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The First Look: The American Express

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The First Look

The First Look: The American Express


    Written by Adam Stanley @adam_stanley

    Hideki Matsuyama wins in playoff at the Sony Open


    Ten of the top 20 players in the world rankings are set to tee it up in the Coachella Valley as the PGA TOUR makes its return to the mainland for The American Express.

    FIELD NOTES: Five of the top 10 players in the world will be at The American Express, led by PGA TOUR Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler. A pair of Southern California natives, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, also are in that group. Schauffele is set to tee it up after withdrawing from the Sentry Tournament of Champions due to injury… Other notables heading to La Quinta include a pair of three-time winners in 2022, Tony Finau and Sam Burns; PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala, who qualified for last year’s TOUR Championship in his rookie season. Theegala grew up in nearby Chino Hills before starring at Pepperdine… A hearty contingent of International Presidents Cup team members will also be teeing it up led by Tom Kim. There will be seven from that squad at The American Express… Rahm, coming off his win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, is one of a handful of past champions returning to the Coachella Valley. Others include Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Andrew Landry, and Adam Long. Rahm has won three of his last four starts between the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour… Sponsor exemptions include John Pak, the No. 1 player in 2021’s inaugural class of PGA TOUR University presented by Velocity Global graduates; Taiga Semikawa, who won back-to-back starts on the Japan Tour during an amateur career that saw him reach No. 1 in the world (he has since turned pro and made the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii) and Tennessee freshman Caleb Surratt, the ninth-ranked amateur in the world who made the cut earlier this season at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship.

    FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.

    COURSE: Three courses will once again be in use for The American Express, while those who make the 54-hole cut will play PGA West’s Stadium Course for the final round.

    PGA West (Stadium Course): 7,187 yards, par 72

    La Quinta Country Club: 7,060 yards, par 72

    PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course): 7,147 yards, par 72

    STORYLINES: This is one of two pro-ams on the TOUR calendar, along with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Each pro and his amateur partner will play for three rounds at each of the courses before the low 65 pros (and ties) will play their final round at PGA West’s Stadium Course… The American Express is one of the longest-tenured PGA TOUR events. This year marks the 64th edition. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Arnold Palmer earning his 62nd and final PGA TOUR win at this event in 1973… There is no Monday qualifier for The American Express, but a top-10 finish at the Sony Open for someone not otherwise qualified could mean some shuffling of the field… Xander Schauffele is scheduled to return to action after withdrawing from the Sentry Tournament of Champions due to a back injury. He planned to get an MRI after his WD and is set to play The American Express for the first time since 2017.

    18-HOLE RECORD: 59, David Duval (Round 5, 1999 at PGA West/Palmer), Adam Hadwin (Round 3, 2017 at La Quinta CC). Stadium Course record: 61, Patrick Cantlay (Round 4, 2021). Nicklaus Tournament record: 61, Will Zalatoris (Round 2, 2022).

    LAST TIME: Hudson Swafford captured The American Express for the second time in five years after a final-round 8-under 64. Swafford, who also won the event in 2017, made birdies on Nos. 10-12 and 14 before adding an eagle on the par-5 16th and another birdie on the par-3 17th. The only par he made on his final nine holes came on the 18th. Swafford’s final-round 64 was tied for the low round of the day as he defeated Tom Hoge by two. He started the day three shots back of the lead but with plenty of circles on his card, he got to 20 under and tied with Brian Harman and Francesco Molinari late Sunday before knocking his approach on 16 to just eight feet and rolling in the eagle putt to put him ahead for good. Hoge was second alone while Harman, Lanto Griffin, and 54-hole co-leader Lee Hodges finished tied for third. Will Zalatoris, who shot a course-record 61 in the second round at the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, was amongst those tied for sixth.

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