LA QUINTA, Calif. — Scottie Scheffler remembers how two good days at the American Express tournament in 2022 may have started him on his climb to the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
“I was outside the cut line by maybe three shots with three holes to go over on Stadium Course (at PGA West), and I chipped in for eagle on 16, and made a 30-footer for birdie on 18 to make the cut on the number,” Scheffler said. “Then I went out on Sunday and had a really good round (a 67), I finished 20th or 25th, something like that.
“It kind of jumpstarted the rest of my year,” Scheffler said. “I think I played Torrey Pines the next week, and won in Phoenix a couple weeks after that, and kind of started my run there in 2022.”
That run included four wins including the Masters in 2022 and is a big reason Scheffler returns to the 65th annual the American Express this week as the No. 1 player in the world golf rankings and a two-time PGA Tour player of the year.
American Express: Thursday tee times
Scheffler is one of 155 pros and one amateur, U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlap, who begin play Thursday at three different golf courses in La Quinta — the Pete Dye Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club. The pro field will be joined by 156 amateurs for the first three days, with the pros only playing the Stadium Course on Sunday for the $8.4 million purse.
Not included in the field is Jon Rahm, the 2023 American Express champion who announced last month he has joined the LIV Tour, disqualifying him from PGA Tour events. It’s the second year in a row the American Express has lacked a defending champion, with 2022 winner Hudson Swafford also joining the LIV Tour before the 2023 event. It marks just the third time the defending champions has not played in the event’s 65-year history.
Without Rahm, the tournament still has three of the top six players in the world ranking, including Scheffler, No. 5 Xander Schauffele and No. 6 Patrick Cantlay. Also in the field is reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and high-profile players including Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Shane Lowry and Matt Kuchar. In all, nine of the top 25 and 21 of the top 50 in the world…