It is a tournament he has won twice and Phil Mickelson decided it was the place he wanted to make his 2018 PGA Tour debut. The 47 year old is a 22-1 pick to win the CareerBuilder Challenge for the third time.
The event begins on Thursday and is played on three different courses in the Palm Springs area. Another wrinkle to this competition is that amateurs are paired with a professional for the first three days.
The favorite to win the contest is the only player that is in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Rankings. John Rahm, who is ranked No. 3 is a 19-2 choice, with Brian Harman next at 14-1. Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson are at 18-1.
Rahm Gets Nod
The 23-year-old Spaniard has been the darling of odds makers since last year. He was one of the dark horse picks in all four of the major championships, though his best finish was T-27 at the Masters.
The reason for his popularity with sports books is two reasons. The first is he is the highest-ranked golfer in the event. Secondly, he finished second at the Tournament of Champions two weeks ago in a field that was infinitely stronger than this one.
But this stop is a birdie fest and last year’s winning score was 20-under par. Hudson Swafford captured the 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge and then missed nine cuts the rest of the season. He is at 50-1 to pull off a repeat.
Though he has made all six cuts this season his highest finish has been a tie for 27th at the Tournament of Champions. He told reporters that he needs a more cooperative putter if he is going to have any chance to win.
“I’m starting to hit the ball pretty well, just last few weeks the putter just hasn’t been as warm as it normally is,” he said. “At this time last year the putter was really a weapon.”
Mickelson, Others Undervalued
The left-handed major winner might be a wise pick this week because of his flat stick. He currently leads the tour in one-putt percentage and his knowledge and experience at this event make his 22-1 odds very attractive. He finished tied for third here two years ago.
Another player that could be considered is his playing partner Zach Johnson. The two-time major winner has never won here but at 25-1 is a worthy long shot. He has two top-10s this season and was tied for 14th at last week’s Sony Open.
One golfer that seems to be riding a hot streak lately is Harman, which is why he is the second choice of odds makers. He hasn’t finished out of the top 10 in his last six tourneys and his worst finish in his last four events is a tied for fourth. He ranks 12th in putting and fifth in greens in regulation.