Country Music Star Jake Owen and Retired U.S. Men’s Soccer Star Landon Donovan Join The American Express™ Charity Challenge with Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau and Paul Casey
LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA –The American Express™ announced today that country music star Jake Owen and Landon Donovan, retired U.S. men’s professional soccer star, will be teaming up with PGA TOUR professionals Tony Finau and Paul Casey in The American Express Charity Challenge to raise $1 million to support local charities.
The Charity Challenge, which was announced in early January, will be hosted by 44-time PGA TOUR winner and World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson and be broadcast live by Golf Channel, PGA TOUR LIVE, GOLFTV and on social platforms on Wednesday, January 20, at 2 p.m. PT.
The exhibition event will pair Finau and Donovan against Casey and Owen for a 9-hole match play event with a modified alternate shot format. Each team will be representing a charitable initiative with winnings donated via The Mickelson Foundation, the tournament’s host foundation. Finau and Donovan will play for ‘Youth Development and Education’ charities while Casey and Owen will play for ‘Health and Wellness’ charities.
In addition to serving as host and emcee, Mickelson will participate in the match through “Phil’s Challenges.” Mickelson will challenge Finau and Casey throughout the match at his discretion and can include long drives, closest to the pin or even trick shots. If the challenged player beats Mickelson, money will be donated to their charity initiative, but if they lose the challenge the money will go to the other team’s charity initiative.
When the match reaches the second to last hole – the par-3 17th hole known as Alcatraz – each player, including Mickelson, will get a shot at a one-million-dollar hole-in-one for charity. For any player that makes a hole-in-one, an additional one-million-dollars will go to Coachella Valley charities.
Since its introduction in 1960 as the Palm Springs Golf Classic, the tournament has generated more than $60 million for numerous nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting Coachella Valley residents. In December, the tournament announced that a $1 million donation had been distributed from the 2020 event to local Coachella Valley charities.
Showcasing its best player field in recent history, The American Express includes seven of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Ranking, a dozen major champions and 14 past tournament champions, including every winner dating back to 2012, and 12 of its most recent 13 champs.
The tournament’s roster of 156 professional golfers will play a round each at PGA WEST’s Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course over the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday before playing the Stadium Course exclusively on the weekend after the 36-hole cut.
Ranked No. 2 in the world, Jon Rahm will make his second start of the calendar year, coming off of a T7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Rahm won twice on the PGA TOUR last season at The Memorial and The BMW Championship during the FedExCup Playoffs. He earned his second career PGA TOUR victory at The American Express in 2018, defeating current defending champion Andrew Landry on the fourth playoff hole.
Other top-ranked players include Patrick Cantlay (No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking), Patrick Reed (No. 11), four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (No. 12), Matthew Wolff (No. 15), Sungjae Im (No. 18), and Finau (No. 20). This week marks Koepka’s debut at The American Express.
Five-time major champion and tournament host Mickelson and Koepka are among 12 major champions playing this week, alongside 2019 U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland, 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari, 2015 Open Championship winner and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel, PGA Championship winners Keegan Bradley (2011), Jason Dufner (2013) and Jimmy Walker (2016), and U.S. Open champions Lucas Glover (2009) and Steve Jones (1996).
Including Rahm and Mickelson, the field boasts a plethora of previous The American Express champions: Landry (2020), Adam Long (2019), Hudson Swafford (2017), Dufner (2016), Bill Haas (2015, 2010), Reed (2014), Brian Gay (2013), Mark Wilson (2012), Pat Perez (2009), D.J. Trahan (2008), Charley Hoffman (2007) and Jones (1989).
Southern California native and fan favorite Rickie Fowler, a five-time PGA TOUR winner, will kick off his PGA TOUR campaign in 2021 with his fourth appearance at The American Express. Fowler will try to improve on his T10 finish at PGA WEST last year.
Further, The American Express field includes 14 players in the top 30 of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR FedExCup standings, and 10 players who competed in the 30-player field at the 2020 TOUR Championship.
American Express commits more than $1 million to Coachella Valley charities ahead of 2021 The American Express™, to be played this year without traditional pro-am format
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – The PGA TOUR, in conjunction with American Express (NYSE: AXP), The American Express tournament officials and the Mickelson Foundation, today announced a more than $1 million commitment to support local charities in the Coachella Valley ahead of the 2021 event, which will be held in La Quinta, California, January 21-24. Due to the current local climate in Riverside County caused by COVID-19, and considering national travel associated with the event, the tournament will be played without the traditional multi-day pro-am format and ticketed spectators, and will be held on only two courses: PGA WEST’s Stadium Course (host) and Nicklaus Tournament Course. The three-day pro-am format, which has been a part of the tournament since its debut in 1960, will return in 2022. The professional portion will be played as scheduled and broadcast domestically on Golf Channel, PGA TOUR LIVE and PGA TOUR Radio.
To help deliver on the tournament’s charitable goals, American Express and tournament officials will host The American Express Charity Challenge – a televised nine-hole exhibition match hosted by The American Express tournament host Phil Mickelson and broadcast by Golf Channel, PGA TOUR LIVE, GOLFTV and on social platforms on Wednesday, January 20, at 2 p.m. PT. The event will feature American Express ambassador Tony Finau and Paul Casey alongside celebrity partners for a $1 million charity prize that will benefit a number of Coachella Valley charities through the Mickelson Foundation. Each of the competitors will represent a different philanthropic cause to which their winnings will be donated. Since its introduction in 1960 as the Palm Springs Golf Classic, the tournament has generated more than $60 million for numerous nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting Coachella Valley residents. In December, the tournament announced that a $1 million donation had been distributed from the 2020 event. More details will be released on The American Express Charity Challenge in the coming weeks.
“Thanks to the fantastic support from our title sponsor American Express and our corporate partners, we are happy to announce that more than $1 million will go to local charities from The American Express this year despite all of the challenges this pandemic has thrown our way,” said Phil Mickelson. “I look forward to hosting The American Express Charity Challenge with Tony and Paul to help deliver for the local charities.”
In addition to the charity exhibition, a local pro-am will be conducted on Wednesday morning. The Wednesday pro-am, an integral part of PGA TOUR tournaments that drives local charitable giving, returned early in the 2020-21 PGA TOUR Season as part of a phased approach in the PGA TOUR’s Return to Golf, successfully being played over the past six months with a limited number of amateur participants and a stringent health and safety plan, including COVID-19 testing.
“While The American Express will look different this year, we are pleased to introduce The American Express Charity Challenge to raise even more funds than last year’s tournament for the Coachella Valley charities who are doing excellent work during this unprecedented time,” said Stephen J. Squeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express. “While we are disappointed that we cannot host the amateur portion of this year’s event, the health and safety of the local community, volunteers and players is our top priority. We look forward to welcoming back fans and hosting amateur players again in the coming years.”
The American Express will be played at the iconic PGA WEST Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses. Mickelson, a World Golf Hall of Fame member and 44-time PGA TOUR winner, will headline the event and serve as tournament host, competing against 155 of the best golfers in the world. All four rounds of The American Express will be broadcast domestically on Golf Channel, PGA TOUR LIVE and PGA TOUR Radio.
“The pro-am format at The American Express has been one of the unique and long-standing traditions on the PGA TOUR, with the event dating back to 1960,” said Tyler Dennis, Executive Vice President and President, PGA TOUR. “This decision by the PGA TOUR to modify the pro-am format due to the current COVID-19 climate locally was made out of an abundance of caution with the full support from American Express and the Mickelson Foundation. We are fully committed to continuing the positive impact on local charities to the same degree as past years, if not more, and we are grateful to American Express for their support in doing so. We fully expect and look forward to the return of the traditional pro-am format in 2022.”
For additional event information please visit www.TheAmexGolf.com.