Desert Classic preview: A 33/1 former winner who can swing into action in California

New Year but the same old Paddy who is leading the field with his 8 places offer at the Desert Classic where Hudson Swafford is attracting some cash ...


A revamped, revived and hopefully revealing PGA Tour swings into action Stateside, with the newly-named Desert Classic kicking off the California Swing for the next few weeks.

We’ll have to wait another week for Tiger Woods to reappear, but Paddy never likes to keep you waiting and here are the eight players you’re backing in the Golden State.

Jon Rahm 13/2

The defending champion, ‘Rahmbo’ heads the market and finished 2018 as he means to go on this year.

He led the par 5 scoring here last year to record a fourth hole play-off win over Andrew Landy for his second PGA Tour win and fourth overall in just 39 professional starts.

A T8 finish at Kapalua a fortnight ago backed up his T4 in Dubai and a season-ending win at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

He comes into this with a similar prep to last year’s win.

Justin Rose 8/1

Last season’s FedEx Cup winner drops by for his first appearance in nine years at La Quinta.

One of the most consistent golfers on the planet – as his FedEx Booty proves – Rose posted six top four finishes and an eighth-placed berth in seven events before a top 20 finish in Indonesia a month ago.

A note of caution surrounds him this year though as our eagle-eyed trader has pointed out in his season review. Rose has changed his equipment and may need time to adjust.

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Charles Howell 20/1

No surprise to see that the Racing Post’s Steve Palmer’s selection is attracting the money. A former play-off loser to Brian Gay in 2013 his form figures here read 11-12-20 and he usually saves his best golf for the Golden State.

Aaron Wise 22/1

Last season’s Rookie of the Year, the 22-year-old American broke his duck at the AT&T Byron Nelson challenge last term in his 18th start as a pro, keeping Marc Leishman at bay by three strokes.

A very good putter, Wise has been knocking around the Top 10 to Top 30 mark so far this season. Was 34th in 2017 and posted a T17 finish last year, so is trending in the right direction.


Adam Hadwin 25/1

A horse for a course whose form figures read 48-6-2 at this track where he posted the course record 59 at La Quinta last season.

The Canadian has already tuned up this term with a couple of Top 10s in the CJ Cup and Mayakoba Golf Classic and looks to be going places.

Proved he can get the job done when winning the Valspar Championship last season too.

Andrew Putnam 28/1

The American chased fellow Yank Matt Kuchar home in Hawaii last weekend and comes in here hot. That runner-up finish was his second Top 5 berth of the season and earlier posted a T14 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Finished T17 over course and distance last year so should have a better feel for the demands of the track now.


Hudson Swafford 33/1

One of the most magnificent names in world sport, but Swafford has the swagger to back it up.

A winner here in 2017 (-20) by one stroke from Adam Hadwin, when the tournament was known as the CareerBuilder Challenge, he could be a little underestimated in the market.

Proved his well-being with a four-way tie for joint third at the Sony Open in Hawaii, five strokes off the winner Matt Kuchar.

Brian Harman 55/1

Finished T20 last season but was 11th and 3rd the two seasons before.

Harman hasn’t caught fire this season just yet and missed the cut at the Sony Open, but is a two-time tour winner.

If he can rediscover his La Quinta form, he could have a major each-way shout in an open year.

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What do you think?