Tournament: CareerBuilder Challenge, January 19-22, 2017
Course: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, 7,113 yards, par 72
Defending Champion: Jason Dufner. The WarPlainsTiglesman was fresh off a publicized divorce and significant weight loss, and lucked his way to his first win in a couple of years. I say lucked as in got a couple of good breaks (he was plenty deserving).
Fun Fact: The main course is 30 years old, and was once described by a noted golf columnist thusly “You need a camel, a canoe, a priest, and a tourniquet to get through it.”
Television: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Five): Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford.
In case you missed it, last week was a record-setter on the PGA Tour. Alabama product Justin Thomas Rolled some Tide in Hawaii with a 27 under par, 253 stroke total, shooting a magical 59 in the process. He also won the previous week in Hawaii. Four ‘Dawgs made the cut, and all finished in the top 20.
Now back stateside, the Tour holds the annual Bob Hope Invitational. Except it’s not called that anymore. This was the tournament with a pro-am format replete with celebrities of the 1960’s and 70’s. President Gerald Ford was a fixture, and often scared galleries with wayward shots.
Bob Hope died, the Tour was looking for more money, and the Palm Springs thing isn’t quite as novel and attractive as it once was. Thus a corporate sponsor or two came in and we now have the CareerBuilder Challenge, but still incorporating the pro-am (where a pro is paired with an amateur of the corporate or B-list celebrity type).
Since it is a pro-am, it has double the number of participants (each pro has 1 celebrity paired with him). That is why the tournament also plays on nearby PGA West Nicklaus Tournament course, and La Quinta Country Club course. Each pairing will play 1 day on each course with the final round played by pros only on the tougher TPC layout.
Phil Mickelson will make his season debut, but he’s coming off a somewhat rocky off-season that includes two surgeries for a sports hernia. Not too many of the world top 10 are here this week, as the rotation of courses and the pro-am format keeps some of the picky ones away. But this will be a good week for our boys to sharpen up their target golf and move up the standings.
Brian Harman. The lefty from Savannah is 136th in the world (OWGR) and 67th in FedEx Cup standings.
Russell Henley. A two-time Tour winner, he’s 123rd OWGR and 36th in the FedEx race.
Chris Kirk. From the ATL, he’s 74th in OWGR but he’s 18th in this year’s FedEx Cup.
Kevin Kisner. The 2006 UGA product is 41st in world rankings and 45th in FedEx Cup.
Hudson Swafford. The big righty from Lakeland, FL has been getting better every year. He’s now 204th OWGR (highest ever) and 69th in FedEx Cup. He’s made all 5 cuts so far this season.
So there’s the breakdown of who you want to root for. If you’re not interested to see if the Falcons can Falcon against Green Bay, flip it on over to Golf Channel for late afternoon resort-style golf.
And as always….