Every player in a PGA Tour event is a good player and worth keeping an eye on during the week. But some players are more intriguing than others, especially this week at PGA West in La Quinta, California.
The field in the Coachella Desert is loaded with talent this week, from recent major champion Jon Rahm and last season’s Player of the Year, Patrick Cantlay, to up-and-coming stars on the PGA Tour like Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris.
Check out these 10 players who could be at or near the top of the leaderboard during Sunday’s final round of the 2022 American Express.
The world’s No. 1 ranked player is not only the reigning U.S. Open champion but also the winner of the 2018 American Express. He hasn’t played in La Quinta since 2019 for a variety of reasons, but he is back this year as the first No. 1 to play in the event since Justin Rose played in 2019.
Jon Rahm looks over his yardage book on the 18th green during the final round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)
That 61 in the final round of the 2021 American Express didn’t earn Cantlay the victory, but it put him on the path to a big year. With three wins later in the year, he was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year. Another 61 is unlikely, but a win by Cantlay isn’t unlikely at all.
Patrick Cantlay’s Scotty Cameron putter. (Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports)
Finau could have won The American Express each of the last two years, but Sunday has not been his friend in the desert with just a few too many missed putts. But Finau played strong golf the entire 2021 calendar year with a victory in the FedEx Cup playoff’s BMW Championship. Expect him near the top of the leader board all week.
Tony Finau hits his tee shot on the first hole during the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort – The Plantation Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Is this where Fowler gets back to his winning ways? He has been 10th and 21st in the tournament the last two years, and his game showed more than just signs of life during 2021. He may be focused on San Diego and Phoenix, but Fowler could surprise people with a victory in La Quinta.
Rickie Fowler walks to the 17th tee during the third round of THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT at The Summit Club on October 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
When Rose played this tournament in 2019 as the No. 1 player in the world, he missed the cut in a period when his game disappeared. But Rose is back in the top 50 in the world and certainly has the talent and the pedigree to be a factor Sunday at PGA West. Plus he’s been working on his game in the desert recently.
Justin Rose of England walks to the 11th tee during the third round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on El Camaleon golf course on November 06, 2021 in Playa del Carmen. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
The 2021 PGA Tour rookie of the year is primed to get his first tour title, and the desert has a long history of giving golfers that first victory. That list includes Jhonattan Vegas, Bill Hass, Adam Long and Hudson Swafford. Zalatoris has the talent to win anywhere, so why not here?
Will Zalatoris pumps his fist after making a birdie on the ninth hole of his second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)
Si Woo Kim
The 2021 American Express was Kim’s third career win on the PGA Tour and one of five top-10 finishes during the 2020-21 season. His closing 64 at PGA West might have been his finest round of the season, and he might recapture that magic as he tries to join Johnny Miller as the only back-to-back winners in tournament history.
Si Woo Kim hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the 2021 Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo by Chris Seward/Associated Press
Can you name the only golfer to finish in the top five in The American Express the last two years? It’s Ancer, who placed second in 2020 and fifth in 2021. Some casual fans might be surprised that Ancer is a top-20 player in the world, but people who watch the tour closely know how good he is.
Abraham Ancer hits his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort – The Plantation Course. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Speaking of golfers looking for their first win on the PGA Tour, there is Scheffler, a Ryder Cupper for the Americans in 2021. A solid threat every week it seems, Scheffler finished third in La Quinta two years ago. This would be a fitting place for his first win and a popular first-time winner for The American Express.
Scottie Scheffler reacts on the 5th hole during the third round of The RSM Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort on November 20, 2021 in St Simons Island, Georgia. (Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)