World No. 1 Jon Rahm won the Desert Classic in La Quinta back in 2018 when the tournament was known as the CareerBuilder Challenge. Now, Rahm enters as the clear favorite to win again in the event now called The American Express.
DraftKings Sportsbook lists Rahm as the +500 favorite to win The American Express, a number that puts him far ahead of the field.
Rahm predicts low score needed to win
Rahm is one of 14 players in the field who have previously won The American Express. The tournament features three different golf courses over the course of the weekend: La Quinta Country Club, the PGA West Stadium Course, and the Nicklaus Tournament Course. In order to win, someone will have to go very low, as the setups encourage scoring.
“You know you’re going to have to surpass the 20-under barrier,” Rahm told reporters. “Patrick Cantlay last year was 18-under on the weekend alone on the Stadium, which is the hardest of the three courses.”
Cantlay almost came back to win The American Express last year, finishing just one shot behind Si Woo Kim. That portended a strong year from Cantlay, who went on to win three tournaments and the PGA Tour player of the year award.
“I think that if you ask professional golfers, I would say at times the game feels really, really easy,” Cantlay told the media. “If you would have asked me Thursday, Friday last year playing the tournament, it felt hard. And then something clicked Saturday, Sunday and it felt really easy.”
Cantlay comes into The American Express as the only other player with better than 10/1 odds of winning. DraftKings Sportsbook lists him as a +900 second choice behind Rahm.
Zalatoris makes 2022 debut at The American Express
Kim may be the defending champion, but he starts the tournament as a +5000 long shot to repeat. He rates far behind other top contenders like Scottie Scheffler (+1600), Sung-Jae Im (+1800), Talor Gooch (+2000), or Tony Finau (+2000).
|The American Express Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|Jon Rahm: +500||Patrick Cantlay: +900|
|Scottie Scheffler: +1600||Sung-Jae Im: +1800|
|Talor Gooch: +2000||Tony Finau: +2000|
|Corey Conners: +2200||Abraham Ancer: +2500|
|Seamus Power: +2800||Matthew Wolff: +2800|
Several players will make their 2022 tour debuts at The American Express. Most prominently, 2020-21 Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris (+4000) is back in action and looking for his first win on tour after multiple close calls last year, including a second-place finish at The Masters.
No matter who ultimately comes out on top, the entire field seems to agree on one thing: they’ll need to aim very low to end up on the leaderboard after four rounds.
“When I first came out on tour, you could get to 20-under [and] you thought for sure, I’m going to win or have a really good chance to win,” Cantlay told reporters. “I think we have seen the last few years that’s not really the case anymore and guys are either better or more aggressive or both. And so I think that’s just the new normal. You’ll have to get into the 20s to have a chance to win.”