The American Express 2022 Overview
The Desert Classic is always a unique proposition on the PGA Tour because of its three-course rotation. The TPC Stadium Course (Host Course) and Tournament courses at the PGA West site host three of the four rounds. The final round is played on the TPC Stadium course, which has 36 holes. The third course in the tournament rotation, La Quinta Country Club, is a 5-mile drive away. With three short Par-72 courses boasting exceptionally responsive and pure TifDwarf Bermudagrass green complexes, this event is the quintessential resort course test. Go low or go home as they say.
The Pete Dye-designed TPC Stadium host course is widely regarded as the spiritual successor to TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course. The course has its own island 17th hole, which this week will be a 165-yard par-3. The course is a Par 72 with a lot of water. Ranked in the 10 easiest courses the players face all year this course is there for the taking if playing well, then we have the Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club which can both be dismantled by the best players on tour.Both of these courses were rated as the easiest and second-easiest on the PGA Tour in recent times.
From a research standpoint, it’s an odd week when we get to these “quirky” events with insufficient SG data. You must embrace the randomness and run some simplified, broad models for commonality across the three courses in play and then hold tight for what will be a hard week to fathom. Lets take a look at some of the previous winners. Over the past decade, Adam Long, Andrew Landry, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, and Mark Wilson have all won , these are not names you associate with the top names in golf.
We will break down the key skill sets a little later in the piece, there is some guesswork this week. Look for players who thrive on easy layouts and have a flat stick that’s in good order. Without a good flat stick, this week will see you hovering in the middle of that leaderboard.
This is a great week to look at those players making their way up from the Korn Ferry or indeed seeking a breakout performance. There will be little to no stress on the player’s games this week it will all be about aggressive golf hunting targets and making as many birdies as possible. This is the week to pick those long shots we all have a tendency to look at. The player pool capable of winning this week is much greater than it will be in 2 weeks time when we head to the farmers’ insurance open.
5 Key Skills Set Required
- SG T2G Easy Tracks – When looking at SG T2G this week I will pay particular attention to short course sub 7200 yards in length as all 3 fall in the category this week. I will also be looking at those who thrive on an easy layout as this week the players face 3 of the easiest course on the PGA Tour rotation.
- Bogey Avoidance – A 3 rotation course, super low scoring, birdies galore. All this tells us that making bogeys will be a big NO NO this week. Usually, a stat that correlates well with tougher courses I believe this is an underrated factor this week.
- SG Approach 75-125 yards – You will need to have plenty of birdie looks this week if you wish to take home the trophy. One way to ensure that is to hit plenty of shots close to the flagstick. This has been the most important factor in contending at this event in recent times. To dig a little deeper I noticed that more shots from 75-125 yards come up here than on average and therefore I want to look at approach play in more detail from this range.
- Par 3 Scoring – Very relevant at the Stadium course which is used for 36 holes of this event. Also a key factor at the other 2 courses on the rotation this week. The winner of this event in the past has certainly excelled with mid-irons in hand.
- SG Putting on Bermudagrass – This has been this key factor in lifting this trophy no doubt about it. Winning scores of 26, 25, 22, 29 under par, it goes without saying you have to sink your putts this week.