After its two-tournament stop in Hawaii, the PGA Tour returns to the U.S. mainland this week for The 2023 American Express at PGA West in La Quinta, California.
The long-running tournament, with its rich history and tradition, provides yet another opportunity for tour players to get their early season moving in a positive direction.
The field of 156 players is headlined by a trio of top-5 ranked players in No. 2 Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm (4) and Patrick Cantlay (5).
Tournament: The American Express
Dates: Jan. 19-22, 2023
PGA Tour Debut: 1960
Known as: The Bob Hope
PGA TOUR Week: 12th (of 43)
TV Network: far-left NBC
Course: PGA West (Stadium)
Where: La Quinta, California
Distance: 7113 yards, Par 72
Architect: Pete Dye, 1986
Field 156 players
Format: 3 Courses, 54-hole cut, 72-hole stroke
Win Share: $1,440,000
FedEx Cup Points: 500
2022 Champion: Hudson Swafford
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Remember when one of the early-season west coast events was a five-round tournament? It was this one, back when it was called the Bob Hope Classic.
In 2012, the tournament moved to a traditional four-round variety, but its compelling past has not been forgotten. The American Express began in 1960 as the Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic. The inaugural tournament was won by Arnold Palmer, who shot 20 under in a three-stroke triumph over Fred Hawkins.
Palmer would go on to win the tournament a record five times.
Other past legendary winners include Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, and Phil Mickelson.
Bob Hope was added to the tournament title in 1965 (he became the tournament’s Chairman of the Board) and his famous name stayed as part of the top billing through 2011.
Hope and Palmer, along with the advent of golf TV, made for a perfect marriage. The five-day tournament, known for its celebrity pro-ams, allowed the TV networks to showcase not only Palmer, but the many famous celebrity golfers, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and President Dwight Eisenhower.
The tournament will be contested at PGA West and played on three courses for the first three rounds: the Stadium Course, the Nickalus Tournament Course, and La Quinta Country Club. For Sunday’s finale, the Stadium Course will play host.
This will be just the ninth year at the Stadium Course, as it was so difficult in its 1987 debut that players petitioned to have it removed from the tournament rotation.
The Pete Dye masterpiece made its return to the rotation in 2016, and it plays much easier now than it did in ’87, with winners Jason Dufner (2016, -25), Hudson Swafford (2017, -20), Jon Rahm (2018, -22), Adam Long (2019, -26), Andrew Landry (2020, -26), and Si Woo Kim (2021, -23) each shooting better than 20-under par en route to their victories. (The 1987 winner, Corey Pavin, was 19 under for FIVE rounds.)
History: Recent Amex Winners
2022: Hudson Swafford (-23)*
2021: Si Woo Kim (-23)
2020: Andrew Landry (-26)
2019: Adam Long (-26)
2018: Jon Rahm (-22)
2017: Hudson Swafford (-20)*
2016: Jason Dufner (-25)
2015: Bill Haas (-22)
2014: Patrick Reed (-28)*
* Banned by PGA Tour. Not in field.
Wins: 5 – Arnold Palmer (1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1973)
72-hole Score: 259 (-36) – Joe Durant (2001)
18-hole Score: 59 – David Duval (1999), Adam Hadwin (2017)
The Course: PGA West Stadium
Located in La Quinta, California, PGA West Stadium is the crown jewel of the PGA West resort which includes six championship golf courses.
The PGA West Stadium Course was designed by Pete Dye and is viewed as the sequel to the TPC at Sawgrass. It was inspired by the Scottish links-style courses.
Considered one of the most challenging courses in America, the Stadium Course has hosted many tour-related golf events.
The Stadium features two of the toughest finishing holes in golf: the island green of hole No. 17, known as Alcatraz, as well as the menacing water-lined 18th.
Name: PGA West Stadium
Locale: La Quinta, CA
Stats: 18/72/7113 yards
Designer: Pete Dye
The American Express Field
The field this week at PGA West is headlined by Jon Rahm, the 2018 winner at PGA West, reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Cantlay, who shot a course-record 61 in the 2021 edition of “The Hope.”
Rahm, Scheffler and Cantlay will be joined by five additional top-15 ranked names in Xander Schauffele (6), Will Zalatoris (7), Tony Finau (12), Sam Burns (13) and Tom Kim (14).
Other marquee players include Cam Young, Sungjae Im, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler.
In addition to Rahm (2018), the American Express also includes former winners in Andrew Landry (2020), Adam Long (2019), Jason Dufner (2016), Charley Hoffman (2007) and Si Woo Kim (2021), who enters off a win in Hawaii.
Last year’s champion, Hudson Swafford, who also won here in 2017, has been suspended by the PGA Tour after teeing it up last season on the LIV Golf tour.
Major winners Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, and Lucas Glover are some of the other familiar names.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
Book Rank-Player (Odds)
1. Jon Rahm (7-1)
2. Scottie Scheffler (10-1)
3. Patrick Cantlay (11-1)
4. Tony Finau (14-1)
5. Will Zalatoris (18-1)
Full Field & Odds
PGA West Stadium | La Quinta, CA | Jan 19-22, 2023
Joel Cook contributed to this report.
Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images