The CareerBuilder Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation Predictions
Dates: January21-24, 2016
Course: PGA West (Stadium Course) La Quinta, CA
TV: The Golf Channel
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
After the mini Hawaii-swing that starts each PGA calendar year, the Tour moves to California for a very entertaining string of West Coast events and that swing starts this week with the CareerBuilder Challenge, and we’re right here to offer you coverage of the tournament including picks to win and golfer vs. golfer predictions!
Formerly the Bob Hope Classic and most recently the Humana Challenge, the newly minted CareerBuilder Challenge retains the historic pro-am format made famous by golfing celebrities like Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Bill Murray. The pro-am format often makes for a tough draw as many top professionals simply do not want to go around for four days with some sitcom star in a pretty loose competitive atmosphere. Throw in three different host courses and you have a pretty wild overall environment and it doesnt fit every players idea of the tournament experience. That said, many players love to play and there are golf stars here this week including Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson. Bill Haas will defend his 2015 title against most of the current top-30 in the FedEx standings and there will be plenty of birdies and odd moments throughout the week.
Officially, the Stadium Course at PGA West is the official host course of this event but La Quinta Country Club and the Nicklaus Tournament Course will also host play. Each player/pro-am team will visit each course through the first three days before the cut and the final round returns to the PGA West Stadium. Expanding your golf talents to three different courses requires a bit of specialized talent but the overall difficulty of the layouts will ensure there is a fast scoring pace. The organizers already know that there is no real sense in making the courses overly hard as it makes things that much tougher on the celebs so there will be plenty of pros going low with relatively soft pin locations and receptive greens. The final round loses the amateurs so look for an uptick in difficulty at PGA West for Sunday. The Stadium Course made its PGA debut back in 1987 and was immediately voted out of the course rotation by the players as it was viewed as too hard. It hosted plenty of Skins games through the years as well as some editions of Q-school so there is still some player familiarity with the track and it does rank as one of the best places to play in America every year. Look for some late Sunday suspense with PGA West sporting an island green par-3 at the 17th that is nearly a twin to the famous 17th at Sawgrass. The winning totals since this event moved to four rounds in 2012 have averaged 25-under par so no real reason to think that this edition wont push at least 20-under, even if the Stadium Course brings an increase in overall difficulty.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that are the best bets. We just missed our first payday of 2016 last week as our pick Brandt Snedeker was bested in a playoff at the Sony. We will make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at any one of our recommended online sportsbooks. Here are our picks to win the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge.
Zach Johnson (20 to 1 odds to win)
Zach was one of the biggest names to switch equipment manufacturers in the off-season and that kind of change normally comes with a transition period. If fact, some pros are nearly ruined by a club swap but Zachs super-dependable game is translating well already. He was T9 last week at the Sony and you have to like his chances to contend again at this event based on two top-10 finishes in his last five starts here. Zach has the kind of laid-back attitude that can co-exist with all the chicanery of the pro-am and his skill set is going to be useful through the course changes. Johnson has moved up to 11th in the overall world rankings and enters the week sporting a 68% fairways hit mark while finding greens in regulation at a 78% clip. Those stats suggest he will be putting for plenty of birdies and opportunities here often get cashed in. Straight betting and fantasy golf analytics dont always have one-to-one comparisons but the fantasy outlets have Zach as a hot commodity this week as well.
Charley Hoffman (40 to 1)
Sometimes you have to find the right fits in golf and it appears that Charley likes this event. He won here in 2007, albeit at different courses other than La Qunita, finished 2nd last year and has five overall top-10s in his event career. He seems like the kind of guy that actually enjoys playing in a less hyper competitive scenario and the appropriate attitude is a tangible positive this week. Hoffman is 0-for-2 in cuts made on the season but those events came back in the fall and he did not post an over-par round in either event so he might not be firing on all cylinders but he isnt in a free-fall either. Charley isnt the kind of player to jump off the stat sheet but he enters the week a respectable 39th in the all-around category and is top-30 in putting average, driving distance and birdie average.
Charles Howell III (50 to 1)
We picked CHIII last week as he is one of the more tested players so far with six made starts already. He did well last week in posting a T13, his fifth top-25 of the season alongside two top-10s. He has made the cut in each of his last six starts here with a playoff runner-up in 2013 as his best finish. Howell is 13th in scoring on the young season and has good bookend stats with a top-25 driving distance coupled with a 33rd ranked total putting game. Both stats should serve him well at each course this week, making Charles one of the best value bets on the board.
Cameron Tringale (60 to 1)
Cam has been under the radar for most of his PGA Tour career and while he hasnt had the breakout that many were predicting early on, he has increased his overall consistency and become one of the better young grinders on Tour. Tringale notched three made cuts in the fall portion of the schedule including a T2 at the Shriners and looks good here bases on five made cuts in five career events. His fairways and greens hit marks compare favorably to Zach Johnson with Cam checking in at 65% and 77% respectively. Add in a solid-but streaky putter and you get the 35th ranked scoring average at 70.3 strokes per round. He is a pretty out-of-the-box pick as most see him as just another guy but this guy can win on Tour and this kind of event might just be the tournament he cashes in on.
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Bill Haas v. Ryan Palmer (our pick to win: Palmer)
Betting against the defending champ is either a complete no-no or an absolute must depending on who you talk to but we are going against Haas in this one based on Palmers three straight top-10s at this event. Palmer is the longer driver of the two and the roughs will not be up to Tour standards so no real need to over-credit Haas advantage in finding fairways. Haas is also slightly better into the greens but Palmer is the better statistical putter and that should play out over the week, especially as they rotate courses. Palmer also gets the better in the birdies and scoring categories, making it just too tough to simply pick Haas based solely on his win from last season.
Jason Dufner v. Webb Simpson (our pick to win: Simpson)
I actually like both of these players based on their easy-going styles and portable games but Im going with Simpson because he is the better scoring player despite both averaging about the same amount of birdies. In short, Simpson is a better manager and nets fewer bogeys than Dufner and I think that often comes into play in a shootout just as much as raw birdie percentage. I think Dufner has a habit of giving away a stroke or two each week that a guy like Simpson, who gives away almost none, will take advantage of. If the stats play out and they average about the same amount of birdies, it will be Simpson getting the better of this match by a couple of strokes. Bet the tournament for FREE by taking advantage of a HUGE 50% bonus up to $1000 at MyBookie!
Good luck and good golf!