Golf returns to the continental U.S. this week in the California desert.
Plenty of info in here for you to digest so enjoy!
Stadium Course at PGA West
La Quinta, Calif.,
Yards: 7,113 per the official scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Course Architect(s): Pete Dye (1986)
Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course
Yards: 7,159 per the official scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Course Architect(s): Jack Nicklaus (1987)
La Quinta Country Club
Yards: 7,060 per the official scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Course Architect(s): Lawrence Hughes (1959)
Purse: $5.9 million
Winner’s Share: $1.056 million
FedExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Hudson Swafford came back from two strokes down entering the final round to beat Adam Hadwin by a shot. Bud Cauley and Brian Harman shared third two shots behind the first-time champion.
- Full field event; 156 pro players plus amateurs
- Stroke play, 72 holes, cut to top 70 and ties after three rounds; if 78 or more players make the cut, only the low 60 and ties will play Sunday.
- Each course will be played once and the Stadium Course will host the final round.
Frys.com: Brendan Steele (repeat)
CIMB: Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC: Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms: Ryan Armour*
Shriners: Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba: Patton Kizzire*
RSM Classic: Austin Cook*
SBS TOC: Dustin Johnson
Sony Open: Patton Kizzire (2)
Usually in this portion I’ll list the history of previous winner in an effort to develop some angles and trends.
I’d suggest you read THE CONFIDENCE FACTOR to check some angles I presented at PGATOUR.COM.
Facts and Figures:
- Tournament Record: Dufner, 263 (2016).
- Course Record (Stadium): Dominic Bozzelli, 64 (2017); Whee Kim, 63, Q-School (2012).
- Course Record (La Quinta): Adam Hadwin, 59 (2017).
- Course Record (Tournament): Kevin Na and David Lingmerth, 62 (2016); Harrison Frazar, 59, Q-School (2008).
- Nicklaus Tournament Course Record: Harrison Frazar, 59 (2008) Q-School; Kevin Na, David Lingmerth Tour record 62 last year.
- First-time winners: Hudson Swafford, first since 2011.
- Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson are the only multiple winners of this event in the field.
- Other multiple winners include Arnold Palmer (5 times), Billy Casper, John Mahaffey, Johnny Miller, Corey Pavin and John Cook have all won twice.
Jon Rahm: Plenty of golf in Scottsdale and Phoenix at ASU should help his eye this week. The last time he played desert golf he won the DP World Championship in the European Tour finals. The last time he played on TOUR he finished second to Dustin Johnson at Kapalua. T34 here last year so he’ll have a point of reference. He won’t have to worry about defending until NEXT week so I hope he’s freewheeling this week!
Brian Harman: With top five finishes in four of his last five and top 10’s in all, there’s not many playing better at the moment. I’d point out he’s 36-under since introducing the two new tracks the last two years. He closed last year with 65 on the Tournament Course. Go ahead, point out the down side, I’m listening!
Patton Kizzire: Super putter on his preferred Bermuda that strolls in with two wins to his name already this season. His worst finish in his last six was at Sea Island, where he lives. Hahahahaha. If he keeps it in play off the tee, I don’t see why he won’t contend again this week.
Phil Mickelson: Too many good results in a row to ignore for this week! He’s plenty familiar with golf in this part of the country and he never minds a track where he can get out driver and swing it. He has no problem making birdies and eats on par fives. Looking for his first win since 2013 Open Championship.
Patrick Reed: Baby No. 2 arrived in early December so golf is the primary focus again. He was T-5 shortly after the birth so I’m continuing to ride #NappyFactor in his first start of 2018. The 2014 champ in this event circled 30 birdies but has been a slow starter the last two years in the Coachella Valley. Like Harman, he figured something out on Sunday last year as he closed with 65. His big 2018 starts this week.
Jason Dufner: I’ve made his case above in The Confidence Factor. Hard to turn away from him this week as it looks like it’s all coming to a head, in a good way. Plenty of good vibes on this track as well.
Webb Simpson: He’s dominated in the desert before at the Shriners; T4 closing 63-65 last week at Waialae suggests he’s in the mood to continue going low. Putter has cooperated so far in the new season.
Brendan Steele: It’s absolutely no secret that this is his part of the country. The 2015 runner-up defended his title at Safeway up the road in Wine Country. He’s 29-under the last two years with a 74 on his card. Super-safe OAD pick if you have him lying around.
Bill Haas: This is my Jerry Kelly play this week. I know the two-time champion hasn’t played well in the recent past but he’s always up for it in the California desert. He spent time hitting balls at Toscana and loves the atmosphere and perfect greens. Nobody has won more cash at this event.
Adam Hadwin: Last year he joined two clubs in one day. His 59 on Saturday entered him into exclusive company and his 59 without winning slid him into another one. The number 59 is amazing but it’s more amazing when accomplished on par 72. Yes, he was 13-under-par at La Quinta. In one round. But his 70 on Sunday wasn’t enough to hold off Swafford (T2). The previous year he shot 64 in the third round and backed it with 72 (T6). One more step!
Chez Reavie: It’s not sexy but it is effective! He’s cashed for T24 or better in seven in a row so let’s keep it going! Interestingly enough, he’s finished T17 and T12 here the last two seasons. He led the field last week in SG: Tee-to-Green and was second in proximity. He’s rolled out 17 cuts made in a row. Boring!
Kevin Kisner: He finished the week in the top 10 in fairways and greens last week plus SG: Putting. He only made seven bogeys as well. He’s on his preferred surface again, Bermuda, so I’m leaning on his quality in an otherwise thin field.
Bud Cauley: In thin fields, I’m always looking for something. Cauley has rattled off six paychecks from his last six events on TOUR and two of those last four were top 10’s. His last seven rounds on the new rotation have turned out 35-under par with T14 in 2016 and T3 last year. I’m not over-thinking this.
Brian Stuard: See above and add one more top five, including last week. He led the field in driving accuracy and was second in SG: Putting. He’ll enjoy not having 7,500 yards to deal with as well. Brian Gay has won this event using a similar formula.
Charles Howell III: T12 last year and T11 two years ago (-31 total) suck me right back in after a blah T32 last week at Sony. The only good news about his finish at Sony was I didn’t lose that much ground after I had him (MC) on Sea Island. The new course rotation stopped a streak of T58-T56 so I’m hoping the new-found love continues. If not, I’M BAILING.
form plays, eye-catchers who make great support staff
Chris Kirk: The “mixed bag” has turned out back-to-back top 10’s at The RSM and Sony so I’m paying attention. Without a sponsor, maybe it’s easier just to play what makes you comfortable and the results follow.
Austin Cook: I’ll try and hide him down here but I have a feeling he’s not going to be hidden anymore. It wasn’t surprising that he struggled to navigate Kapalua (T22). It was pleasantly surprising that he cashed T18 the next week at Waialae. Many young fellas would have enjoyed the ride/buzz/attention as a new winner. Some guys keep going. #WhatsCookin.
J.J. Spaun: I’d point out first time winners Charley Hoffman and Pat Perez both hailed from San Diego as well. Spaun was in the crosshairs of MANY experts last week and didn’t fire. I’m not running away, quite the opposite, before he heads home next week.
James Hahn: There’s nothing more difficult than backing up a tough playoff loss after shooting 62 but Hahn’s giving it a try this week. His first visit to this event saw him open with 63 and close with 62 for T4 in 2013 on three courses he’s never seen. He’ll have a similar situation to deal with this year with two new courses.
Russell Knox: With top 10’s in two of his last three, I’m tempted to move him up the board. He didn’t hit it great last week but he found a way to get it in the hole. If his ball-striking returns to normal, I might be regretting sticking him down here.
Jhonattan Vegas: I can’t figure him out so he goes in here. His T7 at Kapalua broke up a streak of seven events with nothing inside the top 20. He’ll have no problem toasting these short tracks and his putter will be the one writing out the check this week.
Peter Uihlein: The issue with the up-and-coming youngsters is the ups can usually be as dramatic as the downs. Uihlein has cut his chops across the planet and won’t be intimidated by any field. His ability isn’t in question but finding a level of consistency could be. I’m bullish still because four of his last six worldwide are inside the top 15.
Talor Gooch: Still getting over his first name not having a Y in it but I’ll live. I have a cousin named Myk, yeah, with a Y, so I get it. Whatever. He can play. Let’s see how many birdies he can make this week.
Luke List: Bash it. Find it. Bash it again.
Alex Cejka: Veteran has back-to-back top 10’s in his last two starts of 2017. One was T2 in Las Vegas in the desert. I’ve made dumber selections.
will return next week at Torrey North and South
Off the Beaten Path
Long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings
David Lingmerth: He was second at the old place and second two years ago the first year at the new place. I’m not overpaying but I know what’s possible.
Wesley Bryan: Ok, I’ll admit I’m INTERESTED that he’s not using driver again this week. I’m also interested to see how that theory holds up with four par fives each day. #Interesting.
Kevin Streelman: He can get just hot enough to rack up enough birdies to make you regret not looking him up.
Martin Laird: He’s won in Las Vegas and collected big checks at TPC Scottsdale so desert golf seems to fit his eye. He’s riding 24 rounds in a row in red figures at this event.
Ryan Armour: The second wind is blowing nicely as he’s rolling right along. I’m always looking for steady options to make cuts for various games. He’s not missed one since his win at SFC.
Ryan Blaum: Many gamers like chasing top 10’s the following week. Blaum qualifies as he was T10 at Sony last week and closed with four birdies and an eagle on his last five holes.
Zach Johnson: I’ll have plenty of time to squeeze him throughout the year. My New Year’s Resolution is to stop smashing round holes into square pegs. He hasn’t played Sunday the last two years here!
Brandt Snedeker: I’m never big on jumping on a guy in his first event of the year, especially coming off a WD last December. Snedeker has RAKED at Torrey Pines so I’ll let him knock off the rust THIS week.
Hudson Swafford: First-time winners that defend are usually off limits as it’s another step into the unknown. This holds true again this week.
Bubba Watson: He played twice in the fall (to eat up starts??) and didn’t fire. He hasn’t played this event since 2011. When I don’t know, I don’t go. New gamers will take guys based on name and reputation. Pros will turn their energy to guys who are performing, not ones they hope will. Fantasy golf isn’t played on a spreadsheet!
Tom Hoge: He didn’t follow up any of his top 10’s from 2017 with anything of substance. Charted territory.
Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week if I get the time.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter (@MikeGlasscott) or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.