American Express betting guide: 6 picks our gambling expert loves this week

Sungjae Im teeing off in competition

Sungjae Im has a rock-solid history in the California desert.

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Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from’s expert prognosticator Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is a regular guest on SportsGrid, a syndicated audio network devoted to sports and sport betting. You can follow on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read his picks below for the American Express, which gets underway Thursday in La Quinta, Calif. Along with Kannon’s recommended plays, you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.

After two weeks in Hawaii, the PGA Tour moves from an island paradise to a desert oasis for the American Express, in La Quinta, Calif., the start of the West Coast Swing. This is the best field we’ve seen for this event in a long time. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler leads the way along with Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and Wyndham Clark. Other notables include Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and Tony Finau.

We can probably ignore the favorites, though, if the American Express delivers anything like what we saw on Maui and Oahu, where Chris Kirk (200-1) and Grayson Murray (400-1) cashed as triple-digit long shots at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open. respectively.

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The American Express is staged on three courses. Each player will play one round at La Quinta Country Club and at the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West. Each player will also play at least one round at the Pete Dye Stadium Course before the 54-hole cut. Sunday’s final round will also take place at the Stadium Course.

Each course measures less than 7,200 yards and all rank among the easiest tracks on Tour, in part because the event is a pro-am for the first three rounds, so setups are scaled back in difficulty. Expect low scores and six-hour rounds. 

For skill sets this week, I took into account Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting. I also looked at Birdies or Better Gained, Greens in Regulation Gained, Good Drives Gained, and scoring on both Par 4s and Par 5s. As for correlated courses, I considered another Pete Dye design, TPC Louisiana, where they play the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. I looked at two other desert courses, TPC Summerlin and TPC Scottsdale. Finally, I used Vidanta Vallarta and Caves Valley, as there are similarities in the layouts to that of the Stadium Course, where the bulk of the action will take place this week.

Where does that leave us? I’ve made six picks to win this week, all on players who are solid to fantastic putters, vital traits, I think, in what should be a birdie fest.

Sungjae Im (21-1)

Mr. Steady. In five appearances, Im’s results at the American Express are 18-11-12-10-12. I also like the fact that he finished fifth at The Sentry two weeks ago and then took the next week off. He should be tan, ready and rested. Ranked 26th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Im does everything well. He has a win at TPC Summerlin, two Top 10 finishes at TPC Scottsdale, a Top 10 last year at TPC Louisiana, and was third at Caves Valley in 2021.

Eric Cole (35-1)

The PGA Tour Rookie of The Year is off to another good start in 2024, with a 14th-place finish at The Sentry and a 13th at the Sony. This week’s courses may be an even better fit for him. Cole was one of the best birdie-makers on Tour last season and he is No. 1 in this field over the last 24-rounds. He drives it well, ranks eighth in Strokes Gained: Approach, and he’s 10th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Cole finished fifth last year in Mexico at Vidanta Villarta and was third at TPC Summerlin for the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.

Adam Hadwin (50-1)

Hadwin has a stellar history at the American Express having finished sixth, third, 18th, and runner-up twice. He’s also been excellent at TPC Summerlin and has fared well at TPC Scottsdale and TPC Louisiana. He’s very steady in the stats and is one of the best putters in the field, ranking sixth over the last 24-rounds.

Cam Davis (70-1)

Davis closed out 2023 with five Top 10 finishes in his last seven starts. He finished with a round of 65 at The Sentry two weeks ago and rolled that into a 62 in the opening round at the Sony, before cooling off. The numbers are not through the roof for Davis but he is a solid putter who makes a lot of birdies and ranks Top 10 in this field on Par 4s measuring 400-450 yards.

Beau Hossler (80-1)

Hossler finished last season on a roll and does four things very well that are key here in La Quinta. Over the last 24 rounds, he ranks 19th in this field for Birdies or Better Gained and 12th for Greens in Regulation Gained. He is sixth in Good Drives Gained, and is No. 1 for Strokes Gained on Par 4’s measuring 400-450 yards. Hossler finished 10th last season in Mexico, has two Top 10 finishes at TPC Summerlin, and two Top 20’s at TPC Scottsdale. Teamed with Wyndham Clark, he took third last year at TPC Louisiana.

Erik Van Rooyan (105-1)

Van Rooyan, too, has been in fine form. He won in November at the World Wide Technology Championship and had a nice two weeks in Hawaii, where he shot seven of eight rounds in the 60’s. Van Rooyan finished sixth at the Amex last year and was fifth at Caves Valley at the 2021 BMW Championship. Over the last 24 rounds, he is 20th in this field for Strokes Gained: Approach, fifth in Birdies or Better Gained, 18th on the Par 5’s, and 24th in Greens in Regulation Gained. Maybe he’s this week’s triple-digit payout.

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