CareerBuilder Challenge 2017
Round 4 - Hudson Swafford claims first PGA Tour win
January 22, 2017
Hudson Swafford finally joined the winner's circle, firing a five-under-par 67 for a one-stroke victory at the PGA Tour's CareerBuilder Challenge.
The 29-year-old American on Sunday birdied three of his last four holes to claim his maiden USPGA Tour win in his 93rd Tour start.
"This is a dream come true," Swafford said. "I really didn't get ahead of myself, didn't really look at leaderboards, didn't really know where I was."
He compiled a 20-under 268 total to finish one stroke ahead of Canada's Adam Hadwin, who closed with a 70, one day after storming to a 13-under 59 in the third round at the La Quinta Country Club near Palm Springs, California.
Bud Cauley and Brian Harman both shot 69s and finished in a tie for third at 18-under 270.
Swafford is in his fourth year on the Tour and had never finished higher than a tie for eighth. In five previous starts this season his best finish was a tie for 13th at last week's Sony Open.
Beginning the day two shots off the lead, Swafford got off to a rocky start with a bogey at the par-four No. 1 before stringing together five straight pars.
Swafford then caught fire with a burst of three straight birdies to close out his front nine.
On the par-four seventh, he hit his approach to five feet from the hole then easily made the short birdie putt.
After making birdie on the par-five eighth, he drained a 14-foot putt for birdie on the par-four ninth.
"I felt like my posture was good all day, and it just allowed the club to be in a perfect slot," Swafford said.
"That's all we focused on this week. I had really good rhythm, was standing tall and was hitting it beautifully.
"I didn't make every putt I looked at, but I felt like I was hitting some pretty good putts, and to make three of the last four, and I felt like I actually made the one on the last hole, it was pretty special."
The win comes with some nice perks, as Swafford is now qualified for the Masters, the Players Championship, the Dean and Deluca Invitational, the Memorial, the PGA Championship and the 2018 SBS Tournament of Champions.
Third round leader Hadwin was also in search of his first PGA Tour win but his two-under 70 left him just shy of victory.
On Saturday, the 29-year-old from suburban Vancouver became the first Canadian shoot a 59, leaving him one stroke off the Tour record 58 fired last year by American Jim Furyk at the Travelers Championship.
He birdied two of his final three holes Sunday to finish at 19-under 269.
Of the nine players to card a 59 (or better) on tour, Hadwin is the fourth who failed to win the event.
"I can't help but be slightly disappointed," Hadwin said. "I really wanted to come out here and kind of prove that yesterday was just kind of a continuation of some good play and kind of get it done today, but I got beat."
Dominic Bozzelli, who grabbed the first-round lead with a 64, finished in fifth place at 271, closing with a 71.
Brendan Steele (70) and Chad Campbell (71) tied for sixth place at 272. Scott Stalling (66) took eighth at 273, and Sean O'Hair (69), Richy Werenski (70) and Scotland's Martin Laird (69) all came in at 274, tied for ninth.
Round 3 - Adam Hadwin shoots a 59
January 21, 2017
The temperature barely climbed into the 60s on a spectacular, clear afternoon in the desert after two rainy days. Adam Hadwin stopped counting at 59 - 13-under 59, that is.
The 29-year-old Canadian shot the ninth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and the second in 10 days to take the third-round lead Saturday in the CareerBuilder Challenge.
''I think everybody talks about kind of they were in a zone and I think that's kind of what happened,'' Hadwin said. ''I was thinking about it. I knew exactly where I was. I knew exactly what I needed to do. It just didn't seem to matter.''
Hadwin made a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th and got up-and-down for par - making a 3-footer - from just off the green on the par-4 18th at La Quinta Country Club.
''Last thing I wanted to do was miss a 3-footer for 59,'' Hadwin said. ''So, I was more relieved than anything walking off that green.''
Justin Thomas had an 11-under 59 last week in Hawaii in the first round of his Sony Open victory. Hadwin matched David Duval's tournament record, a 13-under 59 on the Arnold Palmer Private Course in the final round of his 1999 victory. Jim Furyk shot a tour-record 12-under 58 last year in the Travelers Championship.
Hadwin was at 17-under 199 after starting the day tied for 49th at 4 under, a stroke below the eventual cut. He played the first two days at PGA West, shooting 71 on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course and 69 on the Stadium Course - the site of the final round Sunday.
''The Stadium Course is a much tougher course than La Quinta,'' Hadwin said. ''It's a Sunday. I got a chance to win a golf tournament. That's what you want going into Sunday, and I'm excited about that. ... They say one of hardest things in golf is to follow up a low round. I have to figure out a way to convince myself that I just shot 67.''
The former Louisville player is the first Canadian - he was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and grew up in Abbortsford, British Columbia - to break 60 on the tour. He's also the first to accomplish the feat on a par-72 course since Duval, and the only non-winner to break 60 on the tour.
''I think what gives sort of me the most confidence is that I knew exactly what I needed to do and through that whole process, if anything, I was thinking 58,'' Hadwin said. ''So, to be able to do it when I needed to. I know I was nervous. The putt barely went in on 17, and I only had 6 feet.''
Hadwin had 13 birdies in the bogey-free round, hit 12 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens in regulation, and needed only 21 putts. He opened with a par with the temperature in the low-50s and snow sparkling on the mountain peaks, birdied the next six and added another on No. 9 for a front-nine 29. He birdied Nos. 11-15 to get to 12 under.
Hadwin credited playing partner Colt Knost for keeping him relaxed.
''He's a character and so everything was very light, Hadwin said.
Said Knost: ''We have been talking all week. We always talk when we play. So, I kept just trying to make it the same way, have fun with it and just talk to him and treat it like it's a normal round. He knew where he stood, yeah. He was kind of joking about it. He was just focused on what he was doing. He did a great job.''
Rookie Dominic Bozzelli was a stroke back after a 69 on the Nicklaus layout.
''I've been riding a hot putter these last couple days,'' Bozzelli said.
Second-round leader Hudson Swafford was 15 under with Bud Cauley, Brian Harman and Chad Campbell.
Swafford shot a 71 on the Stadium Course, making a double bogey after hitting left into the 18-foot deep bunker on the par-5 16th and dropping another shot on the par-3 17th after barely reaching the island green. Cauley (65), Campbell (66) and Harman (69) played at La Quinta.
Phil Mickelson closed with a watery double bogey for a 73 on the Stadium Course, leaving him eight strokes back in his return from two sports hernia surgeries. The 46-year-old Hall of Famer had surgery Oct. 19 and again Dec. 12. Caddie Jim ''Bones'' Mackay also is making a comeback after having both knees replaced.
Round 2 - Hudson Swafford leads at halfway
January 21, 2017
Hudson Swafford beat the rain Friday in the CareerBuilder Challenge, and Phil Mickelson played his best in the worst of the conditions.
Then, there's Danny Lee.
''I actually wanted to play in the rain, so I could experiment with myself,'' Lee said. ''Hopefully, it rains tomorrow.''
The New Zealander probably won't get his wish Saturday, but another storm could pass through the desert oasis Sunday afternoon.
Swafford finished just before the rain moved in, shooting his second straight 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead. Winless in his four-year PGA Tour career, the former Georgia star had a bogey-free round on the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West after opening the pro-am tournament Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.
''Managed to keep the ball in the fairway,'' Swafford said. ''That gives you a lot of nice approach shots into greens. I'm driving the ball beautifully.''
The rain-seeking Lee and first-round leader Dominic Bozzelli were tied for second.
Lee closed with a birdie for a 64 at La Quinta, far exceeding his expectations after a month off.
''Just trying to break 80, seriously,'' Lee said. ''Trying to not shoot something overly ridiculous, since I'm playing with the amateurs.''
Bozzelli followed an opening 64 on PGA West's Stadium Course with a 67 at La Quinta.
''It wasn't my best today, but I was able to save par, made some pretty big par saves throughout the round and kept it going,'' Bozzelli said. ''Actually, pretty lucky that weather held off a little bit longer than I thought it would.''
The tee times were moved up an hour to 7:30 a.m., and Swafford and many players finished before the storm rolled in over the San Jacinto Mountains at about 1 p.m.
''I had a full rain suit, five towels in the bag,'' said Swafford, coming off a tie for 13th last week in Hawaii in the Sony Open. ''My caddie was griping all day about how heavy it was. But I made a few birdies early and he said the bag was getting a little lighter.''
Mickelson got to use all of his rain gear, playing the final six holes in intermittent showers in the second-to-last group off the 10th tee on the Nicklaus course. The tournament ambassador followed an opening 68 at La Quinta with a 66 to reach 10 under in his return from two sports hernia surgeries.
''I hit a lot more good shots today than I did yesterday, but I'm still hitting some really bad ones,'' said Mickelson, the 2002 and 2004 winner. ''And that's fine. It's to be expected. I knew that was going to happen, but I've been able to kind of manage those and get away with some pars.''
The 46-year-old Mickelson had surgery Oct. 19 - three days after tying for eighth in the season-opening Safeway Open - and again Dec. 12.
Lefty made a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 11th - his second hole - and holed a bunker shot for birdie on the par-4 first. In the rain, he birdied Nos. 4-6 and closed with three pars with the wind picking up.
''It was really hard in these conditions,'' Mickelson said. ''I actually made some birdies in these conditions, so I felt very fortunate with the score that I had in this weather. The back nine I played some really good golf.''
Brendan Steele, the Safeway winner from the nearby mountain town of Idyllwild, was two strokes back at 12 under with Brian Harman. Steele shot a 64 on the Nicklaus layout, birdieing four of the last six holes.
''It was nice of them to move the tee times up for us as it starts to rain right now,'' Steele said. ''I was able to get done just in time and took advantage of some good conditions.''
Harman had a 65 on the Stadium Course, the toughest of the three layouts and the site of the final round.
Round 1 - Phil Mickelson shoots 68 on return
January 20, 2017
Phil Mickelson hit his opening tee shot so poorly in morning rain and cold that he hit a provisional ball just to get in another swing.
He scrambled to par the hole and went on to shoot a 4-under 68 on Thursday in the CareerBuilder Challenge, leaving him four strokes back in his return from two sports hernia surgeries.
''I struck it horrible, but I scored out of my mind,'' Mickelson said. ''So, I'm very happy with it. My first round of golf was Saturday and I've been able to work out just the last two weeks.''
Lefty hooked his first tee shot into the trees at La Quinta Country Club, then reloaded and hit the provisional into the fairway.
''That next hole, the second hole's an extremely difficult drive and I wanted to just get another swing,'' Mickelson said.
He found the first ball and hammered a shot under the trees to just off the front of the green.
''It was really a great day for me because I scored so much better than I played,'' Mickelson said. ''And when I finally did hit some really good shots I ended up close and made a few birdies. And when I hit some really bad shots - and I hit some really bad shots - I was still able to salvage some up-and-downs for pars.''
Tour rookie Dominic Bozzelli shot a 64 on the Stadium Course at PGA West - the most difficult of the three courses - to top the leaderboard. He holed out from 115 yards for eagle on the par-4 14th.
''Been working hard back home, doing all right things on and off the course, and it's nice to come out and have that hard work pay off,'' Bozzelli said.
Jhonattan Vegas, the 2011 champion, was a stroke back at 65 along with Harold Varner III, Hudson Swafford and Patton Kizzire. Vegas and Kizzire played PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Varner and Swafford opened at La Quinta.
Rain fell off and on in the morning and more was expected Friday, with the PGA Tour moving the tee times up an hour.
''Ain't nobody never comfortable when you're having to play golf when it's raining and a little cool like it was,'' Boo Weekley said after a 66 on the Stadium Course.
Play started with the temperature in lows 50s and it barely climbed into the 60s in the afternoon. The forecast high Friday was 61.
''The ball didn't go as far, but you don't have to hit it that far out here,'' Varner said.
The 46-year-old Mickelson had surgery Oct. 19 - three days after tying for eighth in the season-opening Safeway Open - and again Dec. 12.
''I feel fine,'' Mickelson said. ''I've been able to work out the last two weeks. And again, you start out real slow, but you get back to it, you get it back pretty quick.''
His caddie, Jim ''Bones'' Mackay also made a comeback after having both knees replaced.
Mickelson won the 2002 and 2004 events and tied for third last year. The first-year tournament ambassador won the last of his 42 PGA Tour titles in the 2013 British Open.
''There's no better place to learn and to get better than to come out here on these great golf courses and put it to the test,'' Mickelson said. ''You can get away with some mistakes, and I was able to salvage a few pars with up-and-downs, so it doesn't beat you up too bad. It's a perfect place to start the year.''
Wearing a jacket with a logo of his leaping celebration in the 2004 Masters, Lefty hit a wedge to 2 feet for birdie on the par-4 fourth and also birdied the par-5 sixth and par-4 eighth. On the par-4 ninth, he made a 45-foot birdie putt after driving left onto the adjacent first hole.
Mickelson had his best par save on the par-4 16th after losing another drive to the left. He hit under the trees into the front left bunker, blasted short into the fringe and holed an 18-foot chip. He bogeyed the par-4 17th after driving into the left bunker, and made an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th.
DIVOTS: The players averaged 71.423 on Stadium Course, 70.327 on the Nicklaus layout, and 70.154 at La Quinta. ... Bill Haas, the 2010 and 2015 winner, played alongside Mickelson, and matched him at 68. ... Patrick Reed, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 9, had a 69 at La Quinta. He won in 2014, shooting 63-63-63-71 to break the PGA Tour record for relation to par for the first 54 holes at 27 under and become the first player in tour history to open with three rounds of 63 or better. ... Defending champion Jason Dufner shot a 70 at La Quinta.