Having traded Hawaii for Palm Springs — it’s not a huge step down — the PGA Tour is in the southern California desert this week for the CareerBuilder Challenge (formerly the Humana Challenge and, long before that, the Bob Hope to us oldtimers).
Not only is there a new title sponsor but they’re playing new courses — the Nicklaus Tournament course and the Stadium Course at PGA West. The layouts are different but the goal isn’t — make birdies and more birdies.
Here are five players to keep an eye on this week:
5. Si Woo Kim: He got into contention at Waialae but couldn’t finish it on Sunday. He has a beautifully rhythmic swing and should bring good vibes with him from Hawaii.
4. Phil Mickelson: Time to see what Mickelson has in 2016, having changed coaches since last fall. He’s 45 now and didn’t have a great season last year. He’ll come out enthused, looking to make a statement somewhere on the West Coast.
3. Zac Blair: Sure, he’s a little fidgety over the ball sometimes but Blair showed his toughness at the Sony Open last week, especially with the 3-wood second shot on the 72nd hole that nearly got him into a playoff. He’s not a bomber so the desert should suit him.
2. Ryan Palmer: Looking for someone to go low? Palmer can do it. He’s 68-under par in this event the last three years. Something about desert golf just suits him.
1. Patrick Reed: He torched the desert two years when here two years ago and he’s been on a roll since last year, stacking up seven straight top-10 finishes around the world. When he has it going, as he obviously does, Reed is very difficult to beat.
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— Global Golf Post (@GlobalGolfPost) January 18, 2016