Golf Glance: Desert Classic kicks off West Coast Swing

Field Level Media provides news and notes from the events on each of the major North American tours this week.

PGA TOUR

Jon Rahm, Andrew Landry
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

LAST TOURNAMENT: Sony Open (Matt Kuchar)

THIS WEEK: Desert Classic, Jan. 17-20
La Quinta, Calif. (Stadium Course, Par 72, 7113 yards; Nicklaus Tournament Course, Par 72, 7,159 yards; La Quinta Country Club, Par 72, 7,159 yards)
Purse: $5.9 million (Winner: $1.063M and 500 FedEx Cup points)
Defending champion: Jon Rahm
FedEx Cup leader: Xander Schauffele
Television: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

This is the first of three 156-player fields on the “West Coast Swing.” The first three rounds are a Pro-Am format and rotate on the three courses. The 54-hole cut will trim the field to the low 70 players and ties, with the final round played on the Stadium Course. … Reigning FedExCup champion Justin Rose and two-time event champion Phil Mickelson (2002, ’04) are among those making their first PGA Tour starts of 2019. … Rose is the first No. 1-ranked player to compete in the Desert Classic since the world ranking system began in 1986. … Rahm seeks to join Johnny Miller (1975-76) as the only repeat champions of the event. He beat Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff last year. … Charlie Reiter, who missed the cut as a high school senior, is in the field again on a sponsor’s exemption. He currently plays for Southern Cal. … La Quinta yielded the lowest average score (68.831) of any Par 72 on the PGA Tour last season. The Nicklaus Tournament Course was No. 2 (69.445), while the Stadium Course yield an average of 71.181.

NEXT WEEK: Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines GC (South), San Diego.

LPGA TOUR

Ariya Jutanugarn
JJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

THIS WEEK: Tournament of Champions, Jan. 17-20
Tranquilo Golf Course, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Par 71, 6,645)
Purse: $1.2 million (Winner: $180,000 and 500 CME Globe points); Celebrities & amateurs, $500,000 (Winner: $100,000)
Defending champion: Inaugural event
CME Globe leader: First event

Television: Thursday-Friday, 12-3 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 2-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-5 p.m. (NBC)
The inaugural event features 26 winnings on the LPGA Tour from the past two seasons competing in stroke play and 49 celebrities and amateurs competing in a Modified Stableford scoring format with no cut. The Modified Stableford scoring format awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey, minus-two for double-bogey and higher. … Stacy Lewis, 33, makes her return to competition following the birth of her daughter Chesnee. … Top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 5 Lexi Thompson are the only top-five players in the field. … The Tour does not return to the United States until March 21-24 in Arizona.

NEXT TOURNAMENT: ISPS Handa Vic Open, Victoria, Australia (Feb. 7-10)

Champions TOUR

Bernhard Langer
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

THIS WEEK: Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
Hualalai GC., Kona, Hawaii (Par 72, 7,107)
Purse: $1.8 million (Winner: $$300,000)
Defending champion: Jerry Kelly
Charles Schwab Cup leader: First event
Television: Friday-Sunday, 7-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

The season-opening event features a 42-player field. … Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh are in the field after competing in the Sony Open on the PGA Tour last week. Stricker earned $1,196,235 in seven Champions events last year and $582,566 in 12 events on the PGA Tour last season. … Bernhard Langer has won the Charles Schwab Cup four of the past five years. … Steve Flesch is entered in his first tournament since Sept. 6 back surgery. He returned to the range the first week of December. … Hale Irwin, 73, is in the field. He is the all-time leader on tour with 45 victories. Langer is second with 38. … Fred Couples has three runner-up finishes in the event but has yet to win. He made only seven starts last year due to back issues. … The winner each of the past five years has posted at least one round of 65 or better.

NEXT TOURNAMENT: Oasis Championship, Boca Raton, Fla. (Feb. 8-10)

–Field Level Media

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