Desert Classic Preview, TV Times

Jon Rahm of Spain is defending champion at La Quinta in California

Jon Rahm defends Desert Classic
Jon Rahm defends Desert Classic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The PGA Tour hits mainland USA this week after a fortnight in Hawaii. Jon Rahm is defending champion in the Desert Classic at La Quinta, California.

Desert Classic Preview, TV Times

Jon Rahm is defending champion in the newly named Desert Classic at La Quinta. The Spaniard will face stern competition from a field that includes World Number 1 Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Danny Willett.

From 1965 until 2010 this tournament carried the name of Bob Hope as the “Bob Hope Classic.” The event has been won by some notable players, including: Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller, Tom Kite, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples. This will be the 60th running of the famous old event. Last year, Jon Rahm of Spain beat Andrew Landry at the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff as darkness loomed.

18th at La Quinta

18th at La Quinta

The Pete Dye designed Stadium Course at PGA West is now established as host course for this event. It’s an extremely testing layout that was once dubbed as “too difficult for the PGA Tour.” There’s plenty of water to contend with together with some punishing bunkers and rolling terrain.

The event’s pro-am format also make use of PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament course and La Quinta CC in the first three rounds. It’s the fourth straight edition of this tournament that has made use of those three courses. None have been altered since last season so players should be aware of what they face.

The weather looks fine, a mild threat of inclement weather on Thursday but it should be perfect scoring conditions thereafter. Look for some low numbers.

Venue: Stadium Course, PGA West, La Quinta, California Date: Jan 17-20 Course stats: par 72, 7,113 yards (Stadium), par 72, 7,159 yards (Nicklaus), par 72, 7.060 yards (La Quinta CC) Purse: $5,900,000 Defending champion: Jon Rahm (-22)

How to watch the Desert Classic

TV Coverage: Thursday 17 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 11pm Friday 18 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 11.15pm Saturday 19 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 11pm Sunday 20 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm

Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch the Desert Classic?

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Players to watch:

Charles Howell III

Charles Howell III

Charles Howell III – Ever-consistent, he’s made the cut each of the 10 times he’s teed up in this event. In his last three starts at La Quinta, he’s never been outside the top-20.

Ryan Palmer – He’s got a great record in this event and he was playing well at the end of 2018 – tied third in the CJ Cup and tied seventh in the Shriners.

Chez Reavie – He tends to be a good early season player and a tie for third in last week’s Sony Open would confirm that.

Key hole: Stadium 17th – “Alcatraz.” A par-3 with an island green, yardage can vary up to 168 yards but there’s one key to success and that is: Find the green!

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?