Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What to Look For: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

The Tour returns to Palm Springs for the 58th CareerBuilder Challenge (formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic). This has been a long time Pro-Am event. For years it played second fiddle to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but it used to not be that far behind given Mr. Hope’s popularity and Palm Springs being much closer to Hollywood and with usually better weather than what Pebble Beach would have the following couple of weeks in Northern California.

This is probably one of the most difficult events to project winners because it’s a birdie-fest and it often comes down to a wide variety of players that just happen to hit their irons well and putt well that week. It’s an extremely low scoring event as the courses are fairly wide open with little fairway and the ball travels further in the high elevation. But more critically to the low scoring is the extremely receptive and flat greens. This event usually posts the closest field average proximity to the cup on Red and Yellow Zone shots as well as short game shots around the green. That means more birdie opportunities and more chip ins.

Projected Winning Score: -23


John Rahm +800
Brian Harman +1,400
Kevin Kisner +1,800
Webb Simpson +1,800
Phil Mickelson +2,200


 Patton Kizzire +2,800
Zach Johnson +2,800
James Hahn +5,000
Blayne Barber +20,000
Nicholas Lindheim +20,000


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What to Look For: The 2018 Sony Open

The PGA Tour starts their first full field event of the year at the Sony Open at Waialae CC.

The Sony Open was originally called the Hawaiian Open since its inception in 1965. It has been played at Waialae Country Club in every event.

Waialae CC is based in Honolulu and is a Seth Raynor design that was built in 1927. Raynor used a wide variety of design concepts and that has led to him being a very popular designer by golf architecture enthusiasts as some of his more well noted designs include The Carmago Club, Chicago Golf Club, Fishers Island, Old White TPC, Country Club of Charleston, Yeamans Hall and the Yale Club.

I’ve played a few Raynor designs and have generally been underwhelmed by them. Probably the most common concept I see out of Raynor designs is that he liked to take away the driver off the tee and loved elevated greens, neither of which I am a fan of. Donald Ross wasn’t afraid to take the driver out of a player’s hand, but he usually made it more of a gamble that if a player did hit driver and hit a great shot they would be rewarded. I never liked elevated greens because I don’t like the inability to see where the ball ends up with relation to the flag. I always thought one of Arnold Palmer’s brilliant design concepts is that he prefered to design greens that settled down at the bottom of the slope and that added to the beauty of the hole.

A couple of years ago Waialae received some anonymous votes by PGA Tour players for worst course on Tour. I actually like Waialae, but I can concede some of the disdain for the course as some holes have that patented Raynor extreme doglegs that force large curvatures off the tee and do not allow for driver. I think that wide angle doglegs are perhaps the worst design concept in all of golf course design.

But, what I like about Waialae…other than being in a great location and being an old school course…is that it does not favor bombers. It may favor short hitters with good wedge games a little too much, but in general it allows for a wide open variety of styles that can win here.

There’s a wide variety of shots that need to be hit and it’s almost impossible for anybody to hit a lot of fairways given how narrow they are and how the wind tends to blow. This forces a lot of brilliant rescue shots to save par and you should see a lot of birdies, but a lot of bogeys that can pop up at any time.

Lastly, the last Critical Hole on the course is the par-5 18th hole.

Projected Winning Score: -23


Jordan Spieth +500
Justin Thomas +800
Brian Harman +2,000
Zach Johnson +2,800
Daniel Berger +3,300
Webb Simpson +3,300


Kyle Stanley +7,000
Keegan Bradley +8,000
Chris Kirk +9,000
Chad Campbell +25,000


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What to Look For: Sentry Tournament of Champions

The start of the 2018 year on the Tour kicks off with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. This is the 64th year the Tournament of Champions has been on Tour and the Tour has been playing the Plantation Course at Kapalua since 1999.

The Plantation Course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. It’s the only par-73 on Tour and plays pretty much like most Crenshaw & Coore courses play like, wide ope with plenty of very scenic views with rolling contours, particularly close to the green.

The course is well respected on Tour because it doesn’t beat anybody up and the views are tremendous. It also helps that the participant have all won in the past year on Tour and there is no cut line. Most participants will arrive a week earlier and check out Hawaii with their family or their girlfriend. They will often end up paying for their caddy’s expenses as well as a favor for coming over for such a pricey plane ticket and a job well done the previous year.

The course is not only wide open, but you will see perhaps the most roll of the fairways of any course on Tour with oftent imes seeing 80+ yards of roll on tee shots. The cuorse stress long and short iron approaches. And while it yields a lot of birdies, it also stresses short game shots around the green.


Jordan Spieth +600
Justin Thomas +600
Dustin Johnson +750


Hideki Matsuyama +1,200
Marc Leishman +2,000
Wesley Bryan +15,000