After two weeks in Hawaii the PGA Tour pros are headed to California for the start of the West Coast Swing. PlayON looks at who can boost their resumes at the Career Builder Challenge.
The recently renamed Career Builder Challenge is sandwiched uncomfortably between the Hawaii tournaments and the Farmer’s Insurance at Torry Pines. Couple that with the pro-am format its no suprise that a few top pros are giving this one a miss.
The field is strong nonetheless, with Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson the headliners. Scoring tends to be low, with an average winning score just a hair below 25 under over the last five years, meaning it won’t be a week to load your team with grinders.
As with many pro-ams the Career Builder Challenge is played on three different courses the first three days. The main venue is the Stadium Course at PGA West, where the final round will be played.
This course, which hosts the final of Qualifying School, is considered the hardest of the three. This is definitely something to factor in for daily games. As usual in these shootout events putting will be key. Players coming from Hawaii may find things a little challenging as they go from grainy greens to ones that are considerably smoother and faster.
Overall the layouts this week aren’t hugely challenging. Expect low scores and lots of birdies on tracks that figure to favour the more adventurous pros.
Players To Watch
Patrick Reed ($22m): In addition to being the top ranked player in the field, Reed has winning pedigree at this venue, having won in 2014. The American finished sixth last week in the Sony Open so his form is good.
Bill Haas ($20m): Haas has been in decent early season form, but that’s almost irrelevant. Two victories at this event, the last in 2015 make him the man to watch this week.
Jamie Lovemark ($16.5m): Lovmark has had an excellent start to the season, highlighted by a tie for fourth last week. He finished sixth last year, and it would have been better but for a poor final round.
Luke List ($12.5m): List is a great price this week, maybe the best value in the field when you consider everything. He hasn’t finished outside of the top 15 in any of his last five starts. He also had a top ten finish at this event last year, so he has fond views of this layout.
Henrik Norlander ($9.4m): Norlander has broken seventy in his last eight rounds on tour, dating back to the RSM Classic. He finished 2nd at that event and added another top 20 last week.