After a week and a day away, Monday Mulligan returns! I know it’s Tuesday, but my schedule is often beholden to my full-time gig pedaling booze. Sorry for the peak behind the curtain — I just thought you ought to know.
This week, the golf world is abuzz about the return to action in meaningful golf of one, Tiger Woods. And that’s fine — even though all those people are going to be disappointed when Woods finishes mid-pack. But I digress…
The Career Builder Challenge is one of the lowest scoring events of the year. Always the shootout, the 2018 edition certainly didn’t disappoint. Thirty-six holes wasn’t enough for Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry to decide the event, so they played on. Rahm eventually prevailed in extra holes, collecting the second win of his PGA Tour career.
That said, there were 153 other players who teed it up in the Palm Springs desert whose weeks feel somewhere between Rahm’s and Andrew Yun, who finished dead-last, missing the cut at +16 for three days.
Here’s a look at the players who made fantasy owners proud — and those who left us shaking our heads:
Jon Rahm — Sometimes when you pass on the favorite, you get burned. That’s exactly what happened to me — and anyone else — who passed on Jon Rahm last week in the desert. Rahm, who now has four wins world-wide since getting on the PGA Tour last year, opened the week with a 62 on Thursday and rode that momentum into a playoff win over Andrew Landry. Rahm chased that 62 with rounds of 67-70-67 to collect the second win of his PGA Tour career and vault him to No. 2 in the Rolex Official World Golf Rankings. Not bad for a 23-year-old player in his second year on Tour.
Adam Hadwin — Probably the best sleeper choice in the desert, Adam Hadwin payed big dividends for those who took the gamble. Hadwin entered play at the Career Builder Challenge in a pretty deep funk. That said, he did shoot 59 in the event in 2017, so it wasn’t like he was going somewhere he’d struggled in the past. For those who decided the good vibes in the event were worth more than recent form, the bet paid off as Hadwin cruised to a T-3 finish, shooting 66-67-67-68 for the week.
Brian Harman — All good things must come to an end, right? Well, I wouldn’t exactly call Brian Harman’s T-20 finish at the Career Builder Challenge the end of a hot streak, but it was certainly a disappointment for fantasy owners who were expecting his red-hot 2018 to continue. On Thursday, it certainly appeared Harman was headed for another one of those great weeks after a masterful 65. He followed that with a Friday 68 and things seemed good. Unfortunately, two rounds of 70 or more on the weekend spelled the end for his string of Top-10 finishes. Don’t be swayed, however, as Harman is still showing form worthy of fantasy attention for weeks to come. Considering he’s doing this on the heels of a career year, don’t expect this Bulldog to go anywhere soon.
Zach Johnson — It’s hard to predict when a guy who is heating up is going to breakthrough or cool down. In the case of Zach Johnson — like Brian Harman before him — it was, unfortunately, the later. Johnson, who looked poised to make me look really good after a Friday 64, chased that masterpiece with a 73 on Saturday and a final-round 70. The weekend stumble dropped ZJ down the leader board to an eventual T-20 finish. Not that T-20 is terrible, but after sniffing the lead on Thursday, it’s more than a little disappointing for us fantasy owners. He gets to cash a check — we, likely don’t.
Austin Cook — Anyone who has ever picked up a golf club knows that it’s a constant battle and usually feels morel like a roller coaster than anything else. One week, you’re playing great. The next, it feels like your drunk, swinging under water. Austin Cook can attest to that after his week at the Career Builder Challenge. The RSM Classic champion opened with a 64 on Thursday (good), followed that with a 70 on Friday (ok), came back and shot a brilliant 65 on Saturday (great) before throwing away a chance at career win No. 2 with a frustrating Sunday 75. That said, I wouldn’t punt on this kid. He’s one of those over-night successes that have been years in the making. Remember the name — he keeps showing up on leader boards for a reason.
Bubba Watson — After one of the more disappointing years of his career, many were predicting a return to form for Bubba Watson in 2018. After his first start of the season, I wouldn’t get too excited. It appears there’s still some rust to shake off and that, perhaps, he needs a little more time to adjust following another equipment change.
Phil Mickelson — Many took a shot on Phil Mickelson last week at the Career Builder Challenge, thinking the 46-year-old would find some form at a place he’s had great success in the past. Unfortunately, Mickelson continued to show glimpses of the brilliance that has made him one of the 10 best to ever tee it up, but had too many sustained stretches of mediocrity to break on through the cut line.