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Sobel’s American Express Round 3 Preview & Matchup Bet: The Wizard is Live

Credit:

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Ted Potter Jr. in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine. I’ll call him “Jason S.” because, well, that’s his real first name and initial — and no, it’s not me.

True story.

Anyway, Jason S. is a golf junkie and all-around sharp dude who knows his stuff. He’s one of the few guys I know outside of the industry who I not only like bouncing some names off pre-tournament, but actually solicit his opinions, as well. I trust him that much.

Prior to the opening round of this week’s American Express, we were going back and forth with our usual text messages, each of us proffering several names to find the leaderboard, with a handful that overlapped on both of our lists.

Toward the end of our conversation, Jason S. hit me with a series of Jeopardy!-esque clues about a certain player.

He won another pro-am … 

No idea. I mean, even most PGA Tour pros aren’t aware when they win a pro-am.

No, this one was at Pebble Beach…

Ohh, that narrows it down. Jimmy Walker?

No, this guy was top-12 at the Sony last week…

Before I could scramble to that leaderboard and guess Vaughn Taylor — who checks all of those boxes and absolutely would’ve been my guess had I dug a little deeper — he ended the mystery.

Potter, baby!

Ted. Potter. Junior.

Now, I love the Ocalan Stallion as much as the next guy. I’ve known the Wizard for over a decade and he’s probably said at least 25-30 words to me, which might be enough to put me in his inner circle, for all I know. (The guy doesn’t say much.)

But I hadn’t considered Potter for this week’s event, for the simple fact that while his career has enjoyed some definitive bright spots, it has also endured many more downturns.

His Wikipedia page lists 19 career professional wins, but anyone who has followed Potter’s exploits from the beginning knows his mini-tour count is wayyy more than that.

He’s also won two PGA Tour titles, including at Pebble two years ago, three strokes ahead of a star-studded runner-up list of Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and Chez Reavie.

With those few texts, my buddy Jason S. had gotten me at least thinking about Potter, but I didn’t bet him — until right after he finished his second round on Friday afternoon.

As I’ve written a few times this week, the AmEx is played, of course, on three different host tracks, and the Stadium Course is noticeably more difficult than the other two. If we look at the current leaderboard, though, four of the top five, seven of the top 11 and 10 of the top 17 have each played the two easier courses so far and will be on the toughest track for the final 36 holes.

If we’re seeking an edge, we should find players who have already successfully navigated that course. Looking at the candidates on the board, guys like Andrew Landry, Cameron Davis and Chase Seiffert don’t excite me too much.

The one guy who does? None other than TPJ, who posted a 9-under 63 at La Quinta on Friday afternoon.

He’ll enter the weekend in a share of sixth place, four shots behind co-leaders Rickie Fowler and Scottie Scheffler, but with an advantage playing the Nicklaus Tournament track instead of the Stadium Course, like those two.

It’s never easy to make live outright bets on a clogged board, but there’s a bigger edge this week than in most others.

At 60-1, where Jason S. and I got Potter right after his round ended, this one feels like it has a chance to pay off.


Odds as of Friday evening and via William Hill, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get $10 free and up to a $150 deposit match.


Round 3 Matchup

Sebastian Munoz (+100) over J.T. Poston (-125)

Paired together during Friday’s second round, Munoz beat Poston by one stroke, but their numbers looked completely different.

Munoz’s 68 on the Stadium Course was fueled by a ball-striking display that was second-best of anyone on that track, nearly four shots better than the field from tee to green.

Poston posted a 69, but was negative strokes gained both off the tee and around the greens. A hot putter kept him in contention, but it was clear his ball-striking wasn’t nearly as crisp as that of Munoz during the round.

I expect that to continue at La Quinta on Saturday, as Munoz should be firing some darts on what’s been the easiest of the three host courses so far.

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