The American Express Tournament Preview

The American Express 2021 Course Preview: Everything You Need To Know About PGA West – The Stadium & Nicklaus Courses

Back to the mainland we go for The American Express at PGA West in La Quinta, California! Just a stone’s throw away from Coachella and Joshua Tree so who’s ready to get weird? This time last year I was on the same grounds playing a casual round at The Mountain Course at La Quinta. That course won’t be played at this event, but nonetheless I’m really looking forward to watching this one. Let’s dive in!

Course Specs

Note: Historically The American Express has rotated play between three courses: La Quinta CC, The Stadium Course, and The Nicklaus Tournament Course. Due to COVID restrictions, they’ve removed the Pro-Am element of this year’s tournament and will just be playing The Nicklaus Course and The Stadium Course this time around. The weekend will be played solely on the Stadium Course.

  • Par (Both Courses): 72 (4x 3’s / 12x 4’s / 4x 5’s)
  • Yards (Stadium): 7,082
  • Yards (Nicklaus): 7,159
  • Historical Cut-Line: 5-7 Under Par, on Average (Note that Historically the Cut here has been 54-holes, this year will be standard T65 & Ties through 36)
  • Grass: Bermuda
  • Comp Courses (Stadium): Torrey Pines, Corales Golf Club
  • Comp Courses (Nicklaus): Quail Hollow, TPC Scottsdale
  • Past Winners: Andrew Landry (20), Adam Long (19), Jon Rahm (18), Hudson Swafford (17), Jason Dufner (16)
  • Other Past Winners In The Field: Bill Haas, Patrick Reed, Brian Gay, Mark Wilson, Pat Perez, Charlie Hoffman, Phil Mickelson, DJ Trahan

To be honest it’s hard to put much stock behind the comp courses here. Pebble Beach, TPC Harding Park, Winged Foot, and Olympia Fields also popped, but I’m not going to include performance there in this week’s research since the winning score last year was -26, we’re a far cry from Major conditions, and the Strength of Field this week is…worse than in those events. If there’s one takeaway for Comp Courses, both tracks play the polar opposite fit to that of El Cameleon, so we’ll need to consider overlooking recent form at OHL/Mayakoba.

Key Stats

Note: SG: APP and SG: P are always key stats, however the the below stats are meant to highlight important categories relative to average course layouts

  • Driving Accuracy (Fairways Gained)
  • Proximity 150-175 and 200+
  • Par 5 Scoring
  • Birdies or Better Gained

Stats To Ignore

  • SG: ARG
  • Comp Course History
  • Bogey Avoidance

What To Look Out For At The American Express 2021

Andrew Landry is your defending champ, edging Abraham Ancer in last year’s birdie fest with a winning score of -26. Things will be different this time around however, with the Pro-Am/LQCC course removed. With both rounds being played over the weekend at The Stadium Course for the first time, we’ll need to put a little more stock behind course history there, as only one out of four rounds will be played on the Nicklaus Course. Similar set up this year to how the RSM Classic rotated in that regard.

If you’re into Horses for Courses, then it’s that time of year again for Adam Hadwin Week! His recent form coming in has never mattered, and he’s finished T6 or better in each of his last 4 trips to La Quinta. To a lesser extent, Andrew Landry, Jon Rahm, Brendan Steele, and incoming Sony Open champ Kevin Na also carry consistently strong Course History here.

This won’t be the deepest of Fields, but it’s definitely the most top-heavy The American Express has ever seen. From that tier, we’ll see some 2021 debuts from big names including Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepke, Matthew Wolff, Paul Casey, Gary Woodland, and (if you stopped watching golf in 2019 and still consider him a big name), Francesco Molinari.

Most importantly though, it’s a 2021 debut and homecoming for California native and favorite, Akshay ‘Body ody ody ody ody ody’ Bhatia. Haven’t seen any pricing come out yet, but I get the feeling with Phil hosting, it might be time to roll out the #TeamCallaway narrative: Rahm, Burns, Si Woo, Na, Phil, Akshay.