2017 CareerBuilder Challenge
La Quinta, California
After beginning the final round two shots back, World No. 204 Hudson Swafford birdied three of his final four holes en route to a 5-under par 34-33=67 and a four-day total of 20-under 268, good for a 1-shot win over 54-hole leader Adam Hadwin and his first PGA TOUR title in his 93rd career start (92 pro).
The Lakeland, Florida, native, a pre-tourney 50/1 outright, was making his fourth visit with a previous-best T25 on debut in 2014. His previous best on TOUR was T8 (x2), most recently at the 2015 Frys.com Open in Napa.
The 29-year-old’s victory comes in his sixth start of the season and is his first top 10. Last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, he kicked off with a career-best, 8-under 62 and was T3 thru 54 holes, but closed in 71 out of the penultimate threesome for T13.
This week, the University of Georgia alum opened in twin 65s to lead by one, his first career 36-hole lead/co-lead and just his second lead after ANY round (co-led 2015 OHL Classic/R1; finished T51).
In Saturday’s third round, he was cruising at 4-under thru 15 holes but swallowed a double bogey-7 at 16 and bogey-4 at 17. The disappointing finish dropped him into a four-way T3, two back of Hadwin who raced by with a 59, while TOUR rookie and 18-hole leader Dominic Bozzelli assumed 2nd-place at the three-quarter pole with 69.
As mentioned, this was Swafford’s second straight week where he was T3 thru 54 holes.
In the finale, the transplanted Georgian 3-putted the first (from 41’7”) for bogey-5, and dating back to Saturday’s finish, was now 4-over in his last four holes. He steadied enough to write down five straight pars before ripping off three straight birdies on Nos. 7-9, joining Hadwin (and Chad Campbell) at the top of the board.
T1: Chad Campbell -17 (thru 10 holes)
T1: Adam Hadwin -17 (thru 9)
T1: Hudson Swafford -17 (9)
4: Dominic Bozzelli -16 (9)
Swafford opened the inward half with five more pars, missing birdie from 5’11” at the 12th, but dropped an 11-footer for birdie-3 at 15 to kick off his three-birdie train, culminating with a tap-in at the par-3 17th after stiffing his approach to 17 inches, which all but secured the trophy.
Swafford collects 500 FedExCup (FEC) points for the victory and vaults 63 places to a career-best 6th in the standings. He also earns a host of invites, including the 2017 Masters, the PGA Championship, and the 2018 SBS Tournament of Champions.
Top 10 in FEC standings (points):
1. Justin Thomas (1,614)
2. Hideki Matsuyama (1,177)
3. Pat Perez (754)
4. Brendan Steele (743)
5. Mackenzie Hughes (643)
6. Hudson Swafford (610)
7. Rod Pampling (560)
8. Cody Gribble (481)
9. Russell Knox (449)
10. Adam Hadwin (439)
With a Strength of Field rating of 228, Swafford banked 42.00 world-ranking points, catapulting 115 places to a career-best 89th in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). The Top 10 in OWGR remained unchanged:
1. Jason Day (idle)
2. Rory McIlroy (idle)
3. Dustin Johnson (T2 on Euro Tour)
4. Henrik Stenson (T8 on Euro Tour)
5. Jordan Spieth (idle)
6. Hideki Matsuyama (idle)
7. Adam Scott (T9 on Asian Tour)
8. Justin Thomas (idle)
9. Patrick Reed (T12)
10. Alex Noren (T13 on Euro Tour)
In total, 11 of the Top 50 in OWGR were in the field. NONE finished in the top 10:
No. 9 Patrick Reed (finished T12); No. 16 Paul Casey (T58); No. 21 Phil Mickelson (T21); No. 25 Emiliano Grillo (CUT); No. 33 Francesco Molinari (T12); No. 36 Scott Piercy (T41); No. 37 Zach Johnson (CUT); No. 41 Kevin Kisner (T25); No. 42 Bill Haas (T17); No. 44 William McGirt (CUT); No. 47 Kevin Na (T70).
No. 57 Brendan Steele was the top-finisher world-ranking wise with a T6 on 16-under 272 (68-64-70-70). He arrived off a T6 at the SBS TOC. Hadwin (more on him below), checked in off a T10 at the OHL Classic, and joins Steele as the ONLY players (this week) to post consecutive top-10 finishes on TOUR.
Honarable mention goes to Sean O'Hair, who despite doubling the last, has three straight top-11 finishes with a T9 on 14-under 274 (67-69-69-69).
This was the 58th playing of the 3-course CB Challenge in La Quinta, California, and second straight edition where the 7,113-yard, par-72 (36-36) Stadium Course at PGA WEST served as host.
Adam Hadwin: The overnight leader and World No. 196 backed up with a 2-under-par 36-34=70 in the final round for a 72-hole total of 19-under 269, down one spot to solo 2nd, one in arrears.
This was the Canadian’s first 54-hole lead/co-lead in his 73rd career start and was chasing his maiden TOUR title. He settles for a new career mark, eclipsing T4 at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open (as a non-member).
Before we go any further, we HAVE to jump back a day to his third round at La Quinta Country Club.
After opening in 71-69, the 29-year-old began the third round T49, 10 back of 36-hole leader Swafford. He hung up a career-low bogey-free 13-under-par 29-30=59, becoming just the eighth player (ninth time) to shoot a sub-60 in TOUR history and just the fourth to accomplish it on a par-72 layout.
Hadwin circled 13 birdies, matching the TOUR’s all-time record (Chip Beck, 1991 Shriners), on 15 greens in regulation, recording a stellar 1.267 putts per GIR and requiring just 21 putts total.
The Louisville alum’s 59 vaulted him 48 places to the top of the leaderboard, tied the tournament record with David Duval (1999/R4- Palmer Private), and was easily a career best in his 240th career round, brushing aside 63 at the 2015 Shriners/R4.
In the finale, Hadwin played out of the final threesome with Bozzelli and Swafford, the second straight year that he’s found himself in the final group on Sunday. Last year, he was solo 3rd thru 54 holes but closed in even-par 72 for T6.
The Moose Jaw, Canada, native landed just five of his first nine greens, exchanging bogey-4 at four with a 10-foot bounce-back birdie at the par-5 fifth to turn even.
After the break, he saved par at 10 (from 6’8”) and circled the par-5 11th to move one clear, but missed birdie at 12 from 8'4". Hadwin squared a one-putt bogey-4 at 13, saved par at 15 (from 9’8”) and then birdied 16 and 17, the latter from 25’11”, to head to the 435-yard par-4 18thone back of Swafford.
He missed the fairway, woefully short off the tee and was 209 yards out, and then missed the green, but managed to get up-and-down, dropping in the par putt from 11’4”. Hadwin only mustered 10 greens in regulation, but saved the runner-up finish with a tidy 3.044 in SG: Putting.
He leaps 85 places to a career-best 111th in OWGR and is up 38 spots to a career-best 10th in the FEC standings. After posting a T6 here last year, Hadwin was the ONLY player to post consecutive top 10s finishes in the tournament proper.
For Cauley, he was making his 100th TOUR start (99 pro) and tied a career best with his third, third-place finish, first since solo 3rd at the 2012 Wyndham.
Winner’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 77 players):
Note: Strokes Gained stats where only utilized in the two rounds on the Stadium Course so are not listed.
Birdies: 26 (1st)
Bogeys: 4 (T5)
Double Bogeys: 1 (T33)
Par-3 Scoring: 2.94 (T13)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.73 (1st)
Par-5 Scoring: 4.50 (T10)
Driving Accuracy: 31/56 (T61) at 55.36 percent
Greens in Regulation: 58/72 (T1) at 80.56 percent
Putts per GIR: 1.655 (24th)
Total Putts: 113 (T44); by round: 28-28-27-30
Scrambling: 10/14 (T30) at 71.43 percent
Yahoo! Low Rounds:
La Quinta CC: (LQ)
Nicklaus Tournament Course: (NT)
Stadium Course: (SC)
R1: Dominic Bozzelli (64- SC)
R3: Adam Hadwin (59-LQ)
R4: Patrick Reed (65- SC)
Dominic Bozzelli: (64/R1- SC)
Adam Hadwin: (59/R3- LQ)
Whee Kim: (63/R3- LQ)
Note: Whee Kim also shot 63 on the Stadium Course in 2012, sharing the course record, but it came in R2 of the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament, so his 63 is a career low as a TOUR member (previously 64 x2).
With the 3-course rotation and a scheduled 54-hole cut, there wasn’t a traditional draw this week, so we’ll look at the course rotation for the top-5 finishers.
In total, 77 players from a field of 156 pros made the 54-hole cut of 5-under 211 with the final round contested on the Stadium Course.
Hudson Swafford (Won): LQ-NT-SC-SC
Adam Hadwin (2nd): NT-SC-LQ-SC
Brian Harman (T3): NT-SC-LQ-SC
Bud Cauley (T3): NT-SC-LQ-SC
Dominic Bozzelli (5th): SC-LQ-NT-SC
Note: Last year’s winner Jason Dufner (more on him below): NT-SC-LQ-SC
Note #2: Harman and Cauley played together all four rounds.
Did You Know?
It’s been 28 events since the last pre-tourney odds-favorite(s) won. Jordan Spieth is the most recent, winning the 2016 DEAN & DELUCA as a 6/1 outright.
In fact, Spieth owns the last two wins in this regard, claiming the 2016 Hyundai TOC as a 4/1 favorite.
Patrick Reed: The 2014 winner was the top-ranked player in the field at OWGR No. 9 and the pre-tourney fave at 14/1. He finished T12 on 13-under 275.
After opening laps of 69-71-70, he began R4 on 6-under (T53), 11 back. The 26-year-old concluded on a high note with a one-bogey eight-birdie 65, the low round of the day and jumping 41 places on the leaderboard.
For the week, he circled 18 birdies against five bogeys and was T74 (of 77 players) in driving accuracy at 48.21 percent (27/56) and 75th in greens in regulation at 59.72 percent (43/72).
Jason Dufner: Last year’s playoff winner “back-doored” a T25 on 10-under 278 (71-66-73-68), 15 shots worse than his winning total. On a positive note, his blemish-free 68 in R4 was one of only two in the final round (Brendan Steele-70) and jumped him 28 places on the leaderboard.
First-timers at CBC: 30
Top-10 finishes: 2
TOUR rookies: 21
Top-10 finishes: 2
We’re combining the first-timer category with top rookie category this week as World No. 321 Dominic Bozzelli took top honors in both categories with a career-best solo 5th on 17-under 271. He was the 18-hole leader (by one) with a career-low 64, his first lead/co-lead after ANY round in his sixth career start.
At the halfway point, the Auburn alum was T2 (with 67) and solo 2nd thru 54 holes (69), entering the finale one back of Hadwin. After squaring just one bogey through three rounds, he squared three in R4, slightly offset by four birdies for 71, but did finish birdie-birdie from 11'4" and 36'2", respectively. The 25-year-old’s previous best was T35 at the Safeway in Napa.
Making his eighth career start, seventh this season, fellow rookie and World No. 266 Richy Werenski came next in both categories with a career-best T9 on 14-under 274 (69-67-68-70). Like Bozzelli, the 25-year-old’s previous mark was T35, also at the Safeway.
Inclusive of Swafford, NINE of the first 10 winners this season have emerged out of the FINAL group on Sunday. Only Brendan Steele bucks the trend, coming from four back with 7-under 65 to heist the season-opening Safeway out of the third-to-last threesome.
Hughes, Thomas, Thomas had converted the last three, so Hadwin ends that streak.
NOTE: Matsuyama also won the unofficial Hero World Challenge as the 54-hole leader.
The TOUR stays in California for this week’s 2-course Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, with the 7,698-yard par-72 Torrey Pines (South) serving as host.
The Vanderbilt product arrived last year as World No. 24 – on a run of T3-P2—and vaulted to No. 12 after winning his eighth TOUR title in his 247th career start (246 pro). He enters this week back at No. 28.
Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and analysis as the TOUR plays its 11th tournament of the season (of 47).