Name change, venue change, but no change to the Clinton involvement.
Despite the changes though, this year’s CareerBuilder Challenge (superseding the Humana Challenge) will provide much of the same. It will be all desert golf that yields tons, and tons, of birdies. No event feels the blitzkrieg more than this one.
Existing before as a 90-hole event, scores would routinely dip so deep, they would enter into the earth’s inner magma. Spieth’s 30-under achievement at the Hyundai TOC a few weeks ago would not have yielded an 8-stroke margin of victory at these old tournaments. It would have earned him contention.
Two years ago, Patrick Reed opened with three straight rounds of 63, then let this quote fly a few weeks ago:
— D.J. Piehowski (@DJPie) January 6, 2016
Even last year with Bill Haas’ win, he beat 9 different players who shot 20-under par.
[bctt tweet=”The cut in 2015 at the Humana was 7-under par after three rounds of play. “]
So with this event, benefitting the Clinton Foundation, let’s watch Clinton rip it.
Full 2016 CareerBuilder Field
For a sneak peek at the entire field, head over here!
And this big news:
— KPMG Mickelson (@MickelsonHat) January 19, 2016
Last Year’s 2015 Humana Challenge Picks
Patrick Reed: T24
Brendan Todd: CUT
Justin Thomas: T7
Webb Simpson: T7
Two top-10s, but a glaring MC by Todd.
Last Week’s 2016 Sony Open
Jimmy Walker: T13
Justin Thomas: MC
Graham DeLaet: T18
Danny Lee (sleeper): T33
Gary Woodland (winner): T13
I did not have Fabian Gomez as my winner, SHAME ON ME! Three of my 5 finished inside the top-20, but I didn’t hit any top-10s. With another glaring MC in my picks, time to step up.
Past 5 Winners at Sony Open
- 2015: Bill Haas (Recap here)
- 2014: Patrick Reed (Recap here)
- 2013: Brian Gay (Recap here)
- 2012: Mark Wilson (Recap here)
- 2011: Jhonattan Vegas
Mark Wilson, former 2012 World Beater:
This week’s event will be played on three golf courses: the TPC Stadium Course, the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and La Quinta Country Club. All three of these are the epitome of easy by Tour standards. The PGA’s Palmer Course is out this year, after playing host to the event for most of recent history.
It was the Palmer Course which played host to David Duval’s famous 59 in 1999.
The TPC Stadium Course is ranked among the world’s 100 greatest and was one of the top-50 toughest courses in America in 2007. No surprise it’s a Pete Dye course. The course was designed, like the TPC Sawgrass, to support massive crowds and tournament golf.
PGA West is a Jack Nicklaus design which is very forgiving from the tee, but is the opposite with playing into the greens. This is a second shot golf course, with demanding green fronts. Utilizing the tee shots to play from an advantageous place will be important.
La Quinta Country Club is the oldest of the courses played. Perhaps it’s age has given the greens the chance to settle in, because they are some of the best surfaces the players play on the season.
Picking this week’s winner means picking the player who will make it to 25-under par the fastest. Tour the course on the PGA Tour’s website here.
There may not be better turf anywhere on Tour than La Quinta CC. You have to touch it to make sure it's real. pic.twitter.com/4kExXw2fLG
— Roberto Castro (@cicioCASTRO) January 20, 2016
This Week’s Picks
Three from the Fairway (Contenders)
He was a top-10 finisher last week in Hawaii’s Sony Open, despite seemingly struggling early on with his new equipment. Although past course experience doesn’t matter as much this week, this is a stop ZJ has made each of the past 5 seasons.
He was a top-10 finisher here in 2014 and 2012. In 2014, he closed with a round of 62.
2. Jason Bohn
A player who always finds himself competing for a Tour card, Bohn played much of the fall season and the start of the wraparound in 2015. His fall contained a T2, a T3 and a playoff loss at the Mayakoba. He was playing fantastic golf.
He’s made the cut in 14 of his last 16 events. Lots of top-10 finishes in there, too.
This is the type of event that Bohn can breakthrough at. He was a T30 in 2015, a T33 in 2014, and a T30 in 2012. That’s a lot of finishes in the 30s.
He’ll vault himself into the top-10 this week.
3. Matt Kuchar
After a difficult start, he closed with a great weekend, including a Saturday 62, last week in Hawaii. He was a runner-up finisher at this event in 2015. He’s got the game, armed with a solid ranking in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (24th on Tour) to really compete here.
As he ages, Kuch’s game hasn’t. He’ll contend this week and I would insert his name into your lineup.
One from the Rough (Sleeper)
Harold Varner III
HV3 is quickly branding himself as a fixture in golf social media circles (see below).
In two of his last 3 starts, he’s registered top-15 finishes on the Tour and the statistics indicate that he has the length to compete on Tour in a big way. He needs to make improvements in his short game. In December, he played amazing golf in Australia.
All signs point toward the Harold Varner III uprising. This week he’s a great sleeper to watch. DAB!
The Man with the Trophy
This is the oddest selection for winner I think I’ve ever made, but in all my research, something about McGirt jumped. His past experience at this venue is not good, so it’s good they’ve decided to shake things up!
His game is in great current form. His last three starts have been a T8 at the Shriners, a T2 at the Sanderson, and a T13 at the Sony Open. It shows his game made it through the winter months, which is a good sign heading into this weekend.
So far this season, he’s been top-10 on the Tour in Strokes Gained (9th) and I feel this week to be a breakout for Mr. McGirt. How many tweets will be about Dirt McGirt once this fella takes the lead for good this weekend?