With our outright wagers placed, we now turn our attention to the prop market for our expert selections for the 2022 American Express. It’s always important to search for value in the top finishing markets, so remember to shop around for the best lines for your 2022 American Express prop bets as they typically differ from sportsbook to sportsbook.
Last week at the Sony Open, we were able to get a nice payday across the finish line as Lucas Glover came through for us at +1200. Our inclination that the former Clemson Tiger’s iron play would return to form was spot on as he led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach at Waialae Country Club. Hopefully we can identify a similar angle this week for our 2022 American Express best bets as a field of 156 players are set to travel to the California desert.
At Sportsbook tournament favorite and world No. 1 Jon Rahm is -110 to finish inside the top 10. According to our odds calculator, this implies a 52.38 percent chance he does so this week. Needing to lay $110 to profit $100, we will instead search further down the American Express betting board in search of some perceived value.
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The American Express: What To Look For
The largest field of 2022 is scheduled to take on the three-course rotation in La Quinta, California. While PGA West will hold most of the hosting responsibilities, La Quinta Country Club will be making its return to the rotation after taking a one-year hiatus last season due to COVID-19. La Quinta CC was not the only thing to miss out on the 2021 American Express as no amateurs were allowed to participate.
They will return this week as this marks the first of two pro-ams on the PGA Tour schedule with the second coming in a few weeks at Pebble Beach. With this in mind, the three courses will have far easier pin positions, green speeds and rough length to encourage faster play from the amateurs as these rounds tend to take five or even six hours.
Despite this, there have been numerous players to take to the pro-am format, most notably Phil Mickelson. A two-time Sportsbook in Palm Springs at the American Express and a Sportsbook at Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pro-Am, the reigning PGA Champion has always enjoyed talking while on the golf course.
It will be interesting if this remains true this week as Mickelson struggled in his season opener at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. One other aspect to consider is the influence of Pete Dye and the fact the Stadium Course has long been known as the sister course to TPC Sawgrass.
Dye also designed TPC River Highlands, Harbour Town Golf Links and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, among others, and those who have played well at those venues have the potential for a nice outing at the 2022 American Express.
The American Express Prop Bets & Best Bets: Our Recommendations
Luke List (+600 to finish inside the top 10)
Luke List just narrowly missed our outright selections as the 37-year-old put together one of the more impressive swing seasons this past fall. After collecting four top-20 finishes, two of which doubled as top-10 efforts, List appears to be on the cusp of capturing his first career PGA Tour victory. While I don’t believe it will be this week, there is still a great chance for him to put together a memorable tournament at the American Express.
Extremely long off the tee and stellar on approach and around the green, List has the potential to ball-strike his way around the PGA West rotation. A fantastic par-5 player, he ranks inside the top 50 in par-5 scoring in the 2021-22 season. Those will hold the keys to List’s success this week as he is more than capable of running the table on those four holes each day and gaining numerous strokes on the field.
In addition to List’s ball-striking, these greens at PGA West have been known to be the kindest to poor putters. Jason Dufner, Hudson Swafford and a litany of other less-than-average putters have found success in Palm Springs and List would certainly fit the same profile. Because of this, he makes for our first best bet for the 2022 American Express.
Charles Howell III (+750 to finish inside the top 10)
Last week we chanced Charles Howell III finding some form at Waialae Country Club, a venue where he is the all-time money leader. While he finished in a tie for 36th, there were glimpses of some great play on the horizon as the former Oklahoma State Cowboy finished on a high note. Unable to gain strokes on approach for now the fifth start in a row, just a flip with the irons could pay major dividends at the American Express.
This will be the 42-year-old’s 17th appearance at the American Express, where he very much possesses a mixed bag. However, having posted six top-10 results, including a runner-up finish in 2013, there is inherent upside in Howell this week. Always known for his consistency, he has now made four consecutive cuts in a row and should settle the volatility he has experienced in the California desert.
After collecting finishes of T-47 at the Shriners Children’s Open, T-33 at the World Wide Technology Championship, T-16 at The RSM Classic and T-36 last week, it will all come down to the iron play and putting. I am willing to chance Howell, having found previous success in the state of California, does just enough to sneak inside the top 10 at the American Express.
Harold Varner III (+800 to finish inside the top 10)
I consistently backed Harold Varner III during the swing season as he finished his 2020-2021 on a high note, performing well namely at The Northern Trust and the BMW Championship. Able to carry this form into the new season, the East Carolina product shot out of the gates up until he became a new father.
After collecting finishes of T-16 at the Fortinet Championship and T-11 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, the 31-year-old took one week off to welcome his son into the world. Ever since, he has been a bit sluggish, which is to be expected. He played poorly in Las Vegas and Mexico before badly missing the cut at the HPE Houston Open – although it is listed as a WD since he failed to return for the resumption of his second round early Saturday morning.
Without the best history at the American Express, there may be some trepidation in this selection, but I believe Varner will return to his late-summer, early-fall form following the two-month hiatus.
Varner has proven to like Pete Dye designs in the past. Most recently, he finished runner-up at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town and if he is able to split fairways with regularity as he did that week in Hilton Head, he has a nice opportunity to collect his first top-10 finish at the American Express and in this 2021-22 season.
Alex Smalley (+1000 to finish inside the top 10)
We went to battle with Alex Smalley last week at the Sony Open and while he missed out on the weekend in Hawaii, there was plenty of good to take from his performance. Posting above-average metrics in driving accuracy and driving distance, his play from off the tee should set the rest of his game up for success at PGA West.
His iron play has been terrific to kick off his rookie campaign. Boasting positive approach numbers at the Sanderson Farms Championship, Shriners Children’s Open, Bermuda Championship, HPE Houston Open and now the Sony Open, if Smalley is able to get his putter to cooperate, he should at least find a tee time for Sunday.
The peculiar aspect of the American Express is the fact that it will be a 54-hole cut, so Smalley and his playing competitors are guaranteed three days of play. Giving himself plenty of time to grow a comfort level on the greens, the former Duke standout should be able to compete in the birdie-fest that is the American Express and thus rounds out our best prop bets for the week.