Last Week – Sony Open in Hawaii

Chalk (via BetMGM)

Tom Kim (+1100): Only Russell Henley has won here on debut. Confidence supreme should carry over again this week after another successful debut last week. It’s obvious he loves Bermuda (Sedgefield, Kapalua) and there’s nothing to “learn” this week. See ball, hit ball, and make more birdies! Henley’s record is safe as Tom Kim MC didn’t even see the weekend. Yikes.

Sungjae Im (+1200): Four starts and nothing better than T16. Flashed last week with 24 birdies so he should be ready to improve on his record at Waialae. Five starts and nothing better than T16 after 71-71 MC. WHO IS THIS IMPOSTER????

Jordan Spieth (+1800): Bought a motor home last year. Wonder how he got it to Honolulu? First visit since 2019. Co-led the field in Putting last week and that won’t hurt again this week. Just brutal as he shared the first round lead on Thursday and then packed up and went home Friday. MC.

Brian Harman (+1800): Six straight T23 or better in the new season including 18-under last week. Making his 12th visit so it’s obvious he’s comfortable here. Last top 10 was 2018 though. I’ll take the HEAT and the experience. T32 on 9-under. More proof you cannot have a round of 70 (Round 3) or worse here and contend. Optimist will point out his bogey-free 65 to close.

Hideki Matsuyama (+2000): Just whisper in his ear that this is TPC Scottsdale and watch him go! Should be excited to return to the scene of his greatest putting week of TOUR life! T48 as he was almost dead last in putting and didn’t hit particularly well either. Other than that, great week!

Corey Conners (+2200): Never missed in four tries and his stroke average is barely over 67. Great combo! Three straight T12 or better suggests another big week this year. Course horse makes it FOUR straight at T12 or better (T12) as he closed with 65. Steady spaghetti!

Russell Henley (+2200): Led after 36 and 54 last year before he was filleted by Matsuyama’s 3W in the playoff. Obviously a big fan here! Busted the rust last week but will need the putter to catch up. T32. Panicked last minute and subbed him in for Taylor Montgomery. Should have pulled the other rookie, Tom Kim!

Tom Hoge (+2500): MC in a shootout the last two seasons. Made the trip to LA to watch his alma mater get leathered in the CFB Playoff. IS IT ALL TOO MUCH??? Maybe. T41with T62 GIR and 10 bogeys.

Top 10

KH Lee (+275): I’ll always take a sniff in a shootout with him. T7 last week is his second in his last three starts. Sat T16 after 54 holes but 69 on Sunday doesn’t help much around here. T28

Keith Mitchell (+300): Super history here and only made one bogey last year. Loves Bermuda as well. Wouldn’t tell this week as he 74-66 and never threatened. Sigh. MC.

JJ Spaun (+333): Too many good ones in a row, including five of his last six T25 or better highlighted by T5 last week. Cashed in nine straight on TOUR. Six of his last seven and 10 straight but one shot too many T12. Sigh again.

Russell Knox (+650): T27 or better in half of his events in the new season. Last five trending. Plenty of love here as well. T67.

Cole Hammer (+1400): Rode him at the end of 2022 and in his last shootout he was T5 at RSM with rounds of 64, 65 and 66. T61.

First Round Leader

Adam Svensson – 69, L

Patton Kizzire – 67, L

Christiaan Bezuidenhout – 74 L L L L L L

OAD

I’m back for another year of punishment, longing and second guessing.

Oh, and I’m in Spotter’s One and Done league again!

Each week I’ll throw five names in here who should or SHOULD NOT be looked upon when making your weekly suggestion.

With only 30-odd events in 2023 it will streamline our decision making quite a bit. Not going to want to roll into the final week with 3 or 4 premium players sitting on the bench!

Sony Open in Hawaii

Congratulations if you had anybody else besides who I listed below. I can’t remember off the top of my head an event where The Chalk was absolutely wrecked.  Hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of things to come!

1.) Tom Kim – got it, never played here before. WHERE HAS HE PLAYED BEFORE? He continues to play like this and his schedule will be tighter than my belt after Christmas dinner. He destroyed Sedgefield in a shootout on Bermuda with a marginal field on a short course. Why not again this week? He’s my selection.

2.) Jordan Spieth – NO. Can he win? Of course. I prefer him at Pebble, Colonial or the Masters where his track record and comfort levels are off the charts.

3.) Hideki Matsuyama – Perhaps. Gamers love the defending champion angle but I’ll point out Waialae, before last year, was a house of horrors for the Japanese star.

4.) Russell Henley – Course Horse. Loves Bermuda and this layout. Great play for those who like to get a bit FRISKY early.

5.) Sungjae Im – Already used him. Got him out of the way in a no cut event and wasn’t rewarded so I’m BITTER. Don’t pick angry my friends!

Just missed: Kurt Kitayama, Keith Mitchell, Brian Harman, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and KH Lee.

Long Shots

Alex Smalley (+5000) – MC

Mackenzie Hughes (+6600) – MC

Nick Hardy (+8000) – T41

Keita Nakajima (+20000) – T54

Kramer Hickok (+25000) – MC

Jerry Kelly (+40000) to make the cut – MC

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