The PGA Tour returns to the mainland for the third event of the new calendar year – the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
A PGA Tour staple, this is the 60th edition of the Desert Classic and it will be played over three courses (to accommodate the massive field size since this is a pro-am): The Stadium Course at PGA WEST, La Quinta Country Club and the Nicklaus Tournament Course.
If there’s no wind, players will be throwing absolute darts. No wind in the desert is often compared to “dome-golf” in that players will be able to hit any shot they want, producing birdies – and eagles – in bunches.
So which players should you be keeping a close eye on this week?
We asked three caddies on the ground there just that. To protect their identity, the caddies provided their respective picks anonymously.
Here’s who they like and why…
- Justin Rose, “Changing to Honma equipment is interesting after his great play (with TaylorMade) for such an extended time. But seeing Rose – a major champion and the 2018 PGA Tour FedExCup Champion – near the top of leaderboards is one of the surest bets you can make.”
- Abraham Ancer, “Abraham has been playing great for a while – two top-5 finishes in five starts this season – and he won the Aussie Open back in November. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win his first PGA Tour event soon… maybe even this week in an event that has been kind to first-time winners.”
- Andrew Putnam, “He was in contention last week at the Sony Open and played his college golf at nearby Pepperdine. I think that should equal another good week for Putnam – whose worst finish in his last three events is T14 – in the southern California desert.”
- Jon Rahm, “Very aggressive player that will hit driver all over these courses. With no rough on any of the three, they will reward the aggressive player that can keep it inside the trees. Also worth mentioning? He’s the defending champ.”
- Patrick Cantlay, “Patrick is a strategic master. He will pick apart the prototypical desert-style courses with ease. Not many bogeys on his card coming. He’ll be refreshed and ready to go, having last played at the start of December in the Hero World Challenge where he finished T5.”
- Brian Gay, “He’s a past champion (2013) who has been playing solid for a while now. He’s missed just one cut – the 2018 John Deere Classic – since the Players Championship last May. That’s 19 of the last 20 cuts made. I expect him to roll it in from everywhere on these mint greens.”
- Corey Conners, “The Canadian is quietly been bringing it every week he’s been in the field, making the most of his 126-150 status – a runner-up finish at Sanderson Farms and a T3 last week at Sony, just to name a couple. I see a breakthrough right around the corner for Corey.”
- Russell Knox, “I’ve always liked his game – not so much flashy as efficient. With the par 5s being reachable for the most part, he’ll have more chances than at some of the courses coming up in the schedule. He’s close.”
- Charles Howell III, “He’s still got the taste of victory in his mouth from the RSM Classic and his tee to green game is world class. These greens aren’t too tricky, and he’ll be stacking looks on looks all week. If the putter heats up, then watch out. He lost a playoff in this tournament in 2013. He can get it done here.”