The American Express: Hudson Swafford bursts through to take title as Jon Rahm overshadowed

The 34-year-old American produced a hot finish at the Stadium Course to win by two and secure his third PGA Tour title as Rahm was left frustrated in another week of low scoring.

Hudson Swafford fired a brilliant final round of 8-under 64 to come from three back and score a two-shot win at The American Express in California.

Swafford had started the week slowly, ending the first round in a tie for 73rd place after shooting a 70 at La Quinta, one of three courses used.

But he got better as the tournament went on. A 65 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course moved him into the top 25 and a Saturday 66 elevated him further to fifth.

That was still three behind and left him plenty to do going into his second lap of the Stadium Course.

But a back nine charge which featured an eagle and five birdies proved decisive as Swafford posted 23-under, a score that no-one could match.

Tom Hoge finished runner-up after a closing 68 while three more Americans, Brian Harman (64), Lanto Griffin (67) and Lee Hodges (70), shared third spot.

Former Open champ Francesco Molinari was the only non-American in the top nine as he closed a rewarding week with a 68 to finish tied sixth alongside Will Zalatoris and Denny McCarthy.

This was Swafford's second victory in The American Express, the first coming in 2017.

His other PGA Tour win came at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in 2020.

Low scoring a theme on the PGA Tour in early 2022

We've had three tournaments on the PGA Tour in early 2022 and they've been won with scores of -34 (Sentry Tournament of Champions), -23 (Sony Open) and -23 (The American Express).

That's a combined tally of 80-under.

How does that compare to other recent seasons? Let's take a look.

2021: -25 (Sentry), -21 (Sony), -23 (AmEx) = 69-under

2020: -14 (Sentry), -11 (Sony), -26 (AmEx) = 51-under

2019: -23 (Sentry), -22 (Sony), -26 (AmEx) = 71-under

2018: -24 (Sentry), -17 (Sony), -22 (AmEx) = 63-under

There's been a feeling that scoring has been particularly easy so far this year and the above numbers confirm it.

And, of course, it isn't everyone's cup of tea.

As an overall take, golf fans much preferred last week's opener on the DP World Tour when Thomas Pieters won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links in 10-under.

To show the contrast, 48 players shot double digits under par in the American Express; just one (Pieters) managed that in Abu Dhabi.

At the Sony, there were 41 players who shot 10-under or better while 36 of the 38-man field at the Sentry managed it too.

Of course, mother nature played her part (winds were strong at Yas Links) but Jon Rahm, for one, felt the courses were set up far too easy at The American Express.

The Spaniard should therefore enjoy this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines for lots of reasons.

He won the US Open there with 6-under last June while only one player this century (Justin Rose in 2019) has won the Farmers Insurance Open in 20-under or lower.

Three times in the last eight years, the winner has shot single digits under par and 9-under was good enough for second place last January.

Big names settle for minor places

Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay were the two big favourites in the betting at The American Express, with fellow Ryder Cupper Scottie Scheffler also fancied for a big week.

But Rahm never quite got in a blow at the leaders, finishing tied 14th after ending the previous three laps in 13th, 32nd and 15th.

His game wasn't quite there and he finished only 67th for Putts Per GIR and 47th for Greens In Regulation.

Cantlay eventually finished in tied ninth but it threatened to be so much more after rounds of 62 and 68 gave him the 18 and 36-hole leads.

The Californian ranked 25th for Greens In Regulation and 37th for Putts Per GIR so, again, he just didn't hole enough putts to keep pace (winner Swafford finished 5th for Putts Per GIR).

Patrick Cantlay fell short on the weekend

Scheffler made a late move with a 67 but he was too far back and had to settle for tied 25th despite elevating himself 34 spots up the board on day four.

Again, his putter hadn't been hot enough over the first three days.

READ MORE: Thomas Pieters wins the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the sixth and biggest title of his career

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