Jason Dufner went low for a win in La Quinta in 2016, but does he make sense as a DraftKings play for this year’s CareerBuilder Challenge?
After two picturesque weeks in Hawaii, the PGA Tour has finally arrived in the mainland United States. The CareerBuilder Challenge kicks off tomorrow in the Coachella Valley, and with three courses in the rotation, including the recently reintroduced Stadium Course at PGA West, it should provide a fun challenge for fantasy managers.
In a rare event for the town of La Quinta, California, rain is in the forecast. The winds will be high and temperatures will be relatively low, so don’t expect scoring to be as low as it was last year, when Jason Dufner took home the trophy with a score of 25-under.
The Stadium Course, back for a second year after returning from a long hiatus, will take centerstage as the host of the final round, as well as earlier-week rounds in each of the first three days.
Several players who performed well in 2016 are featured in my picks this week, so I’m counting on them to make good on the promise they showed in the good conditions of last year’s event. The field of 156 will also play the Nicklaus Tournament course and La Quinta Country Club.
Without further ado, let’s get to my picks for this week. Each player’s DraftKings salary is included next to his name.
2016 wasn’t his best season, but with a tie for 13th at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, Haas is off to a solid start in the new year. He’s now up to four consecutive top 20 finishes, so he’s definitely trending well heading into this week. What’s more, the CareerBuilder has been kind to him in the past — he was the big winner in 2010 and 2015, and he fared pretty well in his first look at the Stadium Course last year, managing a tie for ninth. If he fulfills his projection, he can anchor any lineup.
After a breakout season in 2016, Lovemark looks poised to continue his good play in the new year. The California native has reeled off back-to-back top 10 finishes, including a tie for fourth at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, where he fired three rounds of 65 or better. He also ranks 19th on the new PGA Tour season in strokes gained: putting, so he shouldn’t have any trouble making birdies in the Coachella Valley. Throw in his tie for sixth at last year’s CareerBuilder Challenge, and Lovemark checks all the boxes.
If there’s one player who will bring a ton of momentum into this week’s event, it’s Reavie. On Sunday at the Sony Open, the Kansas native came within a whisker of a historic round, settling for a final round 61 and a tie for eighth. It was his second straight top 10 and his fourth top 25 in his last five starts, so he’s been trending well for months now. He also tied for 17th at last year’s CareerBuilder Challenge, a good sign as he prepares for a second go-round at the Stadium Course.
This Canadian didn’t contend for many trophies during his first two seasons on the PGA Tour, but he’s slowly but surely been trending towards a high finish over the past several weeks. Hadwin will enter the CareerBuilder Challenge on the back of three consecutive top 30 finishes, including a tie for 10th in his most recent start, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He also tied for sixth at last year’s CareerBuilder Challenge, so the experience is there. If he can avoid the big numbers, then Hadwin should be able to pack a real fantasy punch this week.
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David Lingmerth — $7,300
If you’re looking for a high-risk, high-reward option with the potential to push your team over the edge, then Lingmerth might just be your guy. The Swede has experienced his share of career highlights at the CareerBuilder, having lost a pair of sudden death playoffs — one to Brian Gay back in 2013, the other to Jason Dufner just last year. In terms of recent form, he couldn’t get much of anything going at Wailele last week, but he did notch a solo 13th at the Nedbank Challenge last November. He’s always inconsistent, but if there’s one week to invest, it’s this one.