BETTING ANALYSIS

American Express 2022 picks: Why Patrick Cantlay will dominate

By Powers and Hennessey

You have landed upon perhaps the best collection of golf-handicapping specialists in golf. We have been picking winners in this column since 2018. Occasionally, however, we must admit we were wrong. Last week, Hideki Matsuyama was the “fade” of three of our betting panel members. You know how that ended.

We’ve kept tabs on all of the bets we’ve made over the past three-plus years. With confidence, we can tell you that we’ve faded the player who actually won that week on only a handful of occasions. It happens. Stick with us, and we’ll keep printing units.

Our panel—which consists of an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire and FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of Fanshare Sports and these two authors—is motivated to find another winner this week at The American Express.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 AMEX.

American Express 2022 picks: Our experts' outright predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Patrick Cantlay (9-1, DraftKings) — He’s an absolute assassin, and not only is he entering off such a strong 2021, but he shook off the “rust” with a solo fourth at Kapalua and is coming to a course where he fired a final-round 61 last year.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Sungjae Im (18-1, DraftKings) — Sure, he was a disappointment last week, but it was really a horrendous opening round that did him in. I’m not sure he solved his issues Friday, but there were positives. Couple that with his sterling track record at PGA West (T-12/T-10/T-12), and you have a perfect rebound spot.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Tony Finau (21-1, FanDuel) — Finau has finished in the top 15 here the past two years and should be able to take advantage of the par 5s again this year. Though there might be some betting fatigue on Finau, he’s still in good form. The value is starting to fade away—he’s been bet down from his opening odds on the FanDuel Sportsbook.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Cantlay (9-1, DraftKings) — Despite the four wins last year, Cantlay was often overshadowed by Jon Rahm. But Cantlay was spectacular in his own right. He gained 1.48 strokes per round over his past 50 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That’s second to only Rahm of all golfers on the PGA Tour and significantly better than some of the other stars on tour. For perspective, Collin Morikawa gained exactly 1.0 stroke per round in his last 50 rounds, meaning Cantlay has been light years better than Morikawa in that timeframe. With a ninth-place finish in 2019 and runner-up finish last year, there’s only one thing left for Cantlay to do at this event—win.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Tony Finau (21-1, FanDuel) — I’ve been so close at this event in the past … I was on Cantlay last year and Scottie Scheffler the year before. Who better to secure a top-five finish than Finau? But seriously, Finau would be a fitting winner here: He plays desert golf regularly in Utah. He’s first in this field over the past 24 rounds in SG/total on par 72s of less than 7,200 yards (all three courses apply), per Fantasy National. He should be on 59 watch on both La Quinta and the Nicklaus course. Then you just hope he doesn’t blow it into the desert on the Stadium course each day. Tony’s changing the narrative on his career this season, and it continues this week.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Gary Woodland (100-1, DraftKings) — Bold to throw out a longshot in this section, but I just don’t feel great about any of the guys near the top of the board at their price, and their ability to potentially stare down Jon Rahm or Patrick Cantlay on Sunday. With Woodland, you’re getting a ton of value on a major-winner who can absolutely have an alpha-off with those two top dogs, should that situation arise. If you recall around this time last year, Woodland was on his back, unable to walk at Sherwood. That health has improved dramatically, with Woodland taking to Instagram six weeks ago and saying his body was moving again. He’s poised for a bounce back year, which hopefully starts this week at AMEX.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (5-1, DraftKings) — Rahm might be a very short price, but he’s head and shoulders above any other contender statistically. He plays a bunch of desert golf in Scottsdale, has won here before and is fantastic off the tee game and putts well on Bermuda greens. Don’t overthink it.

American Express 2022 picks: Sleepers/Dark horses who could win

Caddie: Adam Hadwin (80-1, BetRivers) — He always plays well here, you don’t have to worry about whether he needs to shake off the rust: The guy shows up to the desert to contend year after year.

Mayo: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (60-1, DraftKings) — Bezuidenhout will likely trail the field off the tee, but this particular style of course (short, with forced layups) is one where he likely won’t be as awful against the field as long as he continues to hit fairways. I don’t care about distance at PGA West. He’s gained with his driver just once over his past 13 measured starts, and that was at last year's RBC Heritage, coincidentally another short Pete Dye course Just let the irons and putter take over.

Gdula: Jhonattan Vegas (75-1, FanDuel) — Vegas is long off the tee and makes a ton of birdies, which should set up well for an event that requires scores of 20-under-or-better to win. He won here back in 2011 and enters in good form this year.

Gehman: Michael Thompson (90-1, DraftKings) — Thompson popped up last week in Honolulu, finishing T-5 and gaining 6.52 strokes on approach – third-most in the field. We’ve seen him play better as of late, making the cut in eight of his last nine starts. He’s also thrived at this event, earning a top 10 in two of his last three appearances.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jason Day (130-1, DraftKings) — These odds are ludicrous … lets make bookmakers pay. J-Day is third in this field in SG/total on short par 72s over the past 24 rounds. As Reid Fowler points out on DraftKings, a lot of those rounds are at Pebble Beach. A good point. But did you know that J-Day practices a lot in Palm Springs over the winter? He should be ready to go in the desert, and you don’t want to miss out on this astronomical number.

Powers, Golf Digest: Jason Day (130-1, DraftKings) — Going to ride with my podcast partner here. Mainly because I can’t let him get away with hitting on Day after I wasted a boatload of money on Day last season. But also because he’s right, this is a ridiculous number for the former World No. 1, who has historically started his seasons off strong during the Cali Swing.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (60-1, DraftKings) — The South African not only ranks as the fourth-best putter in the field over the past two years on Bermuda greens, he also ranks seventh in FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking. His current form is solid and his long-term form is very good.

American Express 2022 picks: Players we're fading

Caddie: Matthew Wolff (31-1, FanDuel) — Wolff is either hot or cold, and this is his first competitive round since Houston in November. I’d rather see some form from him before recommending that you should bet on him.

Mayo: Scottie Scheffler (16-1, DraftKings) — Nothing really against Scottie, but in his first start of the year, the odds are a bit too steep for me considering the very similar talent just behind him at better odds.

Gdula: Matthew Wolff (31-1, FanDuel) — Wolff’s recent finishes (17th at the Sanderson Farms, second at Shriners, fifth at Mayakoba and 11th at Houston) have largely been fueled by elite wedge play and have covered up poor ball-striking. If the good short game sticks and his ball-striking comes back, he’s in play; until then, I’m not going to bet him.

Gehman: Russell Henley (35-1, DraftKings) — Henley was phenomenal last week despite being chased down by Hideki Matsuayama and eventually beaten in a playoff. However, The American Express is a beast of its own. The three-course rotation is something that can really throw golfers out of whack. Henley, seemingly, is out of whack when he plays in La Quinta. In six career starts, he’s never finished better than T-49 and he’s missed the cut in his last four trips.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (5-1, DraftKings) — Per Steve Bamford over at Golf Betting System, the average odds on a winner here in the desert over the past 10 years is around 120-1. Of course, Rahm could blow this field away … him and Cantlay are far and away the class here. But this is such a tough number to bet in a 156-player field.

Powers, Golf Digest: Corey Conners (22-1, DraftKings) — Conners is a popular pick every week because of his eye-popping off-the-tee and approach numbers. But c’mon now, these odds on him are starting to get a little ridiculous. He’s a great player, but he has one win and is consistently being priced shorter than Patrick Reed, who is one of the most prolific winners on tour.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Abraham Ancer (25-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Ancer ranks just 113th in the field for SG/total over the past three months and 114th for Opportunities Gained over the same period. It’s tough to see him erasing that poor form so quickly off a MC at Sony and a bad week at Kapalua.

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