2023 American Express Round 2 Odds & Picks: Cameron Young, Will Zalatoris Show Value in Outright Market
Pictured: Cameron Young. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Day one of the American Express is finally in the books after a long, drawn-out round. While it would be nice to say change is on the way, it will be much of the same for us over the next two days.
The viewable and handicapping structures are severely limited since the PGA West Stadium Course is the only venue of the three to provide data — an added wrinkle that’s hard to maneuver around.
That is going to keep me out of the mix from delivering too many wagers this week because my model is highly predicated on incorporating all the metrics it possibly can before generating an answer. Regardless, we will do the best we can to make it worthwhile, while also making sure to not force action for the sake of an article.
If you aren’t doing so already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom rankings for golf. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.
We only have minimal indicators of how someone gained or lost strokes if they didn’t take on the PGA West Stadium Course on Thursday. For that reason, I will fully trust my pre-tournament model over adding on the typical 25% weight I use for in-tournament information after Thursday, which led to Cameron Young showing value at 66/1.
Of the past 88 tournaments I have tracked (not consecutively), only a little over 11% of the eventual winners placed outside the top 40 entering Friday. Young is in 42nd, but the high-end metrics of my model are indicating he has top-10 production potential for the rest of the event.
Young ranks first in this field when combining par-five birdie or better percentage, distance and short iron proximity. That takes a very particular outlook for him to jump to the top, but we know all three of those categories are highly emphasized for long-term success on these courses.
Will Zalatoris 100/1 (Bet365, PointsBet, BetRivers)
I noted how difficult it was to win from where Young stands on the leaderboard, but let’s take it a step further and grab Will Zalatoris, who is in 64th after the first round.
There is going to be inflation in both Young’s and Zalatoris’ totals for all the obvious reasons, but there is also an added odds boost in my eyes because each didn’t take advantage of the Nicklaus Tournament Course and drew the more challenging Stadium for day two.
While it is hard to argue against that logic, I believe some of the “ease” or “strength” of specific layouts is being overblown — evidenced by all three tracks playing within 0.46 shots of one another and producing birdie totals that ranged between 252 to 265 Thursday.
Sure, the potential for implosion will heighten when we consider the nine holes that have water coming into play, but we have to shoot for as much upside as possible right now, and the opportunities to produce should be doable for both because of their overall tee-to-green acumen.
Zalatoris adds to that profile by ranking first in my model for my recalculated proximity for all three courses — specifically the Stadium — and his ability to add distance to that mix means he will go as far as the putter takes him over the next three days.
You may have noticed on the image for Young that last year’s winner of this event was one of the outlier victors that stormed the leaderboard from outside the top 60 names. So, if a golfer like Hudson Swafford could defy the math, why couldn’t a top-10 commodity like Will Zalatoris do the same?