A guide to the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge: Why watch this thing

The glory days of this PGA Tour event in Palm Springs are gone. But there’s still reason to keep tabs on what used to be famously known as the Bob Hope Classic.

The PGA Tour jumps back to the continental U.S. this week for the start of the West Coast swing. The annual stop in Palm Springs is now known as the CareerBuilder Challenge. The golden days of the Bob Hope Classic pro-am being one of the marquee events on the PGA Tour schedule are long gone. This event has struggled in its early season slot and in finding a host or a brand-name face like Hope to really give it pop and stand out on the crowded schedule, especially within a loaded West Coast swing.

The field is not strong and the venues — a rotating cast of three courses — are a bit meh. This has been lost in the shuffle of the packed schedule and is really struggling for an identity in recent years. There are, however, still some stars on hand and a few reasons to take in the third event of the year before things really ramp up next week at Torrey Pines with the return of Tiger Woods.

Here are your nuts and bolts as well as why you should watch the CareerBuilder Challenge. We’ll keep this updated with scores, highlights, news, and updated tee times as the week progresses in the Coachella Valley.

Why Watch

1) It’s golf. Listen, I am not going to fill up this section every week trying to fake it with a bunch of reasons why you must watch such-and-such event. The CareerBuilder Challenge has receded in prestige and, power and it’s one of the schedule’s lower-tier events now. The field is actually weaker than this week’s European Tour event, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The PGA Tour having a weaker field strength than the Euro Tour happens only a couple times a year. So I’d forgive you if you decided to read a book, hang with friends and family, go skiing, or play outside in the snow. But it’s still golf and it will be there to comfort and warm you up when you need it. Now here are a few more legitimate reasons to maybe tune in this week.

2) FIGJAM Returns. Once more into the breach. Phil Mickelson is back and the 47-year-old is (probably) going to tell you he’s never felt better, he’s never been more focused, and big things lie ahead in 2018. That may be. We know it will be entertaining and adventurous and thrilling and maybe heartbreaking at times. It’s been almost five years since Phil won, that legendary Sunday at Muirfield to take The Open in the summer of 2013. Tiger Woods, who had multiple back surgeries in those intervening years, has actually won more recently than Phil.

Phil trying to end this drought, make a Ryder Cup team for the 11th straight time, and stay competitive with all the 20-something bombers remains one of the most fascinating watches in the game. We haven’t seen him in three months. He’s 47 and will likely be at least competitive into his 50s, but the time left on this Phil experience is ticking down. Here’s another opportunity to take it in after a three-month absence.

CareerBuilder Challenge - Preview Day 3
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Phil and Rahm, the two headliners this week in the desert.

3) Rahmthreat. Jon Rahm is on the the opposite end of Phil. Another ASU product that’s coming through 25 years later with a potential Hall of Fame career in front of him. Rahm’s rise up the world rankings in his first full season on Tour was historically speedy. The Spaniard is No. 4 in the world and is just going to stay there in that top 10 for the next decade or so. His short backswing on the way to nuking 330-yard drives is one of the best to watch in the game. Following a runner-up in Maui and with a weaker field in Palm Springs, this could be the week he picks off an early season win.

4) Birdiefests and #59Watches. Like the Sony Open last week, this is another event that can yield the magic round of breaking 60. Adam Hadwin did it just a year ago here. David Duval did it at this event when it was the Bob Hope and breaking 60 was a much, much harder thing to do. It’s perfectly fine — and can be fun! — to occasionally have a week that’s a birdiefest every now and then, and 20-something-under is probably going to win it this week.

How to Watch

The first stop on the West Coast swing is the only one that’s exclusively covered on Golf Channel. The cable network will have all four rounds before spending the rest of the year splitting coverage with CBS or its sister network NBC on the weekends.

Each broadcast runs through the same coverage window all four days. Golf Channel’s technicians are still on strike after spending much of Tuesday negotiating a new deal, according to Martin Kaufmann of Golfweek. Golf Channel has contingency plans in place for the CareerBuilder, so it’s unlikely we’ll get the mad-dash scramble that we watched on Sunday at the Sony Open. This should approximate a normal, more professional production but it’s still not ideal to have the regulars and experts sitting out on strike.

This week also marks the return of PGA TOUR LIVE, the tour’s over-the-top streaming service that now has a couple full seasons under its belt. Now that we’re on the continental U.S., it will be here to stay for the rest of the year. It’s a good service, even if it now costs money for something that was free in a previous generation. The stream quality is close to perfect and it is the only way to watch the bigger names on Thursday and Friday mornings. It returns this week, however, with some featured groups that are ... underwhelming.

Here’s your full media schedule for the week:

Saturday’s second round coverage


3 to 7 p.m. — Golf Channel

Online streams:

3 to 7 p.m. — Golf Channel simulcast stream


1 to 7 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 92/208 and streamed here)

Sunday’s final round coverage


3 to 7 p.m. — Golf Channel

Online streams:

3 to 7 p.m. — Golf Channel simulcast stream


2 to 7 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 92/208 and streamed here)

Friday Tee Times

This is one of three events on the West Coast swing that spreads out across multiple courses. There are obviously a lot of golf courses in the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area. This week, the PGA Tour uses three. The limited daylight hours, a full field, and a pro-am component (which take forrreverrr) make it necessary to rotate courses to get in 72 holes in four days.

Here’s your tee sheet for Saturday, with the Tour sending them off split tees on all three of those courses for the final day. On Sunday, the field will be cut down and everything moves exclusively to the PGA West Stadium Course.

All times ET.

PGA West TPC Stadium

No. 1 Tee

  • 11:30 a.m.: Johnson Wagner, Martin Flores

  • 11:40 a.m.: Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker

  • 11:50 a.m.: J.T. Poston, Keith Mitchell

  • 12 p.m.: Scott Stallings, Kevin Na

  • 12:10 p.m.: Hudson Swafford, Brian Harman

  • 12:20 p.m.: Bud Cauley, Cameron Percy

  • 12:30 p.m.: Maverick McNealy, Charles Reiter

  • 12:40 p.m.: Chesson Hadley, Chez Reavie

  • 12:50 p.m.: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

  • 1 p.m.: Beau Hossler, Aaron Wise

  • 1:10 p.m.: Lucas Glover, Harris English

  • 1:20 p.m.: Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson

  • 1:30 p.m.: Sam Saunders, Peter Uihlein

No. 10 Tee

  • 11:30 a.m.: Colt Knost, Harold Varner III

  • 11:40 a.m.: Ricky Barnes, Camilo Villegas

  • 11:50 a.m.: Ben Silverman, Stephan Jaegar

  • 12 p.m.: Jonathan Byrd, Whee Kim

  • 12:10 p.m.: Chris Kirk, Scott Piercy

  • 12:20 p.m.: Cameron Tringale, Jason Kokrak

  • 12:30 p.m.: Roberto Diaz, Adam Schenk

  • 12:40 p.m.: Michael Kim, Matt Jones

  • 12:50 p.m.: Brian Stuard, Russell Knox

  • 1 p.m.: Lanto Griffin, Andrew Landry

  • 1:10 p.m.: Charlie Beljan, Ted Potter Jr.

  • 1:20 p.m.: Vaughn Taylor, Smylie Kaufman

  • 1:30 p.m.: Conrad Shindler, Brandon Harkins

PGA West Nicklaus Course

No. 1 Tee

  • 11:30 a.m.: Scott Brown, Troy Merritt

  • 11:40 a.m.: Brendan Steele, Webb Simpson

  • 11:50 a.m.: John Peterson, Dominic Bozzelli

  • 12 p.m.: Ryan Palmer, Hunter Mahan

  • 12:10 p.m.: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

  • 12:20 p.m.: Martin Laird, Luke List

  • 12:30 p.m.: Trey Mullinax, Kyle Thompson

  • 12:40 p.m.: Mark Wilson, David Lingmerth

  • 12:50 p.m.: Chris Stroud, Sean O’Hair

  • 1 p.m.: Tom Lovelady, Tyler Duncan

  • 1:10 p.m.: Chad Campbell, Ben Martin

  • 1:20 p.m.: James Hahn, Sangmoon Bae

  • 1:30 p.m.: Brett Stegmaier, Seamus Power

No. 10 Tee

  • 11:30 a.m.: J.J. Spaun, Brandon Hagy

  • 11:40 a.m.: Rod Pampling, Geoff Ogilvy

  • 11:50 a.m.: Robert Garrigus, Brice Garnett

  • 12 p.m.: J.J. Henry, Mark Brooks

  • 12:10 p.m.: Billy Hurley III, Brian Gay

  • 12:20 p.m.: Sung Kang, Shawn Stefani

  • 12:30 p.m.: Denny McCarthy, Nicholas Lindheim

  • 12:40 p.m.: Derek Fathauer, Steve Wheatcroft

  • 12:50 p.m.: Grayson Murray, Fabian Gomez

  • 1 p.m.: Andrew Yun, Ethan Tracy

  • 1:10 p.m.: Jason Gore, Corey Pavin

  • 1:20 p.m.: Nick Watney, Kevin Streelman

  • 1:30 p.m.: Rob Oppenheim, Nate Lashley

La Quinta Country Club

No. 1 Tee

  • 11:30 a.m.: Alex Cejka, Andrew Loupe

  • 11:40 a.m.: Austin Cook, Mac Hughes

  • 11:50 a.m.: Bronson Burgoon, Andrew Putnam

  • 12 p.m.: Nick Taylor, Jon Curran

  • 12:10 p.m.: Jim Herman, Daniel Summerhays

  • 12:20 p.m.: C.T. Pan, Ryan Blaum

  • 12:30 p.m.: Corey Conners, Xinjun Zhang

  • 12:40 p.m.: D.J. Trahan, Lee Janzen

  • 12:50 p.m.: Greg Chalmers, Peter Malnati

  • 1 p.m.: Zecheng Dou, Michael Block

  • 1:10 p.m.: Danny Lee, Richy Werenski

  • 1:20 p.m.: Wesley Bryan, Ryan Armour

  • 1:30 p.m.: Sam Ryder, Talor Gooch

No. 10 Tee

  • 11:30 a.m.: Blayne Barber, Tyrone Van Aswegen

  • 11:40 a.m.: Jhonattan Vegas, Charles Howell III

  • 11:50 a.m.: Jeff Grove, Tom Whitney

  • 12 p.m.: Matt Every, John Huh

  • 12:10 p.m.: Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin

  • 12:20 p.m.: Ben Crane, Zac Blair

  • 12:30 p.m.: Tom Hoge, Abraham Ancer

  • 12:40 p.m.: John Daly, Mike Weir

  • 12:50 p.m.: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

  • 1 p.m.: Martin Piller, Jonathan Randolph

  • 1:10 p.m.: Rory Sabbatini, David Hearn

  • 1:20 p.m.: Kevin Chappell, Stewart Cink

  • 1:30 p.m.: Matt Atkins, Joel Dahmen


We’ll update scores at the end of each day and recap each round here throughout the event.

Your leader after 18 holes is the highest ranked player in the field, Jon Rahm. The Spaniard was obviously one of the favorites this week in a weaker field and all he did is go out on Thursday and throw down a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. That’s the course that played the easiest in this three-course rotation, almost a half-stroke easier than the PGA West Nicklaus Tournament course and almost 2.5 strokes easier than the PGA West Stadium course.

R1 scoring at the @cbgolfchallenge:

68.442 = La Quinta
68.692 = Tournament
70.843 = Stadium https://t.co/Sw8hkxg47B

— Rob Bolton (@RobBoltonGolf) January 19, 2018

Phil Mickelson did not make his hay on that La Quinta opportunity, but said after the round he can never seem to play well there and actually bucks the trend, going lower at the other two courses. Mickelson is 2-under and in a tie for 88th place.

This is an event where you have to keep the pedal down. It’s almost like a Web.com Tour event in that regard — you need to pile up birdies and work toward a score of 20-under if you want to contend. Only 31 of the 156-man field is even or worse, and only 18 out of 156 players are over par. You just gotta go low or you have no chance.

Round 2 Scores

Andrew Landry is your 36-hole leader in the desert, posting a 7-under 65 to get to 16-under for the tournament. Landry is a name you might recognize from the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he came out of nowhere to contend into Sunday at the national championship. Landry spoke that week about the hot streaks he can get on and he’s apparently found one this week.

Rahm is now one shot back of Landry and is your favorite to win at the midpoint. The big Spaniard posted a 5-under 67 on Friday afternoon. There’s no reason to think that birdie trend won’t continue throughout the weekend.

There’s no Friday night cut at the CareerBuilder because of the three-course rotation. So every player gets 54 holes and a chance to go low and make a move onto the right side of the cut line before Sunday’s final round at the PGA West Stadium course. Here are your Friday night scores: