The CareerBuilder Challenge has changed names again. Once known as the Bob Hope Classic, this event is now the Desert Classic presented by Workday. Everything else remains the same, as this is one of the toughest handicaps on the PGA Tour because three different courses are used and there is a 54-hole cut.
Since 2012, this event has been a traditional 72-hole event. Anything before that was a 90-hole event played over five days. Now it is a standard tournament and one that usually features a very crowded leaderboard. In the seven events dating back to 2012, three have finished in a playoff, two have finished with a one-stroke victory, and three have featured multiple co-runners up.
Let’s break down this weekend’s Desert Classic with some players to watch and some storylines. The complete odds list is on the right-hand sidebar for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
A Grand Celebration
This is the 60th anniversary of the Palm Springs Desert Golf Classic, hence this year’s name. Arnold Palmer won that original event in 1960 and won $12,000. Bob Hope’s name was added in 1965 and this was an event that brought out a lot of celebrities and famous faces.
This is a really unique event for a lot of reasons. Celebrities are still hanging around and there is a pro-am component to the tournament. It is also played on three different courses. There are a lot of distractions for the players, so you’ll want to keep that in mind with your handicap.
There are three courses in play this weekend. Sunday’s final-round will be played on the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, so everybody that makes it to Sunday will play that course twice. The PGA West Tournament Course and the La Quinta Country Club are the other two courses in play.
The Stadium Course is the toughest, with the Tournament Course a par 72 at around 7,160 yards and La Quinta a par 72 at just under 7,100 yards. It would certainly be a good idea to see when the players are playing on each particular course.
Looking specifically at Sunday scores, since we know all of those were on the Stadium Course, Jason Dufner (+8000) stands out. Dufner, who won this event in 2016, fired a final-round 68 in 2017 and a final-round 68 in 2018, so he has had some success. Another +8000 shot, Bill Haas, hasn’t shot higher than a 68 in the final round over the last five years. He did miss the 54-hole cut last year, but he’s played extremely well on the signature course for this event.
Maybe the best Stadium Course player in this event is Brian Harman (+4500). Harman shot a 71 last year on Sunday, but he had a 69 and finished T-3rd in 2017, and a 65 and finished T-11th in 2016.
Where Is Everybody?
For the fanfare and the history of this event, the field is pretty weak. Jon Rahm (+700) is the reigning champion and the favorite. Justin Rose (+900) is making his return to the United States for the first time since he won $10 million in the FedEx Cup. After that, Patrick Cantlay is next on the board at (+1600).
No Tiger Woods, no Dustin Johnson, no Rory McIlroy, no Jordan Spieth, no Jason Day, no Rickie Fowler. This isn’t a bad event by any means, but it isn’t as star-studded as we might expect. Phil Mickelson is in the field and has a big price at +4000. He was +2200 last year.
The prices in the golf market are extremely interesting. Andrew Putnam finished second to Matt Kuchar in Hawaii and is listed at +3000 this week. He was +7000 at Waialae. He was +40000 in this event last year and tied for 17th.
Charles Howell III was +4000 on a course where he plays extremely well and snagged a top-10 finish. He’s +2000 this week. Adam Hadwin was +7000 last week and is +2800 this week after finishing third.
Recent form does matter a lot, but market entry matters a lot on these guys too. Look for values down the board or values on guys that underperformed. Also, keep in mind that in-tournament wagering is a good way to go because some players may get an easier course draw on Thursday and then play the tougher courses as the weekend progresses.
Risk managers know who sharp golf bettors are playing and will adjust prices accordingly. See if you can find some values at better prices.
Next week’s tournament is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. The prize purse jumps from $5.9 million to $7.1 million. That is going to bring out some more star power. Scout this event for some better value next weekend when we may end up seeing guys like Day, Fowler, Woods, and others.
Tapping Into the Memory Bank
There are some players at longer prices that finished out 2018 on a pretty good note, but we haven’t heard from them in a little while, so they slide down the board. Beau Hossler (+6000) is a great price for a guy that finished top 20 here last year and wound up being a top-20 player by a lot of statistical categories last season.
Chilean Joaquin Niemann (+6000) was regularly getting priced in the upper 20s and low 30s late last season. He never broke through to win a tournament, but now he’s getting an overlaid price at 60/1. You want to strike on these guys early on before they string together some good events and their prices fall. Chesson Hadley (+6600) is another guy that played well at the tail end of last year. Hadley was +3500 in this event last year.
Roll the Dice
Jon Rahm won last year as the +900 favorite, but had to outlast Andrew Landry, who was +17500, to win the title. Hudson Swafford won in 2017 and was still 50/1 last year. John Huh was third last year at +20000. Martin Piller tied for third at +30000. Some long shots can and will make it up on the board at a tournament like this, so it isn’t bad to throw a few long shots.
I’ll be looking at Brian Harman this week at +4500 and will also take a chance on Hossler at +6000 and Niemann at +6000. Hossler is a bit of an underlaid price after being +30000 at this time last year, but he played extremely well over the course of the season and deserves that level of respect.