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CareerBuilder Challenge

Yahoo Expert Fantasy Golf Advice & Predictions

Previous CareerBuilder champions include:

  • Jason Dufner (2016)
  • Bill Haas (2015)
  • Patrick Reed (2014)
  • Brian Gay (2013)
  • Mark Wilson (2012)
  • Jhonattan Vegas (2011)
  • Bill Haas (2010)
  • Pat Perez (2009)
  • D.J. Trahan (2008)
  • Charley Hoffman (2007)

The PGA TOUR now moves to California and the Humana Challenge. Given that it is a Pro-Am, the course set up shouldn’t be too challenging, which should lead to lower scores. However, last year the tournament committee changed two of the courses in the mix – replacing the Palmer and Nicklaus Private courses with the TPC Stadium (once deemed too difficult by the pros) and Nicklaus Tournament courses. The TPC Stadium course will be the host course and the site of the final round.

TPC Stadium Course – it was rated one of the Top 100 Courses in the World by GOLF Magazine and 4th toughest course in America. We’ll see if it lives up to its reputation as being a very challenging course. At 7,300 yards, the TPC Stadium Course has the highest stroke (76.1) and slope (150) ratings of all the courses at PGA WEST

Nicklaus Tournament Course – a true ball strikers’ golf course which it is both very forgiving off the tee and extremely demanding around the greens.

La Quinta Country Club – La Quinta Country Club is not your typical desert course. It’s described as being a tighter course and well bunkered with mature trees. It requires strategic course management to shoot a good score.

Course summary for the three venues:

  • PGA West – Stadium Course (7,300 yard, par 72) – host course and final-round competition will take place here.
  • PGA West – Nicklaus Tournament Course (7,204 yard, par 72) – first three rounds.
  • La Quinta Country Club (7,060 yard, par 72) – first three rounds.


2017 CareerBuilder Challenge
GolfStrat Fantasy Edge

    VS.    



YAHOO “GROUP A” PICKS

Player
Recent Finishes
Tourn. Hist.
Comments
(A1) Bill Haas (13) Sony Open in Hawaii
(13) RSM Classic
(4) WGC HSBC Champions
(20) Safeway Open
(9) 2016
(1) 2015
(6) 2014
MC 2013
(64) 2012
(2) 2011
Bill has been steady over his past five events, including the Sony Open last week where he shot either 3 or 4-under par each round and also has the #3 best recent performance rank. He’s also won here twice though they’ve subbed out a few courses since both his victories. He did acquit himself well last year with a 9th place finish at the new course rotation. To cap off why he’s our #1 overall pick this week, he does have a strong ranking in each of the top 5 stats that are important this week. Caveat – given the course changes, our course fit rankings should weigh slightly less in your calculations this week due to a smaller sample set. Weather could be a factor this week with rain and cooler temps in the current forecast (as of Mon AM). We’ll caveat our rain and cold rankings – rain have decent data but cold data is sparse.
(A2) Patrick Reed (6) SBS Tourn of Champ
(43) Hong Kong Open
(10) Hero World Challenge
(60) WGC HSBC Champions
(56) 2016
(24) 2015
(1) 2014
MC 2013

After a mixed showing in his last 4 events, Patrick did play well at the SBS TOC. He is a prior champion here but only has one good finish out of four attempts. Part of that is him rounding into pro form, but it’s not a rising trend. He’s always going to be a threat to contend so you can’t discount him, but he’s not our favorite this week (in the same vein as we shied away from Hideki in Y! last week to preserve starts and it worked out). We’ll probably have Patrick on our bench this week and see how things go. If it’s wet and cold, he may get a second look as a starter as he’s gritty and has performed well in that weather in the past. We didn’t use him at SBS so we’re still at 10 starts remaining. Based on course fits by course, Reed is the #6 at the Stadium Course but not so great at the other two.
(A3) Brendan Steele (6) SBS Tourn of Champ
(31) Shriners Hospitals Open
(26) CIMB Classic
(1) Safeway Open
(34) 2016
(2) 2015
MC 2014
(56) 2013
(66) 2012
MC 2011
If you’re looking for another option outside Haas and Reed, Steele is your next best bet. He did finish 2nd here two years ago and a decent 34th last year, plus he tied Reed at the TOC and is playing well recently. He’s a nice course fit at the non-Stadium courses but weaker at the Stadium. He appears to have a nice wet weather track record. Depending on the tee time and course rotation, he’s someone we would consider in place of Reed.
(A4) Kevin Streelman (36) RSM Classic
(4) OHL Classic
(61) Shriners Hospitals Open
(18) Sanderson Farms
(11) 2016
(41) 2015
(10) 2013
MC 2012
(33) 2011
(10) 2010
Streelman has been hit and miss recently (not out of the ordinary) though he does sport a nice track record here with mainly made cuts and two 10ths and an 11th. He’s a nice course fit and will probably be a nice option in DK and other salary leagues for a steady player who could get you a top 20. He’s not a weather expert so if the course get soggy (not sure how it handles rain), it could become extra long for him compared to some of the bigger hitters.
(A5) Jhonattan Vegas (30) SBS Tourn of Champ
(10) OHL Classic
(45) WGC HSBC Champions
(45) CIMB Classic
MC 2016
MC 2015
(84) 2014
MC 2013
MC 2012
(1) 2011
Vegas was plodding along, making a bunch of cuts, but his SBS TOC showing was nearly last place. That’s not a good trip to Hawaii. He’s also missed nearly every cut since winning here in 2011. Reasonable course fit but he’s someone we’d stay away from this week. Made cut is not out of the question but given his TOC performance, it’s hard to expect a top 25.
Other options include: (A6) Roberto Castro, (A7) Alex Cejka, and (A8) Vaughn Taylor.
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YAHOO “GROUP B” PICKS

Player
Recent Finishes
Tourn. Hist.
Comments
(B1 – INJURY RISK) Phil Mickelson (8) Safeway Open
(22) TOUR Champ
(24) BMW Champ
MC Deutsche Bank
(3) 2016
(24) 2015
(37) 2013
(49) 2012

Despite our desire to see Phil do well, he is an injury risk – two hernia operations and only a few rounds under his belt since October. The weather may not be helpful either. We won’t shift him on this page but he is a risk and we’ll probably shy away from him in most/all formats.
(B2) Charles Howell III (8) Sony Open in Hawaii
(13) RSM Classic
(7) OHL Classic
(15) Shriners Hospitals Open
(11) 2016
(56) 2015
(58) 2014
(2) 2013
(49) 2012
(13) 2011
Howell has four straight top 15s at full field PGA Tour events which is a nice sign. He also hasn’t missed a cut here in 7 years though he’s not a rockstar besides a 2nd place in 2013. He’s a little better fit with the Stadium and La Quinta courses and should play well in the rain if it comes to that – solid swing, solid game – just doesn’t win with the frequency that he should.
(B3) Francesco Molinari (4) DP World Tour Champ
(4) Shriners Hospitals Open
(6) WGC HSBC Champions
(1) Italian Open
(62) 2016
(10) 2015



Molinari is the hottest player in the field recently – 1st, 6th, 4th, 4th – with two of those in full field PGA events, one a victory in his home country, and a 4th place in the Euro Tour Championship. 62nd here last year was not good but 10th the year before was. He’s a nice course fit and should be solid in any weather. He’s the type of player to leverage at Nicklaus and La Quinta – less so at the Stadium per the limited stats we have.
(B4) Webb Simpson (13) Sony Open in Hawaii
(36) RSM Classic
(24) OHL Classic
(31) Shriners Hospitals Open
(17) 2016
(7) 2015
(23) 2014
MC 2013
(13) 2011
(33) 2010
Webb had a reasonable fall but did show something at Sony with a 13th place finish. With the exception of 2013, he hasn’t finished worse than 33rd with 3 top 15s. He’s a good course fit at all 3 courses which averages him up to 10th overall. We’re a bit leary of a really high finish and not sold on his rain prowess, so we may look elsewhere for a Group B #4 player this week.
(B5) Jamie Lovemark (4) Sony Open in Hawaii
(6) RSM Classic
(35) OHL Classic
MC Shriners Hospitals Open
(6) 2016
MC 2014
(66) 2012
MC 2011
(48) 2010
Lovemark has a hot hand recently with a 6th and 4th place finish back-to-back. He also finished 6th here last year w/ the new course rotation. 33rd course fit is nothing to sneeze at. Lovemark fits the Stadium course better and may be that replacement for Simpson. We’ll see.
(B6) Chez Reavie (8) Sony Open in Hawaii
(4) OHL Classic
(24) Shriners Hospitals Open
(60) CIMB Classic
(17) 2016
MC 2015
(39) 2012
MC 2011
MC 2010
(66) 2009
Reavie is a course fit stud at both Nicklaus and La Quinta and after a final round 61 at Sony, finished T-8th to back up a 4th place in Mexico. He did play well here last year but has nothing else to show for his efforts before that. He’s a risk and probably not going to finish strong on the Stadium course, so we’d lean on the players above depending on the draw. Wet weather could be a negative for him.
(B7) John Huh (27) Sony Open in Hawaii
(27) RSM Classic
(28) OHL Classic
(10) Shriners Hospitals Open
(24) 2016
(30) 2015



Huh is Mr. Steady Eddie this week – with recent finishes and past history all pointing to a 25th-30th place finish here (again). It’s a pattern that we’re not usually very bullish on. Usually it leads to that surprise MC, as we’ve seen in the past, but it probably won’t lead to a victory. He’s a DK plug – hopefully lower value – but not a starter in Y! leagues.
Other options include: (B8) Adam Hadwin, (B9) Lucas Glover, and (B10) Hudson Swafford.
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YAHOO “GROUP C” PICKS

Player
Recent Finishes
Tourn. Hist.
Comments
(C1) Zach Johnson (6) Sony Open in Hawaii
(12) Hero World Challenge
MC RSM Classic
(42) BMW Champ
MC 2016
MC 2015
(3) 2014
(23) 2013
(8) 2012
Zach was like the Cleveland Indians of Major League last week – showing signs of life for the first time in months – pretty much since July. Was it real and will it carryover? That’s a big question for a player coming off a poor six months and two missed cuts here. He did have a nice run from 2012-2014 so he’s fully capable. He’s always a strong course fit so he should probably be in your Group C shortlist this week.
(C2) Luke List (13) Sony Open in Hawaii
(13) RSM Classic
(7) OHL Classic
(15) Shriners Hospitals Open
(6) 2016
(65) 2013



List is the 4th hottest golfer in the field this week following a great fall season and decent start at Sony. Finished 6th place here last year so he’s fully capable. We’re not sure what to make of it but he’s a good Stadium fit, average at La Quinta, and poor at Nicklaus. We’d probably take that last one with a grain of salt but that’s what the data shows.
(C3) Jason Dufner MC Sony Open in Hawaii
(21) SBS Tourn of Champ
(8) TOUR Champ
(60) BMW Champ
(1) 2016
MC 2015
(12) 2012
(33) 2011
(18) 2010
(34) 2009
Dufner missed the cut last week which was uncharacteristic of him but let’s face it, despite a few good rounds recently, he’s been average, at best. 8th at the Tour Champ is good but it’s a 30 person field (of the best players, of course). Everything else was mediocre. He’s the defending champion with a solid track record here and a nice new look and feel to him. He’s a strong course fit here – #3 – which does provide hope and he’s a decent rain player. We’ll probably lean on Dufner over List since he’s more likely to medal this week than Luke, but in other formats, Luke may be a nice option. He’s strongest fit at La Quinta, good at Nicklaus and average at Stadium.
(C4) Russell Henley (13) Sony Open in Hawaii
(10) RSM Classic
(24) Shriners Hospitals Open
(14) Sanderson Farms
(49) 2016
(56) 2013



Four straight top 25s but his course history here is poor. We usually overestimate him coming out of a successful Hawaii but his game does fit here. For some players, you have to wonder whether the pro-am dynamic really effects them – slow play, long days, concentration issues, etc. Decent rain player so we’ll see how the tee times fall. He’s a good Nicklaus fit but average elsewhere.
(C5) Emiliano Grillo (17) Hero World Challenge
(10) OHL Classic
(11) WGC HSBC Champions
(17) CIMB Classic
No Course
History



Grillo makes the list because he’s been so steady the past six months. Nothing worse than 33rd with an 8th at the Olympics and a 2nd at the Barclays. Otherwise he’s a top 20 guy. No course history so we’ve docked him a few points because it’s a pro-am and a new course rotation. Worth considering in other formats though. Strong course fit and rain player. Grillo is strong everywhere but Stadium.
Other options include: (C6) Ryan Palmer, (C7) Keegan Bradley, and (C8) Martin Laird.

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