2017 CareerBuilder Challenge
(The 10th of 45 events in the PGA TOUR Season)
La Quinta, Calif. Jan. 16-22, 2017 Purse: $5,800,000 ($1,044,000 to the winner)
(SC) Stadium/PGA West
(TC) Nicklaus Tournament/PGA West
(LQ) La Quinta Country Club
First-Round Notes – Thursday, January 19, 2017
Weather: Overcast, with light morning rain. Mostly sunny in the afternoon, with a high of 64. Wind W 8-15 mph.
Dominic Bozzelli 64 (-8) SC
Harold Varner III 65 (-7) LQ
Patton Kizzire 65 (-7) NT
Hudson Swafford 65 (-7) LQ
Jhonattan Vegas 65 (-7) NT
New York native and PGA TOUR rookie Dominic Bozzelli made six birdies and an eagle-2 at No. 14 on the Stadium Course en route to a bogey-free 64. His 64 sets the tournament record for the Stadium Course, previously a 65. Prior to last year, the Stadium Course was only in the rotation in 1987.
Bozzelli made his way to the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of his 24th-place finish on the 2016 Web.com Tour priority list. On that Tour last season, he fired a 9-under 63 in round two of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic to claim a four-stroke victory.
Bozzelli is making his sixth start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, with a T35 at the Safeway Open his best showing. He comes into this week on the heels of three straight missed cuts.
First-Round Leader Notes
Through nine events in the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, four players have converted an 18-hole lead into victory, most recently being Justin Thomas at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.
Since 2000, the only 18-hole leaders/co-leaders of the CareerBuilder Challenge to parlay that position into victory were Pat Perez (2009), Patrick Reed (2014) and Jason Dufner (2016).
Harold Varner III
Playing La Quinta Country Club, Harold Varner III played his first 16 holes bogey-free, posting a 5-under 31 on the front. He posted six birdies, one eagle and one bogey en route to a 7-under 65. The score matches his lowest opening-round score on TOUR (2015 Safeway Open).
Varner comes into the week following missed cuts in his last two starts on the PGA TOUR, at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Sony Open in Hawaii. Between those starts in December, he won the Australian PGA Championship, his first international victory.
In his only other previous start at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Varner missed the cut in his rookie season of 2016.
2011 CareerBuilder Challenge winner Jhonattan Vegas opened with a bogey-free, 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course to claim a share of second with three others one stroke back at 7-under 65.
Vegas is making his seventh consecutive start in the CareerBuilder Challenge this week, where he missed the cut in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. In his only two made cuts, he won in 2011 and finished 84th in 2014.
Vegas is coming off a banner season. A week after posting an 11-under 60 in round two of the Barbasol Championship to finish T4, he claimed his second TOUR title at the RBC Canadian Open. In all, he collected five top-10 finishes, resulting in his first-ever start at the TOUR Championship (T24). Vegas finished a career-high 29th in the FedExCup standings.
Vegas is making his sixth start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season this week, with a T10 at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba his best showing.
On the Nicklaus Tournament Course, Patton Kizzire made seven birdies and no bogeys en route to a 7-under 65. All seven birdies came over the course of the first 12 holes.
Kizzire is making his second start on the CareerBuilder Challenge this week, having finished T42 last season.
Kizzire got off to a great start this season, finishing alone in second at the season-opening Safeway Open. The early success in Napa Valley was followed by three consecutive missed cuts, leading up to this week.
Kizzire is looking for his first career win on the PGA TOUR in his 36th start. In addition to his runner-up finish at the Safeway Open, he finished T2 in his first start of last season at the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Kizzire hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation in round one, but was a perfect five-for-five at getting up and down around the greens. He needed just 24 putts to complete his round.
Making his fourth consecutive start in the CareerBuilder Challenge, Hudson Swafford made eight birdies and one bogey at La Quinta Country Club to post a 7-under 65. The score matches his lowest in the event (13 rounds) from rounds one (Nicklaus) and four (Palmer) of 2014 (T25).
In his three previous starts at the CareerBuilder Challenge, the T25 in his first year of 2014 marks his best showing.
Swafford, who joined the PGA TOUR in the 2013-14 season remains in search of his first career win on TOUR in his 93rd start. His best showings are a pair of T8s at the 2014 Sony Open in Hawaii and 2014 Safeway Open.
Swafford is making his sixth start of the season this week, with a T13 at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii his strongest performance.
Defending CareerBuilder Challenge champion Jason Dufner opened with a 1-under 71 at La Quinta Country Club.
En route to his victory last year, he opened with a bogey-free, 8-under 64 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course to claim a share of the 18-hole lead.
This marks Dufner’s eighth start at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Before last year’s victory in the Coachella Valley, Dufner’s best finish in the event was a T12 in 2012.
Dufner is in search of his fifth career PGA TOUR victory and first since last year’s CareerBuilder Challenge.
CareerBuilder Challenge Ambassador and two-time winner of the event (2002, 2004) Phil Mickelson opened with a 4-under 68 at La Quinta Country Club. Mickelson also opened with a 4-under 68 in round one at La Quinta last year, en route to a T3 finish.
This marks the seventh consecutive season in which Mickelson has played his first round of the CareerBuilder Challenge at La Quinta Country Club.
This marks Mickelson’s 14th start in the CareerBuilder Challenge, dating to a missed cut in 1993.
The 2017 CareerBuilder Challenge is Mickelson’s second start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season (T8 Safeway Open).
Mickelson, a 42-time winner on the PGA TOUR and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, is in search of his first TOUR win since the 2013 Open Championship.
Eleven past champions of the CareerBuilder Challenge are in the field: Mark Brooks/1996 (72/SC), Phil Mickelson/ 2002, 2004 (68/LQ), Chad Campbell/2006 (66/NT), Charley Hoffman/2007 (70/LQ), D.J. Trahan/2008 (71/SC), Bill Haas/2010, 2015 (68/LQ), Jhonattan Vegas/2011 (65/NT), Mark Wilson/2012 (72/LQ), Brian Gay/2013 (70/LQ), Patrick Reed/2014 (69/LQ) and Jason Dufner/2016 (71/LQ).
First-Round Scoring Averages
Stadium Course 71.423
Nicklaus Tournament Course 70.327
La Quinta Country Club 70.154
R1 – Zac Blair (67), Steven Bowditch (70), Dominic Bozzelli (64), Keegan Bradley (69), Ryan Brehm (70), Stewart Cink (70), Bryson DeChambeau (70), Brian Gay (70), J.J. Henry (70), Charles Howell III (67), Michael Kim (66), Patton Kizzire (65), Bryce Molder (69), Geoff Ogilvy (67), Greg Owen (67), Scott Stallings (67) and Jhonattan Vegas (65).