Tomorrow the PGA Tour returns to the mainland for The American Express (yes, that’s the new name of this event). A lot of us still think of this event as the Bob Hope. This week, 156 players will play a three-course rotation as part of the Pro-Am. There will be a cut after 54 holes and a final round at the late Pete Dye’s PGA West Stadium Course.
Low scores abound in the desert. Ever since this event expanded to 72 holes in 2012, the winning score has been at least -20. The courses are all short by today’s Tour standards, meaning that players will have a greater than normal number of shots from 75 to 150 yards. There will also be an emphasis on putting, as the greens are pure and the pins typically in spots easy enough to accommodate the amateur participants in the Pro-Am.
So let’s consider a few players who could thrive at this type of setup:
Vaughn Taylor $7,900
Taylor is one of only two players in the field that ranks in the top 15 in proximity from 75-100, 100-125, and 125-150 yards. As mentioned above, we will see a larger than normal proportion of shots coming from those distances this week. Taylor is also known as one of the best putters on Tour. He comes into this event off of three consecutive top-12 finishes, including a T-12 last week at the Sony Open. All signs point to another strong performance this week.
Cameron Tringale $7,100
Tringale is the other player in the top 15 in all three proximity categories. Like Taylor, he has combines high-level wedge play and putting, both of which will be important this week. When we last saw Tringale, he was finishing fifth at the Australian Open. Over his past 15 events, he has recorded eight top 20s and missed only one cut. At $7,100 in a weak field in his home state, Tringale is a great value.
Wolff reminds me of Jon Rahm. Both are premier drivers of the ball who play aggressive and make birdies by the bunch. We’ve seen Rahm have great success at The American Express in the past. Wolff’s game would appear to fit the courses just as well. Look for him to make a splash in a field that lacks the usual star power at the top.
Harman is a very accurate driver of the ball who is also great with wedges and can fill the cup on the greens. He has done well here in the past, finishing in the top 20 in three of the past four years. His game is trending in the right direction; in five of his past nine events, he has placed inside the top 20.