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2022 American Express Round 2 Picks: Take Tony Finau over Jon Rahm on Friday

2022 American Express Round 2 Picks: Take Tony Finau over Jon Rahm on Friday article feature image

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.

  • Lee Hodges and Patrick Cantlay led the way on the La Quinta course on Friday at The American Express.
  • That duo shot 10-under but will have to move onto the other two tracks on Friday and Saturday.
  • Chris Murphy breaks down his picks for Friday at the AmEx in Southern California.

These multi-course, Pro-Am tournaments always create a different gambling experience than we are used to week in and week out on the PGA TOUR. We have already seen it this week with many sportsbooks offering First Round Leader odds based on the course they were playing. It will also impact this article throughout the week as there is only Strokes Gained data available on the primary, Stadium Course at PGA West, leaving us with no data for two-thirds of the field after the opening round.

We will do our best to cover all of the bases, but it was clear that the two alternate courses were where you wanted to be on Thursday. Both the Nicklaus Course and La Quinta played more than two strokes under par, with La Quinta approaching 3-under on average. I don’t expect the books to miss out on these numbers, but hopefully we can find some edges with this knowledge in our back pocket.

The best players across all three courses came over at La Quinta, as expected, where both Patrick Cantlay and Lee Hodges tore it up to a 10-under round. They have a two-shot edge over the rest of the field, which was most impressively put together by K.H. Lee, who shot an opening 64 on the Stadium Course. He will now transition to the easier tracks for the next two days, and should have a bit of an advantage from that perspective. Joseph Bramlett and Sam Ryder also found success at PGA West, with 7-under rounds of their own. World No. 1 Jon Rahm posted a 6-under 66 at La Quinta, and will start the second round with a four-shot deficit.

Let’s get into it and see where we can find some value rolling into the second round.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly played by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different. Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

Best Bets

Nick Hardy +15000 (FanDuel/BetMGM)

Everyone knows I love a good dart throw, and there isn’t one that sticks out better heading to the second round than Nick Hardy. He shot a 4-under 68 at PGA West’s Stadium Course on Thursday, gaining better than a stroke on that field in each metric tee to green.

I don’t really expect Hardy to win, but I do believe he has the long-term talent to be a winner on TOUR one day and I’ll put a sprinkle on that +15000 with the toughest course already behind him.

I don’t think we will get placement odds between rounds until Sunday this week, but if you find something for a Top 20 or Top 10 that would be where I would put my focus. He’s a young guy who can play, and showed a flash of that today with his 3.8 strokes gained Tee to Green on the course that will decide the winner come Sunday.

Bet Hardy at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.

Matthew NeSmith Top 10 +1400 (BetMGM)

OK, so maybe it’s two dart throws tonight. Looking through the board there just isn’t a lot that stands out to me, so I’ll take a shot on some of the guys heading to the easier courses the next two days. One of those is fellow Gamecock Matthew NeSmith, who has shown an affinity for desert golf. He was in the mix last year through three rounds at the Waste Management, before finishing seventh. He also has a Top 20 to his name at this event back in 2019.

NeSmith finally showed some form on Thursday, as he was sharp with his ball-striking. He gained more than two and a half shots on that portion of the field in those metrics, on his way to a solid 3-under 69.

He will head to the easier tracks over the next two days with a chance to find himself in the mix over the weekend back at the Stadium. I’ll be honest, I wish I could find a Top 20 market for this, but at +1400 for a Top 10 we can get a nice payoff if he continues his strong play.

Bet NeSmith at BetMGM and get a risk-free bet up to $1,000.

Tony Finau +175 over Jon Rahm in Round 2 (DraftKings)

This seems a little crazy, but when you narrow it down to the fact that it’s just 18 holes, these odds are a bit alarming. Finau is not some scrub golfer, he’s the No. 17 player in the world, and even as good as Rahm is, these odds are a bit steep.

Looking in even deeper, the best player in Strokes Gained Total in this field on the Nicklaus Course, where they will tee it up Friday, is none other than Tony Finau. He is averaging 4.5 strokes gained across his three rounds at this course, while Rahm is averaging 2.9 over the same three rounds.

It’s a small sample for sure, but it’s enough to nudge me into this matchup on Friday with some solid plus money on one of the best players in this field.

Bet Finau at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players on the Stadium Course in Round 1

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