The 60th CareerBuilder Challenge, contested in La Quinta, California at PGA West, includes a field of 156 Tour players, all vying for the $1 million-plus cash prize, and 500 points.
While they all have a chance, hypothetically, we feel the eventual winner will come from a group of 10 players we’ve ranked (in order of most likely to win).
The surprise name on the list this week is clearly Brian Stuard (World No. 168), who was ranked ahead of players like Kevin Kisner (No. 27), Brendan Steele (No. 46), and Zach Johnson (No. 47).
1. JON RAHM
Finally, a course Rahm has played before! He was a disappointing T34 in his start at La Quinta last year, but the world No. 3 is an obvious favorite at this year’s CareerBuilder.
In his last two starts he won the prestigious DP World Challenge on the European Tour, and was runner-up to Dustin Johnson at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Between the two tours, the 23-year-old Spaniard produced three victories and three runner-ups in the past year.
World Rank: 3rd
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T34
Last Seven Starts: 2, 1, 36, MC, 15, 7, 5
2. PATRICK REED
Reed went from 11 top 10s in 2016 to just four in 2017. But the 27-year old Texan started to come back around late in the year with a runner-up at the PGA Championship; a tremendous week at the President’s Cup; a T10 at the DP World Challenge; and a T5 at the Hero World Challenge in December.
Reed’s 260 in his 2014 CareerBuilder victory is the tournament’s second all-time low, and his T12 finish last year included an impressive final-round 65 at the Stadium Course.
World Rank: 25th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T12
Last Seven Starts: 5, 10, MC, 50, 11, 13, 65
3. BRIAN HARMAN
In five starts in the new season, Harman has five top 10 finishes, including four top 5s.
The former Georgia Bulldog has put together pedestrian final rounds while playing in the final grouping the past two weeks, but the results have still been impressive.
Harman cannot seem to miss off the tees as of late, and if he keeps form, his third career victory will soon follow. The 30-year-old was T3 at La Quinta last year, shooting all four rounds in the 60s.
World Rank: 20th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T3
Last Seven Starts: 4, 3, 4, 8, 5, 24, 40
4. RUSSELL KNOX
After an incredible 2016 season where he had two wins and two runner-ups, Knox’s 2017 season was largely disappointing, as he struggled with the balance between his commitments in America and on the European Tour.
Now, Knox has truncated his traveling and is focusing solely on the PGA Tour, which is paying off early this season with two top 10s in his last three events.
In his T10 performance at last week’s Sony Open, Knox ranked fourth in the field in greens in regulation. In 2014, the Scotsman hit 20 under for the week at the CareerBuilder, resulting to a T13 finish.
World Rank: 77th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 10, 37, 9, 72, 63, MC, 34
5. PHIL MICKELSON
Undoubtedly the most popular player in the field, the ageless 47-year-old Mickelson is making La Quinta his first stop of the 2018 calendar year.
Phil looked great before his nine-week break, finishing in the top 20 in his last four starts, including a T6 at the Dell Technologies Championship, and T3 at the Safeway Open in early October.
He was T3 at this event in 2016 and followed that up with a respectable T21 last year, where he opened 68-66.
World Rank: 43rd
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T21
Last Seven Starts: 15, 3, 20, 6, 54, MC, 39
6. WEBB SIMPSON
A sizzling 63-64 weekend at Waialae resulted in a T4 for Simpson, who has been one of the most consistently strong golfers on Tour since August.
His 69.1 scoring average is the sixth best on Tour right now, and with his vastly improved putting, Simpson looks primed to end a winless drought that goes back to the first event of the 2013-14 season.
World Rank: 38th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T66
Last Seven Starts: 4, WD, 20, 17, 13, 9, 75
7. PATTON KIZZIRE
The 31-year-old Kizzire is the season’s early breakout star, outdueling Rickie Fowler at the OHL Classic in November and then coming out front at Waialae, showing tremendous grit in outlasting James Hahn in a marathon six-hole playoff.
It will be tough for Kizzire to keep his form after such a hectic week, but nobody on Tour is hotter right now.
He opened last year’s CareerBuilder with a 65, but faded to a T50 finish.
World Rank: 54th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T50
Last Seven Starts: 1, 15, 45, 1, 4, 10, MC
8. JASON DUFNER
Dufner’s triumph at the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge ended a three-year winless drought, and that familiarity could lead to another big week.
The 40-year old Ohioan looked to be in good form at last week’s Sony Open, shooting all four rounds in the 60s, including a Friday 65.
Dufner’s always-strong wedge game, and recent hot putting, should be a good fit on the Stadium Course.
World Rank: 41st
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: T25
Last Seven Starts: 18, 11, 74, 20, 58, 69, 20
9. BRIAN STUARD
Stuard may have missed the cut in his last two tries at La Quinta, but he had top 10 finishes in both 2014 (solo-5th) and 2013 (T10).
The 35-year-old is off to a great start in what could be a career season.
Stuard finished T4 last week at Waialae, producing at least six birdies in three of the four rounds, highlighted by phenomenal putting.
In his past five starts he also has a T9 at the OHL Classic and a T4 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
World Rank: 168th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: MC
Last Seven Starts: 4, 22, 9, 57, 4, 62, MC
10. CHESSON HADLEY
One of the hottest golfers during the fall swing, with three finishes inside the top four, Hadley makes his 2018 calendar debut this week at PGA West.
Hadley’s iron game was clicking before the break, and assuming he spent his time well, he should be extremely confident getting back out on the course, despite the fact that he’s missed the cut in all three of his appearances in this event.
World Rank: 80th
2017 CareerBuilder Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 37, WD, 4, 2, 3, 46, 2
Just Missed: Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, J.J. Spaun, Chez Reavie, Chris Kirk