Jon Rahm won The American Express in 2018, but hasn’t played the tournament since 2019. He returns to the desert this week – he missed last year with a small injury – as the reigning U.S. Open champion and the No. 1 player in the world rankings.
Any talk of who might win the tournament this week, or any tournament any week at this point, starts with the Spanish star who admits he loves playing in the American southwest.
But here are eight other things we’re looking for as the PGA Tour makes its yearly trip to California’s Coachella Valley.
The desert has a history of producing first-time winners, with six of the last 15 winners earning their first PGA Tour victories in the desert. Two big candidates to earn their maiden victory this week include 2020-21 PGA Tour rookie of the year Will Zalatoris and 2021 Ryder Cup member Scottie Scheffler. Then again, it might be someone in the field that few golf fans have heard of who captures four days of magic.
Is it too soon to discuss if someone is going to shoot a 59 this week? Scoring for the first two weeks of the PGA Tour in 2022 has been insanely low, and The American Express has a history that includes two 59s. Toss in the return of La Quinta Country Club this year, and you might get a sub-60 round in the first three days of the tournament.
Only Miller has won The American Express in back-to-back years, and those consecutive titles came in 1975 and 1976. This year, Si Woo Kim will try to match Miller. Kim earned a one-shot victory in the 2021 event, his third win on Tour and his only victory last season. If his back is healthy, he can win here again.
Phil Mickelson plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the Desert Classic golf tournament at PGA West – Stadium Course. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Demaret lost a playoff in the 1964 American Express when he was 54 years old. Phil Mickelson is younger than that by three years, but he certainly has a legitimate chance to win his third American Express title this year. He won the PGA Championship last March and has been a consistent winner as a senior since turning 50 in the summer of 2020, winning four of six starts.
Si Woo Kim won The America Express last year, but it was Cantlay’s final-round 61 on the Stadium Course at PGA West that had the golf world talking. It was the first step in a year that produced three wins and a PGA Tour player of the year award for Cantlay. Can he get that elusive desert title this week?
More than just 156 pros will be on the golf courses the first three days of the tournament. After dropping the pro-am last year during the pandemic, the 156 amateurs are back in the event this year – along with the revenue they produce — bringing with them their own unique stories and perhaps some great golf playing side by side with the professionals. The pro-am sold out months ago.
Through the last decade of the tournament, The American Express has experienced some strange weather by desert standards, with a little too much rain and even some cold mornings. That isn’t the forecast for this week. Instead, it should be a week of temperatures in the mid-70s and not a hint of rain. Perfect golf weather.
Maroon 5 and Brad Paisley will be the acts for the Friday and Saturday concerts, respectively, marking the return of music to the event after the concerts were canceled by COVID-19 last year. It’s the first time in recent years at least one classic rock act isn’t included in the week, as the organizers perhaps look to hit a bit younger demographic.
Jon Rahm highlights a stacked field in the desert. We have a list of players to target in fantasy.
Like so many of us who work remotely, CBS Sports Jim Nantz will do so as well.
This will be Preston Summerhays’ first PGA Tour event playing on a sponsor exemption.