Jon Rahm leads a loaded field once again as the PGA Tour reaches California

It’s not a high-profile event, but many of golf’s biggest names flocked to the desert this week for The American Express.

The third PGA Tour Championship of the year kicks off this week in Southern California, where five of the world’s top 10 players will battle it out on what is the best field the American Express has seen in some time.

By the end of the weekend, there may be a new highly rated golfer – or golfers – as the West Coast swing begins.

Here’s everything you need to know about The American Express:

Tournament Basics

American Express

Jan 19-22

Western PGA | La Quinta, California

Paragraph 72 | 7060 yards

Portfolio: $8 million / $1.44 million

FedExCup Winner Points: 500

Favorite bet, via BetMGM: John Rahm (+600)

Last time: Hudson Swafford grabbed his third career victory

Hudson Swafford took his third career win last season in American Express after a phenomenal finish at La Quinta.

Swafford birdied the par-5 16th and then made a birdie on the 17th to round off his round three under the final three holes for a two-shot victory over Tom Hoge. His only equalizer came on the fullback nine in the 18th as well, in what was a wild finish for the 35-year-old. The day started with three shots off the leader, but Swafford met the low turn of the day on 64 to get his second win in as many seasons.

Swafford is not on the court this week to defend his title, as he was among those who jumped into LIV Golf last year, preventing him from playing in PGA events. Longtime tournament host Phil Mickelson will miss this week’s event for the same reason.

John Rahm is a favorite again this week on The American Express.

John Rahm is a favorite again this week on The American Express. (AP/Matt York)

John Rahm is a favorite again at La Quinta

John Rahm has enjoyed some great stretches of golf in recent years.

However, the Spaniard is heading into the desert this week on what could easily be described as the best course of his career.

Ram, making his first start since winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, is the betting favorite once again in The American Express. If he can lift the trophy at the end of the PGA West weekend, it will be his fifth win since 2022 and put him in an incredible position to go into the opening weeks of the tour season.

“These were my best results, being able to pull off and finish in championships, right?” Archer he told the Golf Channel. “That Sunday in Maui was my third Sunday of a 63 or better since September… It’s something to be proud of. Hopefully I put myself in a better position where if I shoot those 62 seconds I’ll win a bunch of shots instead of waiting to see what will happen.”

However, he will again have a great deal of competition on the field with him this week. Ten of the top 20 players in the world are competing this week, including Scotty Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and Will Zlatoris – something likely to be done to help players qualify for the Impact Player of the Tour bonus programme.

“You want to beat the best,” Ram said, “and I’m glad people are coming.” “It’s nice that more players are trying more events. I think that’s due to some new events going on during the year. The fact that we have all those big events to play if we want to earn a PIP bonus.

“It opens up all three of those, let’s say the least events you need to play, it opens people’s eyes to maybe some of the events they haven’t played in the past because your schedule shifts a little bit. I know I’m one of those. It kind of tied me up later in the game.” So this event really serves a lot of purposes in more ways than one.”

Scheffler and Cantlay could both reach No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings this week as well. There is even a scenario where the two share the lead, which has never happened before. If Cantlay wins and Scheffler finishes alone in eighth place, the two will overtake Rory McIlroy. No matter what Ram does, he has no way of getting to the top this week.

But Scheffler, who won four times last season, insists he is not focused on ranking one bit.

“I’m focused on trying to put myself in a position to win the championship. I have no idea what a win or finish in the world rankings will do for me,” he said on Wednesday.

“I haven’t checked in a while, but I know I’m still No. 2 and No. 1 is better than No. 2. I don’t focus too much on those things. I just try — and I don’t focus too much on the past, I don’t focus too much on the future. For me, it’s better.” Always staying current and continuing to work on things I’ve been working on for many years.”

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