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2023 American Express Odds, Picks, Predictions: Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Davis Among Best Course Fits

2023 American Express Odds, Picks, Predictions: Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Davis Among Best Course Fits article feature image
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Cantlay

The PGA Tour heads to California this weekend to play the 2023 American Express.

The tournament is played at three different courses: PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club.

Therefore, each golfer will play two rounds at PGA West Stadium Course, one round at PGA West Nicklaus Course, and one round at La Quinta Country Club. 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. La Quinta Country Club is a par 72 measuring 7,060 yards. All of the courses are short for a Par 72 and typically play easy, resulting in some very low winning scores.

The 2023 American Express field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. The field is the best the tournament has featured in recent memory, and five of the top seven players in the OWGR will be making the trip.

Some notable entrants to the event include Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Tom Kim, Sungjae Im and Tony Finau.

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

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Past Winners at The American Express

  • 2022: Hudson Swafford (-23)
  • 2021: Si Woo Kim (-23)
  • 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 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. Tom Kim (+27.3) (+2200)
  2. Tom Hoge (+26.2) (+5000)
  3. Russell Knox (+21.2) (+30000)
  4. Mark Hubbard (+18.4) (+25000)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+17.8) (+1400)

Opportunities Gained

All three 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. Will Zalatoris (+29.3) (+2200)
  2. Cameron Davis (+27.7) (+5500) 
  3. Tom Hoge(+24.9) (+5000)
  4. Tom Kim (+24.5) (+2200)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+23.8) (+1400)

Proximity 150-175

Approach shots from 150-175 are the most common yardages year after year at The American Express. 24% of approach shots come from this range as opposed to the Tour average of 20.3%.

Proximity 150-175 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Justin Lower (+17.5) (+18000)
  2. Tom Kim (+15.5) (+2200)
  3. Justin Rose (+12.8) (+7000)
  4. Mark Hubbard (+12.0) (+25000)
  5. Ryan Armour (+11.3) (+30000)

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

With small greens, there are very few three-putts in this event. Golfers will need to ball strike their way to low scores with smaller greens than Tour average.

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in past 24 rounds:

  1. Brendan Steele (+33.5) (+11000)
  2. Tom Kim (+32.9) (+2200)
  3. Will Zalatoris (+31.2) (+2200)
  4. Tony Finau (+26.9) (+1200)
  5. Scottie Scheffler (+26.0) (+1100)

SG: Pete Dye 

With two of four rounds on the Pete Dye-designed PGA West, it will be important 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. Sungjae Im (+34.4) (+2200)
  2. Si Woo Kim (+33.3) (+3500)
  3. Will Zalatoris (+32.4) (+2200)
  4. Brian Harman (+29.8) (+3500)
  5. Jon Rahm (+27.1) (+700)

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: Ball Striking (22%); Proximity 150-175 (12%); and SG: Pete Dye (17%)

  1. Will Zalatoris (+2000)
  2. Si Woo Kim (+3500)
  3. Mark Hubbard (+25000)
  4. Scottie Scheffler (+1100)
  5. Brian Harman (+4000)
  6. Tom Hoge (+5000)
  7. Tom Kim (+2200)
  8. Cameron Davis (+5500)
  9. Patrick Cantlay (+1200)
  10. Sungjae Im (+2200)
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2023 American Express Picks

Patrick Cantlay +1100 (DraftKings)

It’s somewhat rare that I recommend betting players this close to the top of the odds board, but when I do it’s because I feel strongly about their ability to get deep into contention in that particular week. Patrick Cantlay at The American Express is a spot where I feel extremely confident.

Cantlay has been outstanding at The American Express throughout his career. In his past three starts at the event, he’s finished 9th, 2nd and 9th and ranks third in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on the three courses utilized for the event. Since the start of 2016, Cantlay ranks first in birdies or better per round at the tournament (6.42).

Cantlay excels on Pete Dye tracks. In his past 36 rounds on Dye-designed courses, the 30-year-old ranks first in the field. With two of the four rounds being played at the PGA West Stadium course, it’s no surprise that Cantlay has been excellent at the event.

There are five of the top seven players in the world teeing it up this week. Based on his ability to get scorching hot with the putter and tear apart easy tracks, I believe Cantlay has the best shot of them all to emerge victorious on Sunday.

Cameron Davis +5000 (DraftKings)

It’s important to target birdie-makers for this week’s American Express, and there are few who stand out in this range quite as much as the Australian, Cameron Davis.

Davis ranks eighth in the field in Birdie or Better Gained, and fifth in the field in Opportunities Gained. With his skillset, he should have plenty of birdie looks on the week and just needs to keep the big numbers off of his scorecard.

Last year, Davis used a final round 64 at the Stadium Course to propel himself into a solo third-place finish. For the week, the 27-year-old gained 5.5 strokes on approach and 5.4 strokes putting, which is the ideal combination for the trio of courses we’ll see this week.

Davis played last week’s Sony Open to shake off the offseason rust and played pretty well. He finished in 32nd and gained 6.6 strokes from tee to green. He struggled with the putter, losing three strokes. If history repeats itself, that should turn around at the Stadium Course this week.

Sahith Theegala +6600 (BetRivers)

I’ve always thought of The American Express as the ideal breakthrough tournament for Sahith Theegala. Born and raised in Orange, Calif., the 25-year-old is extremely comfortable playing on the West coast. Theegala was a three-time All-American at Pepperdine University and won the Haskins Award as the most outstanding collegiate golfer in the United States.

Theegala has played his best golf on shorter tracks. He finished 2nd at the RSM Classic during the fall swing and has some other top-5 finishes at the Travelers Championship (another Pete Dye course) and the ZOZO Championship.

Sahith can get himself in trouble when the fairways are tight, and a slightly wayward drive can prove costly. That isn’t a major concern this week as all three courses have wide fairways and are relatively forgiving off the tee.

Theegala should feel right at home this week and be ready to contend for his first solo PGA Tour victory in California.

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