What: CareerBuilder Challenge
Where: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, La Quinta, California
When: January 18th – 21st
Defending Champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) by 1 stroke over Adam Hadwin
FedEx Cup Points: 500
We were treated to an amazing finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii last weekend, where James Hahn posted an 8-under on Sunday and duked it out with Patton Kizzire through six sudden-death playoff holes. James Hahn made bogey on the 6th hole, leaving a par putt for Kizzire as he took the win. It was his second win of the year already, as he took 1st place at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba back in November.
Let’s take a look at how last week’s picks made out.
Zach Johnson: T14
Howell III: T32
The CareerBuilder Challenge is actually one of the easiest tournaments to post a low score and the smallest money purse in over a month and a half on TOUR at $5.9 million, but we are starting to see some more big names make their season debuts as the season rolls along.
Let’s take a look at some picks for this week’s event. Just like any event, stats like strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: putting, or par-breakers are important to winning. However, with how the past winners at this tournament have played, we have seen par-breakers stand out the most.
Jon Rahm – Up to 3rd on the OWGR, he’s been very consistent since he took a short break after November into the New Year. A runner-up finish just two weeks ago where he went -16 at Kapalua, Rahm ranks 5th in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and 12th in one-putt percentage.
Patton Kizzire – If you want to ride a hot hand this week, here it is. Coming off that incredible victory last week where he took James Hanh to a sixth playoff hole, Kizzire sits alone atop the current FedEx Cup standings. He has two wins already to go along with another two top-10s. He will make his third appearance here.
Brian Harman – The lefty already has himself four top-5 finishes that feature two T4’s and a solo 3rd. He’s also added another top-10 so far this season with an 8th place finish at the WGC-HSBC. He is 12th in strokes gained: putting, 5th in greens in regulation percentage, 8th in scoring average at 69.223. He has yet to miss a cut this season. He’s posted a T11 and a T3 his last two times out here.
Phil Mickelson – Mickelson is another lefty who is 5th in SG: tee-to-green, and 2nd in SG: approach-the-green in the 2018 season. He has two cuts made in two events so far, with T3 and T15 finishes. T21, T3, and T24 are his last three finishes here.
Webb Simpson – In his last five starts, Simpson has finished in the top-20 each time. His putter seems to be finally going, and in eight starts here he has made seven cuts. Coming off a T-4 last weekend, he finished off his Saturday-Sunday with an impressive 63 and 65, respectively.
Patrick Reed – The 2014 winner, Patrick Reed, is here. He also posted a T12 here last year and is coming off a T5 at the Hero World Challenge just over a month ago, as well as a T10 in Dubai. He is a gamer.
Chez Reavie – The 36-year-old has made a very impressive 17 straight cuts, which ranks 5th on TOUR. He is also 5th in strokes gained: approach-the-green, and 8th in strokes gained: tee-to-green. Reave is a perfect six-for-six in cuts made, and all are top-25 finishes. He was T17 and T12 at this event in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Jason Dufner – The 2016 winner here also finished T25 last season. In eight appearances here, Dufner has just one missed cut. He has also recently posted a T11 and a T18 in his last two starts. You’ve got to like the good form and course familiarity.
Bud Cauley – With a perfect four cuts made this fall, Cauley has himself a T7 at the Safeway Open and a T8 at the RSM Classic. That also comes with two top-10s and another two top-25s. He ranks an impressive 11th in strokes gained: putting, and 12th in strokes gained: tee-to-green. In his last two starts here, he has put up a T3 and a T14.
James Hahn – Hahn was on the losing end of the aforementioned Sony Open in Hawaii last week that went to an incredible six playoff holes. Coming fresh off a 62 last Sunday, Hahn has yet to miss a cut here in three tries and owns two top-20 finishes.
David Lingmerth – Lingmerth has five-of-five cuts made at this event with an incredible two second-place finishes. He hasn’t appeared in an event since mid-November, but it’s where he posted a T17 at the RSM Classic.
Kevin Streelman – The 39-year-old is perfect in cuts made in five tries this season, with a top-10 and four top-25s. His finishes this season so far look like this: T13, T10, 67th, T20, and T17. Streelman hasn’t played since the November 19th RSM Classic, but he posted all four rounds at 69 or under. In his last six trips here, he’s missed the cut twice, but he also has finishes of T11 and T10 in 2016 and 2013, respectively.