Career Builder Challenge: Hadwin can get hot in desert

Adam Hadwin was tied for the lead with nine to play last year
Adam Hadwin was tied for the lead with nine to play last year

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for this week's PGA Tour event - the Career Builder Challenge in California...

"As you need to go low in this event, it’s encouraging to see that he was 17th in Birdie Average, 22nd in Par Breakers and 12th in Strokes Gained Putting last year."

Main Bet: Back Adam Hadwin @ 81.080/1

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places

Main Bet: Back Adam Hadwin e/w @ 80/1

With Pete Dye's Stadium Course being reintroduced for the first time since 1987 last year, I think it's worth giving a little extra weighting to 2016 form in this event.

After all, 50% of the action took place there (the final round and one of the first three) so those that did well on Dye's quirky desert creation have the most relevant course form - even though you can argue that most of the layouts used in this event down the years have plenty of similar traits.

One man who excelled was Adam Hadwin and, at 80/1, I think he looks a big price to shine there again.

Hadwin was tied for the lead going into the final nine holes last year but, like many seeking their first Tour win, found it tough going down the stretch and had to settle for T6. Extremely frustrating for those who backed him that week but, in terms of his career, money in the bank in terms of experience.

The Canadian had started his tournament at the Stadium Course and opened with a six-under 66 - the best round of the day there.

Speaking later, he revealed: "I played Q-School here (2012) so I got a pretty good feeling the way the courses play and how they will be played."

Hadwin shot 68 at the Stadium Course in rounds three and six of the Q-School marathon so it's definitely a venue he's comfortable on even though he regards it as visually much more intimidating off the tee than the other two venues used this week.

Adding to his comfort levels and general positivity here is that he won his first Canadian Tour event at nearby Desert Dunes in 2010 and also gets lots of support. Last year, he said: "It's very friendly to Canadians. I think we double the population in the wintertime. So, yeah, comfortable, lots of support down here, lots of Canadians coming out the last couple days to watch, so it's always nice to hear some cheers."

The last time we saw Hadwin in action, he was shooting 67-66-70-67 to finish T10 in the OHL Classic in Mexico in November. He was 4th for Driving Accuracy and 3rd for Greens in Regulation that week and setting up birdie chances with strong tee-to-green play was one of the keys to Jason Dufner's success when he won this tournament last year.

Hadwin's previous top 10 had come in the John Deere Classic when he closed 67-64 to finish T8.

He showed other decent West Coast Swing last year when T17 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and T16 at the Northern Trust Open and, as you need to go low in this event, it's encouraging to see that he was 17th in Birdie Average, 22nd in Par Breakers and 12th in Strokes Gained Putting last year.

In a field lacking depth, the 80/1 about the man from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan could look a big each-way price.

Main Bet: Back Luke List e/w @ 55/1

Dufner won this event in 2016 on the back of T9 in the previous week's Sony Open. He'd also finished T9 (RSM Classic) on his last start of 2015.

So my other two picks are form horses, who have the added appeal of having played well here last year.

First is 55/1 Luke List.

The 31-year-old is currently 10th in the FedExCup rankings having played his first six events of this new wraparound season in a combined 79-under.

Breaking it down, he was tied for second at the Sanderson Farms Championship, T7 at the OHL Classic and also cracked the top 15 in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, RSM Classic and Sony Open.

His latest good effort came via T13 in Hawaii last week, List shooting 67-64-69-67. He was sixth at halfway.

Currently 11th in Scoring Average, the man from Florida says he's playing the best golf of his career.

"I feel like I've got all the tools," he said at the end of last year, "but I finally have the right people around me. I just got married in March, and I've got a great caddie and a great coach and great trainer and everybody.

"It's kind of that bubble of your team, and I just have such a good group around me supporting me, and I feel like I'm finally comfortable and doing everything that I'm doing the right way. It's fun."

List has already matched his total of top 10s (two) from 2016 and the best of those came in this very event.

That was T6 - just one shot off T3 - and it's notable that he shot 68-66 in his two rounds at the Stadium Course. That combined 10-under was the joint second best total for the 36 holes the cut-makers played at the Pete Dye layout so had to bode well.

His big hitting and ability to make birdies (35th in Birdie Average last season; 22nd this) makes him a good fit and after closing with a 66 at the Stadium Course last year he said: "I like the golf courses out here, so it's fun to see some good numbers."

There's holing a lot more putts this season (22nd in Strokes Gained Putting compared to 154th in the previous campaign) so List looks as if he has all the component parts to put in a big challenge this week.

Final Bet: Back Chez Reavie e/w @ 66/1

Finally, as this tournament was won with 25-under last year, I'll go with a player who is absolutely shooting the lights out at the moment.

Chez Reavie was on course to shoot a ridiculous number in his closing round at the Sony Open last week after reaching the turn in just 28. He eventually calmed a little and had to settle for a 61, a score that gave him a share of eighth spot.

But don't think that was a one-off fluke.

Just two tournaments earlier, he'd also carded a 61, this time an eight-birdie, one-eagle 10-under lap of TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. An opening 76 meant he had to settle for T24 there.

There's a theory that if you go ultra low, it's hard to follow it up. That may apply during the same tournament if you're trying to repeat the magic 24 or 48 hours later. But Reavie has had a week off to come down from the high of his closing 61 at Waialae.

When he shot his 61 in Vegas, he finished T4 in the OHL Classic the following week. That included a third-round 63 so his low scores are breeding more low scores.

Reavie is now an absurd 50-under for his last 11 rounds and that's the sort of form you want to be showing heading into a birdie-fest.

The 35-year-old, like List and Hadwin, also made the top 20 in this tournament last year. Reavie didn't get the best of starts but a 65-66 (the latter the joint third best round of the day at the Stadium Course) lifted him to T17.

That course form added to his red-hot current form give him obvious appeal at 66/1.

Elsewhere, I did consider putting up last year's play-off loser David Lingmerth at the same price. He's actually been runner-up in this tournament twice (also 2013) but his numbers weren't great when T49 in last week's Sony Open and he's had just one top 10 since his second place here last year.

In the side markets, Charles Howell and Kevin Na must be worth a look for top five or top 10.

Both are notorious non-winners but they do bank plenty of high finishes.

Howell was T8 in Hawaii last week and his latest form reads: 8-13-7-15. To add to the belief that it's almost possible to pinpoint is actual finishing position to within four or five spots he was T11 in this event last year.

It's a similar story with Na. He was T3 in this event last year and has a bunch of excellent desert form. He did actually win in Las Vegas in 2011 but that's his only victory in 330 PGA Tour starts. Howell has two in 480 and none since 2007.

None of the favourites particularly jump out at me and all are vulnerable to someone in the field wiping them out with a hot putter so I don't want to take shortish prices.

Dave's 2016/17 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £260
Returned: £666.56
P/L: +£406.56

(After Sony Open)

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