The PGA Tour’s stop in the Coachella Valley begins Thursday at three courses in La Quinta with its fifth name since 2011.
The tournament known last year as the Desert Classic — and before that as the CareerBuilder Challenge, Humana Challenge and Bob Hope Classic — is now The American Express. The globally integrated payments company will provide its card members a 20% discount on on-site concessions, parking and merchandise.
For the fourth consecutive year, the tournament attractions will include live music following conclusion of the day’s play. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Stevie Nicks will perform Friday at 5 p.m. and country music star Luke Bryan Saturday at 6 p.m.
Tickets for Friday and Saturday are “almost sold out,” according to organizers.
The field of 156 for the $6.7 million tournament includes three players in top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking — American Tony Finau, ranked 15th, Englishman Paul Casey, ranked 17th, and Italian Francesco Molinari, who is ranked 20th.
Many top pros typically bypass the tournament, which comes immediately after the PGA Tour’s two Hawaii events, the Tournament of Champions and Sony Open.
American Brooks Koepka, the No. 1-ranked player, opted to play in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, along with five other players in the top 20. Tiger Woods is set to begin play in 2020 in next week’s Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego as he seeks to break his tie with Sam Snead as the PGA Tour’s all-time winningest golfer.
The American Express field also includes tournament host Phil Mickelson and six other major championship winners. Mickelson tied for second in last year’s tournament, one shot behind Adam Long.
Rickie Fowler, who was born and raised in Murrieta, will be playing in the tournament for the third time. He missed the cut in 2010 and tied for 33rd in 2014.
Long is among 10 past winners of what is now The American Express in the field. Long is trying to join Johnny Miller as a back-to-back winner of the tournament. Miller won the event in 1975 and 1976.
The winner will receive $1.206 million.
The first three rounds will be played at the Stadium Course at PGA West and the Nicklaus Tournament Course, also at PGA West, and the La Quinta Country Club. Sunday’s final round will be played on the Stadium Course, which was designed by Pat Dye, who died last Thursday at age 94.
The biggest weather challenge golfers will face Thursday is wind, which will likely increase to 12-18 mph in the afternoon, with gusts up to 25 mph, according to PGA Tour meteorologist Stewart Williams.
Tickets are priced at $35 for Thursday, $50 for Friday and Saturday, which includes both the golf and concerts, and $35 for Sunday. A ticket for admission Thursday and Sunday is $50.
Free tickets are available for play Thursday and Sunday for members of the armed forces, military reserve, National Guard, military retirees, military spouses, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians with identification. Veterans can purchase discounted tickets for $15 for Thursday and Sunday.
Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult.
All tickets include admission to Albertsons Vons Pavilions Club 18 on the 18th green, Casamigos Club 17 on the 17th green and Michelob Ultra Beers Fore Birdies on the 16th green.
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