The PGA Tour moves from Hawaii to the California desert for the American Express, which this year will return to its pro-am format played on three different golf courses for the first 54 holes.
Last year, only the professionals played, there were no spectators in attendance, and only two layouts were utilized due to Covid-19 protocols, but this week things are expected to be back to normal for the event that began as the Palm Springs Golf Classic in 1960, won by Arnold Palmer for his first of five wins in the tournament, better known for many years as the Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Until 2012, it was a 90-hole event, the only one of its kind on the PGA Tour at the time, but has since been contested over 72 holes and currently utilizes La Quinta Country Club and the Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses at nearby PGA West.
Last year’s winner by a shot was Si Woo Kim, who outlasted a hard-charging Patrick Cantlay and his closing 61 on the Stadium Course, which is the only one used for the final of play.
All three layouts offer plenty of scoring opportunities, with the winner shooting higher than 22 under par for the week just once since 2012, with Patrick Reed setting the 72 hole tournament record at 28 under par 260 in 2014 in a two-shot win over Ryan Palmer. Kim finished at 23 under par last year, but the field didn’t play La Quinta Country Club, and there was no pro-am played in 2021.
The longest of three layouts is the Nicklaus Tournament Course at 7,159 yards, and they all play to a par 72. Each has given up at least one 59 in competition, whether in the American Express or in the PGA Tour qualifying tournament. Each professional is paired with an amateur for the first three days, after which the field is cut to the low 60 players and ties for the final round.
The American Express Betting Odds
Jon Rahm, the top player in the Official World Golf Rankings and the 2018 winner of the American Express, is the tournament favorite with what are very low odds of +500.
The reigning U.S. Open champion had 15 runner-up finishes in the 2020-2021 season and is coming off another one two weeks ago to Cameron Smith in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Cantlay, the 2021 FedEx Cup winner, is at odds of +900 as he looks to finish one spot higher than he did in 2021, and U.S. Ryder Cup player Scottie Scheffler is still attempting to pick up his initial PGA Tour victory with odds of +1600.
Tour ironman Sungjae Im, at +1800, is playing in his seventh event of the 2021-2022 season and has already collected a win in the Shriners Children’s Open and is followed by Talor Gooch and Tony Finau at +2000.
Defending champion Si Woo Kim has odds of +6500 to repeat, tournament record-holder Reed is in the field at +3500, PGA champion and two time American Express winner Phil Mickelson has odds of +10000 at the age of 51.
Rickie Fowler is at +6000 as he tries to break a three-year victory drought that almost came to an end earlier this season when he failed to hold onto a two shot lead over Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup@Summit.