Weekly Preview: The American Express

Weekly Preview: The American Express

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

The American Express

Pete Dye Stadium Course, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta Country Club
La Quinta, CA

The PGA Tour heads east this week for the The American Express.

While many refer to this portion of the schedule as the "West Coast Swing," I refer to it as "Rotating Course Season." It's the time of the year when those of us playing fantasy games in which you change lineups every round try to gain an edge by playing the guys on the courses where the scoring is better, only to inevitably fail because the golfer is more important than the course he's on. Still, gaining that edge is so enticing, you have to at least try, right?

A couple decades ago, the courses in these rotations that we'll see over the next month or so actually held distinct advantages and disadvantages, but that's all but been erased recently, as most of the tracks utilized in this week's event play fairly close to one other, or at least close enough that you wouldn't start Brian Gay over Patrick Cantlay because he's at La Quinta instead of PGA West. There will be some difference in scoring, and one will emerge as the easiest course of the week, but if things go like they did in recent years, the difference won't be that much. With that said, course history is in play, as while this event does shuffle the courses from time to time, all three set to be played in this edition

The American Express

Pete Dye Stadium Course, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta Country Club
La Quinta, CA

The PGA Tour heads east this week for the The American Express.

While many refer to this portion of the schedule as the "West Coast Swing," I refer to it as "Rotating Course Season." It's the time of the year when those of us playing fantasy games in which you change lineups every round try to gain an edge by playing the guys on the courses where the scoring is better, only to inevitably fail because the golfer is more important than the course he's on. Still, gaining that edge is so enticing, you have to at least try, right?

A couple decades ago, the courses in these rotations that we'll see over the next month or so actually held distinct advantages and disadvantages, but that's all but been erased recently, as most of the tracks utilized in this week's event play fairly close to one other, or at least close enough that you wouldn't start Brian Gay over Patrick Cantlay because he's at La Quinta instead of PGA West. There will be some difference in scoring, and one will emerge as the easiest course of the week, but if things go like they did in recent years, the difference won't be that much. With that said, course history is in play, as while this event does shuffle the courses from time to time, all three set to be played in this edition have been used heavily throughout the years.

LAST YEAR

Si Woo Kim shot a final-round 64 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Patrick Cantlay.

FAVORITES

Jon Rahm (13-2)

For those of us who aren't great with fractions, Rahm's odds are lower than 7-1 this week. That's pretty wild for anyone in a full-field event with a somewhat-strong field. The reason he's so low is that there aren't any other elite players in the field, unless you count Cantlay or Tony Finau. Rahm is even creeping toward 6-1, and you know how I feel about the value once we get that low. He did win this event in 2018, though, and hasn't missed a cut in three starts here.

Patrick Cantlay (10-1)

Some may consider Cantlay "elite," but he's not quite there yet in my mind. He needs a major win to jump into that category, but outside of that, there's not much left for him to accomplish. Cantlay hasn't played this event much over the years, but he has posted two top-10s in just three starts here. His best showing was a runner-up in 2021. At this number he's in range, but it's still a little light for my taste.

Scottie Scheffler (20-1)

Scheffler's name already carries some cache on Tour, but even though he's had a lot of success, he still hasn't won. I write "still" like it's been decades, when it's only been a couple of years. However, when your name is frequently near the top of leaderboards, people just assume you've been around a while. Scheffler will undoubtedly pick up a win sometime soon, and this could be the spot. There isn't a ton of firepower at the top of this field, and he finished solo-third here two years ago. These odds are definitely long enough to make a play.

THE NEXT TIER

Seamus Power (30-1)

Are we going to have to start taking Power seriously, or is this just an extended heater? Power won his first PGA Tour event last summer and hasn't slowed down much since. He had a strong fall season and has had a strong start to 2022 as well. Power could crash at any moment, but considering he posted a T3 at the Sony Open, I would expect another good performance.

Matthew Wolff (30-1)

Midway through last year we were left to wonder if Wolff would ever come close to matching fellow Class of 2019 members Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. While he has been left in the dust in some sense, he's still in view. Wolff hit a rough patch this past season, but by the end of the year he started to again resemble the golfer that won in his first month on Tour. We haven't seen him since November, but at that time, he was locked in. If that's still the case, this number is mighty enticing.

Will Zalatoris (40-1)

This is more of a pick based on principle than anything else. The days of getting odds like this on Zalatoris will come to an end sometime soon, so if for no other reason, it might be time to make a play. Zalatoris was outstanding this past season, earning nearly $3.5 million, but he failed to pick up a win, which left his campaign feeling slightly empty. He will win at some point, and wouldn't it be nice to see him enter the winner's circle at this number?

LONG SHOTS

Adam Hadwin (60-1)

Hadwin has not won this event, but he's been close several times, and all you want from a long shot is a chance. Hadwin should provide that, as he's finished top-10 here in four of six starts and has not missed a cut. Hadwin posted only one top-10 this past fall, which is why his odds are so high. However, we haven't seen him since November, so perhaps his game picked up over the past month and a half.

Andrew Landry (100-1)

The nice thing about spotting long shots to win is that it doesn't matter if anyone else has them. The odds are the odds. In the one-and-done format you want your sleeper to be unique, but with a win ticket, who cares how many others have him? I bring this up because Landry is going to catch some attention thanks to his win here in 2020 and his runner-up to years prior. It's an even year, so it could be another high finish – or even another win.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Patrick Cantlay - There are some golfers that OAD players refuse to use outside of a major, and I think Rahm has entered that stratosphere, so I'm going to assume his percentage might be lower than it should be. The next best option is Cantlay, who has a solid track record here and has a knack for winning events like this. He'll have value down the road for sure, but he's got a lot of value here as well.

Moderately-owned Pick: Scottie Scheffler - Whereas you need to think about the future when deciding on Rahm or Cantlay, there should be no such worries with Scheffler. Yes, he'll have value later on, but there's no specific event to hold him for, so it might be best to use him when he's third on the odds chart. He's going to win at some point.

Lightly-owned Pick: Adam Hadwin - I think there's enough firepower at the top of the field that sleeper picks won't be too popular this week. If you are going that route, though, I'd take a look at Hadwin. A top-10 would be a nice result from a player of his caliber, and I dare say there isn't a more likely spot for him to record a top-10.

Buyer Beware: Russell Henley - Who would have thought that Henley would attain the status to even be considered here? After the way he played in Hawaii, though, he's bound to get some attention. While he comes in on a roll, his track record here is terrible, with only two made cuts in six starts. The window for Henley is closed for now, but it will open again sometime soon.

Last Week: Cameron Smith - MC - $0

Season Total: $2,641,771

This Week: Patrick Cantlay - This came down to Cantlay, Scheffler and Hadwin. I eliminated Hadwin because I'm not in chase mode and the other two options are mighty appealing. I decided to go with Cantlay because he generally plays well on the West Coast, and it's too early to tell if Scheffler does. Cantlay will have more value down the road, but I want to use him out west.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Jon Rahm $12,100
Middle Range: Matthew Wolff $10,900
Lower Range: Doug Ghim $8,700

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Cameron Smith - MC

Streak: 0

This Week: Adam Hadwin - The double-up finally failed this past week, when Smith failed to make it to the weekend. This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to that, however, as Hadwin is a solid play in this format. Though he's not the first name that comes to mind when I think of reliable players, he has not missed a cut here and it's often not even close.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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