Paulie's Picks: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

The CareerBuilder is a bit different than the typical tournament; the cut will occur after 54 holes.  For the first three rounds, players will be playing a different course. Each of the three courses (La Quinta, Nicklaus Tournament and PGA West-Stadium) will provide ample birdie opportunities. These courses have some of the best-conditioned greens on Tour so expect a lot of midrange putts to drop this week. Players who are solid short iron players and can get hot with the flat stick tend to succeed at this event. Length isn’t a necessity but can be put to use for reaching par fives and carrying some of the bunkers off the tee.

DraftKings:

Chez Reavie $8,800
Reavie finished 18th last week at the Sony Open while losing 4.8 strokes on the green. That is 5.9 shots worse than his long-term average per event. Reavie missed the playoff by six shots and could have contended with an average putting week. He now heads to a course where he has had success in the past. He finished in the top 20 the last two years here and also got through Q-School here in 2012. His stellar approach game suits this course perfectly. The only question is if he can handle the pressure of contending on the weekend. He is currently in the midst of a streak of seven straight top 25 finishes but has failed to record a top ten during that span.

Brandt Snedeker $7,700 (35-1 to win)
Snedeker is making his first start of the main portion of the 2017-18 season. He did play one event during the fall after returning from injury (29th at the RSM). He is currently not qualified for the Masters which is his favorite event of the year. He was so determined to try and qualify that he went to Indonesia to play in December in hopes of breaking into the top 50 at the end of the calendar year to earn an exemption. He fell ill during that event and was forced to withdraw. Snedeker now knows that must either win or be in the top 50 the week before Augusta. Snedeker is a solid iron player who can fill up the cup on the greens. I think Snedeker will win before Augusta and could make it three straight wins for players in their 30s this week.

Brandon Hagy $7,100
Hagy is a perfect player for DK tournaments because of his birdie upside. In his last five made cuts, he made 25 more birdies than the average player! I’m a little more likely to build riskier lineups this week with players who can rattle off a lot of birdies because of the 54 hole cut. Hagy who attended Cal and practices in Arizona should be used to the conditions of the course this week. He tends to play easy courses well and struggle on more difficult tracks. Although most people know him for his prodigious length, he is a very good putter. He has gained nearly eight strokes on the greens in his last five events. He also can get lightning hot with the flat stick. He has exceeded five strokes gained on the greens in three events during the last year.

One-and-Done:

Brian Harman
Harman checks all of the boxes this week again. He has finished third and 11th here the last two years while recording 45 birdies and an eagle. He also has good memories of this course when he finished 8th at Q-School, making 31 birdies across six rounds. He is fresh off of top-four finishes at Kapalua and the Sony Open where he recorded 39 birdies and three eagles. If you didn’t use him last week, now would be wise.

Jon Rahm
The CareerBuilder could be the lowest odds Jon Rahm will be to win an event all year (8-1). All of the other top studs are taking the week off or playing on another continent. If you aren’t saving him for a specific tournament, you may want to use him this week. Some people may skip over him after seeing that he finished 34th here a year ago. That was a messy display of golf where he made 20 birdies, seven bogeys, and two double bogeys. He only played the 16 par fives at two under! Rahm returned to form the next event winning at Torrey Pines. Since he has been on absolute fire and has a great chance to win this week.

Longshot:

Ryan Armour 75-1 to win
Yes, this is the third consecutive week I am putting him in this article. Maybe I’m a little bit biased and the President of the Ryan Armour fan club, but he is dominating fields with his iron play. Over his last 144 holes played, he has had 70 birdie opportunities inside 20 feet. In his last five events, he has gained 22 shots over the field average in approach shots. Armour is a streaky putter, twice in his last eight events he has gained more than seven shots on the greens (finished top five in both events). He heads to a course where he will be relying on his iron game and putting on some of the best greens on Tour. If he can get his approach game and putting to click in the same week….watch out.