Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson, two-time major winner Zach Johnson, and defending champ Bill Haas headline field in first mainland Tour event of 2016
A star-heavy field of PGA Tour professionals are thrilling golf fans this week at the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. The PGA Tour makes its first stop on the U.S. mainland in 2016 with a field boasting many of the world’s top golfers, such as 2002 and ’04 event winner and five-time major championship winner Phil Mickelson, along with the winners of nine other majors and 10 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The CareerBuilder Challenge, now in its 57th year, returns to La Quinta and is a 72-hole event featuring 156 professionals playing the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA WEST, the TPC Stadium Course at PGA WEST, and longtime event mainstay La Quinta Country Club. The field will compete for a share of the $5.8 million purse.
The tournament airs today through Saturday on Golf Channel from 3:00-7:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.–2:00 a.m. The tournament is on Golf Channel Sunday from 3:00-7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m., and Monday from 3:00-7:00 a.m. and 2:00-6:00 p.m. All times are EST.
The par-72 Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course combines stunning mountain backdrops with a challenging design that places a premium on driving accuracy. The course requires the player’s ability to work the ball left and right on small but receptive bunker-lined greens. The famed course is forgiving off the tee yet demanding around the greens, and has hosted numerous national tournaments, including two PGA Grand Slams, the PGA Tour Final Qualifying School, and the Diner Club Matches. It is one of no fewer than 19 Nicklaus Design golf courses to host a Tour event this year.
The CareerBuilder’s stellar field includes major championship winners Mickelson (2004, ’06 and ’10 Masters, ’05 PGA Championship, ’13 British Open), Zach Johnson (2007 Masters, ’15 British Open), Angel Cabrera (2007 U.S. Open, ’09 Masters), Jason Dufner (2013 PGA Championship), Webb Simpson (2012 U.S. Open), Stewart Cink (2009 British Open), Justin Leonard (1997 British Open), and Mark Brooks (1996 PGA Championship). Former World No. 1 Luke Donald is also in the field, as are past FedExCup champions Billy Horschel (2014) and Bill Haas (2011), the tournament’s defending champion and a member of the 2015 U.S. Presidents Cup team at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.
Adding further to the competitive field is the list of players currently ranked among the world’s top 50: 2014 CareerBuilder Challenge winner and 2011 All-Nicklaus Team member Patrick Reed (No. 10), Johnson (No. 11), 2015 CareerBuilder Challenge runner-up and 2013 Memorial Tournament winner Matt Kuchar (No. 20), Kevin Na (No. 23), Marc Leishman (No. 27), Mickelson (No. 36), Anirban Lahiri (No. 41), Robert Streb (No. 44), Haas (No. 45), and Horschel (No. 48).
The field also includes 12 past champions of the Coachella Valley’s PGA Tour event and every one dating back to 2004: Haas (2015, 2010), Reed (2014), Brian Gay (2013), Mark Wilson (2012), Jhonattan Vegas (2011), Pat Perez (2009), D.J. Trahan (2008), Charley Hoffman (2007), Chad Campbell (2006), Leonard (2005), Mickelson (2004, 2002) and Brooks (1996).
“We’re very excited about the tremendous field we’ve assembled for the CareerBuilder Challenge,” tournament director Bill Tait said. “From the stars of the game like Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson, to guys who are established veterans in Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson, fans will get to see some of the best players in the world up close. Patrick Reed really jumpstarted his career with his victory here in 2014, and Jason Dufner is just two years removed from a major championship victory. It should be a tremendous week of golf, and I’m looking forward to seeing who will hoist the Bob Hope Memorial Trophy on Sunday afternoon.”
Sponsor’s exemptions into the field include Ollie Schniederjans—the former No. 1-ranked amateur golfer in the world—as well as Hunter Stewart, Xander Schauffele, Brett Quigley, Aaron Baddeley, Scott Langley, Luke Guthrie and D.A. Points.
Some top young players to watch include Lahiri, Schniederjans, D.H. Lee, Tony Finau, Smylie Kaufman, Si Woo Kim, Abraham Ancer, Harold Varner III, Michael Kim and Derek Ernst. Idyllwild native Brendan Steele (Hemet High School/UC Riverside), Diamond Bar product Na and San Diego County product Jamie Lovemark (USC) are among the golfers with local connections.
Since 1960, Desert Classic Charities, the nonprofit entity that organizes the CareerBuilder Challenge, has donated more than $57 million to Eisenhower Medical Center and many other charitable organizations. In 2015, the CareerBuilder Challenge donated $925,000 to 39 Coachella Valley charities.