Full betting preview, picks for American Express
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The PGA Tour returns stateside to Palm Springs, California, for the American Express (formerly known by several other names, including the Bob Hope Classic).

A field of 156 players will take on three different courses for the pro-am style event. Every golfer will play at least three rounds before the top 65 and ties advance to Sunday's final round at the Stadium Course at PGA West.

Last year's runner-up, Phil Mickelson, is the acting host, with Rickie Fowler, Sungjae Im, Paul Casey, and Tony Finau rounding out the rest of the notables in attendance.

The courses

Stadium Course at PGA West

  • 7,113 yards, par 72
  • Bermuda grass greens
  • Most difficult of the three

La Quinta Country Club

  • 7,060 yards, par 72
  • Bermuda grass greens
  • Second-easiest course on Tour in 2019

Nicklaus Tournament Course

  • 7,159 yards, par 72
  • Bermuda grass greens
  • Easiest course on Tour in 2019

Previous winners

2019: Adam Long (-26)
2018: Jon Rahm (-22)
2017: Hudson Swafford (-20)
2016: Jason Dufner (-25)
2015: Bill Haas (-22)
2014: Patrick Reed (-28)

Trends

Here are a few notable tendencies of recent American Express winners:

  • Nine of the last 10 played in one of the two Hawaiian events
  • Four of the last seven played in the Sony Open
  • Six of the past seven champions played in The American Express at least once prior to winning

The favorites

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Player Odds Best tournament finish
Rickie Fowler 11-1 T-33 (2014)
Sungjae Im 16-1 T-12 (2019)
Paul Casey 22-1 T-58 (2017)
Tony Finau 22-1 T-59 (2015)
Byeong Hun An 25-1 N/A
Scottie Scheffler 28-1 N/A
Billy Horschel 28-1 T-10 (2013)

Rickie Fowler enters the week as the betting favorite at 11-1. His presence atop the oddsboard signals two things: The field is weak and the favorites are far from bona fide winners.

Sungjae Im, Paul Casey, and Tony Finau follow Fowler. While deserving, Im's number is extremely short and tough to back. If he does manage to claim his first PGA Tour win this week at 16-1, so be it.

Casey is tempting at 22-1. He was seventh in strokes gained: tee to green at the Tournament of Champions, his last appearance, and should fit all three courses very well. Finau, on the other hand, is a hard pass at the same number. He is making a long trip home from Hong Kong after finishing fifth in a weak Asian Tour event.

The next tier

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Player Odds Best American Express finish
Cameron Champ 30-1 N/A
Charles Howell III 30-1 T-2 (2013)
Kevin Kisner 30-1 T-25 (2017)
Matthew Wolff 30-1 N/A
Phil Mickelson 33-1 2nd (2019)
Francesco Molinari 33-1 T-10 (2015)
Brian Harman 35-1 T-3 (2017)
Brendon Todd 40-1 T-6 (2014)
Jason Kokrak 40-1 T-8 (2018)
Abraham Ancer 40-1 T-18 (2019)

The lack of standouts in the favorites section opens the door for nearly anyone to win The American Express. This is both good and bad from a betting perspective: It becomes increasingly difficult to nail a winner but the investment required to win big decreases dramatically.

First, Abraham Ancer deserves attention at 40-1. The Mexican's resume on Tour is arguably equivalent, if not superior, to Byeong Hun An's, who is 25-1. Additionally, seeing his Presidents Cup teammate Cam Smith win in Hawaii last week could bolster Ancer's belief that he too can win on Tour.

Kevin Kisner (30-1) is coming off a pair of top-15 finishes to open 2020. The fear is that he will be exhausted after two surprisingly grueling weeks in Hawaii.

Matthew Wolff (33-1) is a tremendous talent and he played very well at the Tournament of Champions. Also at 33-1 is 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari. He could be the most talented golfer in the field but his lack of form, which has been an issue since he lost the Masters, is worrisome. The Italian will need to prove his game is back before garnering attention in the betting market.

The long shots

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Adam Long (above) won in Palm Springs last year at 500-1. That alone should prove that anyone can win this week.

Before jumping into the players priced above 100-1, Russell Knox and Vaughn Taylor are both 50-1 and played well at the Sony Open. They boast similar games that emphasize accuracy and iron play and will fit the three courses on deck.

When diving into players with triple-digit odds, remember the trends of recent winners. Try to key in on players showing signs of recent form with the ability to make a ton of birdies, which is necessary to contend.

Here are a few super-deep long shots worth consideration:

  • Carlos Ortiz (100-1): Has three top-fives this season and gained 3.9 strokes through approach shots last week.
  • Sam Ryder (200-1): Gained strokes in all four categories at the Sony Open.
  • Doc Redman (250-1): Missed the Sony Open cut due to a terrible first round on the greens. One of the field's elite ball strikers.
  • Sepp Straka (300-1): Shot a final-round 65 at the Sony Open.
  • Ted Potter Jr. (300-1): Finished T-7 last week thanks to a fourth-round 66. Gained 4.5 strokes on approach shots. Won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2018.
  • Sam Burns (500-1): Working to regain his form after breaking his ankle. One of the best putters in the world on Bermuda grass.

Picks to win

Abraham Ancer (40-1)

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We've already seen one Presidents Cup standout turn momentum from the team event into a 2020 win, so why can't Ancer repeat Smith's success?

Ancer has contended multiple times on Tour, earning the experience required for his eventual breakthrough. He gained 3.7 strokes on approach shots at the Sony Open and lost 1.4 off the tee, which is typically his area of strength. He's knocked off the rust and returns to a tournament where he was solid last season. The 28-year-old is worth the investment at a valuable 40-1 number.

Russell Knox (50-1)

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Similar to Ancer, Knox was dialed in with his irons last week but struggled off the tee. If the Scot can regain some accuracy off the tee, a skill he's relied on throughout his career, he should perform well in Palm Springs.

Knox has made six straight cuts and 11 of his past 13. He's also played The American Express a bunch of times and finished T-18 last year, which is important given the pro-am format. These types of tournaments are not for everyone due to lengthy rounds and bad golf being played by amateur partners.

Carlos Ortiz (100-1)

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Ortiz has a real chance to repeat Long's magic from last year. No, he's not 500-1, but there's still tons of value in his triple-digit price.

The 28-year-old already has three top-fives in seven tournaments played this season. His ability to get himself in the mix late Sunday will eventually pay off, perhaps as soon as this week. The Mexican has gained strokes tee-to-green in seven straight events and struck the ball well at the Sony Open despite finishing outside the top 50.

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Full betting preview, picks for American Express
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