The PGA TOUR wrapped up its two-week stay in the Aloha State with a fabulous finish to the Sony Open in Hawaii. Kevin Na ($9,200; +4500) emerged with a one-shot win over Chris Kirk ($7,600; +9000) and Joaquin Niemann while Webb Simpson and Marc Leishman built on their impressive course history with top-5 finishes. Na has now won five times on the PGA TOUR with three wins in the past two calendar years. He seems to be fully recovered from back and neck injuries that bothered him last year, but he did say he was almost forced to withdraw from this event after pulling a muscle in his ribs on the range on Wednesday. When he’s healthy, though, he has proven he can contend at any event.
Walking into 2021 as a winner.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 18, 2021
Kevin Na claims his fifth title @SonyOpenHawaii. pic.twitter.com/5xBmKgvbYu
The PGA TOUR heads back to the U.S. mainland for this week’s The American Express tournament. This event has also been known as the Desert Classic, the CareerBuilder Challenge, the Bob Hope Classic and the Humana Challenge over the past several seasons, and is usually the first event on the West Coast swing of the PGA TOUR season in the early months of the year. It takes place in the Palm Springs area and historically took place on four different courses and featured a unique five-round format with multiple big-name celebrities in the Pro-Am portion of the event. That has not been the case, though, since 2012 when the event changed to a typical 72-hole event and used three courses. This year, the event has been streamlined even more with only two courses in play and no amateurs at all. As a result, the tournament will have the typical 36-hole cut after Round 2 instead of its normal format which has a cut after Round 3.
The two courses in play this week are the Stadium Course at PGA West, which is a 7,113-yard, par 72 layout and the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West which is also a par-72 and lays out about the same distance at 7,152 yards. Both courses have been used in the past for this event, and each player will play one round on each before the cut after Round 2. The final two rounds will take place on the Stadium Course at PGA West, which is a Pete Dye design that is almost always on any list of top 100 Courses in America. It’s viewed as the sequel to the famous TPC at Sawgrass, and like Sawgrass it has an island green at Hole No. 17. This one, pictured below, is known as “Alcatraz” and sets players up for a brutal hole No. 18 that also plays as one of the toughest on the card.
Still think you can escape Alcatraz?#TheAmexGolf #Alcatraz #PGAWEST— The American Express™ (@theamexgolf) January 17, 2021
A solid field will take on the tough course headlined by host Phil Mickelson ($8,800; +6600) along with some of the biggest young guns in the game with Brooks Koepka ($10,800; +2600), Patrick Reed ($10,200; +1500) and Patrick Cantlay ($11,100; +1300) scheduled to attend. The No. 2 ranked player in the world, Jon Rahm actually opened as the favorite, but he withdrew on Monday afternoon for unspecified reasons. There are also some intriguing young prospects to check out, including John Augenstein ($6,500; +30000) in his pro debut, 18-year-old Korean standout Joohyung Kim ($6,300), 18-year-old Akshay Bhatia ($6,500; +40000) and 23-year-old Englishman Harry Hall ($6,600; +30000). While there are only 12 of the top 50 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings scheduled to tee it up, there is still plenty of promising star power in the deep field at La Quinta.
Last year at this event, Andrew Landry ($7,000; +25000) held off Abraham Ancer ($9,100; +3000), who fired a 63 on Sunday. Landry had a roller-coaster back nine with five birdies and three bogeys but ultimately held on for a one-shot victory. Scottie Scheffler ($9,500; +1900), Bud Cauley and Sepp Straka ($7,400; +10000) rounded out the top 5.
After Rahm’s withdrawal, Cantlay is now the betting favorite this week on DraftKings Sportsbook. Scheffler and Reed are also near the top of the favorites list due to their past course history here and should be considered as top-shelf options. Reed was forced to withdraw before last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii due to shin splints but is expected to return to action this week.
DraftKings is offering a number of ways you can get in on the golf action, starting with the PGA TOUR $600K Approach Shot [$200K to 1st] event. Flex your golf knowledge and create a six-man lineup for the opportunity to turn $12 into $200K for a first-place finish while a total of $600K will be awarded in prizes. You can also bet on the tournament at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Scroll down for a full stream of picks and previews!
— Analysis by Zach Thompson
2021 American Express Playlist
2021 American Express Details
- Host Course: Stadium Course at PGA West (SC)
- Location: La Quinta, California
- Par: 72
- Yardage: 7,147
- Alternate Course: Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West (TC)
- Location: La Quinta, California
- Par: 72
- Yardage: 7,181
- Greens: Bermuda
- Broadcast: Golf Channel
DraftKings Sportsbook Notable Odds To Win
- Patrick Cantlay (+1300)
- Patrick Reed (+1500)
- Tony Finau (+1700)
- Scottie Scheffler (+1900)
- Brooks Koepka (+2100)
- Sungjae Im (+2100)
- Matthew Wolff (+2300)
- Abraham Ancer (+3000)
- Russell Henley (+3500)
- Charles Howell III (+3500)
- Kevin Na (+3500)
- Paul Casey (+4600)
- Rickie Fowler (+4600)
- Cameron Champ (+5500)
- Brian Harman (+5500)
- Lanto Griffin (+5500)
- Zach Johnson (+5500)
- Emiliano Grillo (+6000)
- Phil Mickelson (+6600)
- Sam Burns (+7000)
- Adam Hadwin (+7000)
- John Huh (+7000)
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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