2023 American Express Sleeper Picks: Carl Yuan, K.H. Lee Show Value
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Carl Yuan.
The PGA Tour heads from Hawaii to Palm Springs for the 2023 edition of The American Express, formerly know as (among other names) the Bob Hope Desert Classic and the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Five of the top seven players in the world will be playing in the second full-field event of the 2023 calendar year on Tour, which means there are some juicy betting odds down the board for talented players.
Let’s take a look at which players have betting value to win outright and place in the top 20-40 markets.
The American Express Sleeper Picks
Jason Day +7000 (FanDuel)
I love the value on Jason Day this week because of his momentum, Pete Dye course history and potentially elite upside.
Day ranks above average in Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, Strokes Gained: Approach, SG: Around the Green and SG: Putting. Furthermore, he ranks above average on approach from all proximity ranges.
Prior to the RSM Classic in November (his most recent start), Day had four consecutive top-21 finishes or better and gained at least an average of 0.67 strokes per round in his five previous tournaments.
Has had success on Pete Dye courses throughout his career, including wins at the 2015 PGA Championship (Whistling Straits), 2016 WGC Dell Match Play (Austin Country Club) and THE PLAYERS Championship in 2016 at TPC Sawgrass. The Nicklaus Tournament course will also be in play for one round this week, and Day has a win on a Nicklaus course with his win at the 2015 RBC Canadian Open (Glen Abbey).
This is a great buy-low spot for a previously elite player whom I think has a good chance to win this season.
K.H. Lee +6000 (BetMGM)
Like Day, K.H. Lee ranks above average on approach from all proximity range in addition to being above average in Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, SG: Approach, SG: Around the Green and SG: Putting. This will help on the variety of approach shots and potential birdies on nearly every hole across all three courses.
He also has momentum as he has gained strokes on Approach, Around the Green and Putting in each of his last three tracked tournaments. This culminated in a T7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T28 at the Sony Open last week.
His course history also intrigues me as he ranked third in SG: Approach last year but finished fourth-worst in SG: Off the Tee because he had his worst driving accuracy week since March 2021.
Carl (Yechun) Yuan Top 20 +475 | Top 40 +175 (bet365)
Carl Yuan is a potentially elite player on approach who started off his rookie year on Tour very slowly with three consecutive missed cuts. However, the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Points List winner with an unorthodox swing has the upside to post a top-20 finish this week.
Yuan has been trending in the right direction with three consecutive top-39 finishes, including a T21 at the Sony Open last week.
His length off the tee and above average approach play from all distances will help him this week on the trio of courses, especially his strong approach play from under 100 yards that propelled him to a win and two solo second-place finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2022.
After getting near the top of the leaderboard last weekend, he should be more confident and comfortable this week to cash his first ever top 20 and fourth consecutive top-40 finish. I like both bets at +475 and +175, respectively, at bet365 and sprinkled him at +25000 to win outright.
Alex Smalley +400 for Top 20 | +230 for Top 30 (bet365)
Smalley’s strength on approach gives him value as a longshot bet this week while he has no clear weaknesses in the rest of his game.
This is a buy-low spot for him as he had his worst driving accuracy week at the Sony Open in a calendar year, but he still gained 0.41 strokes on approach per round. He had three straight top-11 finishes before last week’s missed cut and had a respectable T25 finish at The American Express last season despite a weak showing on approach.
For a player with six top-16 finishes in his last 14 starts, there’s value on him to finish in the top 20 at +400 (bet365) and top 30 at +230 (bet365). I also sprinkled him to win outright, and he’s available at +13000 at DraftKings.