I took a much-needed vacation last week so didn't preview the Sony Open, the second and final tournament of the Hawaii Swing. And that's probably good I didn't because I guarantee you that I wouldn't have even mentioned in passing Fabian Gomez, who was the winner of the first full-field event of 2016.
Gomez, from Argentina, beat American Brandt Snedeker on the second playoff hole. Gomez deserved it considering he shot a final-round 8-under 62, which included a string of seven straight birdies at one point. He had 10 overall on the day, including on the par-5 18th to get into the playoff. He was four shots out of the lead when he began his round. The victory was the second of Gomez's career with his first at last season's St. Jude Classic. Gomez joins Roberto de Vicenzo, Jose Coceres and Angel Cabrera as multiple winners from Argentina on the PGA Tour. The win also gives a huge boost to Gomez's chances of playing for his country in the Rio Olympics later this summer.
So I have no betting recap for you from that one. For the opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions the week before, I didn't even like Jordan Spieth for a Top 10 as he admitted to being a bit burned out a few weeks ago. So of course he dominated with an eight-shot win. The 22-year-old already has seven Tour wins. Only Tiger Woods has won that many times before age 23. I did hit on all three Top-10 picks at the Hyundai: Dustin Johnson (my projected winner) Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.
This week, the Tour begins the West Coast Swing with the longest tournament name on Tour, something right out of NASCAR: the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Yeah, I'm not typing all that so we will just stick with CareerBuilder Challenge. It's held at PGA West in LaQuinta, Calif. Spieth is over in Abu Dhabi this week (Rickie Fowler too) and so are pretty much all of the top Europeans.
So I suppose the main story line here is the season debut of Phil Mickelson. Late last year, the struggling Lefty (he gets the capital L) dropped Butch Harmon as his swing coach after eight year and replaced him with Andrew Getson. The Aussie is an instructor at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., where many Tour pros belong. Getson played 10 years on various Tours around the world but never made the PGA Tour. Mickelson, a 42-time winner, hasn't won since the 2013 British Open and has just five Top-10 finishes since. He wasn't a factor in any of last year's final three majors. Mickelson has won every tournament that has been part of the West Coast Swing in his career. He won this tournament in 2002 & '04.
Expect plenty of scoring here. The last four winners (since it changed to four rounds from five) have shot 22 under, 28 under, 25 under and 24 under on the three courses this tournament is staged. All players finish Sunday on the Stadium Course (and play one of first three rounds there). The Nicklaus Tournament Course is making its first appearance in the rotation.
Last year this was called the Humana Challenge, and I correctly called Bill Haas as the winner. He finished with a two-putt par on the par-5 18th to win by a shot. Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman, Sung Joon Park, Brendan Steele and Steve Wheatcroft all finished one shot back. Haas also won this tournament in 2010 for his first Tour victory.
Golf Odds: CareerBuilder Challenge Favorites
Patrick Reed is the +850 favorite at Bovada. He won here in 2014 while setting the tournament record of 28-under 260 and was 25th last year. Reed was second in the Hyundai two weeks ago and didn't play the Sony. He has finished in the Top 10 in his past six events overall.
Kuchar is +1600. As noted above, he was one of those runner-ups last year. He finished 13th last week in Hawaii. Kuchar also was second here in 2010.
The favorites are rounded out by Zach Johnson (+1800), Haas (+2500) and Ryan Palmer (+2500). Johnson was ninth last week and 21st at the Hyundai. He missed the cut here last year but was third in 2014. You know Haas' track record here. He also was a playoff loser in 2011. Palmer was T13 last week and has Top 10s in his past three trips here, including a runner-up in 2014. Mickelson is +3300 if you are wondering.
PGA Tour Picks: CareerBuilder Challenge Expert Betting Predictions
For a Top-10 finish, I'm going with Reed (-120), Palmer (+250) and Haas (+260). Don't see it happening with Lefty (+300). Head-to-head, I like Jason Bohn (-110) over Webb Simpson (-120), Jason Dufner (-115) over Robert Streb (-115), Haas (-105) over Johnson (-125), Billy Horschel (-115) over Luke Donald (-115), Reed (-135) over Kuchar (+105), Kevin Na (-115) over Mickelson (-115), and Steele (-115) over Marc Leishman (-115).
Go with Reed at +700 as the top American and John Senden at +600 as top Australian. I'm throwing some long-shot money on Charley Hoffman at +4000 to win because he won here in 2007 and was second last year. But Reed is my main guy.
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