First Look: CareerBuilder Challenge
January 15, 2016
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- January 15, 2016
- The CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation returns to PGA West's Stadium Course this year. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
• FIELD: Click here for the full field.
• COURSE: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, 7,113 yards, par 72. Pete Dye’s desert crucible, once branded too tough for PGA TOUR pros, returns as host after a 29-year absence. Charged with building the game’s toughest venue, Dye sculpted a bumpy moonscape dotted with deep bunkers, pushed-up greens and plenty of water. Noted columnist Jim Murray described it thus: “You need a camel, a canoe, a priest and a tourniquet to get through it.”
Unveiled at the 1986 Skins Game, it joined the 1987 Bob Hope rota but lasted just one year when players petitioned to get it removed. The course remained host of the Skins Game for five more years, then later the Legends of Golf and six editions of the TOUR’s qualifying finals. The event’s pro-am format also will utilize PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament course (7,204/72) and La Quinta Country Club (7,060/72) in the first three rounds.
For more on all the courses in the TPC network, visit TPC.com.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: Desert Classic Charities, which since 1960 has contributed more than $56 million to build and maintain Eisenhower Medical Center and branch out to other Coachella Valley charities. This year, 40 local non-profit organizations will share in proceeds.
• FIELD WATCH: Phil Mickelson, the 2002 and ’04 winner, and British Open titleholder Zach Johnson join defending champion Bill Haas for the year’s traditional first stop on the U.S. mainland. … Patrick Reed, at No. 10, is the highest ranked among six players in the top 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking. … Steve Stricker, now down to No. 245 in the world after reducing his schedule, returns to PGA West for the first time since 2009.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 260, Patrick Reed (2014). Note: Steve Stricker shot 255 over the first 72 holes in 2009, when the Hope was a five-round tournament.
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 59, David Duval at PGA West/Palmer Private (5th round, 1999). Stadium Course record: 63, Jonathan Fricke (2nd round, 2008 Qualifying Finals*), Whee Kim (2nd round, 2012 Qualifying Finals*). Nicklaus Tournament record: 59, Harrison Frazar (4th round, 2008 Qualifying Finals*). La Quinta CC record: 61, Lennie Clements (3rd round, 1994). Note: Q-School does not count as an official PGA TOUR event.
• LAST YEAR: Haas prevailed in the desert for the second time, though not without needing a bold escape on the 72nd hole to stay ahead of the chase pack. Standing in sand with the ball at nearly waist level, Haas choked up on an 8-iron and plucked the ball from dormant grass to send it some 80 yards down the fairway, threading the space between out-of-bounds and water. A 170-yard approach and two putts produced the winning par, adding the 2015 title to the one he won at PGA West in 2010. Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman, Sung Joon Park, Brendan Steele and Steve Wheatcroft all finished one shot back.
• STORYLINES: Mickelson, last seen at the Presidents Cup in South Korea, seeks to regain his West Coast spark after the first back-to-back winless seasons of his career. Seventeen of his 42 career wins have come in either California or Arizona. … Smylie Kaufman (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open) and Peter Malnati (Sanderson Farms Championship) each have a chance to become the season’s first two-time winner. Last season, it took 20 events to produce a multiple winner (Jimmy Walker). … Reed, second at Kapalua to start 2016, arrives on a streak of seven consecutive top-10s worldwide – all of which took place outside the U.S. mainland.
• SHORT CHIPS: With the debut of the Nicklaus Tournament course, the Challenge now has employed 13 layouts in its 57 years on the TOUR. La Quinta CC is marking its 45th year in the rotation. … No slowing down for Malnati, whose eighth start of 2015-16 will put him alone among ironmen. Johnson is among six others to start all three events since the calendar turned. … The Health Matters Summit, hosted by the Clinton Foundation, returns for a fifth year to begin on the tournament’s final day. Former president Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton preside over a docket that focuses on healthy lifestyles and strategies.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel).
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 2-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM).