LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Hudson Swafford won The American Express for the second time in five years Sunday, breaking a late tie with an eagle in a closing-round 8-under 64.
Swafford beat Tom Hoge by two strokes on PGA West’s Stadium Course after beginning the day three strokes behind rookies Lee Hodges and Paul Barjon.
Tied for the lead with fellow former Georgia player Brian Harman and Francesco Molinari at 20 under, Swafford pulled ahead with the eagle on the par-5 16th. From 198 yards, he hit to 8 feet on the iconic hole with large, deep bunkers lining the left side.
Swafford then ran in a 20-foot birdie putt on 17, a par-3 hole called Alcatraz with an island green ringed by jagged rocks. He saved par on the par-4 18th with an 8-footer to wrap up a spot in the Masters.
The 34-year-old finished at 23-under 265 in the three-course event for his third PGA Tour title. He also won in the desert in 2017 and took the 2020 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
Hoge shot a 68. The 32-year-old from Fargo, North Dakota, missed a chance to win his first title in his 201st career start.
Hodges, the 26-year-old from Alabama making his 14th PGA Tour start, shot a 70 to tie for third at 20 under with Harman (64) and Lanto Griffin (67).
Molinari, the Italian star who won the 2018 British Open, bogeyed the 18th for a 68. He tied for sixth with Will Zalatoris (67) and Denny McCarthy (67).
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay, the second-round leader at 14 under, followed at 18 under after a 68. The FedEx Cup champion was trying to win for the third time in his last four starts.
Barjon, the Frenchman who played alongside close friend Hodges all four days, had a 73 to finish at 17 under. He also was making his 14th tour start.
Swafford had six birdies in an eight-hole stretch to take the lead with six holes left. He followed a three-putt bogey on the par-3 13th with a birdie on the par-4 14th for a two-stroke lead.
But he didn't make it easy, dropping a stroke on the par-4 15th to fall into a tie with Harman, with Molinari soon joining them with a birdie on 16 in the group ahead of Swafford.
With the wind gusting in the morning, Swafford opened with a bogey. He got the stroke back with a birdie on the second and took the lead with the big birdie run while Hodges, Barjon and other leaders stalled.
Top-ranked Jon Rahm, the 2018 winner, was 14 under after a 71.