The third PGA Tour event of 2019 tees off from the Stadium Course in La Quinta California on Friday, as a talented field of 156 players get set to contest the 60th annual Desert Classic.
Played across three different courses with $5.9 million in prize-money up for grabs, last year’s defending champion Jon Rahm returns as one of two single-digit favourites alongside England’s Justin Rose, while there’s plenty to be said about younger names like Aaron Wise and Patrick Cantlay.
A year after Rahm won at long odds, will another surprise contender emerge? Or will the favourite come through for the second-straight year?
We’ve previewed the entire field, and our complete 2019 Desert Classic Preview can be found below.
History & Course:
- The Course: 7,133-yard par 72
- Last Five Winners: Jon Rahm (2018), Hudson Swafford (2017), Jason Dufner (2016), Bill Haas (2015), Patrick Reed (2014)
- Best Round: Adam Hadwin – 59 in the third round (2017), David Duval – 59 in the final round (1999)
Best Bet: Justin Rose @ $9.00
Justin Rose will tee off for the first time in North America since winning the FedEx Cup last year. He’ll do so alongside former Masters and Open Championship winner Zach Johnson, making up for what should be a compelling first round on Friday.
There’s so much more to Rose right now, though. The World’s No.1 ranked player signed a lucrative deal with Honma Golf earlier this month, leaving behind his long-time partnership with TaylorMade after a largely successful 2018 season. Should the 2013 US Open champion fall short in the Desert Classic, you can expect a range of experts to blame his gear, but when you take a look at Rose’s track record in this event, there’s no real reason for concern.
The Englishman hasn’t featured in the Desert Classic since 2010, where he failed to make the cut. On the flip side, he’s contested this tournament on five different occasions, finishing third in 2017 and 10th in 2006. As far as recent performances go, Rose didn’t win the FedEx Cup by luck. His putting play ranked 21st in the PGA last year, while he also ranked fourth in tee-to-green. While a change in clubs could affect other players, Rose’s skills should do the talking.
Best Value: Patrick Cantlay @ $21.00
Patrick Cantlay has been a popular pick, and for good reason. The 26-year-old was one of the most impressive young talents on the Tour last year, and after finishing fifth at the Hero World Challenge in New York last month, it seems as though people are starting to fancy the Americans’ chances.
To put this into perspective, Cantlay has finished inside the Top 7 in each of his last three tournaments, and although he hasn’t played in the Desert Classic since 2013, this course suits him perfectly. With the PGA West courses calling for a smart approach onto the green, it helps knowing Cantlay ranked 10th in that department on Tour last year.
Best Roughie: Joaquin Niemann @ $67.00
The bright-eyed 20-year-old Chilean will be among the youngest players on the fairways this weekend, but you have to admire how consistent he’s been of late. Niemann has made 11 straight starts on Tour and finished tied for 10th at -5 under par in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open back in November. With a breakout potentially around the corner, these odds are worth a play.