Damien Kayat previews the 2023 edition of the PGA Tour’s American Express taking place at PGA West on the TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses as well as La Quinta Country Club.
2022/2023 US PGA Tour
PGA West (TPC Stadium Course)
PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course)
La Quinta Country Club
The Hawaiian Swing ended with yet another dramatic finish (though perhaps not quite as dramatic as Jon Rahm’s feats at Plantation). Si Woo Kim birdied the final two holes to claim the Sony Open and the fourth title of his career.
He will be teeing it up again this week as the tour moves to California for the American Express- the first leg of the West Coast Swing. This will be the first full-field PGA Tour event to be held in the States this year.
The American Express
The event has been through a slew of incarnations but is probably best remembered as the old Bob Hope Classic. The Pro-Am began life in 1960 as a five-round event.
But it underwent a major overhaul in 2012, as new sponsors Humana attempted to breathe some life into a white elephant. The old five-round format was streamlined to a more agreeable four-round format.
And the fields have been far more illustrious since they made that decision. This is a Pro-Am event that takes place over three courses (which can make for slightly laboured viewing). I am actually quite impressed with the standard of field on show this week.
Stadium Course/Nicklaus Tournament Course/La Quinta CC
Three courses will be played in rotation over the first three days. The host course, the PGA West Stadium Course, is generally considered the hardest of the three courses.
The Pete Dye-design will be played in rotation and again on Sunday (there will be a 54-hole cut). The Nicklaus Tournament Course is marginally easier.
But La Quinta is really where you have to shoot the lights out. La Quinta was the easiest par 72 on the PGA Tour for four years running (2017-2020). The Bermuda greens are fairly simple and will run at around 11 on the stimp.
The rough is also minimal to non-existent (obviously exacerbated by the presence of the amateurs). You can expect really low scoring this week (it may come down to who can make enough putts on these accessible Bermuda greens).
Jon Rahm is the obvious and logical favourite this week. He has won this event in the past and comes into this year’s edition with worldwide form figures of 2-1-4-1-1. That’s astonishing.
Patrick Cantlay has some excellent course form while 2022 PGA Tour Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler is always a name to consider. Tony Finau has been one of the in-form men on the planet over the past six months and looks great value this week.
Elsewhere, the likes of Cameron Young and Will Zalatoris lurk under the radar. There is once again an extremely strong South Korean contingent, with Si Woo Kim, Tony Kim and Sungjae Im teeing it up.
2022: Hudson Swafford (-23)
2021: Si Woo Kim (-23)
2020: Andrew Landry (-26)
2019: Adam Long (-26)
2018: Jon Rahm (-22) *playoff
To Win Outright:
Jon Rahm 13/2 | Scottie Scheffler 10/1 | Patrick Cantlay 10/1 | Tony Finau 14/1 | Will Zalatoris 20/1
Sahith Theegala- To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1
I know many will roll their eyes at this. How could you opt for someone who is yet to win this quality of field? The truth is this: this event is often home to a surprise winner. The year hasn’t truly kicked into gear and many of the big guns are still limbering up. Sahith is a West Coast guy who does tend to thrive in the early part of the campaign. He owns three finishes of 6th or better in seven starts this season. I truly think he is the type of mercurial talent who could go berserk on these Bermuda greens.
Adam Hadwin- To Win 60/1 | To Place 13/1
Following Mackenzie Hughes and Adam Svensson, Adam Hadwin will be looking to become the third Canadian PGA Tour winner this season. Adam Hadwin absolutely dominated this event between 2016 and 2019. He went T6-2-T3-T2 during that incredible span. He actually shot an incredible 59 in this event in 2017. He also has two top 10’s in his last four starts. That combination of course credentials and current form makes him very appetizing at 60/1.
The Man to Beat- Tony Finau- To Win 14/1 | To Place 3/1
I was tempted to opt for the red-hot Rahm. But just look at this price for the similarly incandescent Tony Finau. This is a man who has seven top 10 finishes in his last nine events. More than that, he has actually won three times during that span. Finau has evolved over the last two years, vastly improving his short game to become one of the leading players in the world. He started his year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, finishing in a creditable T7. And he has decent form in this event, finishing fourth here in 2021.