Only eight first-time Tour winners in 58 tries at the CareerBuilder Challenge and Hudson Swafford is the latest.
You get a free bowl of soup with those pants? The flowers in that vase are even staring at them!
Hudson Swafford captured his first PGA Tour win in his 93rd start as he won the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California, on Sunday. The former Georgia Bulldog posted 20-under par 268 to defeat Canadian Adam Hadwin, who shot 59 on Saturday, by one shot. Brian Harman and Bud Cauley rounded out the podium one further shot back.
- Trailing by a shot with all the chips on the table, Swafford made birdie on three of the final four holes to flip the script and win.
- On Saturday, he doubled No. 16 and made bogey on No. 17. On Sunday he made birdie on No. 16 and on the island green No. 17, known as “Alcatraz” he stiffed it to less than two feet for birdie. #EscapedFrom.
- His final round 67 was T-3 for best of the day on Sunday.
- 26 birdies led the field over the three courses.
- Only squared four bogeys (T-5) and only had one “other”, the double on Saturday.
- Co-led the field in GIR after T-61 in fairways.
- He was the only player to hit 20-under for the week.
- Led the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.
- Finished fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green.
- Torched Nicklaus Tournament and La Quinta with 65 on each track.
Past history at CB Challenge:
- Debut in 2014 with a pair of 65’s for T-25
- MC in 2015, the final season with Palmer and Nicklaus Private in the rotation.
- T-56 last year didn’t inspire but he wasn’t on a run of 18 weekends in a row either!
- This year was the first where he posted three rounds in the 60’s.
- Frequent readers of the PREVIEW column are familiar with Swafford and his excellent last six months. Readers of THIS COLUMN probably are a bit baffled as he had ZERO top 10’s in that run before this week.
- For the third year in a row on Tour he will improve on his previous year’s earnings.
- After closing last season with 13 cuts made in a row, he should have been on the radar for 2016-17.
- Big fella has no problem getting it down the fairway and has never struggled to find GIR.
- He made 30 starts the last two seasons.
- He’s never had more than one top 10 in a season in three previous full seasons.
- Half of his Top 10’s and a T-13 are at Waialae so write that down for next year!
- Reaching the weekend hasn’t been the problem but scoring has. Last week his 71 was the only over-par round in the top 19. Nice bounce back.
- He’s reduced his MC every season and this year he’s currently on pace for zero!
- At 29, he should be firing on all cylinders and supremely confident moving forward.
With this win:
- Collects $1,044,000.
- 500 FEC points
- Checks in at No. 89 in the OWGR, up from No. 204 last week.
- Registers in the top 10 (No. 6) in FedExCup standings for the first time.
CB Challenge Hindsight:
Trends and stats from the week for next week and next year
- Cool temperatures and rain kept scoring moderate as Swafford was the only player to hit 20-under. Last year the winning score was 25-under to make the playoff.
- Johnny Miller is the only champion to defend his title. Jason Dufner finished T-25.
- Since reducing the format to four rounds in 2012, every winning score has been 20-under or lower but Swafford’s 20-under is the highest.
- Patrick Reed’s “new” four-round record of 260 was quite safe.
- Swafford is the only first-time winner since the return to a four round format and the first since Jhonattan Vegas in 2011.
- Only eight first-time winners in 58 editions of this event.
- Dominic Bozzelli set the Stadium Course record in this event with 64 on Thursday. Whee Kim still holds the course record from Q-School (63).
- Whee Kim also shot 63 THIS year at La Quinta.
- Adam Hadwin joined the 59 club with 13 birdies at La Quinta on Saturday.
- Of the top 25 players, there were SEVEN rounds over par.
- The top 33 players were all double digits under par.
- The cut was only five-under par after being eight last year.
Scores were high this year due to unseasonably cool weather and plenty of rain leading up to tournament week. For gamers, the Dye course needs to be avoided as best as possible in the first three rounds as it played the most difficult of the courses. La Quinta saw its course record from 1991 finally fall and it never played harder than 70.154. The Nicklaus Tournament course never had a round under 70 while La Quinta had two of three.
A look inside the rest of the top 10.
Adam Hadwin (2nd): For the second consecutive year was tied or in the lead on the back nine on Sunday. This year he made two huge putts, one to give him a chance to tie on the final hole and another on the final hole that gave him second alone. His last three on Tour are T-10, T-11 and second and it’s obvious that he is THE course horse in the new format at CB Challenge. If I have to mention here that he shot 59 you’re beyond help anyhow.
Brian Harman (T-3): It was an OBVIOUS play this week that he would hit the top 10 as he’s never put up multiple top 10’s on the same course. This was No. 15 and yes, all on different courses. Count the former JDC champ as another who’s comfortable in the desert on these new courses as he closed with 65 here last year and 69 this year.
Bud Cauley (T-3): Long-time readers (Thank You!) know that I’ve been a big Cauley fan since he jumped on the scene. Injuries have slowed his development but his talent has always kept me glancing in his direction. He led the field this week in SG: TTG on the Dye course, T-4 all week GIR and was second in PPGIR. He finally put four rounds together have one on and one off for most of the new season. He backed up his T-14 here last year and is 35-under in his last seven rounds in this event.
Dominic Bozzelli (5th): The former Auburn Tiger turned pro in 2013 and didn’t play his first Tour event until this season. His lowest round on Tour was 69 before he blasted the Dye course for 64 on Thursday. He made clutch putts while shooting 71 on Sunday to keep him in the big money. He led the event in SGP and finished inside the top 25 in putting last year on the Web.com.
Brendan Steele (T-6): He’s now 50-under over the last three seasons (T-2, T-34 and T-6) in this event, essentially a home game for the Idyllwild native. His T-6 is his second consecutive top 10 and third in just five starts this year. Oh, and he’s won. His best season was $1.9 million in 2012 and he’s at almost $1.6 million after five events.
Chad Campbell (T-6): The 2006 champion had MC in five of the last seven years and nothing better than T-48 in that run. Last year he broke par in all three rounds but his six-under wasn’t good enough for the weekend. Beginning Sunday T-3, the Texan, who was looking for his first win since 2007, made triple on hole No. 6 after he was four-under for the day. He added two bogeys in the last four holes to snuff out his rally but T-6 was his first top 10 of the season and first since Colonial last May. Pssssst. He hasn’t MC in seven starts this season. #Value.
Scott Stallings (8th): It’s taken just six events to match his total of top 10’s per season over the last four years. Stallings has never made more than 13 cuts in any season so long-term investors be aware. Short-term investors will be reminded that one of those annual top 10’s is a win at Torrey Pines, the next stop on Tour.
Sean O’Hair (T-9): He jumped off the page last week with T-11 at Sony to follow his T-10 at Shriners. He’s now 28-under the last two seasons at this event but what a difference a year makes. His 14-under was good for T-9 this year but only T-28 last year. In eight rounds with the new courses he’s posted seven in the 60’s and his worst round is 70. #Noted.
Martin Laird (T-9): He loves desert golf and golf on the West Coast in general. I said in the preview he was ranked too low and I was right. His worst round in 16 this season is 71 twice. His top 10 joins T-8, T-27 and T-13 for an excellent start to the season. Keep your eyes on him the next few weeks!
Richy Werenski (T-9): It’s never easy to be the low Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket weekly on Tour and he would not have been my selection in that category this week! Last week he put all four rounds in the 60’s at Sony, including 65 to open. The rookie’s 50th start as a pro was his best and it could have been better minus a double bogey on the penultimate hole on Sunday. He won and finished second a whopping three times last year on the Web.com but also MC 12 times.
Players outside the top 10 who have caught my eyes in a positive way.
Patrick Reed (T-12): His 65 on Sunday was the lowest of the day. He didn’t mail it in and that’s not the first time I’ve typed that phrase in a recap column.
Francesco Molinari (T-12): His form entering the week was fire and his T-12 should have been better except for a second round 73. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him break through on Tour this year.
Chez Reavie (T-12): He backed up his 61 last Sunday (T-8) and T-4 at Mayakoba with another big effort this week. He didn’t match his 65-66 but his 67-70 this year was very solid. He’s now 26-under in his last six rounds at the CB Challenge. He hasn’t MC in the new season either.
Bill Haas (T-17): Fired a pair of 68’s on the weekend to move from making the cut on the number to T-17.
Michael Kim (T-21): He continues his solid run of form with his third consecutive T-27 or better. I’m staying on board!
Seamus Power (T-21): Six in a row, best finish as a Tour player. #Ciuin!
Ryan Blaum (T-25): Seven in a row. Hush, Y’all!
“Whatever happened to…?”
Jamie Lovemark (MC): The latest victim of course form meeting current form and laying a massive egg. After rounds of 64 and a pair of 65’s last week at Sony, the SoCal native, who finished T-6 here last year with a trio of 65’s, didn’t break 70 in three rounds this year. Woof.
Luke List (T-41): His fantastic season rolls on. He’s had two rounds above 71 from 28 rounds. His T-41 was his first finish outside the top 15 in six events. I’m not going anywhere.
Charles Howell, III (T-12): Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Zach Johnson (MC): Left his putter in Hawaii as he played his final nine holes in three over to MC. I got sucked in by 61 and 21 birdies last week.
Jason Dufner (T-25): He posted two, bogey-free rounds but only 15 birdies and an eagle on the week in his defense.
Kevin Na (T-70): Couldn’t build on his T-3 last year or find the magic of another 62 out of the blue.
Emiliano Grillo (MC): New event on his schedule resulted in his first MC since last May’s PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP.
Jon Rahm (T-34): He was four over through five on Sunday and finished even par.
Ryan Palmer (MC): Woof. Usually destroys the Sony and CB Challenge. He only made three more birdies than bogeys this week.
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