There's no official name for it, but the unofficial name for what Hudson Swafford put together on the back nine at the 2022 American Express on Sunday is, affectionately, a psycho scorecard.
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 grab his third career PGA Tour win. That 64 – which was the co-round of the day by two strokes – included exactly one par over the final nine holes. Amazingly, it was the par that perhaps meant the most, but we'll get to that in a bit.
Here's the official count on 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 so to experience.
The front nine wasn't a whole lot different, as Swafford made just five total pars on the day. However, monstrous putts of 45 feet, 10 feet, 19 feet and two 8-footers -- all of them on the second nine on the course -- made the difference. Swafford finished second in the field in putting on each of the final two days, as well as the tournament overall.
After separation early in the round, the leaderboard started to bunch as Swafford, who started Round 4 three back of the leaders, hit the back nine and started running off birdie after birdie. It got bumpy in the middle when he sandwiched another birdie with two bogeys, but he took the lead for good with an eagle at the par-5 16th – a shot from 198 yards to 8 feet that pushed the lead out of reach of Hoge, Brian Harman, Lanto Griffin and Lee Hodges.
Clutch approach.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 23, 2022
Eagle on 16 for @Hud_Swafford 🦅
He leads by 2 @TheAmexGolf. pic.twitter.com/pfPUt7KLw6
The psycho scorecard looked like it would continue at the last with Hoge watching him from the fairway. A par would finish things off, but Swafford lagged his birdie putt to outside 8 feet and would have to rely again on the club. He buried another 8-footer and pumped his fist in jubilation as he knew that was officially a wrap.
"It was a good par on the last," he joked on Golf Channel when asked about his wild second nine in which the par was potentially the most adventurous of all nine scores.
Hudson Swafford made only 1 par on the closing 9 holes of his win today at @theamexgolf— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) January 24, 2022
Last player to win on the PGA Tour with only 1 par in his closing 9? Andrew Landry at this very same tournament 2 years ago.
Swafford also won this tournament in 2017, but it's his first top 10 since just before the U.S. Open last June when he finished T2 at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree. He said after the round on Sunday that he'd been hitting it well but he was turning top-10 performances in the fall into finishes outside the top 30. That was certainly not the case this week as he let a normally average putter take over and close out his third victory.
There have certainly been more exciting and more important victories on the PGA Tour over the last few years, but it's difficult to remember a crazier final nine holes than what Swafford put together. A roller coaster of scores -- good and bad -- and, of course, all of it punctuated by a regular old par that was every bit the roller coaster the rest of his back nine was. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2022 American Express.
Lee Hodges (T3): The rookie from Alabama had a two-stroke lead going to the second nine before shooting 2 over on that side. Given that he was playing for both a Masters berth and more than double his career earnings, that 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 provide himself with a bit of a reprieve from it.
"My wife kind of told me she noticed that I wasn't my cheery self out there," he said. "I'm a pretty upbeat, happy kind of guy and it's just stressful sometimes being a rookie and not knowing when you're going to get to play and when you're going to have to sit for a little while. That was kind of getting to me a little bit. But this week I told her I'm just going to go have a good time and see what happens."
He should try it more often. Grade: A
Si Woo Kim (T11): What a run on Sunday from last year's champ. 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 at the pin on No. 17 and bounced one into the water before carding a double. In fact, it looked throughout the middle of the day like Kim might do to Swafford what Patrick Cantlay did to him last year when Cantlay shot 61 in the finale and nearly sent it into a playoff.
Kim loves him some Pete Dye courses – his most famous win came at the 2017 Players Championship when he took down Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter – but he ran out of runway at the very end, even before dunking one on 17. Still, it's his best finish in an event with this level of field strength since he finished T9 at the Memorial last summer. He's currently No. 55 in the OWGR, and this finish will push 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 muttering as he walked from one hole to the next this week, the setup at 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 in here as it relates to the best players in the world. Most of them desire for golf courses to be set up as fast, firm and tough as possible because it accentuates the very skills they are the most adept at, namely hitting world-class shots from tee to green.
Is it fair to say that one round was set up to deliver a putting contest? Perhaps, but I'm not sure it's as fair to say that about an entire tournament – which is not what Rahm was doing, by the way – when three of the top six in the field finished outside the top 40 in putting on 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 the top 20) in the field from tee to green. Grade: B-