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The 2023 American Express down in the Coachella Valley, California is a nightmare to handicap. The AmEx is a Pro-Am event that plays in a three-course rota and cuts down to the top-70 golfers after 54 holes.
Those courses are the Pete Dye’s Stadium Course, La Quinta Country Club, and PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course). The Stadium Course gets a second play for the final round, Sunday.
Adding to the randomness, after years of a mediocre to subpar AmEx field, 10 of the world’s top-20 golfers are in the field. Notables include world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, No. 4 Jon Rahm and No. 5 Patrick Cantlay.
I definitely buried the lede but I cashed my third outright last week when Si Woo Kim won the 2023 Sony Open at +4500. Kim also cashed top-5, -10 and -20 tickets and Andrew Putnam‘s T4 earned some moola too.
My 2022-23 PGA Tour balance climbed to +18.98 units (u) after 11 events handicapped. The recap of my Sony Open bets are at the bottom of this post.
I’ve opted to go with a heavier on outrights and picks to place and forgo head-to-head matchups for my American Express card because of how the randomness of this event. Also, my head-to-heads suck this season.
Before we get into the American Express bet slip, we’ll go over course conditions and key performance indicators (KPIs) factored into my picks.
Course breakdown and KPIs for the American Express
There isn’t shotlink data for La Quinta and the Nicklaus course so it’s hard to find comp courses. All three courses are Par 72 and less than 7,200 yards with four Par 3s, four Par 5s and 10 Par 4s.
Ten of the last 13 American Express winners had odds of +5500 or higher entering the event. This is my excuse to add a couple of longshots to my card and stay away from the favorites.
Since the American Express is a Pro-Am event, the courses don’t provide much defense and the AmEx’s are generally birdie fests. The average winning score at the last five AmEx’s is 24-under.
Stroked Gained (SG) for courses 7,200 yards or shorter and SG at courses with easy scoring conditions are included in my AmEx power rankings. Along with total SG and SG: Putting over the last 24 rounds.
- SG: Approach (APP)
- Birdies-or-Better (BoB) gained
- SG: Off-the-Tee (OTT)
- Good Drives gained
- SG: Par 5
- Par 5 Efficiency (EFF): 550-600
- SG: Ball-striking (BS)
- SG: Par 4
The American Express ‘Horses for the course’
- All stats are provided by FantasyNational.com unless noted.
Si Woo Kim
This logic burned me when backing Russell Henley after his win at Mayakoba earlier this season. Yet am I really going to pass on Si Woo Kim because he won last week? This field is stacked but that doesn’t sit well with me.
Si Woo Kim’s biggest weakness is with the flat-stick however he’s been on fire with his irons lately. He is gaining +5.4 strokes tee-to-green (T2G) and +4.4 SG: APP over his last five events.
The American Express is usually a putting contest. Here’s the thing: Kim won this event in 2019, finished 11th last year and ninth in 2016. He has pick up strokes on the greens in all four of his AmEx’s played.
Also, Kim is third in total SG over the last 50 rounds on easy courses 7,200 yards or shorter, first in SG: T2G, 10th in SG: APP, and second in both SG: BS and SG: OTT.
The Sony Open broadcast made a solid point about Kim while covering his final round charge to win the event this past Sunday. They discussed the experience and confidence Kim gained at September’s President’s Cup.
Si Woo Kim is only 27 years old and isn’t discussed nearly as much as fellow Koreans Sungjae Im and Tom Kim. He’s a four-time winner on tour including the prestigious 2017 PLAYERS Championship.
Kim is eighth in the FedEx Cup standings thus far. Si Woo is clearly motivated by the rise of Tom Kim and consistency of Sungjae Im and he should be mentioned among “best Koreans on Tour”.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Si Woo Kim odds:
- Win: (0.25u: +4000)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +800)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +360)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +165)
To be honest, I have FOMO on the Tom Kim hype-train and excited to finally get him at a decent price. Kim missed the cut at last week’s Sony Open because he lost nearly seven strokes on the greens.
It’s easier to put at the American Express since it’s a Pro-Am event and the greens are easier. Kim does have experience in this event albeit he missed the cut in his only AmEx appearance in 2021.
He is +5.9 SG: T2G and +4.1 SG: APP over the last five events. Tom Kim won his last two events he gained strokes with the putter at: 2022 Wyndham Championship and 2022 Shriners Children’s Open.
Furthermore, Tom Kim is sixth on my KPI-model over the last 50 rounds. This includes fourth in SG: APP, 16th in SG: Par 5, fifth in SG: BS, 13th in BoB gained, and eighth in SG: Par 4.
Finally, Tom Kim ranks fifth in this field for total SG over his last 24 rounds and has the biggest gap between SG at easy courses vs. SG at non-easy courses, per Ron Klos from BetSperts.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Tom Kim odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +2200)
- Top-5: (0.5u: +450)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +220)
This is a value-play because Burns doesn’t really pop on my KPI-model nor sit high in my AmEx power rankings. He is 53rd in this field for SG over the last 24 rounds.
However, Burns is 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings and he is priced the same as Taylor Montgomery, Tom Hoge and Brian Harman, all at +3500.
Burns won three events last season: 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship, 2022 Valspar Championship and 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge. He is third in this field for SG in easy scoring conditions and one of the best putters on tour.
Also, Burns finished missed the cut at the 2021 AmEx but finished sixth in 2020 and 18th in 2019. He didn’t lose strokes putting at any of those events and is +4.1 SG: Putting over his last five tourneys.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Sam Burns odds:
- Win: (0.25u: +3500)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +750)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +360)
- Top-20: (0.75u: +190)
Detry doesn’t pop on my model mostly because there isn’t shotlink data for recent events he has played well. Detry plays on the DP World Tour and has three top-15s in his last five events on that tour.
He has finished 15th or better in five of his last seven PGA events dating back to last season. These include a 15th at Mayakoba in November, second at the Bermuda in October and 10th in the Scottish Open in July.
Detry ranks 20th or better for this field in SG: Putting and total SG over the last 24 rounds, SG at courses with easy scoring conditions and SG at courses 7,200 yards or less. He is 21st in this field for BoB gained and eighth in SG: Par 4.
Perhaps Detry’s sky-high odds are due to him not playing a bunch of events recently. Otherwise, he is second in the 2022-23 PGA Tour rookie rankings behind Taylor Montgomery who is tied with the 10th-best odds to win the AmEx.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Thomas Detry odds:
- Win: (0.125u: +13000)
- Top-5: (0.125u: +2200)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +900)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +360)
Griffin is third in the PGA Tour’s current rookie rankings yet is all the way down the odds board with Detry. He’s 18th on my KPI-model, ranking 17th or better in SG: APP, SG: Par 4, and BoB gained.
Griffin is 12th in my American Express power rankings and 17th in total SG over the last 24 rounds. He is +3.5 SG: T2G and +2.8 SG: APP over the last five events and doesn’t include a 3rd-place in the Bermuda, which doesn’t have shotlink data.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Ben Griffin odds:
- Win: (0.125u: +13000)
- Top-10: (0.125u: +1000)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +360)
The American Express Final Bet Slip
- Si Woo Kim: Win, top-5, top-10 & top-20 (1.5u)
- Tom Kim: Win, top-5 & top-10 (1.5u)
- Sam Burns: Win, top-5, top-10 & top-20 (1.5u)
- Thomas Detry: Win, top-5, top-10 & top-20 (1u)
- Ben Griffin; Win, top-10 & top-20 (0.75u)
2023 Sony Open (+14.9u)
Win & Picks To Place
- Si Woo Kim (🥇): Win, top-5, top-10 & top-20 (+15.5u)💰
- Andrew Putnam (added via Twitter, tied for fourth): Top-5, top-10 & top-20 (+4.6u)💰
- Win (+4500) ❌
- Corey Conners (tied for 12th): Win, top-5 & top-10 (-1.5u) ❌
- Russell Henley (tied for 32nd): Win, top-5 & top-10 (-1.5u) ❌
- Keegan Bradley > Maverick McNealy (-1.1u) ❌
- Sungjae Im > Tom Kim (-1.1u) ❌
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