PGA TOUR Sleeper Picks: Our Favorite Longshot Bets at The 2021 American Express
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Brendan Steele
- The American Express, the first event of the PGA TOUR's California Swing, has been a happy hunting ground for longshots in the past.
- The last two winners, Adam Long and Andrew Landry, were 500/1 and 200/1, respectively.
- Here are the sleepers we have our eye on at PGA West:
If you like betting on longshots, boy do we have the tournament for you.
Although the 2021 American Express will look a little different from past iterations, you can still expect it to play out in similar fashion. In other words, prepare for a birdie-fest and don’t be surprised if we see a huge longshot win. The past two winners here, Andrew Landry and Adam Long, were 200/1 and 500/1, respectively.
Here are our favorite sleepers at PGA West:
Maverick McNealy (+11000)
McNealy has been gradually rounding into the player we’d expected when he was crushing it in college. In fact, it’s been a half-dozen years, but he won The Prestige at PGA West when he was at Stanford, which should bode well for his chances this week. He was T-37 at this one last year and finished 21st-or-better in four of his final six starts of last year.
He’s never going to be the longest driver of the ball or the most accurate ball-striker, but he does own one of the game’s more solid putting strokes, ranking ninth in strokes gained putting last season. If his flatstick catches fire this week, don’t be surprised if he’s in the mix come Sunday.
Sepp Straka (+8500)
It’s tough to pick just one longshot this week, but I’ll highlight Straka for this week. He finished fourth here in 2020 and had a solid week in Hawaii to begin his 2021 campaign.
Straka has been on a great run of form with his irons, gaining at least three strokes with his approach in his last four events. That’s noteworthy since the Austrian’s biggest strength, his driver, has actually been holding his game back lately. That seemed to turn around a bit at Waialae as he returned to field average off the tee.
Straka has made a habit of popping up at lower-tier events, so this is the type of tournament where he could pull out his first win.
Charley Hoffman (+9000)
Players that played well in Hawaii have typically carried that good form into The American Express. Charley Hoffman ranked fifth in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green at the Sony Open and gained more than two strokes on the field with his ball-striking.
I love what I am seeing out of Hoffman coming into the new year, and while his last five trips to PGA West have been a struggle, he does have a win (2007) and a runner-up finish (2015) at this event.
Brendan Steele (+8000)
While there is always a risk of a letdown just a week after blowing a 54-hole lead, I am going back to Steele here. In terms of course fit, I see PGA West as a superior track for the TOUR veteran to compete at.
A California native, Steele has two PGA TOUR victories in the state of California (Safeway Open x2). Silverado is similar to PGA West in that they are both shorter Par 72’s, which is a style of course that is a good fit for Steele. He also has some very good course history at PGA West with a 6th (2017), and a 2nd (2015). His appearances at the event account for two of the top eight strokes gained performances of his career.
Historically, ball-strikers have fared very well at PGA West and winners haven’t had to putt lights out to win. A strong player tee-to-green, the 37-year-old is capable of putting on a ball-striking clinic this week in La Quinta.