Betting Analysis

The American Express picks 2024: Why Wyndham Clark is the best bet in the field

January 16, 2024
KAPALUA, HAWAII - JANUARY 05: Wyndham Clark of the United States walks to the sixth tee during the second round of The Sentry at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 05, 2024 in Kapalua, Hawaii. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Another week, another longshot gets it done on the PGA Tour. Sadly, we were not on Chris Kirk at Sentry nor Grayson Murray at Sony, but it's good to see the mega bombs can still get it done. There are big tickets to be cashed in 2024.

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Shoutout to Brandon Gdula, who was on Keegan Bradley last week at Waialae. Unfortunately, a playoff loss results in $0 won, but if you rolled with Keegs in placement bets, matchups or DFS, you probably made out OK.

Now it's time to get our first outright of the season. It's a strong field at the American Express, and two of our experts are eyeing one of 2023's major winners to take down the dub in the Palm desert.  

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2024 American Express. 

American Express picks 2024: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Eric Cole (33-1, BetMGM) —  Sure, PGA West isn’t a putting contest. La Quinta and Nicklaus Tournament can be. I put the Rookie of the Year’s ability to go low on a short list of the game’s best right now. He thrives on easier holes. He’ll play a lot of them this week.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Wyndham Clark (45-1, DraftKings) — More of a bet on talent than anything. Maybe I just got used to seeing his name alongside those currently in the 20-1 range and I think I’m getting a deal. Before his triumphs at longer courses a year ago, most of Clark’s career-best finishes came at birdie-fests with smaller greens where it was still imperative to take advantage of par 5s. When you factor in birdies and eagles gained at all courses over the last 24 rounds, combined with putting splits on this surface and speed, he actually rates out best in the field.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Scottie Scheffler (+500, FanDuel) — Scheffler’s odds aren’t long, but he’s a value at +500 in my model. Scheffler has played the American Express well in the past, too, with three top-25s in four starts. The early returns on his putting have been relatively promising, too.

Keith Stewart, Read The Line: J.T. Poston (33-1, BetMGM) — There’s an old saying in golf betting, the trend is your friend, and take the best putter. J.T. Poston has that famous catchphrase causing him to be confident heading into this week. With three top-six finishes in his last four starts, Poston is one of the hottest golfers on tour. Forever exceptional with the flat stick, J.T. has gained on approach in nine of his last 10 tournaments. Don’t make the cardinal sin, if you believed he could win last week, pay the postage, and let him deliver.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Eric Cole (33-1, BetMGM) — This should be a perfect setup for Eric Cole. He’s fourth in this elite field over the past 36 rounds in Birdies or Better percentage and fifth in easy scoring conditions on all golfers who gain more than one stroke per round in easy scoring conditions, per RickRunGood.com. He’s elite from 100-150 yards and is at his best on layouts where he can miss a little off the tee and light it up with his approach and putting … which should be the key to success this week.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Sungjae Im (20-1, DraftKings) — Admittedly on the chase for Sungjae’s next win, especially after the pain of him setting a damn birdie record and never having a chance to win at the Sentry. With four consecutive top-12 finishes in this event to his name, this should be an ideal spot for him to finally get over the line again.

Andy Lack, Run Pure Sports and Inside Golf podcast: Wyndham Clark (45-1, FanDuel) — Wyndham Clark would not be the first California U.S. Open champion to find similar success at the American Express, and I feel confident in his abilities to pick up PGA Tour win No. 3 in the desert. Clark is a great overall driver of the ball who excels both with his short and long irons. He’s one of the best birdie-makers in this field, and putters from five-to-15 feet, who has already experienced loads of success at this event, as well as on other desert courses and TPC-style architecture.

Past results: As successful as last season was for this panel, it’s time to turn the page to 2024, when we plan on cashing just as many, if not more, outright winners. We’re also pleased to welcome our newest expert picker, Keith Stewart of Read The Line, to the panel. Keith replaces the great Rick Gehman, who we’ll miss dearly. Good luck to all. Let’s have a year.

American Express picks 2024: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Davis Thompson (100-1, DraftKings) — The runner-up last year has absolute game, and though he hasn’t put it all together since a year ago, he can put up birdies in bunches like Cole. I like his chances to scare the top of the leader board again.

Mayo: Taylor Montgomery (50-1, DraftKings) — We got the bizarro Montgomery at the Sony Open. He crushed with his irons and merely broke even on greens. That’s two starts in a row he’s gained strokes on approach—albeit interrupted by an almost two-month break—which is the first time he’s accomplished that since the 2022 Fortinet and Sanderson Farms. The AMEX is essentially a putting contest, so decent irons combined with his penchant for going nuclear with the putter is a perfect mix at an event which should have easier pins because of the Pro-Am format. In his past 14 events, Montgomery’s gained over six strokes putting four times, while gaining an average of 2.6 strokes per event over his past 20 starts.

Gdula: Beau Hossler (80-1, FanDuel) — This is a good number on Hossler, who can get hot with his irons and putter. He’s coming in with three straight top-15 finishes but hasn’t played since November. The 80-1 odds more than account for that, though.

Stewart: Nick Taylor (120-1, FanDuel) — Roughly a year ago, Nick Taylor lost in the desert to Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm in Phoenix. That runner-up finish propelled him to a career year. In June, he captured the hearts of Canada by winning his country’s open championship. Who could forget that 75-foot eagle putt to win (and celebration to follow). Taylor tied for seventh at the Sony and ranked top 10 in strokes-gained tee-to-green for the tournament. A T-13 in Vegas back in October solidifies what we saw at Scottsdale almost a year ago. Taylor is a good desert golfer.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Ryan Moore (300-1, DraftKings) — I love Moore as a DFS play in the $6,000 range and a first-round leader, and you might as well sprinkle on him as a mega longshot. It’s highly doubtful we keep getting triple-digit winners, but given the way Moore ended the fall with back-to-back top 10s, and his world-class wedge play, just pray he’s within a few shots come Sunday and you have a live dog.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tom Hoge (150-1, FanDuel) — Hoge missed the cut on the number at Sony but had a strong Friday, gaining over a half stroke on approach and over two strokes putting. If he can just by mediocre off the tee he can make a ton of birdies here, something he’s had no problem doing in the past with a runner-up and a sixth to his name.

Lack: Alex Smalley (100-1, FanDuel) — I have long been driving the Alex Smalley bandwagon, and I love the spot for him here in Palm Springs. Despite missing the cut on the number at the Sony Open, Smalley was one of the best ball-strikers in the field across Thursday and Friday, and he now travels to a course where he has finished top 25 at in both of his appearances. Last year, Smalley gained over eight strokes at the PGA West Stadium Course. I’m expecting another strong showing from the former Duke standout.

American Express picks 2024: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Xander Schauffele (9-1, BetRivers) — Tee to game, he can be as good as anyone in the world. With the putter, like Scottie, he's above average ... but you’re going to need to be better than that this week.

Mayo: Eric Cole (30-1, DraftKings) — It really does feel a win is coming sometime soon. And he may get it. I will not be winning money him as long as he stays at these odds.   

Gdula: Min Woo Lee (25-1, FanDuel) — Min Woo Lee is tearing it up on the DP World Tour and won in Australia (and followed it up with a solo third). But the long-term data for Lee shows weak iron play compared to the other favorites. For that reason, I’d rather go elsewhere.

Stewart: Justin Thomas (22-1, DraftKings) — “Of course, the expert fades JT.” If you think he’s still struggling, why can’t I? Comments like those online only fuel my reasoning for waiting another week to witness JT’s return to the winner’s circle. Even with his trips to the leaderboard top 10 multiple times this fall, The American Express is an incredible shootout. Thomas has firepower, but he’s never played the event and learning three new courses in one week seems like a tall task during a career comeback.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (28-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Finau hasn’t played well recently, ranking 103rd in SG/total over the past 36 rounds, and he’s 97th in Birdies or Better percentage, per RickRunGood.com. You’d think he would tear it up on these courses, but he has only one top 10 in six starts in this event.

Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (22-1, DraftKings) — Great to see him in the field this week and his recent form has actually been quite solid, but I’m not ready to jump back in on him just yet.

Lack: Jason Day (40-1, FanDuel) — I’m aware of Jason Day’s success in California, but I’d rather wait one more week and utilize him at Torrey Pines. Day ranks below average in both wedge play and putting inside 15 feet, and I have a hard and fast rule that players in this price range must be elite at one of those two skills to be heavily considered this week. I’ll be excited to check out his fits, but I’m not expecting much out of his golf.

American Express picks 2024: Matchups

Caddie: Paul Barjon (+140) over Matthieu Pavon (DraftKings, Round 1 matchup, 3-way) — Barjon can go super low in one round, whereas I liken Pavon to more of a grind-it-out type, who thrived last week at Waialae under those type of conditions.

Mayo: Andrew Putnam (-110) over Cam Davis (DraftKings) — As someone who bet Cam Davis last week, I can assure you: If he didn’t gain over six strokes putting in the first round, he may have come dead last in the event. He saw every inch of the course over four rounds. Fun as a tourist; bad in competitive golf.

Gdula: Adam Schenk (-120) over Billy Horschel (FanDuel) — Horschel’s stats over the past six months actually show he’s golfing better than Schenk, via datagolf. However, he’s putting the lights out to overcome some tepid tee-to-green play. Schenk’s a top-20 iron player in the field in that span while also being a solid putter.

Stewart: Taylor Montgomery (+105) over Si Woo Kim (BetMGM) — I sat and listened to Taylor Montgomery in the Vegas media center openly talk about his ball striking issues in 2023. Since that press conference, his work with Butch Harmon has paid dividends. Montgomery finished eighth at the RSM Classic and 13th at the Sony on Sunday. Si Woo Kim reaches another venue where he won (2021) and reminds us, he’s just not quite back to his best ball-striking days. Kim was T-42 at Sony, and his radar-like approach just hasn’t been there. Taylor’s approach improvement and much better putter give him an edge over Si Woo in this four-day contest.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Eric Cole (-110) over Tony Finau (Bet365) — My pick to win over my fade is a no-brainer … read above for why I believe Cole’s a superior course fit.

Powers, Golf Digest: Taylor Montgomery (+105) over Akshay Bhatia (DraftKings) — Both guys are coming off solid T-13s at Waialae, where they both ranked inside the top six in SG/approach. Will roll with Montgomery, a man who plays a ton of desert golf at home in Vegas, at plus money here.

Lack: Wyndham Clark (-110) over Jason Day (DraftKings) — This is an easy one, as I’m catching my tournament winner against my fade at even odds. I simply trust every single aspect of Clark’s game over Day’s right now, particularly his wedge play and putting inside 15 feet.

Matchup Results from the Sony Open: Stewart: 1 for 1 (English (-105) over S.W. Kim); Gdula: 1 for 1 (S.W. Kim (-115) over Rose); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Henley (-120) over Hatton); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Poston (-110) over Cole); Lack: 1 for 1 (Conners (-110) over Fitzpatrick); Mayo: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Stewart: 2-0-0 (up 1.86 units); Gdula: 2-0-0 (up 1.78 units); Caddie: 2-0-0 (up 1.66 units); Hennessey: 2-0-0 (up 1.57 units); Mayo: 1-1-0 (up 0.05 units); Lack 1-1-0 (down 0.09 units); Powers: 1-1-0 (down 0.09 units)

American Express picks 2024: Top 10s

Caddie: Justin Suh (+900, FanDuel) — The former USC standout grew up in California, so he’ll be comfortable here. He contended a few times in 2023, and I’d expect him to do again this year.

Mayo: Erik Van Rooyen (+800, DraftKings) — You worry any course with even a dip of water will become a magnet for his golf ball. However, since the new season started in the fall, there may not be anyone striking their irons better than EVR. He managed a T-52 last week, even after dropping over five strokes putting to the field. Hopefully we’ll see more of a repeat of his putting stroke from this event a year ago when he gained over a stroke per round at the Stadium Course.

Gdula: Sam Burns (+300, FanDuel) — Burns has finished T-18, T-6, cut, and T-11 at this event in his four starts, and he enters with plus distance and good irons. He’s also a great putter overall, so everything points to backing Burns.

Stewart: Sungjae Im (+230, FanDuel) — You’ll hear Sungjae Im’s name repeatedly this week when pundits are predicting outrights. The stellar South Korean just made 34 sub-par scores at the Sentry. He loves desert golf, winning in Vegas (2021). In five starts at The American Express, Im has not finished outside the top 18. On a week where you need a birdie machine to adapt across three courses over four days, I love Sungjae’s scoring to contend.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: J.T. Poston (+300, FanDuel) I cashed Poston as a top-10 bet in this column at Kapalua, and stupidly went away from it at Waialae. He’s coming off another hot Sunday, and this course should be another perfect fit for him.

Powers, Golf Digest: Eric Cole (+320, DraftKings) — Cole hasn’t even really had his A-game yet this year and he still managed to finish T-14 and T-13 on the Hawaii Swing. He made noticeable improvements with his irons last weekend at Sony, indicating the potential peak week is getting closer and closer.

Lack: Si Woo Kim (+450, DraftKings)Despite a middle of the road finish at the Sony Open, Si Woo Kim gained over four strokes ball-striking and two strokes on approach at Waialae. Now he returns to a course that he has already recorded a win at in 2021. Kim is one of the biggest risers on Pete Dye courses, as his style of play has always been conducive to risk/reward style tracks. I expect him to add to his resume this week in the desert.

Top-10 results from the Sony Open: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Andrew Putnam +550); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 1 for 2 (up 4.5 units); Hennessey: 1 for 2 (up 3.5 units); Powers: 1 for 2 (up 0.9 units); Caddie: 0 for 2 (down 2 units); Mayo: 0 for 2 (down 2 units); Stewart: 0 for 2 (down 2 units); Lack: 0 for 2 (down 2 units)

PGA West: Stadium Course
Public
PGA West: Stadium Course
La Quinta, CA
Originally private, the Stadium Course (the original 18 at PGA West) was among the rota of courses for the old Bob Hope Desert Classic until some pros, objecting to its difficulty, petitioned to remove it. (It’s now back.) It's Pete Dye at his rambunctious best, with a finish mimicking his later design at TPC Sawgrass: a gambling par-5 16th (called San Andreas Fault), a short par-3 17th to an island green and an intimidating par-4 18th with water all the way to the green. Though hideous in its difficulty and aesthetics by 1980s standards (it was can't miss television when it hosted the 1987 Skins Game), it's matured into a noble piece of architecture that represents the tail end of Dye's extreme middle phase.
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About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME. 

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for numberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13. 

Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor for Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on Sports Grid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.

Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also the head of golf content for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports