American Express 2022 ratings: Hudson Swafford wins event for second time with wild back nine
There is no official name for it, but the unofficial The name of what Hudson Swafford put up on the back nine at the American Express 2022 on Sunday is, affectionately, a psychopathic dash.
Swafford shot 64 over the final 18 holes to finish at 23 under for the week, beating Tom Hoge by two and three other golfers by three to earn his third career PGA Tour victory. That 64 — which was the day’s co-round by two strokes — included exactly one par over the final nine holes. Surprisingly, that was the par that perhaps meant the most, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Here is the official count of his back nine at the PGA West Stadium Course: birdie-birdie-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-eagle-birdie-par. It was exhausting to watch; imagine how much more to live.
The first nine weren’t much different, as Swafford only made five total starts on the day. However, monstrous 45ft, 10ft, 19ft and two 8ft putts – all on the back nine of the course – made the difference. Swafford finished second in the pack appearing on each of the last two rounds, as well as the tournament as a whole.
After a split early in the round, the standings began to regroup as Swafford, who started the round 4 three behind the leaders, hit the back nine and began chasing birdie after birdie. He was bumpy in the middle when he sandwiched another birdie with two bogeys, but he took the lead for good with an eagle on the par-5 16th – a shot from 198 yards from 8 feet that pushed the advance out of reach of Hoge, Brian Harman, Lanto Griffin and Lee Hodges.
The psycho dash seemed to continue at the end with Hoge watching him from the fairway. A par would end things, but Swafford delayed his birdie putt outside 8 feet and would have to rely on the club again. He buried another 8 feet and raised his fist in jubilation as he knew it was officially a wrap.
“That was a good par on the back end,” he joked on the Golf Channel when asked about his wild second nine in which the par was potentially the most adventurous of the scoring nines.
Swafford also won this tournament in 2017, but it was his first top 10 finish since just before the US Open last June when he finished T2 at the Palmetto Championship in Congaree. He said after Sunday’s round that he hit it well, but was turning top-10 performances in the fall into finishes outside the top-30. That was definitely not the case this week. as he let a normally average putter take over. and close his third victory.
There have certainly been more exciting and bigger PGA Tour wins in recent years, but it’s hard to remember a crazier final nine holes than what Swafford has put together. A roller coaster of scoring – good and bad – and, of course, all punctuated by a regular old par who was quite the roller coaster that the rest of his back nine was. Rating: A+
Here are the rest of our notes for the American Express 2022.
Lee Hodges (T3): The Alabama rookie had a two-shot lead on the back nine before shooting 2 on that side. Considering he was playing for both a Masters berth and more than double his career earnings, it wasn’t a complete surprise. Still, I enjoyed how he talked about the pressure of playing as a rookie on the PGA Tour while trying to give himself some breathing room.
“My wife kind of told me that she noticed I wasn’t happy there,” he said. “I’m a pretty upbeat, happy guy and it’s just stressful sometimes being a rookie and not knowing when you’re going to play and when you’re going to have to sit out a bit. It was nice. But this week I told him I was just going to have a good time and see what happened.
He should try more often. Rating: A
If Woo Kim (T11): What a race Sunday from last year’s champion. He shot 67 in the last round, and it looked for a while like it was going to be a lot better than that. He went to the pin on the No. 17 and bounced one in the water before carding a double. In fact, throughout the day it looked like Kim could do to Swafford what Patrick Cantlay did to him last year when Cantlay shot 61 in the final and nearly sent him into the playoffs.
Kim loves some Pete Dye runs – his most famous win came at The Players Championship 2017 when he beat Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter – but he ran out of runs at the very end, before he even dunked one on 17. Still, it’s his best result in an event with this level of field strength since finishing T9 at Memorial last summer. He is currently No. 55 in the OWGR, and this finish will bring him closer to the ever-important top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Grade: B+
Jon Rahm (T14): It’s been eight months since Rahm made a cut on the PGA Tour and failed to finish in the top 10. The reason? According to him in a bit of profane mumbling as he walked from hole to hole this week, setting up this event was too easy. Ignoring the fact that an extremely difficult setup is next to impossible given that this event is a pro-am for the first three days, there’s a lesson here when it comes to the best players in the world. Most of them want golf courses set up as quickly, tightly and solidly as possible because it accentuates the very skills they are best at, which is hitting world-class shots from tee to tee. green.
Is it fair to say that a round has been set up to offer a putting contest? Maybe, but I’m not sure it’s so fair to say that about an entire tournament – which isn’t what Rahm was doing, by the way – when three of the top six in the field finished outside the top 40 putting the week. (To be fair to that stat, only two of the four rounds were measured by ShotLink.) Rahm, by the way? Not in the top 10 (or top 20) on the course from tee to green. Category B-