The PGA Tour heads back to the continental U.S. for the American Express, hosted this week in the dome-like conditions of Palm Springs, California. This event is one of two pro-ams on Tour so players will play each of the three courses before a cut is made Saturday evening after 54 holes. The scores have been traditionally very low here and I expect the same this week. You have three very gettable short courses with immaculate greens and nearly all par 5s reachable by the entire field. The simple pin locations used in order to help the amateurs maintain pace of play combined with the dome-like conditions make it easy for the pros to go low.
So what does it take to succeed here? Well, it is pretty simple: be above average on par 5s, putting, and approach play with wedges and short irons. Players are going to have a lot of makeable birdie putts this week. Whoever gets hot with the flatstick will likely win.
Let’s take a look at three players to target:
Tony Finau $10,200
Finau is the top-ranked player in my model this week and for good reason. He ranks in the top seven in birdies, off the tee, approach, around the green, and putting. He has two top-14 finishes in the last three years of this event. This is a very interesting pricepoint for Finau as I expect him to be a bit under-owned because of so many people wanting to buy up to $10,800 to grab Jon Rahm. This makes for a great leverage play, especially in large field tournaments.
Taylor Montgomery $8,900
Montgomery is the best putter on the PGA Tour right now and it’s not even close. He is gaining over 1.2 strokes per round in putting. Yes, that may be over a smaller sample than some other players but it is absolutely mind boggling that he is beating the field average by almost 5 strokes in putting each event!!!! So it comes as no surprise that Montgomery has had great success in his first year on Tour. He has played eight events and finished inside the top 15 in all but one! This week’s setup should suit him perfectly because it has a good chance of becoming a putting contest, as Jon Rahm characterized it so infamously last year.
Adam Hadwin $8,200
At first glance, you might think this price is high. But let’s dig into why Hadwin is a good play this week even at this number. Hadwin had what seemed to be a quiet 2022 campaign yet he had six top-ten finishes! His record here is stellar as he has made each of the last seven cuts, including four top-six finishes. He is well above Tour average on approach and putting so it makes sense that he has had success here. He also ranks inside the top 10 in par-5 scoring, which is surprising given his lack of length off the tee.