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2023 American Express Round 3 Odds & Picks: Jason Day Among Names to Watch

2023 American Express Round 3 Odds & Picks: Jason Day Among Names to Watch article feature image
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Pictured: Jason Day. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Two rounds remain at The American Express, but as anyone who has been watching the festivities in Coachella Valley clearly understands, not all rounds are equal.

With a staggering five birdies over the first 36 holes, Davis Thompson is the leader at 18-under. Jon Rahm is two strokes back and attempting to win for the second time in two starts this year.

Thompson and Rahm have more in common than topping the leaderboard. Each played La Quinta in the opening round and the Nicklaus Tournament Course in the second round, which means they’ll both play the PGA West Stadium Course on Saturday, which is once again playing as the most difficult venue in the three-course rotation.

The same goes for 20-year-old phenom Tom Kim, who’s one of five players in a share of third place (13-under).

There aren’t often good reasons to fade Rahm or Kim — and that strategy could certainly still backfire — but if you’re looking to find value entering the weekend, it would be wise to lean toward contenders who already have the Stadium Course in their rearview mirror (until Sunday).

Let’s take a look at a few players who could make for intriguing live plays as we enter the final two rounds.

Jason Day (13-under): +1600

Fresh off a second-round 64 on the Stadium Course, the former world No. 1 is looking closer to that position than his current 115th ranking. Day was showing signs of turning things around late in 2022, finishing 21st or better in four of his last five starts. On Friday, he picked up 3.93 strokes on the field with his approach shots, more than a stroke better than anyone else who played the course. His putting looks similarly on-point, which could be a recipe for a victory soon. Sure, it’s been nearly five full years since his 12th and most recent PGA Tour title, but at this number it might be worth a play to see if his closing skills have remained intact.

Sam Burns (10-under): +4500

On Thursday, Burns came out on fire and played his first 14 holes on the Stadium Course at 9-under, making him the live favorite for a but during that first round. However, he’s slowed to a halt from there and played his next 22 holes at just 1-under, including a modest second-round 70 on the easier La Quinta track. That’s been enough to elevate his price to 45/1, which should be enough to get us interested in a four-time winner who obviously knows how to step on the gas pedal when it matters — especially at the home venue, which will host Sunday’s finale.

Garrick Higgo (9-under): +30000

We’ve seen a few players like Higgo in recent years — guys whose usual low floor is offset by an uncommonly high ceiling. We’ve spent much of the past week discussing this concept, as Si Woo Kim has somehow transformed himself from a high-ceiling/low-floor player (with three wins by the time he turned 25, but a large percentage of missed cuts) into a low-ceiling/high-floor player last season (just one top-10, but 23 made cuts in 29 starts) and perhaps now a high-ceiling/high-floor kind of guy (he’s made all five cuts this season and won last week’s Sony Open). Cameron Champ qualifies as another young player who’s proven to boast a wide spectrum of outcomes between his best and his baseline. Higgo also fits this profile, having already won on the PGA Tour and twice on the DP World Tour, though it’s hardly come with any consistency. At 300/1 with the Nicklaus Tournament Course coming up Saturday, he’s worth a flyer.

Keith Mitchell (8-under): +30000

Maybe I’m digging too deep for some of these longshots as Mitchell trails by 10 at the midway point. However, he has plenty of offensive firepower and can make birdies in bunches. He also has the Nicklaus track on his Saturday card. With 20 of the top 45 still yet to play the more difficult Stadium Course, we should expect plenty of leaderboard shifting before the final round. Something in the range of a 62 or 63 could have Mitchell within shouting distance of a second career victory come Sunday morning.

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