After two weeks in Hawaii, the PGA Tour is back on the US mainland for the CareerBuilder Challenge, writes Phil Casey.
A late hat-trick of birdies saw Hudson Swafford win his maiden PGA Tour title 12 months ago, a closing 67 giving him a one-shot victory over Canada’s Adam Hadwin.
Hadwin had fired a sensational 59 in the third round and low scoring is vital in an event which uses three different courses, with Swafford 20 under par, 2016 winner Jason Dufner 25 under and Bill Haas 22 under in 2015.
And that points us towards something of a gamble on the aptly-named Jhonattan Vegas, who won his maiden PGA Tour title in this event back in 2011.
Vegas shot 27 under par in what was then the Bob Hope Classic before beating Bill Haas and Gary Woodland in a play-off, albeit on a slightly different course rotation and over five rounds.
However, he was also 21 under par in successfully defending his RBC Canadian Open title last year, a victory which helped him become the first Venezuelan to compete in the Presidents Cup – where he beat Jordan Spieth in the Sunday singles.
Vegas began the year with a tie for seventh in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and can be backed in the each-way CareerBuilder Challenge betting at 50/1.
Our second selection’s early-season form is not so good, but his tournament record means it’s impossible to overlook Hadwin at a price of 66/1.
The 30-year-old from Moose Jaw was sixth in 2016 and, as mentioned previously, second 12 months ago. He could only finish 32nd out of 34 in Hawaii but had not played at all for eight weeks before finishing runner-up last year so can be forgiven that performance.
Spain’s Jon Rahm is a worthy favourite and I would not necessarily put anyone off backing the world number three at 8/1, but the last of our CareerBuilder Challenge tips is young prospect Talor Gooch.
Gooch graduated from the Web.com Tour last season thanks largely to a mid-season run of form which read 11-10-2-1 and he has made the cut in five out of six PGA Tour starts since.
The 26-year-old was in contention in Hawaii last week before fading slightly over the weekend to finish 18th, but odds of 150/1 are unlikely to be around for much longer if he continues to improve.
CareerBuilder Challenge betting tips
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