The American Express, famously known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic for many years, will have a different look than before. The tournament is usually played as a pro-am over three courses. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the pro-am will not occur, and only the professionals will play on the PGA West Stadium Course.
Legendary architect Pete Dye designed the par 72, 7,128-yard layout. Once thought to be too difficult for the tournament, it wasn’t used in the event from 1988-2015. It returned to the rotation in 2016, joining La Quinta Country Club and the Nicklaus Tournament Course.
Andrew Landry is the defending champion, shooting a 26 under par 262 to beat Abraham Ancer by two shots. Last week’s winner was Kevin Na, who defeated Chris Kirk and Joaquin Niemann by a stroke in the Sony Open in Hawaii with a score of 259 and 21 under par. Landry, at odds of +12000 and Na at +3300, are both in the field this week.
Andrew Landry is the defending champion, shooting a 26 under par 262 to beat Abraham Ancer by two shots.
It’s hard to imagine Phil Mickelson as an underdog, but the betting odds have the 50-year-old at +4500 to win The American Express. He missed the cut in 2020 but clearly wasn’t playing well before the March shut down, except for a third-place finish in the AT&T Pro-Am.
Mickelson closed out the 2020 season well, including tying for second place in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He played in a pair of PGA TOUR Champions events and won them both. He hasn’t been in a tournament of any kind since the Masters, where a third-round 79 doomed him to a 55th place tie.
The 44 time Tour winner has two American Express victories in 2002 and 2004. He’s finished second and third in the last five years, so with a field that only includes two players ranked in the top ten in the world, Mickelson could contend.
Adam Hadwin has had one Tour win at the 2017 Valspar and has been in the top 125 in FedEx Cup points since joining the Tour in 2015. The Canadian’s solid play is particularly evident at The American Express, where he recorded four top-six finishes from 2016-2019. He did not enter the 2020 edition of the tournament.
Hadwin is struggling of late, missing his last three cuts, but a familiar place where he has enjoyed success could be just what his game needs. He has odds of +5500 to win The American Express and might be worth considering given his track record in the tournament.
Another player at +5500 odds at The American Express is Emiliano Grillo. The 28-year-old Argentine has one PGA TOUR win, the 2016 Frys.com Open, which he won in a playoff over Kevin Na. Grillo finished 93rd in the FedEx Cup in 2020, but his game began improving over the last month of the season.
He’s played nine tournaments in the 2021 season, with one top ten and only one missed cut. Grillo tied for 47th in last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii. His only other appearance in The American Express resulted in a missed cut in 2017.