CareerBuilder Challenge 2016
Round 4 - Jason Dufner wins in a playoff
January 25, 2016
Jason Dufner made two great escapes. The first, from Alcatraz, no less.
David Lingmerth got no such reprieve at PGA West's punishing TPC Stadium Course.
Dufner won the CareerBuilder Challenge with a par on the second hole of a playoff Sunday, taking advantage of Lingmerth's shot that bounced off the jagged rocks and into the water.
In regulation on the island-green 17th called Alcatraz, Dufner - tied with Lingmerth for the lead - pulled his 8-iron tee shot and thought it bounced into the water. Instead, it settled into a small sandy area between some of the tangled rocks that circle the green.
''I was like, 'Man, this is a great break I'm going to take advantage of it,''' Dufner said. '''This is what I need. I need this right now. I need this break to happen. I'm confident with what I can do with this shot and I need to make this happen and get a par.'''
He hooked a chip that struck the flagstick and stopped inches away.
''It's a shot that I've hit some, not in the hazard, but something similar,'' Dufner said. ''You kind of hit that low little spinning one with some check on it.''
On the first extra hole on the par-4 18th with a rock wall and water running the length of the left side, Dufner hit his 3-wood drive near the front lip in a right-side bunker. He blasted out 100 yards to set up a 110-yard third shot that he hit to 11 feet.
''I wanted to hit 6-iron - about 180 to the front there,'' Dufner said. ''But it was probably a shot I pull off maybe two out of 10 times or three out of 10 times. The other seven or eight times it probably hits the lip or goes in the water.
''I felt like, 'My wedges have been good, I'm going to play the percentages. If he makes birdie, then he deserves to win. I'll try and get it up-and-down and extend it.'''
Lingmerth missed his 23-foot birdie try, giving Dufner a chance to extend the playoff.
He did, sending the two back to the 18th tee.
''I like those situation putts,'' Dufner said. ''It's kind of like what we see in the Presidents Cup in match play. Because if I miss it, there's no next putt, it doesn't really matter.''
Dufner switched to a driver and followed Lingmerth into a grass bunker on the right side. Lingmerth's approach from 184 yards crashed into the rocks and shot left into the water.
''The rough is a little heavy in some spots and it grabbed my club a little bit more,'' Lingmerth said. ''It really wasn't a bad swing. I should have probably choked up a little bit more on the grip. ... A small mistake that was very costly.''
Dufner hit the front of the green with his second shot and two-putted for par, holing a 5-footer after Lingmerth missed his par try from 22 feet.
Dufner finished with a 2-under 70 to tie Lingmerth at 25-under 263. Lingmerth shot a bogey-free 65, matching the best score of the day on the difficult course that was used in the tournament for the first time since being dropped after its 1987 debut.
The 38-year-old Dufner won for the fourth time on the PGA Tour and first since the 2013 PGA Championship.
''I'm excited for this year,'' Dufner said. ''I'm excited to accomplish one of my goals this early in the year. I'm excited to keep playing well. I feel like I'm doing some really good stuff.''
Lingmerth had a 62 on Saturday on the Nicklaus Tournament Course to pull within five shots of Dufner.
''I was just trying to focus on keeping my play the way I had been playing and, if Jason, for some reason didn't keep scoring the way he did, I was hoping to have a chance,'' Lingmerth said.
Lingmerth also lost a playoff in the 2013 tournament on PGA West's Palmer Private Course. That year, the Swede dropped out on first extra hole after hitting into the water and making a bogey. Brian Gay went on to beat Charles Howell III with a birdie on the second hole.
Phil Mickelson shot a 68 to tie for third at 21 under in his first start since the Presidents Cup in October and first since splitting with swing coach Butch Harmon to work with Andrew Getson. Lefty will play the next three events, starting next week at Torrey Pines in his hometown of San Diego.
''I'm excited,'' Mickelson said. ''This is a really good week for me for validation that I'm on the right track and that it's continuing to get better as I go along.''
Round 3 - Jason Dufner increases lead to two shots
January 24, 2016
Jason Dufner had a good feeling when he made the turn Saturday at La Quinta Country Club in the third round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
''I told my caddie and my amateur partners, 'I'm about to do something good,''' Dufner said. ''So, when you start thinking like that, good things happen.''
He did something a lot better than just good, birdieing seven of the final nine holes for an 8-under 64 and a two-stroke lead with one round left at PGA West's TPC Stadium Course.
Winless since the 2013 PGA Championship, Dufner was at 23-under 193. He opened with a 64 on Thursday on the Nicklaus Tournament Course for a share of the lead and had a 65 on Friday on the Stadium Course to take a one-shot advantage.
''This is the way you want to play,'' Dufner said. ''This is what we work to do. My mindset's at a point where, no matter what happens out there, good swings, bad swings, I know that I can shoot good scores.''
Jamie Lovemark was second after a 65 on the Stadium Course.
''Any time you go out there and shoot 7 under, it's a good day, no matter what,'' Lovemark said. ''I was pleased with the way I played the entire round. I'm in good position to compete for a win tomorrow.''
Adam Hadwin had a 64 on the Nicklaus Course to get to 20 under. The Canadian missed a chance to get closer, bogeying the par-5 15th after hitting into the water and closing with three pars.
''It's just going to be a question of handling the nerves and making sure those putts kind of keep hitting the lines,'' Hadwin said.
Phil Mickelson was tied for fifth at 17 under in his first start since the Presidents Cup in October and first since splitting with swing coach Butch Harmon to work with Andrew Getson. Lefty had a bogey-free 66 at the Stadium Course, holing a flop shot for birdie on the 10th hole.
''It's been a good three days,'' Mickelson said. ''It's been a good start.''
Dufner started the birdie spree on the first hole, hitting a lob wedge to 10 feet. He made a 20-footer on No. 3, hit a 9-iron out of a bunker to 3 feet on 4, two-putted the par-5 fifth and sixth, and made it five in a row with a 12-footer on 7. He rolled in another 12-footer on 9 for his 10th birdie of the day.
''I don't worry about zones and talking about stuff like that,'' Dufner said. ''I'm just trying to hit each shot as good as I can and not let results and outcome dictate how I feel or how I think out there. ... I'm just playing golf like I should.''
Dufner earned his PGA Tour card at PGA West in 2008 and is comfortable on the Stadium Course, the Pete Dye-designed layout being used in the event for the first time since 1987.
''Conditions are perfect for scoring,'' Dufner said. ''I'm not too worried about what other people are saying about golf courses. I feel like I can play pretty good. You got a lot of scoring clubs in your hand on that course.''
The Stadium Course had a three-day average of 70.908. The Nicklaus Course finished at 68.930, and La Quinta at 69.149. The cut was at 9 under, with 70 players returning to the Stadium Course on Sunday.
''I don't feel as though this is a similar final-round course like we've had in the past,'' Mickelson said. ''You could get away with some wayward shots and still shoot in the 60s. But if you come out here and play a little sloppy, you're going to shoot in the mid- to high-70s. It's a very penalizing course for anything less than perfectly struck shots.''
David Lingmerth was five strokes back at 18 under after a 62 on the Nicklaus Course. The Swede had six straight birdies from No. 14 to No. 1, eagled the par-5 fifth, birdied the seventh and closed with two pars.
''I was hoping to catch up and get a little bit closer than I am right now,'' Lingmerth said.
Kevin Na matched Lingmerth with a 62 on Nicklaus Course, playing his last seven holes in 8 under with an eagle and seven birdies to get to 17 under. ''Every shot was at the flag,'' Na said.
Round 2 - Jason Dufner leads at halfway
January 23, 2016
Jason Dufner, seeking a first US PGA Tour title since his major triumph at the 2013 PGA Championship, fired a seven-under par 65 to take a one-shot lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Dufner had eight birdies in his round on the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta, in the southern California desert, the toughest of three par-72 layouts in use over the first three days of the $5.8 million tournament.
His 36-hole total of 15-under par 129 put him one stroke in front of Jamie Lovemark, who carded a seven-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course for 130.
Dufner got off to a blazing start on the Stadium Course, back in the tournament rotation for the first time since 1987, with six birdies in the first nine holes.
After a bogey at 10 he birdied two of the next three and parred the last four to equal the best score of the week on that course.
"It's a difficult golf course," Dufner said. "There's a little bit of room to play off the tee, but if you get off the path a little bit, you can get into some trouble. ... It's definitely the most difficult of the courses we have played here."
Lovemark teed off on 10 and enjoyed a round highlighted by an eagle at the par-four first, where he holed a shot from 105 yards out.
"Got a little tired coming down the stretch," admitted Lovemark, who also had six birdie and a bogey."There's some long rounds out here."
Defending champion Bill Haas, a two-time winner of the event, carded a second straight 66 and was among a group sharing third on 132.
He was joined by overnight co-leader Anirban Lahiri of India, who shot 68, Canada's Adam Hadwin (66), Jason Gore (64) and Andrew Loupe (66).
Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson headlined a group sharing eighth on 133 after a 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.
He was joined at 11-under by Argentina's Angel Cabrera, Michael Thompson, Brian Harman, Brendan Steele, Ryan Palmer and John Huh -- who carded an eight-under 64 on the Tournament Course.
Mickelson, teeing it up for the first time since September, said he's still not 100 percent confident in his game.
But he still thought he had a shot at adding a third title to the ones he captured here in 2002 and 2004.
"I'm probably a week away, if I'm being honest," Mickelson said. "But I've also won with a lot less game than I have right now."
Round 1 - Four share lead with opening 64s
January 22, 2016
India's Anirban Lahiri launched his first season as a US PGA Tour member with confidence on Thursday, firing an eight-under par 64 to join a four-way tie for the first-round lead at La Quinta, California.
Lahiri found 11 of 14 fairways and all 18 greens in regulation as he piled up eight birdies on the La Quinta Country Club course, one of three par-72 layouts used over the first three rounds of the $5.8 million CareerBuilder Challenge in the California desert.
He was joined atop the leaderboard by 49-year-old Jerry Kelly, who also played La Quinta, and by Jason Dufner and Jeff Overton, who both played at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course.
Dufner drained a 20-foot putt at his final hole to join the leading group with his eighth birdie of the day. Four of his birdies came in his last six holes as he vies for his first official tour win since the 2013 PGA Championship.
Lahiri's eight birdies included three in a row at 11-13.
"I kept it in play all day and I think that's pretty neat to do around a course like La Quinta," said the 28-year-old. "I'm pretty happy with the way I hit it off the tee and didn't miss a green -- so that usually does it for you."
Lahiri earned his US tour card via the Web.com developmental tour last season.
But he has travelled the world playing top-flight golf. His 18 international victories include winning twice in three weeks last February on the European Tour, and last year he became the first Indian to play for the Internationals in a Presidents Cup.
"I'm really excited," he said of tackling a full US tour season. "I've been wanting to come out and play here for a while now. I'm going to take whatever opportunities come my way."
The leading group were one stroke in front of Colt Knost and Jamie Lovemark, while defending champion Bill Haas was in a group of 11 players on 66.
A group of 13 players shared 18th place on 67.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, making his first competitive start since September, delighted his legion of fans by holing out for an eagle at La Quinta's par-four eighth.
"It was a fun start to the year," Mickelson said after signing for a 68. "I've had a lot of time off. It was fun to get back in the swing of it. We had a beautiful day here, the weather was spectacular and the golf course was great. I had a good, solid round. It was a good way to start."