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The American Express 1st Round 3-Ball Odds and Picks

Michael Harrison

by Michael Harrison in Golf

Jan 20, 2021 · 6:21 PM PST

Brooks Koepka watching ball after swing
Brooks Koepka during the first round of the Masters golf tournament Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • The American Express from La Quinta, California tees off Thursday, January 21st
  • There are plenty of interesting threesomes including Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson
  • We’ve selected the best bets and value picks on 1st round three-ball matchups below

The third PGA Tour event of 2021 heads to the mainland for The American Express, following the two tournament swing in Hawaii. With Jon Rahm withdrawing earlier in the week, Patrick Cantlay is now the betting favorite to earn his fourth career victory.

Other than Jon Rahm in 2018, this tournament has produced some big-time long shot winners, like Andrew Landry at +20000 last year and Adam Long at +50000 the year before that. With that in mind, often big names don’t play as well at the tournament formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic as opposed to much more unheralded players.

There are some fascinating three-ball matchups for the 1st round on Thursday, which we’ll dive into below.

Cantlay/Fowler/Mickelson 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds

Golfer Odds
Patrick Cantlay +125
Rickie Fowler +200
Phil Mickelson +225

All odds taken January 20th from DraftKings

Patrick Cantlay Playing Strong Golf

This group seems like a layup for Patrick Cantlay, considering Phil Mickelson’s best finish in the last seven regular tour events is a pedestrian tie for 44th, and Rickie Fowler hasn’t had a top-10 since last year’s American Express, a span of 18 tournaments.

The only fly in the ointment in that theory is that Lefty has won it twice and just two years ago opened up with a scintillating round of 60, albeit at a different course, en route to a tie for second. In 2016, he had another strong showing with a tie for third.

However, Cantlay won three starts ago, finished T-9th in his tournament debut here in 2019, is 12th in first-round scoring this season and hasn’t shot worse than a 71 in his last eight opening rounds. He’s also the betting favorite to win the event outright for a reason.

Fowler is T-105th and Mickelson is 248th in first round scoring on the season. Even though his value is considerably lower than the other two, don’t overthink things.

Pick: Patrick Cantlay (+125)

Koepka/Champ/Casey 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds

Golfer Odds
Brooks Koepka +150
Paul Casey +188
Cameron Champ +200

Brooks Koepka Primed For Strong Start

Following a frustrating knee injury that caused Brooks Koepka to go winless in 2020, the four-time major champion seems to have righted the ship.

Before a missed cut in Mexico to end the year, he placed T-5 at the Houston Open and T-7 at the Masters.

Since his runner-up at the PGA Championship, Paul Casey hasn’t been better than T-16th in eight starts.

In the last 24 rounds on tour, Koepka has been much much better than both Champ and Casey.

Strokes Gained Rankings In Last 24 PGA Tour Rounds

Golfer Total Tee-to-green Ball Striking Approach Putting
Brooks Koepka 4 5 7 3 86
Paul Casey 64 80 55 85 46
Cameron Champ 79 26 14 48 153

Those numbers are pretty glaring, and they all rank 125th or worse in first round scoring average on the campaign, so there’s no discernible difference there. Ride with the more talented player.

Pick: Brooks Koepka (+150)

Reed/Woodland/Landry 1st Round 3-Ball Matchup Odds

Golfer Odds
Patrick Reed +100
Gary Woodland +225
Andrew Landry +250

Andrew Landry Sporting Fantastic Value

At first blush, the favorite in this group would seem like a lock, with Patrick Reed having won the tournament in 2014 and him being fifth in first round scoring average this season.

Gary Woodland has fallen off a cliff, with nothing better than a T-33 showing in his last nine times teeing it up, where he’s failed to make the weekend five times.

However, Andrew Landry is the defending champion, and two years prior to that in 2018, he was runner-up (in a playoff) to Jon Rahm, so he’s super comfortable around this track.

Just three starts ago, he had a T-4 at the RSM Classic and 11 of his last 12 rounds at this event have been in the 60’s. He’s a very boom-or-bust type golfer, but as we noted in our preview for the darkhorses with huge upside, he’s a very intriguing name and you’re getting him at great value.

Pick: Andrew Landry (+250)

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