The PGA Tour is back on mainland USA this week for the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California

Jason Dufner Defends CareerBuilder Challenge

After two weeks in Hawaii, the PGA Tour are back on mainland USA this week at the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, La Quinta.

Justin Thomas dominated in Hawaii, capturing both the Tournament of Champions and Sony Open, where he shot 59, moved up to 8th in the world and overtook Hideki Matsuyama at the top of the FedEx Cup standings.

The TPC Stadium Course at PGA West hosted last year’s CareerBuilder Challenge, making its first appearance on the PGA Tour for 29 years.

Jason Dufner came though in a playoff over Swede David Lingmerth in an exciting finish on the course that has been rated the fourth hardest in America by Golf Digest and was once dubbed as “too difficult for the PGA Tour.”

Related: Jason Dufner wins 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge

Dufner found trouble on the island-green par-3 17th known as ‘Alcatraz’ but, with a mix of luck and skill, he got up-and-down from the rocks to make par. That shot was voted the 6th best of 2016 on the PGA Tour.

Phil Mickelson has committed to the tournament after having another sports hernia surgery but told Golf Digest’s Tim Rosaforte that he is still not sure about competing.

‘I won’t know till Tuesday evening or Wednesday,” Mickelson said. “It’ll be a last-minute decision.”

World number 8 Patrick Reed is the highest-ranked player in the field and two-time winner Bill Haas is also playing, as is 2015 Open Champion Zach Johnson.

Elsewhere, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston makes his first start as a PGA Tour member.

The Englishman earned his 2017 Tour card on the Web.com Tour and will play all of his golf in the USA up until BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Related: Beef ready to crack America

PGA Tour rookie John Rahm makes his first start since the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November. The young Spaniard is in our top 10 players to watch in 2017.

Venue: PGA West TPC Stadium Course, La Quinta, California
Course stats: Par 72, 7300 yards
Date: Jan 19-22
Purse: $5,800,000 Winner: $1,044,000
Defending Champion: Jason Dufner (-25)

TV Coverage:

Thursday 19 -Sky Sports 4HD from 20:00
Friday 20 – Sky Sports 4HD from 20:00
Saturday 21 – Sky Sports 4HD from 20:00
Sunday 22 – Sky Sports 4HD from 20:00

Player watch:

John Rahm – The big-hitting Spaniard turned pro after finishing as low amateur in the 2016 US Open and nearly won his first PGA Tour event, finishing T3rd at the Quicken Loans National. He also missed a makeable eagle putt on the final hole of the RBC Canadian Open to get into a playoff and has had two months off to work on his game for the 2017 season.

Bill Haas – There’s just something about the CareerBuilder Challenge that gets Haas excited. The American won this tournament in 2010 and 2015 and is also the event’s all-time money list leader.

Emiliano Grillo – The 2016 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year is making his first start of 2017. He had an excellent first season on Tour and looks destined for great things, he could do well this week.

jason dufner defends careerbuilder challenge

‘Alcatraz’

Key hole: 17th on TPC Stadium Course – “Alcatraz” – a par-3 with an island green. Yardage can vary up to 168 yards but there’s one key to success and that is: Find the green! The site of Jason Dufner’s lucky/incredible up-and-down last year, will we see more drama this time around?