2022 American Express Betting Pick: This Will Zalatoris Matchup Provides Value for Bettors
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Zalatoris.
We finished 2-1 last week at the Sony Open, bringing our overall record to 3-3 for 2022. All things considered, it was a solid week with two fairly easy winners. The lone loss came at the hands of the tournament’s winner, who put together his best putting performance of his entire career.
I looked over the numbers on that matchup again on Monday morning, and determined I would make that same bet in that same spot every time. Not much you can do other than tip your cap to Hideki Matsuyama and move on.
We’re back on the mainland this week with the American Express, which gives us a very strange three course rotation setup. Each golfer will play each of the three courses (the Nicklaus, La Quinta and Stadium) one time before a cut on Saturday ahead of the final round Sunday.
Two of the courses lack any historical Strokes Gained data, which makes this week a little more challenging than the standard one course setup. Thankfully players that make it through the cut will play the Stadium course twice, which does provide us with a nice sample size of data to draw from.
It appears books are wary of putting up matchups for this week, though, since DraftKings is the only book to offer them for the entire tournament. Because of that, my model only found one pick with great value for bettors this week.
Every week, I use Strokes Gained data, course history and a multitude of other data points to handicap the matchups offered by both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Using a computer simulation tool I built from scratch, I simulate each available matchup 10,000 times to determine each golfer’s probability of winning. Using that winning percentage, I am able to set my own line for every matchup, and compare it against what the books are offering.
The goal is to find value in the current betting lines and give ourselves a small edge over and over to churn out profit throughout the course of the year. I picked matchups at a 61% clip for the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season and hope to continue that momentum this season.
Below, I have outlined the matchups that have shown the most value in my simulations this week for the Tournament of Champions. For every matchup, I will provide the current line, what my simulations set the line at and why I believe it is a profitable bet.
Let’s get to it!
Will Zalatoris (-120) over Alex Noren
My line: -155
Over this field’s last 50 rounds, Zalatoris ranks fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach, while Noren comes in at 112th. Birdie looks are going to be paramount this week, as the winning score usually ends up in the 25-under par range. Expect Zalatoris to have more of them.
In his rookie season, Zalatoris tended to excel at courses that didn’t require pinpoint accuracy off the tee. The roughs at PGA West aren’t going to be overly penalizing because the grass is burnt out given the time of year, which will place more of an emphasis on approach play.
Noren is a world-class putter, which will be the main obstacle in this matchup for Zalatoris.
Overall, though, Zalatoris is the better player. Noren has gained 150 total strokes over the course of his career, which dates back to 2012. Zalatoris gained more than 100 in his first season on TOUR.