PGA Tour this week: CareerBuilder Challenge

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

CareerBuilder-Challenge-2016-jpg
CareerBuilder Challenge
January 21 – January 24, 2016
PGA West TPC Stadium Course
La Quinta, California
Purse – $5,800,000
Winners share: 1,044,000
Defendng Champ – Bill Haas

By Sean Martin
pgatour.com

LA QUINTA, Calif. – PGA WEST’s TPC Stadium Course returns to the
PGA TOUR this week after a hiatus that lasted nearly three decades.
The return of Pete Dye’s devilish design in the California desert
means players will be tested by the architect’s usual schemes.
Railroad ties and vertical bunker faces provide a dramatic delineation
between success and failure, adding anxiety to even standard shots.
There’s even another island green for players to face, a smaller
target than the original that resides in northeast Florida.
PGA West’s TPC Stadium first was used in the 1987 Bob Hope
Classic, but players deemed it too difficult, and so it was retired
until this year. The field averaged 73.97 shots in the final round of
that tournament. Corey Pavin won by one shot over Bernhard Langer
after a final-round 67 that was punctuated by a birdie at 18.
The TPC Stadium Course isn’t as intimidating as it once was,
though. Players with today’s technology are better equipped to handle
the challenge. The course played to a 71.1 scoring average at the 2012
Q-School, and that was in colder, windier December conditions. D.H.
Lee won that tournament at 24-under, playing three rounds apiece at
PGA West’s TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses.
The Stadium and Nicklaus hosted Q-School six times between 2002 and 2012.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-70s this week, and a
5 mph breeze may qualify as a bluster. And players don’t have to deal
with Q-School’s anxiety.
The TPC Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses are in use this
week along with La Quinta Country Club. The first two replace PGA
West’s Nicklaus Private and Palmer Private courses, which are a mile
up the road; the Palmer Private was site of David Duval’s 59. The
final round of the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the
Clinton Foundation will be played on the TPC Stadium, allowing for
dramatic viewing as players navigate Dye’s water-lined closing holes.
The finishing stretch — a risky par-5, an island-green par-3
and a long par-4 that curls left around water — will remind viewers
of the final holes of Dye’s original Stadium Course.
“You just got to execute golf shots,” said two-time
CareerBuilder champion Bill Haas.
The 16th hole measures 560 yards. The deep bunkers that run down
the left side, including a 20-foot pit near the green, have given the
hole the nickname “San Andreas,” after the earthquake-inducing fault
that runs beneath the state. Players can aim right and be left with an
easy up-and-down for birdie; going for the green makes eagle possible,
but birdies are all but impossible for those who miss left. The next
hole is longer than its sister hole at TPC Sawgrass, measuring 165
yards. PGA TOUR staff measured the green at 3,765 square feet; the
17th at TPC Sawgrass’ PLAYERS Stadium course measures 3,912 square
feet. The tee is elevated, and players hit to a circular green
surrounded by only a small sliver of fringe.
“I hit two in the water today,” said Patrick Reed. “I haven’t
hit it in the water yet at 17 at Sawgrass.”
Reed set records on the Nicklaus Private and Palmer Private
courses, shooting three consecutive 63s to win the 2014 CareerBuilder
Challenge. He welcomed the move to PGA West’s other tracks, though.
He has good memories at these courses, rallying at that 2012 Q-School
to earn his first PGA TOUR card without a shot to spare. He was a TOUR
winner less than a year later.
He wouldn’t have guessed that after Q-School’s first two rounds,
though. Scores of 70-75 left him in 127th place. He played the final
72 holes in 18 under to jump 105 spots on the leaderboard, earning his
card on the number.
“I thought for sure we were done,” said Reed, who returns to the
desert after finishing in the top 10 in his first three starts of the
season, including a runner-up finish to Jordan Spieth at the Hyundai
Tournament of Champions. He’s No. 13 in the FedExCup.
“It’s awesome to be back,” he said. “Driving inbrought back a
lot of memories.”

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