After its two-tournament expenditure in Hawaii, the PGA is heading to California as the CareerBuilder Challenge is set to commence on Thursday. This tournament has a spin to it as it is played at 3 courses over the 4 days. This means that instead of the usual cut at the end of the second round, it will instead take place at the end of round three with the typical top 70 plus ties advancing. Two of the three courses are Par 72 and the other one is Par 71, thus Par 5s will be one of the main factors of success at this tournament. Additionally, all three courses are made up of Bermuda fairways and greens. Furthermore, the key statistics for the CareerBuilder Challenge are SG:Approach, Par 5 scoring average, and birdie or better %.
Top Price Tier:
Webb Simpson DK $9,700 FD $11,100
Simpson had a great showing last week at the Sony Open. He climbed the leaderboard vastly by shooting a 63 and 65 in the final two rounds finishing T4 overall. On the season, Simpson has made all 4 of his cuts but he had to withdraw from the RSM Classic to be with his ailing father. The rest his made cuts have resulted in Top 20 finishes. He finished last season very strong and he is showing some great upside with his high finishes. Simpson has participated in the CareerBuilder Challenge in each of the lsat 5 years. Despite a missed cut in 2013 and T66 last year, he had 3 very good results in the years in between (all in the top 25). The way he has been playing combined with his experience here really emphasizes his value and potential this week. In terms of statistics, Webb is one of the better approach shooters in the PGA. He finished last season 21st in SG:Approach and 104th in GIR. This year, he is 19th in SG:Approach and 54th in GIR. As for his Par 5 game, Simpson ranks T40th in Par 5 scoring average at 4.52, with tour average being 4.67. He makes birdie or better on 45.24% of his Par 5 opportunities which is better than tour average (42.30). Simpson was extremely solid in birdie making last week. He ranked 4th in the field in BoB% as he had 23 birdies in the 72 holes. With an overall fairly weak field, I expect Simpson to attain his second consecutive top 10 finish.
Mid Price Tier:
Austin Cook DK $8,700 FD $9,800
Cook has been outstanding this season and his price is extremely favorable as it does not reflect how well this kid has been playing this season. He is 6/6 in cuts made and, including a WIN at the RSM Classic, currently has 3 consecutive finishes in the Top 25. Last week, he attained a T18 at the Sony Open. Being a rookie on the PGA Tour, Cook has never played at the CareerBuilder Challenge but his statistics show that this event is a great fit for him. Cook has an above average approach game that has been improving as the weeks progress. On the season he ranks 112th in SG:Approach and 41st in GIR. Last week, Cook ranked 38th in the field in SG:Approach and 23rd in GIR. He has also been playing Par 5s very well up to this point. He ranks 38th in Par 5 scoring average and 24th in Par 5 birdie or better %. Overall in birdie making, Cook ranks 39th in the PGA converting in 24.77% of his holes. On the hot streak that he is on, I feel like Cook makes a great GPP and Cash play this week given that he is guaranteed to play 3 rounds this week so there is promise in that regard.
Low Price Tier:
Brian Stuard DK $7,500 FD $8,800
Like Cook, Stuard has been unbelievable to start the season making 6/6 cuts. He has done so more quietly and his price does not reflect how well he has been playing. Including last week’s T4 at the Sony Open, Stuard has finished in the top 10 3 times as he is showing tremendous upside this season. He has been taking advantage of the weaker field/easier tournaments and with a relatively weak field this week, it should be a great sign for him heading into the CareerBuilder Challenge. Stuard has missed his last two cuts here, however, he has finished in the Top 10 in 2013 and 2014 so success he does have pretty good experience here. Although he does not play Par 5s that well, Stuard has been a Par 4 machine which is great on any given week as it is the most common hole on the golf course. As for his approach, he ranks 55th in SG:Approach and 38th in GIR. Lastly, his birdie or better % is 105th overall but last week he was 4th in the field. I think, given his slight inconsistencies in past years and questionable course history, Stuard is a decent GPP play heading in to this week.
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As our main PGA writer, Gabriel D’Antonio knows all the ins and outs of golf. As a team golfer for many years, Gabriel knows how to spot the best PGA players. And as a fantasy sports player, Gabriel knows the ins and outs of winning! Check out his articles when it comes time for the pros to hit the links.