2021 The American Express Betting Preview: Which Stats Matter at PGA West?

2021 The American Express Betting Preview: Which Stats Matter at PGA West? article feature image
Credit:

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Sungjae Im

The PGA TOUR stays west in California for the 2021 The American Express.

The tournament is usually a Pro-Am played at three different courses: PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course, and La Quinta Country Club.  This year, the Pro-Am is being dropped, as is the round at La Quinta Country Club.

Therefore, each golfer will play three rounds at PGA West Stadium Course and one round at PGA West Nicklaus Course. The Stadium Course  is a 7,113-yard par 72 that was designed by Pete Dye in 1986. The Nicklaus Course is a Par 72 measuring 7,159 yards. Both course are short for Par 72 and typically play easy, resulting in some low winning scores.

The 2021 The American Express field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. Thirteen of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking are among those making the trip to La Quinta.

We’ve backtested past tournaments at these two courses to see which metrics matter this week.

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Past Winners at The American Express

  • 2020: Andrew Landry (-26)
  • 2019: Adam Long (-26)
  • 2018: Jon Rahm (-22)
  • 2017: Hudson Swafford (-20)
  • 2016: Jason Dufner (-25)
  • 2015: Bill Haas (-22)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for PGA West to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

The American Express is another tournament where distance off of the tee is not going to be a major factor. With none of the three courses being long this week, strong iron players tend to do very well at PGA West.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Russell Henley (+25.8) (+3500)
  2. Keegan Bradley (+24.6) (+9000)
  3. Emiliano Grillo (+19.3) (+6000)
  4. Brooks Koepka (+19.1) (+2600)
  5. Chez Reavie (+17.4) (+11000)

Opportunities Gained

Both courses this week are among the easiest on TOUR. In order to win, golfers are going to have to go very low. Creating as many chances as possible to make birdies from 15 feet and in this week will be crucial.

Total Opportunities Gained in past 24 rounds:

  1. Emiliano Grillo (+24.5) (+6000)
  2. Kyle Stanley (+23.0) (+17500) 
  3. Keegan Bradley (+22.4) (+9000)
  4. Chez Reavie (+22.1) (+11000)
  5. Jason Dufner (+21.8) (+25000)

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass)

The winner will need to catch a hot putter in a birdie-fest like this. And if golfers want to get to around -25 to win, they better putt well on Bermuda.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) in past 24 rounds:

  1. Patton Kizzire (+30.0) (+9000)
  2. Beau Hossler (+20.1) (+40000)
  3. Denny McCarthy (+20.0) (+25000)
  4. JT Poston (+18.8) (+11000)
  5. Peter Malnati (+18.8) (+11000)

Birdie or Better Gained

Another week, another birdie-fest. Last week at the Sony Open we saw how important it was to make birdies in bunches. The birdie or better rankings from this article last week were very predictive of who played well, and I expect a repeat of that this week.

Total Birdie or Better Gained in past 24 rounds

  1. Cameron Davis (+23.1) (+9000)
  2. Patton Kizzire (+20.2) (+9000)
  3. Patrick Reed (+18.5) (+1500)
  4. Peter Malnati  (+17.7) (+11000)
  5. Will Gordon (+17.4) (+40000)

SG: Pete Dye 

With three of four rounds on the Pete Dye designed PGA West, it will be even important this year to target players who excel on Pete Dye tracks. Golfers with good history at these styles of course tend to pop up on leaderboards of Dye designs on a regular basis.

Total strokes gained: Pete Dye in past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+37.0) (+1300)
  2. Abraham Ancer (+35.9) (+3000)
  3. Keegan Bradley (+31.3) (+9000)
  4. Kevin Streelman (+30.0) (+9000)
  5. Ryan Moore (+29.8) (+9000)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (27%) Opportunities Gained (22%); SG: Birdie or Better gained (22%); SG: Putting Bermudagrass (12%); and SG: Pete Dye (17%)

  1. Brooks Koepka (+2600)
  2. Sam Burns (+8000)
  3. Tom Hoge (+11000)
  4. Jon Rahm (+550)
  5. Sungjae Im (+2800)
  6. Sepp Straka (+10000)
  7. Zach Johnson (+5500)
  8. Keegan Bradley (+9000)
  9. Doc Redman (+14000)
  10. Matthew NeSmtih (+11000)

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