American Express 2022 picks: Why Patrick Cantlay will dominate
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.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Rick Gehman hitting Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
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.
American Express 2022 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Russell Henley (+100) over Seamus Power (DraftKings) — I understand thinking someone who “blew” a final-round lead could be worn down this week. But this isn’t really a week where that applies. It’s a carefree week, and the main thing is that Henley puts up birdies in bunches. I think this is a great spot for him to rebound.
Mayo: Abraham Ancer (+105) over Corey Conners (DraftKings) — I’ve long compared these two players for having similar skill sets. In fact, they’d be an excellent pairing at a Presidents Cup. Only difference is, Ancer can putt … and Conners really cannot. Considering Ancer’s track record at PGA West, I’ll roll with his history over Conners, who has struggled here in the past.
Gdula: Talor Gooch (-111) over Patrick Reed (FoxBet) — Gooch has been the better long-term, adjusted golfer over the past year compared to Reed, specifically with iron play. He also holds the edge in birdie or better rate in the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational.com.
Gehman: Seamus Power (-125) over Russell Henley (DraftKings) — There are plenty of concerns about how Henley will rebound from his playoff loss last week, but there’s little concern about the state of Power’s game. He’s earned three straight top-15 finishes including a T-3 last week. His success goes back much further than that, now earning a top-25 finish in 12 of his past 16 starts on tour.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Seamus Power (-125) over Russell Henley (DraftKings) — It is dangerous how much I like this one. I’m disagreeing with our caddie: This is the perfect week for Henley to disconnect, having to put up with an amateur for three rounds. It’d be easy to see him just going through the motions, whereas Power should see this as an opportunity to capitalize on this great run of form.
Powers, Golf Digest: Patrick Cantlay (+140) over Jon Rahm (DraftKings) — As Rick Gehman pointed out at the top, these two have arguably been the two best golfers in the world over the last half year. They both have excellent history at this course as well and they both picked up right where they left off at Sentry. Taking all that into account, it feels disrespectful to Cantlay that he’s this big of a dog, when this matchup feels like more of a coin flip.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Corey Conners (-125) over Abraham Ancer (MyBookie) — As you can see above, Ancer is a big fade for me this week. Conners on the other hand comes into this event ranked fifth in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking and top 20 for SG/total and Opportunities Gained over the past three months.
Matchup Results from the Sony Open: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Kirk (-112) over Harman); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Simpson (-137) over Ancer); Caddie: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Gehman 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 8-2-2 (up 5.34 units); Powers: 8-3-1 (up 4.52 units); Caddie: 6-6-0 (down 0.45 units); Hennessey: 6-6-0 (down 2.61 units); Alldrick: 4-7-1 (down 3.77 units); Gdula: 4-8-0 (down 4.27 units); Gehman: 3-8-1 (down 5.49 units)
American Express 2022 picks: Top 10s
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (+210, FanDuel) — Scottie enters with three top-10s in his four most recent starts at a course where he was the 54-hole leader back in 2019. I wouldn't be surprised if he’s in contention again: He knows he has unfinished business here.
Mayo: Gary Woodland (+600, DraftKings) — Here’s hoping Woodland’s injuries are a thing of the past and he can elevate his game to elite levels again. Maybe it doesn’t happen this week, but we’re not asking for a win, we’re asking for a top 10. He’s priced too favorably to pass up.
Gdula: Cameron Tringale (+450, FanDuel) — Tringale has strong approach play, wedge play and putting (on Bermuda). He rates out as a nice top-10 value at +450 in my model. He has played here plenty, and he ended 2021 in great form.
Gehman: Scottie Scheffler (+210, FanDuel) — A top-10 finish for Scheffler this week might not be giving him enough respect. It feels like he’s on the verge of breaking through for victory and his results back it up. He’s finished runner-up twice in his past three starts and has three top-five finishes in his last four. He missed the cut at the American Express last year but finished third in 2020.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (+220, FanDuel) — Sungjae won in the desert a few starts ago (in Vegas), has always played well here (T-12, T-10, T-12) and rates out in the top five in this field in birdies or better gained on easy courses over the past 24 rounds, per Fantasy National.
Powers, Golf Digest: Luke List (+550, DraftKings) — List has played some of the best golf of his career over the last six months, with five top-11 finishes in his last 12 starts. Is this the year the bomber finally breaks through? Let’s just start with another top 10 for now.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Long (+1100, FanDuel) — Long ranks 17th in FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking this week largely due to his excellent putting on Bermuda greens and past form here. He also ranks 12th in the field this week for SG/total over the past three months.
Top-10 results from the Sony Open: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 4 for 12 (up 13.75 units); Mayo: 2 for 12 (up 4.45 units); Gehman: 3 for 12 (up 2.2 units); Hennessey: 3 for 12 (down 0.53 units); Alldrick: 1 for 12 (down 1 unit); Caddie: 3 for 12 (down 5.35 units); Gdula: 0 for 12 (down 12 units)
American Express 2022 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Talor Gooch — Gooch is proving that he can contend week in, week out on the PGA Tour. He was the unofficial Fall MVP with five top-15 finishes, including a win at the RSM Classic. Now in 2022, he’s finished T-15 at the Tournament of Champions and T-27 last week at the Sony Open. Gooch will look to continue the momentum at the American Express, an event that he’s earned three straight top-25 finishes.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners.
Hennessey: Sungjae Im — I’ll be using Talor Gooch in a handful of my leagues (yes, I’m in five) and Sungjae Im in the others. I made the case in the top-10 section.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman.
Powers: Seamus Power — Can’t think of another tournament where A. Power will be coming in as hot as he is now, and B. that I’ll need to use him in.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.