The PGA Tour begins its West Coast swing this week with three consecutive stops in California, followed by a quick trip to the mayhem that is the Waste Management Phoenix Open and then a return to California for Tiger Woods‘ event, the Genesis Invitational.
While a few big names are absent — no Rory McIlroy or Bryson DeChambeau — a strong field opens things up at The American Express in La Quinta.
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Our experts jumped in to gauge what we can expect this year from the oldest major champion ever, which side to take in golf’s latest Twitter fight and more.
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The American Express is hosted by Phil Mickelson. So it seems fair to ask … what, if anything, should we expect from Phil in 2022?
Michael Collins: Don’t expect anything from Phil — that way, when a magical week or day happens, you’ll enjoy it more. That’s what made Phil winning the PGA Championship so amazing. Everyone kept waiting for the crash and burn that never came. Phil talked about the mental yoga he worked on that week. While he might not have that magic on the PGA Tour this year, I can almost guarantee he’s going to get some wins on the PGA Tour Champions in 2022.
Matt Barrie: Having expectations for Phil Mickelson is like having expectations that you’ll have a flawless airport and flight experience — from checking in to security, boarding, taking off and arriving on time. While you can be stunned (PGA Championship), it’s safe to keep your expectations realistic. Phil has proved time and again he’s capable of anything good, bad and miraculous. He’s stayed in great shape, avoided significant injury and can still send it with the best of them. He might be lurking on a leaderboard at some point this season. But it’s best to be wise and expect someone to be sitting in the middle seat during a two-hour runway delay — although it’s not out of the realm of possibility to have the whole row to yourself.
Mark Schlabach: I think it’s safe to say that we’ll still get a lot of fun from Lefty on social media, especially after he collected the $8 million grand prize from the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program (PIP) — or at least he’s claimed he did. As far as his game, I’m not sure how much we’ll see him in contention on the weekend. Most of his good work lately has come on the Champions Tour. He can still catch lightning in a bottle — see that PGA Championship win — but his days of contending on a regular basis are probably over.
Nick Pietruszkiewicz: He will go low once or twice, most likely early in a tournament. A 65 here, a 64 there that will get people daydreaming this is Kiawah Island all over again. But to do it over four days, against PGA Tour fields, sorry, but the world got its one last look at Phil in the sun that Sunday with him holding the Wanamaker Trophy at age 50. He’ll put on a show on the PGA Tour Champions, but his biggest week of the year on the big tour might be this one — as a tournament host.