The PGA TOUR heads from the sunny shores of Hawaii to La Quinta, California this week for The American Express. This will not be a standard week, as there’s a three-course rotation in play with a 54-hole cut. Golfers will rotate between PGA West’s Stadium Course, La Quinta Country Club and PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course over the first three rounds. The final round will then be played back on the Stadium Course. All three courses are par 72s that measure under 7,200 yards and feature Bermuda greens.
All betting odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Zalatoris looked good at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, finishing in a tie for 11th. It was his first start back since withdrawing from the BMW Championship in August with a back injury. He started off slow, but gained strokes on approach in both rounds over the weekend and closed with a 65 on Sunday.
Zalatoris made is debut at the Amex last season and played quite well, finishing T6. He averaged 2.85 strokes per round from tee-to-green at the Stadium Course, which ranks him second in this field behind only Lee Hodges. Obviously it was only a one year sample, but it’s still nice to see Willy Z feel comfortable at a course that requires precision iron play. Four of the past six winners of this event ranked inside the top 10 in SG: Approach in the week of their win, with each of the last two winners — Hudson Swafford and Si Woo Kim — ranking inside the top four.
I bring this up because Zalatoris ranks No. 1 in this field in SG: Approach over his past 48 rounds. Not only that, but he putts .31 strokes better per round on Bermuda greens compared to other surfaces. Most importantly, it looked like Zalatoris shook the rust off two weeks ago and is ready to contend, and I very much like chancing him at 20/1 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Lee is coming off a good week at the Sony that could have been way better if not for a final round 69, where he lost strokes both off-the-tee and on approach. He had gained with his irons in each of the previous three rounds. His history at this event is nothing to write home about, but he’s been a net positive at the Stadium Course both tee-to-green and with his putter over his four career starts.
His recent form had been white hot before last week, having finished T7 at the TOC and third at the CJ CUP in two of his past three starts. Over that stretch, Lee rates out as one of the best players in this field, ranking ninth in SG: Approach, sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in SG: Total. Only Jon Rahm, Tony Finau and Ben Taylor(?) have gained more total strokes than him in that time frame (16 rounds).
Lee is a proven PGA TOUR winner, having won the AT&T Byron Nelson each of the past two years. If you’re telling me I can the same odds on Lee (60/1) that I can get on the likes of Jason Day or Sahith Theegala, I am going to take that every time.
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