CareerBuilder Challenge, TPC Stadium Course, California
The CareerBuilder Challenge is unique on the PGA Golf Tour as it is played on three different courses. The TPC Stadium Course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course, and the La Quinta Country Club will be the three courses that the players will play on this year.
The Stadium Course is the official host of this tournament and will also be where the final round is played. All the three courses are just over 7200 yards in length with a Par-72 layout. The weather conditions are expected to be much better than last year when the tournament was hit by a lot of rain.
The 17th hole on the Stadium Course is called ‘Alcatraz’ since it is an island green that can often cause some late drama in the tournament. The fairways are generous and the Par-5’s are pretty easily reachable by PGA Tour standards. In fact, it is the Par 5’s where the big scoring moves will be made.
All the three courses are among the easiest on the Tour and the Wolf expects a large number of birdies and eagles to be hit this week.
This tournament was won by Patrick Reed in 2014, Bill Hass in 2015, Jason Duffner in 2016, and Hudson Swafford won the tournament last year to be the defending champion.
The format of the tournament was changed in 2012 from a five-round format to a standard four-round format. The cut is, however, after 54 holes, not 36 holes.
Form is a very important factor when looking at the field in this tournament because the easy nature of the courses means that anyone going through a hot streak has a chance to win it. A three round cut, however, lends kindly to the leading players allowing them more opportunity to showcase their class against the rest of the field.
In general, players that can get some excellent distance from the tee have an advantage because they put themselves in excellent scoring positions on the Par 5 holes. Players that are good ball strikers and running hot with their irons will have plenty of opportunities to catch up on the Par 4’s, though.
Stats That Matter
The Wolf has identified the following statistics to keep an eye on for this tournament:
- Par 4 Scoring
- Strokes Gaines: Off the Tee
- Greens in Regulation
- Strokes Gained: Putting
As mentioned earlier, this tournament is going to be all about scoring. The conditions last year were not the best and Hudson Swafford still managed to finish with -20 total for the win. Duffner has -25, Bill Hass had -22, and Patrick Reed had a -28 in the years before for their victories.
The Wolf expects this year to be around the -25 mark for sure as well.
The Wolf’s favorite for this tournament is the same as the bookmakers, Jon Rahm at $10.00. He is easily the best player in the field and in a class of his own. Rahm is in excellent form and finished 2nd at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month. He finished 34th at this course last year and will benefit greatly from that experience.
Jon Rahm is one of the most incredible scorers in this lineup and the Wolf can see him absolutely crush this easy course. Rahm is 96th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 74th in Par 4 Scoring and only 170th in Greens in Regulations.
For the value pick, the Wolf likes Webb Simpson at $23.00. A T4 at the Sony Open in Hawaii last week means that Simpson is in excellent form. He also loves playing at this course and has made the cut 7 times out of 8 starts with his best finish being a T5.
The stats back up Webb Simpson as well as he is 9th in Par 4 Scoring, 28th in Strokes Gained: Putting and 54th in Greens in Regulation. The Wolf also likes Phil Mickelson at $23.00 and recommends that you keep an eye on him for some in-play betting.
The Wolf thinks that Chesson Hadley at $51.00 is a good play as an outside bet. Hadley seems a perfect fit for this course but has missed the cut all the three times he has played here. He is, however, an unrecognisably improved player since that time and should do much better this time around.
He is 90th in Par 4 Scoring, 36th in Strokes Gained: Putting, and 37th in Greens in Regulation. If Hadley can get some early momentum then he could surprise a lot of people this week.
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