Starts: 21st January 2021
Course: Stadium and Nicklaus Courses at PGA West
Length: 7,113 yards and 7,152 yards
2020 Champion: Andrew Landry
Overall Profit/Loss: -15.5pts
Pre-Event Bets: -8pts
0.75pts EW Gary Woodland (1/5 1-7) - 80/1 @ Betfred
0.75pts EW Charley Hoffman (1/5 1-7) - 80/1 @ Betfred
0.5pts EW Andrew Landry (1/5 1-8) - 125/1 @ William Hill
0.5pts EW Martin Laird (1/5 1-8) - 150/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts EW Richy Werenski (1/5 1-8) - 200/1 @ William Hill
0.25pts EW Nate Lashley (1/5 1-7) - 300/1 @ Betfred
0.5pts Sean O'Hair Top 20 - 13/1 @ Boylesports
0.5pts Grayson Murray Top 20 - 14/1 @ Boylesports
0.5pts Harry Hall Top 20 - 14/1 @ Boylesports
In-Play Bets: -7.5pts
22 January 2021 (-2.5Pts)
0.5ptsEW Joel Dahmen (1/5 1-6) - 80/1 @ William Hill
0.5ptsEW Austin Cook (1/4 1-5) - 100/1 @ Skybet
0.25ptsEW Grayson Murray (1/5 1-6) - 300/1 @ Boylesports
23 January 2021 (-2Pts)
1ptEW Paul Casey (1/4 1-4) - 40/1 @ Spreadex
24 January 2021 (-3Pts)
1pt Russel KnoxWin Only 20/1 @ Skybet
0.5ptsEW Doug Ghim (1/5 1-4) - 66/1 @ Bet365
0.5ptsEW Luke List (1/5 1-4) - 125/1 @ Ladbrokes
Course Notes 2021
Shaken off the rust: Top 7 had all played this season, at least one of the events in Hawaii. Kim, Davis and Thompson all finished between 25th and 31st at Sony so was a nice warm-up.
Wind: In 2021, there was hardly any wind whatsoever. Sunday was forecasted to be extremely windy but it never materialised.
Off the Pace: Although Si Woo Kim jointly led through 54 holes, Patrick Cantlay made a final round charge shooting 61 to lose out by only a shot. We saw a similar scenario play out in 2020 with Abraham Ancer firing a final round 63 to take solo 2nd.
Player Notes 2021
Q. How much do you like Pete Dye golf courses?
SI WOO KIM: Yeah, I have great memories with this course. So for Q-School, I passed the Q-School on this course, and then I have great memories and then that's why I feel confidence whenever I come to this course. So that helps a lot for me this week, especially I try to focus on the memories that gave me good scores, so that's why it drove me to the win.
Course Designer: Stadium - Pete Dye. Nicklaus - Jack Nicklaus
Tournament played here since: 1960
Type of Course: Easy resort style courses
Rough: Minimal Bermuda
Greens: Stadium - Bermuda. Nicklaus - TifEagle Bermuda
Premium on: Accuracy, in particular iron play and solid Bermuda Grass putters.
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
A number of players have not competed since November or early December.
This event is normally played over three courses and amateurs play alongside the professionals. However, due to Covid, there will be no amateurs this year and La Quinta Country Club is dropped. The cut is normally made after 54 holes, but will now come after 36.
The Stadium will be used three days and the Nicklaus course for one round. The Nicklaus played as the 2nd easiest course on Tour the past three years. The Stadium is slightly harder but still easy.
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Since the tournament changed to a four round event in 2012, the winning score has been between -20 and -28. We can expect the winning score to be in excess of 20 under par.
Price of Winner
We've seen the last two go off at prices in excess of 100/1 and 500/1, so there's a possibility of a shock winner. The three events prior to that saw winners below 100/1.
With the Stadium course being used for three rounds there are arguments for looking at form on other Pete Dye designed courses but nothing of note. The 3M Open seems to be a strong correlating event.
Since 2012, five of the nine champions had posted a top 25 finish prior to winning. If we extend that to top 35 finishes, seven of the past nine champions had that prior to winning. Only one of the past nine was making his tournament debut. Side with course experience.
With the event coming early in the year the recent form of past champions has been mixed. The last two missed the cut at the Sony Open. The common factor amongst the past nine is that eight had already teed it up that calendar year (regardless of how they had performed). Look for someone who has dusted off the clubs before this week.
Americans have dominated with 8 of the last 9 winners. We wouldn't put too much emphasis on it though.
With SG stats only recorded at the Stadium course in previous years, we don't include these.
Three of the past five winners have ranked outside the top 25 for Driving Distance.
Only one of the past five winners have ranked outside the top 25 for Driving Distance. Accuracy is key around here.
Greens In Regulation
Only one of the past five has ranked outside the top 20 for Greens in Regulation.
Putts Per GIR
Only one winner in the last five years has ranked outside the top 10 for Putts per GIR. A hot putter is essential.
The par 3, 17th hole on the Stadium Course is one to watch out for. Like another Dye design, TPC Sawgrass, players are challenged with an island green. It played as the hardest hole on the course in 2021, averaging 0.21 shots over par. Two of the other par 3s, the 6th and 13th, were next hardest in 2021 (averaging 0.16 and 0.09 shots over par). Completing the holes averaging over par in 2021 were the 18th and 3rd (both averaging 0.08 shots over par).
In 2021 and 2020 the 11th, 16th and 8th played as the easiest holes. The par 3 4th hole also regularly plays under par.
Fast or Slow Start
Since 2016, the highest score recorded by the winner in round one was 66. It's important to get off to a fast start.
0.75pts EW (1/5, 7 places) Gary Woodland 80/1 @ Betfred
Gary is making his first start of the calendar year after opting not to play in Hawaii last week. Despite the lack of recent action, there's a lot to like about him this week. He traditionally starts the season well and has an incredible record when making his first start of the calendar year. His finishes at his first event of the calendar year over the past seven years read 7-2-7-6-13-2-13. Let's add in the fact he had a 2nd place at this event in 2011 (although the format was slightly different). Finally, he spoke on a podcast before Christmas about how he was now free of the injuries that had hampered him for most of 2020. Expect Gary to come out firing.
0.75pts EW (1/5, 7 places) Charley Hoffman 80/1 @ Betfred
Charley is a past winner of this event and also has four other top 10 finishes to his name. He teed it up last week at Sony, leading the field in Greens In Regulation. A 14th place finish gives him momentum going into this week and if he can get the putter working he can run close. The last time he had a 14th place finish he followed it up with a 6th place finish. Let's hope for more of the same this week.
0.5pts EW (1/5, 8 places) Andrew Landry 125/1 @ William Hill
Andrew is a past winner of this event and has an exceptional record at this event with a runner-up and top 30 to his name also. He had a pretty miserable start to the year in Hawaii, finishing third last at the Tournament of Champions (incidentally, last week's winner Kevin Na tied with Andrew) and missed the cut last week. However, that's a pretty familiar story for him. His record at the start of the year since 2017 reads like this:
Let's put the past few weeks down to rust and play him for small stakes. He was 4th on his final start of 2020 so things aren't in that bad shape!
0.5pts EW (1/5, 8 places) Martin Laird 150/1 @ Skybet
Martin didn't play at Sony last week but did play at the season opener in Maui where he finished a respectable 17th. If you look past the last three years he actually has a very solid record in this event, with five previous top 25 finishes. The only part of his game letting him down two weeks ago was his approach play and given he's had a week off to practice, there's every reason to back him at big odds. He loves desert golf and has the potential to do well this week.
0.5pts EW (1/5, 8 places) Richy Werenski 200/1 @ William Hill
Richy is traditionally a slower starter to the year. However, having won in 2020, he's played the last two weeks and has time to get himself tournament sharp. He missed the cut last week but signed off with a round of 66 which will give him a boost going into this week. We also mentioned in the preview that missing the cut at Sony is not a disaster as the last two champions here did just that. In terms of course form, Richy has a top 10 and top 30 from four starts here. Interestingly, those finishes came in the years when he made the flight over to Hawaii to play in the Sony Open.
0.25pts EW (1/5, 7 places) Nate Lashley 300/1 @ Betfred
Nate is extremely difficult to catch right. He's had five top 10 finishes over the past two years. Four of those finishes have come after an extremely mediocre week (best finish of 69th). Therefore his missed cut last week at Sony is something we're willing to set aside. He's got an extremely solid record here with a 29th and 12th place finish from three starts and we know he's a proven winner if he gets in contention.
0.5pts Sean O'Hair Top 20 Finish 13/1 @ Boylesports
Sean missed most of 2019 with injury problems and spent 2020 on the comeback trail. He has two top 10 finishes in this event in his last three starts. He was last seen at the QBE pairs event, where he partnered last week's winner Kevin Na. The pair finished 2nd and Sean will bring that confidence with him this week. It's not unthinkable he'll be inspired by Kevin's win last week either.
0.5pts Grayson Murray Top 20 Finish 14/1 @ Ladbrokes
Grayson absolutely loves this event with three top 15 finishes in his four starts. Recent form has been poor to say the least, he only managed one top 20 in the whole of 2020 – at this event last year! His performance last week was Jekyll and Hyde with a first round bogey free 67, followed by a very poor 75. Given his course credentials it's worth chancing we see him. He also gave an interesting quote last year:
“I'm comfortable around all three of these courses, the Stadium I've had pretty good success in the past few years and, yeah, I mean, I love it out here in the desert.”
0.5pts Harry Hall Top 20 Finish 14/1 @ Betfair
It's only Harry's second PGA Tour start but he's worth a small investment given the potential he has. A graduate of UNLV, he'll be comfortable in the desert surroundings. He's a fantastic putter and ended the year with a couple of top 10 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour. He's made 12 appearances as a pro and recorded five top 20 finishes (all of which have been at European Tour or Korn Ferry Tour level). Odds of 14/1 are to be taken.
24 January 14.30
It's all set up for a thrilling final round as twelve players are within three shots of the lead. The bunched nature of the leaderboard gives us much to ponder in this blog. Will Tony Finau win again? Will our 200/1 pre-event selection, Richy Werenski, prevail? Will we see the winner come from a few shots back?
If Tony Finau is ever to win again it must surely be here. It looked like the Sunday Finau had shown up yesterday when he put his tee shot at the short 13th in the water and made double. However, three bounce back birdies were impressive and took him back into a share of the lead. If he displays that level of resolve he'll be hard to beat.
Tony also has extremely positive memories of the Stadium Course. He won $21,000 here in 2011 when playing an event on the National Pro Golf Tour (his biggest ever win at the time). He also qualified from Web.com (now Korn Ferry) Q School here in 2013, a moment he describes as "life changing". Those positive memories could go a long way to seeing him win again today. But although we may regret it, 11/4 is just too short for us to put him up as a bet given his past troubles. It'll make a great story if he does win though.
Let's take a moment to consider the chances of our man, Richy Werenski. Only one player in the top 12 has won anywhere in the past 18 months and that's Werenski. He won the Barracuda Championship last August and hopefully that will be fresh in his mind. He's only made one bogey all week, and even that came from a clumsy chip when greenside at the par 3 thirteenth. As you'd expect from so few bogeys he ranks 8th for both SG: Approach and SG: Off the Tee. There's every reason to like his chances and if we weren't already on at 200/1 we'd very likely be putting him up as a bet in-play.
Conditions for the final round are forecast to be sunny with the wind picking up as the afternoon goes on. A maximum of 14mph is forecast around 4pm and the leaders may just get caught in the strongest wind. The closing holes at the Stadium course are treacherous at the best of times, but play even harder with the wind kicking up.
With question marks over the leaders, it may pay to back a couple of players further down the leaderboard. We saw Abraham Ancer make a strong final round charge last year to almost wrestle the title from Andrew Landry, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see something similar. A debutant could very well win.
We've been knocking on the door the past two weeks on the PGA Tour, let's hope it's third time lucky today!
- 1pt Win Only Russell Knox 20/1 @ Skybet
Russell may well struggle today but we want a bit of cover on him given his pedigree and past performances in contention. The bet is Win Only to reflect that position - a few missed putts early on and he could fall away. However, if he can make a few we'll see his confidence grow. The price reflects his recent putting problems and poor form and it's a price we're happy to take. He's striking the ball nicely (9th SG: Tee to green) and the stats suggest he's putting very well, even if he is still missing the odd short one. Let's not forget it wasn't too long ago he was winning a WGC title.
- 0.5PTS Each Way Doug Ghim 66/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1,2,3,4)
Doug's long game has been exceptional, ranking 5th for SG: Tee To green. He's three off the pace but merits a bit of support given his future potential. He's a former world amateur No 1 and a comfortable wind player should it kick up more than expected. He'll need to find a hotter putter but we think he's worth chancing with four each way places on offer and a generous price.
- 0.5PTS Each Way Luke List 125/1 @ Ladbrokes (1/5 1,2,3,4)
Luke is four back but there are a few interesting reasons to think he's worth a small bet. He ranks 1st SG: Off The Tee and 7th SG: Approach for the two rounds the players have played at the Stadium Course. He won on the Korn Ferry Tour last year on his first start after golf was paused due to Coronavirus. That win came at TPC Sawgrass, a Pete Dye design. The Stadium course is also a Dye design so it's a test that suits him. He's a notoriously bad putter but it's worth chancing he has a hot day on the green at these odds.
23 January 11.30
We're at the halfway stage at The American Express with Sungjae Im holding a one shot lead over a group of five including Tony Finau and Abraham Ancer. Seventeen players sit within 3 of the lead so it is very much all to play for.
As expected, the scoring has evened up now that players have played both courses, and they will play the final 36 holes at the tougher Stadium Course. Sungjae Im will be in confident mood after shooting 65 there yesterday, as will Nick Taylor who shot 66. Abraham Ancer shot 63 on the final day here last year so will fancy his chances also.
Our profile of Sunjae shows a 5⭐ pressure performance rating so he may take some beating from here and he is quite rightly 7/2 favourite. Tony Finau is next in the betting and doesn't rate much value to us at 11/2 given his poor win rate.
A look back at the last 5 editions of this tournament shows that only Adam Long in 2018 was more than one shot behind after 36 holes. All of the other four winners were in the top 3 at halfway and within one. It is worth noting that the tournament used to be played over 3 courses though, and the format has changed this year.
- 1pt Each Way PAUL CASEY 40/1 @ Spreadex (1/4 1,2,3,4)
Paul matched Im's 65 at the Stadium course yesterday, but still sits 4 shots off the lead after a poor first round on the Nicklaus course. He was asked after his round why he played worse on the easier course and responded " I don't know if it's easier, but one is Nicklaus and one is Dye. And I don't know, I quite like this one." He also noted that his game feels really sharp after lots of practice in January. "I'm optimistic, I'm feeling good about the game. Yeah, I'm raring to go." Paul has the class to make up 4 shots on a course he thrives on. If you can't get the 40/1 at Spreadex, 33/1 is still a reasonable price. Currently trading at 48 on Betfair Exchange also, which is a great win only price.
22 January 09.00
As expected, the top of the leaderboard after round one is dominated by players who played the easier Nicklaus course. Only Si Woo Kim was able to get to -6 on the Stadium course and he'll be expecting to make further progress up the leaderboard today. Of the 38 players who are -4 or better, only 14 played the Stadium course. The players will switch courses for round two and we'll start to see a clearer picture after 36 holes.
As expected, Kim is 12/1 favourite with the bookies given his excellent first round. Kim hasn't won since the 2017 Players Championship but has been steadily working his way back to form the past few months. Given the bunched nature of the leaderboard and Kim's unpredictable game, we're happy to take him on. Let's not forget he opened with a round of 64 at the Sony Open last week and got it to -10 midway through his second round before throwing in four bogeys and ultimately finishing the tournament in 25th.
In terms of betting strategy, it's obviously advantageous to look for players who will play the Nicklaus course on Friday. Preference is for players with early tee times as the wind will pick up slightly in the afternoon, as it did for round one.
- 0.5pts Each Way JOEL DAHMEN 80/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)
Joel was on our shortlist pre-event as our player profiles identify him as a player who can go well when fresh. A bogey free 69 on the harder Stadium course yesterday was a solid effort. He ranked 2nd SG: Off the tee which should see him set up further birdie opportunities today. He'll need to improve his iron play but given it was his first competitive round since Mayakoba last year, we're prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
- 0.5pts Each Way AUSTIN COOK 100/1 @ Skybet (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
Austin's long game was extremely solid yesterday as he ranked 14th SG: Off the tee and 10th SG: Approach. He sits nicely poised at -4 and is playing the easier Nicklaus course today. We know Austin can compete here as he had a 14th place finish here in 2018 and he was right in the mix until a Sunday 75. He lost out in a Playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open towards the end of last year and did well on the Sunday so we have less concern about him if he were to get into contention. If you can't get the 100/1 at Skybet, we still like the 80/1+ that is available elsewhere.
- 0.25pts Each Way GRAYSON MURRAY 300/1 @ VBet (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)
Grayson has an excellent record at this event, posting a couple of top 20 finishes in previous years. He played really nicely yesterday on the Stadium course, shooting a 3 under 69. He ranked 16th SG: Off the tee and 4th SG: Approach. If he brings that type of form to the Nicklaus course today he'll have plenty of looks at birdies. He also has an early tee time, going off in the 2nd group out. The odds reflect Grayson's inconsistencies as a player but he's a confident player who's definitely capable of snatching a win if the opportunity arises.