Hudson Swafford went eagle-birdie at the 16th and 17th holes to cap a busy final round and win The American Express on Sunday in La Quinta, Calif.
Swafford’s eagle, nine birdies and three bogeys added up to an eight-under 64 that catapulted him to victory after starting the day three strokes off the leaders. At 23-under 265, Swafford beat Tom Hoge by two shots.
Brian Harman also shot a 64 earlier in the day to set the clubhouse lead at 20-under. He tied for third with Lanto Griffin (67) and Lee Hodges (70).
It marks the third PGA Tour win of Swafford’s career, and the second to come at the PGA West Stadium Course. Swafford won this event in 2017 when it was called the CareerBuilder Challenge.
“This was definitely a special one,” Swafford said. “A third win, and about a month ago my father passed away and his birthday was this week, so I know he was following and watching and to get it done, it was awesome.”
Swafford, Harman and Italy’s Francesco Molinari were tied for the lead at 20 under - with five others one shot back - when Swafford played No. 16, a par 5. He had 198 yards to the flag for his second shot and got a 7-iron to nestle up eight feet from the hole.
“I knew if I missed it a little bit it was going to come up just short, just where you wanted to be, and if I hit it good and hit it solid, then I was going to have a really good chance at eagle,” Swafford said. “It was one of the best 7-irons I’ve ever hit.”
He sank the short eagle putt to take the solo lead, then made a 19-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the par-3 17th to move out of reach for good.
Hoge came up shy of earning his first win on tour but still played well. He had five birdies against one bogey, with four of his birdies coming on the back nine.
“It was nice to make a few putts coming in on, what was it, 12 and 17 was a nice one to make,” Hoge said. “So I’ll take some positives going forward and hopefully keep playing well next week at Torrey (Pines).”
Harman sank eight birdies and avoided carding a bogey for his 64.
“It’s been kind of a trying year,” Harman said. “I had a really bad fall, kind of banged my thumb up last year and didn’t play as well as I wanted to in the fall, didn’t play good and I’ve been working real hard at home and it’s been going alright. It’s just nice to come out and play some good golf. It’s been awhile since I’ve played some good golf.”
Molinari (68), Will Zalatoris (67) and Denny McCarthy (67) tied for sixth at 19 under. Patrick Cantlay, who opened the tournament with a 62, settled for ninth at 18 under after shooting 68 Sunday.
Hodges and Frenchman Paul Barjon shared the 54-hole lead, but Hodges posted a quiet 70 and Barjon fell out of contention with a 1-over 73. Barjon landed alone in 10th at 17 under.
The entire field played the Stadium Course for the final round after playing one round each at La Quinta Country Club, the PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course and the Stadium Course over the first three days.