PGA Preview – Jon Rahm tops Desert Classic Odds, TV Schedule
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The Hawaiian PGA Tour Swing is over and now it’s time to head back to the mainland with the Desert Classic, made famous by Bob Hope, getting ready to tee-off in Palm Springs. Last year’s defending champion, Jon Rahm, tops the favorites list to pull off the repeat according to the oddsmakers at Intertops. And, there’s a good reason to think he can do it!
Rahm beat Andrew Landry in a four-hole playoff during the 2018 event going 22-under for 266. In fact, the Classic has ended in a playoff in four of the last eight years. This year Rahm is coming off an incredible 2018 where he finished in sole possession of 4th place at the Masters and T4 at the PGA Championship. He enters the Classic Pro-Am format currently ranked 7th in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
The 24-year-old pro from Spain told the Desert Sun Newspaper that he has taken a liking to the early events on the PGA schedule.
“I try to focus on the PGA Tour early on just because I love the West Coast swing,” Rahm said. “And then there really isn't much on the European Tour going on up until summer, especially with the Rolex Series events this year, which is great to focus on for somebody like me who can't be European Tour full time. So, I try to work around those events and play as many as I can.”
With Rahm the favorite at +700 it’s a narrow lead over Justin Rose at +850 heading into Thursday play. Here’s how the rest of the top-five favorites line up.
Charles Howell III
Why is Rahm above Justin Rose?
Wait, Jon Rahm is favored above Justin Rose and Rose is the No.1 ranked golfer in the world? How does that happen? Well, long story short is that oddsmakers may be looking at the fact that Rahm has picked up the clubs several times this season so far in 2019. Rose has not. Oddsmakers could be factoring in the “kick off the dust” factor when it comes to Rose.
Rahm carded a solid top-ten finish at the Tournament of Champions while Rose has not played in 2019. The same can be said for Patrick Cantlay as this will be his first outing of the season. Two-time winner of the Classic, Phil Mickelson, comes in at +4000 with six other players including Luke List and Kevin Kisner.
Pro-Am Format Across Three Courses & Fan Fun
Get ready for spotty TV coverage of some of your favorite players or fantasy picks. The Desert Classic is a Pro-Am that takes place over three different courses. The 156 pros in the field will be paired with 156 amateurs over the first three days with only the pros that make the cut playing on Sunday. There are not enough cameras to go around!
The three courses included in the event are the Stadium Course designed by Pete Dye design, the Jack Nicklaus designed Nicklaus Tournament Course and the La Quinta Country Club which was designed by Lawrence Hughes & Clive Clark design.
In addition, the Desert Classic has become a fan favorite in sunny California. The event has taken on the look of a NASCAR race weekend complete with a night-time concert series. This year featuring Sammy Hagar and Bad Company.
PGA West Stadium Course by the Numbers
The Desert Classic is played across three courses with the final day of play for PGA pros coming on Sunday at the Stadium Course. That means the course will have two days of play.
The Stadium Course features everything Pete Dye is known for Deep bunkers, rocks, natural boundaries, hard to get to greens with forced carries over water. It is often considered one of the hardest courses on the PGA schedule and was petitioned by PGA players to be removed from the schedule in 1988. The course returned to the PGA calendar in 2015 after taming changes over the years.
Hole placement is critical at the course which is known for target golf. Look for players to try and turn as many of the shorter 5-par holes into birdies as the par 3 holes are tough! All of the three par-3 holes play long – all over 200 yards. Long irons, wedges, and a hot putter will be critical on the par-3’s.
Location: La Quinta, California Designers: Pete Dye Established: 1986 Par: 72 Length: 7,113 yards Course rating: 76.1 Slope rating: 146 Grass: Bermuda, with native grasses
Desert Classic - all times ET
• TV: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). • Streaming: PGA TOUR LIVE: Live featured groups Thursday-Friday. • SiriusXM: Thursday-Saturday, 1-7 p.m.; Sunday, 2-7 p.m. PGA Tour channel.
Remaining Field Odds
The remaining players behind the five listed above include some big names that could come into play starting with Phil Mickelson, Aaron Wise, Luke List, and Zach Johnson.