I'll just cut to the chase here and say that while I've heard of Hudson Swafford, I probably couldn't have told you anything about him before he was the surprise winner of the CareerBuilder Challenge on Sunday to start the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing.
Swafford, with birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes on Sunday, emerged from a pack for his first PGA Tour victory. Swafford, 29 and in his fourth year on Tour, had not finished better than a tie for eighth in 92 previous starts. His final-round of 5-under 67 gave him an overall score of 20-under 268, one stroke ahead of Canada's Adam Hadwin and two ahead of Bud Cauley and Brian Harman. So not exactly a star-studded leaderboard.
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Swafford, who went to Georgia, now gets to play in the Masters for the first time. After his first five holes Sunday, Swafford was five strokes behind leader Chad Campbell. Swafford clearly has game as it was his 19th straight made cut. His last MC was the 2016 Zurich Classic of New Orleans -- which was his fourth missed cut in a row at that time.
The other big story of the tournament was a second 59 on the PGA Tour already this season, this time shot by Hadwin in the third round. He shot just the third sub-60 round without an eagle. The CareerBuilder Challenge became the first PGA Tour event with multiple 59s. David Duval shot a final-round 59 to win in 1999.
Obviously I didn't touch on Swafford or Hadwin or Cauley or Harman last week. My pick to win was two-time champion Bill Haas, but he was T17. I missed on Patrick Reed for a Top 10 by just a shot. Also liked Sweden's David Lingmerth for one as he was a two-time runner-up in the event but was T34. I hit on a few head-to-head props, but overall a tournament to forget.
I am not a big fan of Tiger Woods, but there's no question that golf is way more interesting when Tiger's around and contending. Woods makes his first official PGA Tour start since August 2015 at this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines outside San Diego. It's probably Tiger's favorite course other than Augusta National. He holds the PGA Tour record for the number of wins at one course with eight: Bay Hill in Orlando, Firestone in Akron and Torrey Pines. Seven of those victories are in this tournament, last in 2013. His last major championship also was at Torrey, beating Rocco Mediate in that memorable 19-hole playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open. Shoot, Woods also won also won a World Junior Championship at Torrey Pines. Tiger played in an unofficial tournament that he hosts in December, the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He tied for the lead in the 18-player field with 24 birdies but finished 15th because of some bogey issues. His final-round 76 was the worst of any player all week.
Brandt Snedeker is the defending champion. Wind was a factor last year and he won at just 6-under 282, the highest winning score at Torrey Pines since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. The average score was a whopping 77.9, highest of any non-major Tour event since statistics for such things started being tracked in 1983. Snedeker also won the event in 2012.
Golf Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Favorites
Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Dustin Johnson is the +800 favorite at Bovada . He was T2 last week in Abu Dhabi, his third straight worldwide start no worse than T6. I am concerned about DJ's travel back from the Middle East to California. He was third here in 2011 but doesn't have a Top 10 at Torrey Pines since.
World No. 1 Jason Day is +1000, and he could still be rusty in having played just one event, the 2017 opening Tournament of Champions (12th), since having to withdraw from last year's two final two FedEx Cup events due to back troubles. Day did win this tournament in 2015 and was second the year before but missed the cut last year.
Hideki Matsuyama (+1200), Reed, Snedeker and Brooks Koepka (all +2500) round out the favorites. Matsuyama was 27th at the Sony Open last time out and has missed the cut here the past two years but had been playing fantastic before the Sony. Snedeker obviously likes this course but missed the cut at the Sony Open last time out. Koepka is making his 2017 debut. He was 41st here in 2015.
Golf Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Picks
Just once in the past 13 years has the 54-hole leader at Torrey Pines won this event, and that was Tiger in 2008 when he won by eight shots. An American has won this tournament all but three times.
Tiger is +3000 to win. That would be quite a story, but I don't see it. He is -175 to make the cut and +135 not to. I'd probably say no. Tiger is -140 to hit his first shot in the fairway and +110 not to. Go yes.
For a Top 10, I like Snedeker (+200), Jimmy Walker (+250) and Scott Stallings (+500). Stalling won this tournament in 2014 and was a playoff loser the next year. On top European, I like Martin Laird at +400. He has Top 10s the past two years at Torrey and one last week.
Head-to-head, go Justin Rose (-120) over Rickie Fowler (-110), Walker (-105) over Koepka (-125), Snedeker (+120) over Matsuyama (-155), Johnson (-115) over Day (-115), and Phil Mickelson (-110) over Tiger (-120).
You can get Fowler, Tiger and Mickelson at +1000 vs. the field (-2500). I can't recommend that one, but I'm going to go with Matsuyama, Koepka and Walker at +500 vs. the field (-900) because Walker's my guy this week. In four of his past five Farmers, he has four Top 10s and two T4s -- including last year.
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