Hudson Swafford played the back nine at the Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta at 5-under 31, including an eagle on the par-5 16th hole, Sunday to win the $7.6 million American Express by two shots over fellow American Tom Hoge.
Rookie Lee Hodges led for most of the day Sunday, but Swafford took the lead with three consecutive birdies to start the back nine. He had a one-shot lead through 15 holes. On the par-5 16th, he hit his second shot 201 yards, to give him an 8-foot, 1-inch putt, which he sank for an eagle.
Swafford followed the eagle with a birdie on the 17th hole. He two-putted for a par at the 18th hole, completing his round at 8-under 64, matching Brian Harman for the day’s low score, and 23-under 265 for the tournament.
Swafford earned $1.368 million for his third career victory on the PGA Tour and first since the 2020 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. The victory came five years and one day after his first at the then-CareerBuilder Challenge, now The American Express.
“I just felt like I was going to win today,” said Swafford, who began the round among six golfers three shots off the lead, tied for fifth, then bogeyed Sunday’s first hole. “I didn’t know how, I didn’t know what I was going to do or how it was going to happen, but I just had a crazy good feeling.
Swafford called the victory “definitely a special one” because it came about a month after the death of his father David at age 83, whose birthday would have been last week.
“One of the best people I know and he taught me everything I know, how to be a dad, how to be a friend, how to be a champion, and how to play golf,” Swafford said.
Swafford said he thought about his father “in a good way” during Sunday’s round.
“I had a couple moments where I looked up and knew that he was following and knew that he was there and I could just hear his voice saying, `Just be confident in what you’re doing, you’re playing great,’ and he goes, `Just play to win,”’ Swafford said.
Swafford is the ninth player to have won the tournament more than once. Arnold Palmer is the lone player to win more than twice, winning five times, including the inaugural edition in 1960. Swafford is the first player to win the tournament by more than two shots since it became a 72-hole event in 2012.
Hodges, who shared the lead through three rounds with fellow rookie Paul Barjon, parred the final two holes to drop into three-way tie for third, three shots off the lead. The finish was his best in his 14 starts on the PGA Tour. His previous best was a tie for 11th in the 2021 Barracuda Championship.
Barjon shot a 1-over 73 Sunday to finish 10th at 17-under 271, six shots off the lead.