The PGA Tour’s Hawaiin leg is now complete and although we failed to pick up a win at the Sony Open in Wai’alae last weekend, our best bet of Justin Thomas looked okay and finished tied for 16th.
We’ll look to bounce back this weekend as the PGA Tour returns to the mainland for the annual Desert Classic in La Quinta Country, California. Catch our preview and tips for the weekend’s action below.
The Desert Classic is a bit different to most PGA Tour events as it is played over three different courses throughout the four-day event. Another key difference is the fact that each pro player will play with a celebrity for the first three rounds of play.
The three courses that will be used this year are the TPC Stadium Course, which will serve as the host course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the La Quinta Country Club. The pro players will play a round at each of the courses throughout the first three days before the 54-hole cut will eliminate around half of the field before they return to the TPC Stadium Course (without celebrities) for the final round.
The Par 72, 7,113-yard course was designed by Pete Dye in 1986 and offers a tough desert test for any golfer who steps onto to the first tee. It features deep bunkers, raised greens and a lot of man-made water hazards, meaining strong approach play will be a key factor in the final round of play.
A host of players will make their return to the PGA Tour after the Christmas break in the first tournament back on the mainland this weekend. Defending champion Jon Rahm will be back to defend his title while some big names in Phil Mickelson and Fed Ex Cup Champion Justin Rose will also tee up. Tiger Woods wont make his return until the Farmers Insurance Open next weekend, but the field for the Desert Classic still looks pretty stacked.
Top ranked players lining up this weekend include Rahm, Rose, Mickelson, Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Jhonattan Vegas, Patrick Cantlay, Patton Kizzire and Si Woo Kim.
As we mentioned above, strong approach players will be our focus this weekend. Although as they are only playing two of four rounds on the TPC West Stadium Course, it might be tough to get an appropriate read on this weekend’s outcome. However, there is one player that stands out as pretty good value heading into the tournament and that is Patrick Cantlay.
The American finished in the top 20 pl ayers in both shots gained on approach and greens in regulation in the 2018 season and while he is yet to play a tournament since the Christmas break, he has been fantastic in his first four tournaments of the 2019 season. He finished tied for 18th at the Safeway open back in October and followed it up with three top ten finishes at the WGC-HSBC, Shriners Open and the Hero World Challenge respectively. The 2nd place finish at the Shriners was particularly impressive. Cantlay is one of the most in form golfers on the PGA Tour at the moment and is great value this weekend.
Whenever Justin Rose is on a starting field list, it’s always hard to look past him. Along with Brooks Koepka, he was the best player in the world in 2018 and capped off the year with a fantastic win in the Fed Ex Cup. This will mark his return to the PGA Tour from the Christmas break but his performances pre-Christmas have looked ominous. He finished 3rd in both the WGC-HSBC and the Hero World Challenge with scores of –10 and –15 respectively and has some decent pedigree in Pro-Am Tournaments, finishing T6 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am a few years ago.
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