After its two-tournament Hawaiian swing, the PGA Tour returns to the U.S. mainland this week with the CareerBuilder Challenge at PGA West in La Quinta, California.
The long-running tournament, with its rich history and tradition, provides yet another opportunity for Tour players to get their early season moving in a positive direction.
The field of 156 players is headlined by likes of Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, and Bubba Watson, among others.
Tournament: CareerBuilder Challenge
Dates: Jan. 18-21, 2018
TV Network: GOLF Channel
Course: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West
Where: La Quinta, California
Distance: 7133 yards, Par 72
Architect: Pete Dye, 1986
Field/Format: 156 players; 72-hole stroke; 54-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,044,000
FedEx Cup Points: 500
Defending Champion: Hudson Swafford
Remember when one of the early-season west coast events was a five-round tournament? It was this one, back when it was called the Bob Hope Classic.
In 2012, with a new title sponsor – first Humana, then CareerBuilder, the tournament moved to a traditional four-round variety, but its compelling past has not been forgotten.
The CareerBuilder Challenge began in 1960 as the Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic. The inaugural tournament was won by Arnold Palmer, who shot 20 under in a three-stroke triumph over Fred Hawkins.
Palmer would go on to win the tournament a record five times.
Other past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, and Phil Mickelson.
Bob Hope was added to the tournament title in 1965 (he became the tournament’s Chairman of the Board) and his famous name stayed as part of the top billing through 2011.
Hope and Palmer, along with the advent of golf TV, made for a perfect marriage. The five-day tournament, known for its celebrity pro-ams, allowed the TV networks to showcase not only Palmer, but the many famous celebrity golfers, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and President Dwight Eisenhower.
This year’s tournament at PGA West is being played on the TPC Stadium Course. This will be just the fourth year at PGA West, as it was so difficult in its 1987 debut that players petitioned to have it removed from the tournament rotation.
The Pete Dye masterpiece made its return to the rotation in 2016, and it plays much easier now than it did in ’87, with Jason Dufner (2016) and Hudson Swafford (2017) shooting four-round scores of 25 and 20 under, respectively. The 1987 winner, Corey Pavin, was 19 under for FIVE rounds.
TV & ONLINE COVERAGE
Round 1: 3-7:00 PM
Round 2: 3-7:00 PM
Round 3: 3-7:00 PM
Round 4: 3-7:00 PM
All times EST. Golf Channel.
A University of Georgia product, Swafford, was near the top of the leaderboard all week, and was solo-leader after two rounds.
On Sunday, he didn’t get off to the start he wanted, with a bogey-five on the par-4 first hole.
Fortunately for Swafford, it was his only bogey of the day.
He finished with six birdies, both coming in forms of hat tricks: three in a row from 7-9, and three more consecutively from 15-17.
The final birdie separated himself from a leaderboard that had become very congested.
Despite a man in the field (Hadwin) carding 13 birdies on Saturday, Swafford finished with a tournament-best 26.
FINAL TOP 10
1 Hudson Swafford -20
2 Adam Hadwin -19
3 Brian Harman -18
3 Bud Cauley -18
5 Dominic Bozzelli -17
6 Brendan Steele -16
6 Chad Campbell -16
8 Scott Stallings -15
T9 Sean O’Hair -14
T9 Richey Werensky -14
2017: Hudson Swafford
2016: Jason Dufner
2015: Bill Haas
2014: Patrick Reed
2013: Brian Gay
2012: Mark Wilson
2011: Jhonattan Vegas
Wins: 5 – Arnold Palmer (1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1973)
72-Hole Score: 259 (-36) – Joe Durant (2001)
18-Hole Score: 59 – David Duval (1999), Adam Hadwin (2017)
The field this week at PGA West is headlined by five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, and young phenom Jon Rahm, a three-time winner in 2017.
At No. 4, Rahm is the highest world-ranked player in the field.
Other top-ranked players include Brian Harman (No. 23), Reed (No. 25), Kevin Kisner (No. 26), and Kevin Chappell (No. 32).
In addition to Swafford, the CareerBuilder field also includes former winners Jason Dufner (2016), Bill Haas (2015), and Reed (2014), among others.
Major winners John Daly, Webb Simpson, Jimmy Walker, and Stewart Cink are some of the other familiar names.
Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images