This week, the PGA Tour returns to the mainland for the American Express. As usual, the first three rounds will be played at three different courses in the desert: La Quinta, PGA West (Nicklaus), and PGA West (Stadium). There will be a cut after 54 holes, and the final round will be contested on Pete Dye’s Stadium Course.
All three courses emphasize par-5 scoring, short irons, and putting. Each has four reachable par 5s, and players will need to rack up a lot of birdies on them in order to contend. Overall, these courses play fairly short, with lots of medium-length par 4s. As a result, players will have more short-iron approaches than usual. The greens are some of the purest on tour, so if you want to do well at the American Express, you have to hole a bunch of putts.
Let’s look at a few players who offer strength in those three categories:
Abraham Ancer $9,200
This is a perfect buy-low spot for Ancer off of his missed cut at the Sony Open. He ranks inside the top 10 in both putting and short-iron proximity. On top of that, he is an extremely accurate driver, which should give him plenty of opportunities to attack the flag with short irons. Ancer has finished second and fifth in his past two appearances at this event.
Adam Hadwin $7,900
Hadwin has had crazy success at the American Express, finishing sixth or better in four of his past five starts. That success makes sense; Hadwin is an elite putter who is accurate off the tee and has an above-average short-iron and wedge game. This event often turns into a putting contest, and that suits him nicely. Hadwin also quietly ranks 31st in par-5 scoring, which is very good considering he is shorter than average off the tee.
Adam Svensson $7,000
Svensson leads the field in short-iron proximity, which helps explain his seventh-place finish last week at Waialae. His solid ball-striking has led to a lot of easy birdies on par 5s, and he currently ranks 24th in par-5 scoring. Svensson’s weakness is his putting, in which he ranks near the bottom of the Tour. However, he rolled it well last week, finishing 11th in Strokes Gained: Putting. If he can putt just average at the American Express, he will have a chance at a strong finish that will more than pay off his cheap salary.