A quick look at last week’s Sony Open results:
Keith Mitchell opened with a 74, so even a 66 on Friday left him 2 strokes shy of the cut line.
Harris English started with a 65, held serve with a 70 in round 2, but tumbled down the leaderboard with 72’s over the weekend. T73, $15,642
Davis Thompson shot 69-68-70-67 which was a 6 under par total and a T54 finish. $18,249
Greyson Sigg began with a 71 so was outside of the cut line but a Friday 67 means he made it on the number. 66-69 on the weekend nudged him upwards to T48 and $20,250
Brian Harman made the cut with 1 to spare, and a Sunday 65 jumped him 25 spots up the leaderboard to T32 and $41,387
Russell Henley started the same way, and ended up finishing the same at T32 and $41,387
Brendon Todd made some noise Thursday with a 65, but his 71 Saturday dropped him out of the pack. A closing 65 made up for it and a T21 finish and $77,025
And Chris Kirk was in 1st or 2nd place into the weekend, but his pair of closing 68s actually slid him down a spot each day. Solo 3rd, yet 190 FedEx Cup points and $545,100 in earnings. It probably made the airports a little nicer as he flies back stateside.
Now onto this week.
Tournament: The American Express, January 19-22, 2023
Course: Players rotate the 1st 3 days over these courses, a cut is made after 54 holes, and it finishes on the PGA West Stadium Course. PGA West (Stadium Course): 7,187 yards, par 72; La Quinta Country Club: 7,060 yards, par 72; PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament Course): 7,147 yards, par 72. All in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, CA.
Purse: $8 million, $1,440,000 to the winner.
Defending Champ: Hudson Swafford. The former Bulldog decided to call upon some good memories from 2017 where he came from behind, shot a low number on Sunday, played incredibly clutch shots on the final holes and captured his first PGA Tour win (at this same tournament.). Because that’s exactly what he did in 2022 - starting out 3 shots back, carding a 64 in the final round, eagling the 16th hole, and snagging the trophy. UGA’s own Brian Harman finished 2nd, also just like 2017 (IIRC).
Fun Fact: Big Hud, part of the Sea Island Mafia (yes, that’s a real thing, it’s just not a real mafia), is the defending champ. Yet he won’t be on property. Because he decided to go for a cash-grab and join the LIV Tour last summer. As such, he’s been suspended indefinitely by the PGA Tour and isn’t eligible to compete in PGA Tour sanctioned events. I don’t know how much he was paid to jump ship, and quick search shows he only earned $1.241 million (which includes a team payout - which I don’t want to spend time to figure out).
TV Times: It’s pretty simple - with NFL playoffs, the coverage is relegated to Golf Channel. Thursday-Sunday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m. ET.
‘Dawgs in the Field: 7. Harris English, Keith Mitchell, Brendon Todd, Greyson Sigg, Chris Kirk, Davis Thompson, Brian Harman. Same as last week, sans Henley.
This is the dregs left of the old Bob Hope Desert Classic, which was a mainstay on the PGA Tour from the 1960’s through the 90’s. It has been shortened to 72 holes from 90, the celebrity pro-am portion (the biggest draw) is gone, and it has changed corporate sponsors more times than JT Daniels’ mailing address.
It is still a birdie-fest, with the softer winter conditions of these resort courses providing ideal scoring conditions. The fairways won’t run out, the greens hold, and the weather is usually perfect.
Other than the aforementioned Harman near-misses and Swafford’s two wins, I can’t recall any other Classic City golfers having much success around here. And after losing some panache’, this tourney has somehow attracted a very nice field. 5 of the world’s top 10, and 10 of the top 20, will be teeing it up in the Valley this week. It isn’t even a “designated event” (if you want more info on that, drop a question in the comments).
It is essentially the same place on the golf calendar, but with “designated events” being like they are, this is a time to get the rust off in good weather and good conditions. Torrey Pines is next week, the slog-fest of Pebble Beach Pro-Am the following, then the Waste Management and Genesis on their heels. Some pros might not want to play the long and particular Torrey Pines, or the mostly-for-TV Pebble Beach, so it’s time to get some rounds under your belt.
Whatever the reason, I’ll tune in for some afternoon weekend golf on the tube. Enjoy, and as always...