2018 CareerBuilder Challenge PGA Tour Golf Betting Odds and Picks

Last Updated: 2018-01-15

careerbuilder challenge oddsAfter a couple of weeks in Hawaii, we return to the mainland for this week’s CareerBuilder Challenge. You may know this event as the old Bob Hope Classic or the Humana Challenge. CareerBuilder took over naming rights in 2016, but everything else is the same, as 156 players will vie for the title at PGA West. The La Quinta Country Club and both courses at PGA West, the Stadium Course and the Tournament Course, will be in use with the enormous field and the pro-am format of this event.

Golf’s heaviest hitters are not in attendance this week, as guys like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Rickie Fowler spend the weekend doing other things or playing in other places. This is still a great event and a whole lot of fun for both the players and the celebrities that get involved. Five of the top 10 in FedEx Cup points and five of the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking are on hand for the CareerBuilder, which does give us a bit of a stronger field than we’ve had in past years.

As mentioned, three courses are used to accommodate all of the participants, but the Stadium Course will be the one that the players have to conquer on Sunday. This Pete Dye design is a real tough track, with lots of water and lots of bunkers. This is a hilly course as well, so players will have to be mindful of the downhill and uphill lies on approach. All courses play as a par 72, with the Stadium Course in the middle as far as length goes.

We usually have a lot of drama on Sunday at this event. Joe Durant won by four strokes back in 2001 when this event was still a five-round tournament. That remains the largest margin of victory since Tom Kite won by six shots in 1993. This tournament was lowered to 72 holes in 2012 and two strokes has been the maximum margin of victory over those six years.

The favorite this week per the fellas and ladies over at 5Dimes Sportsbook is Jon Rahm at +900. Rahm will be looking to grab the $1.062 million for first place in his second career start in this event. Rahm tied for 34th last year at 9-under. He played well over the course of the weekend, but some guys went really low in the early rounds, so he was pretty buried despite a second-round 66. The 23-year-old played very well at Kapalua with a second-place finish that earned him $735,000 for his efforts in the Tournament of Champions. That was Rahm’s first event since the WGC-HSBC Champions event at Sheshan. Without guys like DJ, Fowler, Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Hideki Matsuyama, Rahm has a nice path to victory, but the +900 price tag isn’t enough to find out.

Brian Harman is the second favorite at +1400 and he has been on quite a run lately. The 30-year-old has finished in the top eight of all five of his 2017-18 events. He had the 36-hole lead at the Sony Open, but went 68-70 over the weekend and finished fourth. Harman showed flashes last year with a win at the Wells Fargo and a second at the US Open at Erin Hills, but he didn’t show a ton of consistency. This season, he looks like a world-beater, though he hasn’t gotten that win yet. It’ll likely come sooner rather than later, but wait for a better price to gamble on it. Harman did tie for third in this event last year, though, so maybe this is his time.

Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson are both going off at +1800 this week. Reed won this event back in 2014. It was his second career win and the first of two that season. Reed still seems to be riding on the recognition of his Ryder Cup performance because he hasn’t won an event since The Barclays in August of 2016, yet keeps going off at low prices. Webb Simpson cracked the top five last week with a 63-65 finish and he carded 10 birdies in the final round, so we’ve got some recency bias on him. Simpson has played well in this format before, as he was 17th in 2016 and seventh in 2015. He might be worthy of a couple bucks.

Kevin Kisner is at +2000 with four top-25 finishes on the year. He’s played well, but the 33-year-old still can’t seem to get that breakout win. This wouldn’t qualify and he’s progressively played worse since placing fourth at the RSM Classic back in November. Phil Mickelson is +2200 in his first start of the New Year, speaking of guys that are overpriced from past accomplishments.

So, with the top guys off the board, who else carries some value this week? Bill Haas’s price is a tad low at +5000, but that’s what you get with a two-time winner that finishes ninth as recently as 2015. He tied for 17th last year with a trio of 68s and a 72. The Charlotte native has missed each of his last two cuts with scores of 141, so he hasn’t played bad, but he hasn’t played great and has averaged just over three birdies per round this year. But, he’s a course form play if you’re looking for one of those. He has the same price as reigning champion Hudson Swafford.

Bud Cauley at +3300 finished tied for third last year and 14th two years ago. Another course form consideration is Adam Hadwin. The Canadian is looking to become the first non-American to win since Jhonattan Vegas in 2011. He nearly did last year, but shot a final-round 70 on the heels of a third-round 59. He lost by a shot to Swafford. Hadwin wasn’t a one-year wonder here, though. He tied for sixth two years ago, but, struggled on Sunday with a 72. You might want to take a pre-tournament position at +6000, but be ready to hedge on Sunday.

This week’s long shot gamble is Harold Varner III at +14000. Varner narrowly missed the cut line last year with a 212, but shot a 65-70 opener. He fired a third-round 77 and was axed from the field. Two years ago, he also narrowly missed the cut with a 69-69-71. He’s played well here in most of his rounds, but has had a hole here or a hole there when things have gone awry.

Coverage, assuming there are any cameramen on the course, will be on Golf Channel throughout the weekend.

Odds as of January 15, 4:30 p.m. ET

Jon Rahm +900

Brian Harman +1400

Patrick Reed +1800

Webb Simpson +1800

Kevin Kisner +2000

Phil Mickelson +2200

Zach Johnson +2800

Patton Kizzire +3000

Chez Reavie +3000

Charles Howell III +3000

Jason Dufner +3000

Bud Cauley +3300

Brendan Steele +3300

Chesson Hadley +3500

Brandt Snedeker +3500

Kevin Chappell +4000

Peter Uihlein +4000

Russell Knox +4500

Hudson Swafford +5000

Bubba Watson +5000

Bill Haas +5000

James Hahn +5500

Kevin Streelman +6000

Grayson Murray +6000

Chris Kirk +6000

Austin Cook +6000

Adam Hadwin +6000

David Lingmerth +6600

J.J. Spaun +6600

Jhonattan Vegas +6600

Jimmy Walker +6600

Martin Laird +6600

Ryan Armour +6600

Jason Kokrak +7500

J.T. Poston +7500

Lucas Glover +7500

Luke List +7500

Brian Stuard +7500

Kevin Na +8000

Scott Piercy +8000

Wesley Bryan +8000

Sung Kang +8000

Nick Taylor +9000

Tom Hoge +10000

Shawn Stefani +10000

Brandon Hagy +10000

Ben Martin +11000

Chris Stroud +11000

Stewart Cink +11000

Sean O’Hair +12500

Scott Stallings +12500

Ryan Palmer +12500

Matt Jones +12500

C.T. Pan +12500

David Hearn +12500

Harold Varner III +14000

Martin Flores +14000

Scott Brown +14000

Zac Blair +15000

Robert Garrigus +15000

Danny Lee +15000

Brian Gay +15000

Johnson Wagner +16000

Mac Hughes +17500

Harris English +17500

Brandon Harkins +17500

Andrew Landry +17500

Aaron Wise +17500

Whee Kim +17500

Trey Mullinax +17500

Ryan Blaum +17500

Seamus Power +17500

Smylie Kaufman +20000

Sam Saunders +20000

Talor Gooch +20000

Vaughn Taylor +20000

Alex Cejka +20000

Ben Crane +20000

Blayne Barber +20000

Ben Silverman +20000

John Huh +20000

Brice Garnett +20000

Camilo Villegas +20000

Chad Campbell +20000

Geoff Ogilvy +20000

Dominic Bozzelli +22500

Cameron Tringale +22500

John Peterson +22500

Jim Herman +22500

Jonathan Randolph +22500

Tyler Duncan +22500

Rory Sabbatini +22500

Richy Werenski +22500

Ricky Barnes +22500

Nick Watney +22500

Nicholas Lindheim +22500

Rod Pampling +25000

Michael Kim +25000

Matt Every +25000

Sangmoon Bae +25000

Stephan Jaeger +25000

Tyrone Van Aswegen +25000

Ted Potter, Jr. +25000

Xinjun Zhang +25000

Keith Mitchell +25000

Jonathan Byrd +25000

Corey Conners +25000

Andrew Loupe +25000

Adam Schenk +25000

Fabian Gomez +27500

Maverick McNealy +27500

Rob Oppenheim +30000

Nate Lashley +30000

Derek Fathauer +30000

Kyle Thompson +30000

Hunter Mahan +30000

Martin Piller +30000

Abraham Ancer +30000

Beau Hossler +30000

Colt Knost +35000

Conrad Shindler +35000

Bronson Burgoon +35000

Brett Stegmaier +35000

Greg Chalmers +40000

Joel Dahmen +40000

John Daly +40000

Lanto Griffin +40000

Andrew Putnam +40000

Peter Malnati +40000

Steve Wheatcroft +40000

Troy Merritt +45000

Tom Lovelady +50000

Sam Ryder +50000

Billy Hurley III +50000

Jon Curran +50000

J.J. Henry +50000

Denny McCarthy +50000

Corey Pavin +50000

D.A. Points +50000

D.J. Trahan +50000

Charles Reiter +60000

Charlie Beijan +60000

Ethan Tracy +60000

Matt Atkins +60000

Mark Wilson +60000

Andrew Yun +60000

Lee Janzen +75000

Zecheng Dou +75000

Roberto Diaz +75000

Mike Weir +75000

Michael Block +100000

Mark Brooks +100000

 

-END OF 2018 PREVIEW-

 

In sports like golf and NASCAR, sponsorships and formats change. More often than not, however, things largely remain the same. This week’s PGA Tour event has been a fixture since 1960, even though it has had plenty of name changes. This year, the players descend on La Quinta, CA for the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. The title of the event is certainly more of a mouthful than it used to be as the Bob Hope Classic, but just about everything has changed since then. Sponsors have changed and the format, as a whole, has changed as well. This will be just the fifth time that this event has been played as a traditional 72-hole tournament.

There are two significant wrinkles for this tournament, however. One is that the cut does not occur until Saturday, so there are 54 holes of golf to be played before those that have struggled get sent home for the weekend. The other is that this event is played over three different courses. This year, the courses are the La Quinta Country Club, the PGA West Stadium Course, and the PGA West Tournament Course. The PGA Tour Q-School has played finals at PGA West, including the Stadium Course, which is one of the most difficult courses in the world.

The dynamics of this event do make it tough to wager on. That’s why well-rounded players have often fared well here. La Quinta CC has been played in 51 of the 56 previous events, so it is a course that the players are rather familiar with. Players rave about the greens on this course, but it can be tough to hit them in regulation with a lot of tree-lined fairways and some ponds that affect shots on seven of the 18 holes. This will play as the shortest of the three courses.

The PGA West Tournament Course is in the middle in terms of length, but features two island greens that are sure to give players problems. Unlike La Quinta, which is tree-lined along the fairways, this is a great course for guys that like to grip and rip it because the tees and fairways are very forgiving. On the other hand, approach shots lead to difficult greens, so it will take a great mid-range game to have success on the Tournament track.

Water hazards at the PGA West Stadium Course have probably swallowed their fair share of wedges and irons from frustrated players. This is one of the harshest tests in professional golf. It will play the longest of this weekend’s courses and also features world-renowned holes like “Alcatraz”, the 17th with an island green, and a water-lined 18th hole. There’s a reason that the PGA has held Q-School finals here in the past. With two 600-yard par 5 holes, this is going to be a very tough course to master. As a result, it’s important to see when players are playing these tracks. Weather conditions and the leaderboard are going to be important factors on days when players try to tackle the Stadium Course. This is the first event on the Stadium Course in 29 years.

One of the big stories this week is the return of Phil Mickelson. Lefty hasn’t played since the Presidents Cup in South Korea, but he returns to the PGA Tour for the first event of 2016 on the mainland. The players were in Hawaii each of the previous two weekends. It’s worth pointing out that 17 of Mickelson’s 42 career wins have been on courses in either California or Arizona, so that could bring Mickelson some good fortune this week. He’s a moderate long shot at 5Dimes Sportsbook this week at +3000.

It should come as no surprise to see Patrick Reed atop the odds board this week. Reed (+900) was the 2014 champion in this event with a score of 28-under. That year, the event was played at La Quinta CC, PGA West Palmer Tournament Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course. Reed has also finished in the top 10 in seven straight events, so he’s striking the ball very well right now. Last year, Reed finished tied for 24th. He shot an opening round 65, but he couldn’t keep that pace up throughout the weekend and finished seven shots back.

Interestingly, Matt Kuchar comes next at +1500. Kuchar posted a third-round 62 last week at Waialae and still managed to finish eight shots off the pace. Fabian Gomez fired a final round 62 and then topped Brandt Snedeker in a playoff for that win. But, Kuchar tied for second in this event last year at 21-under, hampered by a third-round 71 that took him from the catbird’s seat to fighting for his life on Sunday. Kuchar hasn’t won in a long time, but he has played very well here before.

Two-time winner Bill Haas won once when this was a five-day event and then won last season’s Humana Challenge. Haas and Mickelson are the only active two-time winners of this event. Haas (+2500) took last weekend off after finishing 18th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Including his 19-under at the Hero World Challenge, Haas is 31-under over his last two events, so he is swinging it well. It is fair to wonder, though, if Haas’s game will match up against the very difficult Stadium Course.

One longer shot that could merit some consideration is Webb Simpson. Simpson (+4000) tied for seventh in this event last year after a slow start. He finished with a final-round 64 to take home over $177,000. But, Simpson was one of 28 players that earned his PGA Tour card during the 2008 Q-School finals on the Stadium Course. This is a little bit of an emotional homecoming, in a sense, for Simpson. A lot of players have probably tried to tackle this course recreationally, but Simpson has played for something on that track before. Robert Garrigus (+20000) and Derek Fathauer (+25000) also earned their tour cards at the Stadium Course that year.

Golf Channel will have all the coverage you could possibly want of this year’s CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation in the first event of 2016 to be played in the Lower 48.

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