This week in the PGA, we head back to the mainland as the pro’s stop off in La Quinta, California for the American Express Tournament. Formerly referred to as The Desert Classic, this is only the second year that American Express has been the feature sponsor for this tournament and retains namesake again this year.
The tournament has held many names including the CareerBuilder Challenge, the Bob Hope Classic, Palm Springs Golf Classic, the Chrysler Challenge and the Humana Challenge.
The tournament has a prize pool this year of $6.7 million dollars. Unlike in years past, there will be no concert festivities at La Quinta and there will be no fans allowed in attendance due to Covid-19 precautions.
La Quinta Golf Club Course Details (PGA-West)
The American Express Golf Tournament is played at La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, California. The course itself is split between the PGA West Stadium Course and the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.
The Stadium Course was designed by Pete Dye. The course was ranked the 4th hardest in the United States and throughout time, golfers have complained that the course was too difficult to play on and obtain a fair score. That being said, changes were made to the course to make it somewhat easier and has hosted the tournament since 2016.
The Stadium Course measures 7,113 yards and plays as a par 72. The course has some of the deepest bunkers that the pro’s will see this year and also has lots of water hazards.
The Nicklaus Tournament Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is the second most difficult course to play on. The course is much more forgiving off the tee and they will find wide open fairways that will allow them to put a little more power behind their tee shots.
The difference between the Tournament Course and the Stadium Course is when it comes to the greens. There are plenty of undulations here and they are much more tricky than those that they will see on the Stadium Course. The Tournament Course measures 7,152 yards and plays as a par 72.
American Express Golf Tournament Cut Info
This year, one of the changes that has been made is the cut will take place after 36 holes. This particular tournament has always been a pro/am tournament and therefore, the cut was not made until after the 54th hole. That is not the case this year as there is no pro-am and the cut for this year will take place after 36 holes.
American Express System Attributes
This is one of those unique weeks where we really don’t put as much emphasis in specific statistical data as in other weeks, mainly because we aren’t talking about one specific golf course, we are working with two different courses and each one is unique in it of itself.
We could focus on just one course but that would leave out the other and we have found that it’s just better to focus on overall items such as some scoring categories, recent history at this event and recent form.
The only other attribute that I will look at this week is Greens In Reg and here is why….when you look at all three of these courses, you will notice there are a significant amount of bunkers and hazards around the greens and I think GIR allows you an overall measurement of whether a golfer is staying out of trouble or if they are inaccurate in their approach.
One more thing, when you do your course history on this tournament, make sure you are taking into consideration that in the past, this was a 5 round tournament and the stadium course is relatively new, only dating back to 2016. For my research, I will only be using the information gathered from 2016 and forward.
- Recent Form
- Course History
- Birdie or Better
- Greens in Reg
American Express Golf Tournament Golfers
This year, the field will feature 12 major champions including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Francesco Molinari, Charl Schwartzel, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Lucas Glover and Steve Jones.
In addition to the majors winners, this year, the field will also include 8 players in the top 26 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Those players include Patrick Cantlay#9, Patrick Reed #11, Brooks Koepka #12, Matthew Wolff #15, Sungjae Im #18, Tony Finau #20, Abraham Ancer #24 and Paul Casey #26.
This year’s tournament also includes 14 previous champions of The American Express which includes Andrew Landry (2020), Adam Long (2019), Jon Rahm (2018), Hudson Swafford (2017), Jason Dufner (2016), Bill Haas (2010 & 2015), Patrick Reed (2014), Brian Gay (2013), Mark Wilson (2012), Pat Perez (2009), D.J. Trahan (2008), Charley Hoffman (2007), Phil Mickelson (2002 & 2004) andSteve Jones (1989).
Scottie Scheffler +2300 at MyBookie – Scheffler finished in 3rd place here last year and will be well rested as he has only played in one other this year in 2021, and dating back to The Masters. He finished in 13th place at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and we think he stands a strong chance of coming away with a win here in La Quinta.
Cameron Champ +5000 at MyBookie – One thing that is going to be a benefit here is Champ’s distance off the tee. He is #1 in driving distance and that can’t be ignored, even in a tournament where you are not relying heavily on attributes. If Champ can put the ball on the greens, he could legitimately jump out to a lead that the rest of the pack can’t catch.
Charles Howell +5500 at MyBookie – No one can deny that Howell keeps inching closer and closer to that top 10 and his form is really good right now. Howell placed 19th last week at the Sony Open, in his first tournament of 2021. Consider that a warm up for this week, where he can grab a winner.
Adam Hadwin +6700 at MyBookie – I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Adam Hadwin is in great form. I’m not even going to tell you he is in good form. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you that he is making cuts but what I am going to tell you is this guy plays lights out golf here at La Quinta. In four times playing here, he has finished 2nd twice, 3rd and a 6th. Yeah, that is pretty damn impressive and for that alone, we will be throwing a unit on him.
Wyndham Clark +10000 at MyBookie – You will us playing Clark a significant amount in 2021 as we think he is bound for his first win and we think it is going to come early on in the season. Clark is tremendous off the tee and now that he has improved his putting, this guy is going to shape up to be one of the most competitive golfers on the tour.
Charley Hoffman +12500 at MyBookie – One of the golfers that we’ve had our eye on lately is Charley Hoffman. He has been right there in many of the tournaments that he has played in and competing in each one. This week, he is coming off a 14th place finish at the Sony Open and if he improves on that finish, we could see him in the winners circle on Sunday. At 100/1, you don’t want to be that person that didn’t have that ticket!!!