Say aloha to the the Hawaiian courses as the TOUR moves to California to begin the West Coast Swing. This week’s CareerBuilder Challenge was previously known as the Bob Hope or Humana, but received a new sponsor this year.
With the new sponsor, they’ve also switched up the courses on us. TPC Stadium Course and Jack Nicklaus Tournament at PGA West will be introduced this week. Many in the field have seen these courses in Q-School, but the Stadium Course hasn’t been played since the late 80s. They removed it from the rota due to “players complaining it was too hard.” I find that hard to believe since the field scoring average was more than a stroke under-par.
The TPC Stadium Course may have been disliked or not fun for amateurs, but this week’s field will still tear it apart. There will be 64s and 65s out there for the taking, and maybe even lower if the weather continues to cooperate, with perfect conditions forecasted.
Give a look at the CareerBuilder Fantasy Golfanac for quotes and course details.
Check out my Searching for a Specialist article over at RotoGrinders for some deeper analysis.
Players to Watch
Kevin Na… His skill often gets overlooked due to his inability to finish. Kind of like a poor-man’s Jim Furyk over recent years. Well, we saw Furyk get back into the winner’s circle last year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Na pick up a win in 2016. Consider him a good, safe play to lead with this week.
Phil Mickelson… While Na is safe, Lefty is quite the opposite. He has been known to scorch the course only to follow it up with a 4-over the next day. It’s always a roller-coaster with Phil, but against a weak field in California, I really like him this week as many will not be on the scent. A top 20 is very, very likely.
Zach Johnson… Easy course, check. Weak Field, check. Par 72 tracks, check. ZJ checks a ton of boxes this week, and has one of the highest win-rates, to boot.
Patrick Reed… Enters as one of the hottest golfers on the planet, but international form doesn’t always translate to the PGA TOUR. If you removed non-PGA starts, we only see three straight top 10s. Impressive, but not out-of-this-world type of form. Having a look at his performance on Pete Dye courses, it’s really hard to fully commit this week. He still has a solid chance to win this week, but his chance to finish 20th to 40th range is even higher. While everyone and their brother will be all-in on Reed, I think it’s a smart move to pivot off to one of the other stars this week.
Francesco Molinari… The Italian is only No. 67 in the World Rankings, but he’s way more consistent than that number would indicate. He splits every fairway and finishes top 40 nearly every week. For a good safe option, he’s your man. He’s not that boring though, he’s got top-5 upside as well.
Ben Martin… The Pete Dye Specialist also love putting on bermuda. Connecting the dots like these, is how we find value. Consider him a very interesting sleeper this week.
Tony Finau… I went in full Finau Fade Mode last week and it worked out. I always hesitate with Finau on bermuda, but this week is different. Finau has a leg up on much of the field this week. In Q-School, he played six rounds at the Nicklaus Tournament and TPC Stadium Course. He signed for 3-under or better in all six. With 200 yards taken off the TPC Stadium course, I think he can manhandle it even better. I’m back on board!
Ollie Schniederjans… Playing without status, a top-heavy finish would be huge. While some veterans may ease up on the weekend if they hit a rough patch, Ollie will be fighting for each and every dollar as sponsor’s exemptions are limited. I like that kind of motivation.
Patton Kizzire… Suffering a slight winner’s hangover, but fear not. The talent it still there. Expect a big rebound coming soon, and this week is as good as any to start back up.
Charley Hoffman… Has the Cali vibes going in his favor as a San Diego native, and it shows when he tees it up in the Golden State. There are loads of Cali connections in the field, but a few that stand out are Cameron Tringale, Brendan Steele, and Jamie Lovemark.
Brendon Todd… Basically checks every box this week…except for that pesky form! He’s really struggling, so keep your exposure light. At the same time, he tore these course apart in Q-School and would usually be a look for a top 30.
CareerBuilder Cheatsheet… Head over to Daily Fantasy Solutions and grab this week’s DraftKings cheatsheet for just five bucks. This includes guys that fit the stat profile, golfers that are in good form, course history, recommended cash game targets and more! I love hearing about the success people are having with the weekly DraftKings cheatsheet so check it out!
My Top 25 for the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge
1. Zach Johnson
2. Kevin Na
3. Matt Kuchar
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Bill Haas
6. Ryan Palmer
7. Patrick Reed
8. Charley Hoffman
9. Phil Mickelson
10. Tony Finau
11. Jason Bohn
12. Marc Leishman
13. Webb Simpson
14. Robert Streb
15. Cameron Tringale
16. Jerry Kelly
17. Daniel Summerhays
18. Charles Howell III
19. William McGirt
20. Graham DeLaet
21. Jason Dufner
22. Brendan Steele
23. Ollie Schniederjans
24. Steve Stricker
25. Patton Kizzire