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Desert Classic: Expert Picks

Hadwin is be the safe pick here

CareerBuilder Challenge - Final Round Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Tournament Information

Desert Classic
Date: January 18th -21st
Course: PGA West Stadium Course
Purse - $5.9MM ($1.06MM to the winner)
FedEx points – 500 to winner
2018 Winner: Jon Rahm (-22)

Course

PGA West Stadium Course. This 7,300 yard course has was created by Pete Dye. It is largely barren outside of the fairways which I find helpful at keeping a bifurcation of greens vs. rough but the golfers might think otherwise when they land in both the rough and the very deep bunkers. It’s largely built for a long straight hitter and rewards the solid putters in the process. Hole 4 has a bunker that competes with the best of them. It’s well known for the 17th “island” hole which is equal parts lethal for golfers and breathtaking to look at.

CareerBuilder Challenge In Partnership With The Clinton Foundation - Preview Day 3 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

My Starting 4

Adam Hadwin (1st selection this year) — One golfer has top ten finishes here each of the last three years. He finished 2016 (6th), 2017 (2nd) and 2018 (3rd). He has a more good than bad this season with three top ten finishes but also two missed cuts. In similar fashion he’s 18th in strokes gained off the tee but also 237th in strokes gained around the green.

Charles Howell III (1st selection this year) — He’s been playing amazing but I was nervous last week as his track record was up and down in Hawaii. Now, at PGA West Stadium he has finished in the top 20 each of the last three years. In addition to that he’s 5th in FedEx points and has top 15 finishes in five of his seven tournaments so far this season.

Abraham Ancer – I mentioned in my bold predictions how bullish I am on him. He looked good last week and finished 30th.

Brian Harman (2nd selection this year) — I’m doubling down on Brian Harman, I got burned last week but I think he can rebound. Let’s look at last season coming off a missed cuts: 62nd, 14th, 33rd. In addition to this he has arguably the 3rd best average here over the last three years: 2016 (11th), 2017 (3rd), 2018 (20th). He’s currently 22nd in strokes gained around the green but he’s struggling approaching the green (236th).

My Bench 2

Hudson Swafford (1st selection this year) — I’m a big Hudson fan and now that he’s healthy I’m excited to see what he can do. With that said, I’m dipping my toe in the water with a bench pick. He won here two years ago and finished 29th last year AND he finished 3rd last week. He can be a bit up and down and I want to see how this plays out to start picking him as a starter going forward.

Beau Hossler (1st selection this year) — Someone else I have an eye on. He’s getting some traction as a fan favorite. He finished 20th here last year and he has three finishes in the top 30 among five tournaments played. He’s currently 17th in strokes gained around the green and 47th in total strokes gained.


2019 Stats

Starting 4: Avg 42th place (50%)

Bench 2: Avg 54th place (61%)

Fun fact: Two active golfers have won here twice (Phil Mickelson & Bill Haas)