PGA West Stadium Course. photo courtesy PGA West
The 60th Desert Classic, previously known as the CareerBuilder Challenge, begins this Thursday, January 17 on some of the best courses in California's Cochella Valley. The unique tournament uses 3 different courses spread over 2 different venues to challenge the adaptability of the players. The tournament is known for its celebrity pro-am, and amateurs play with the professionals on 3 of the 4 tournament rounds. During Bob Hope’s reign as tournament host, celebrities playing the ecent included Frank Sinatra, Bing Cosby, and former presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford. Who will be playing in this year’s pro-am still has yet to be announced, though the tournament's celebrity offering has declined in recent years.
2017 Champion Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm. photo courtesy Getty Images
Despite the odd nature of the tournament, it has been won by many notable golfers including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and last year’s winner Jon Rahm. Rahm entered the final round 2 shots off the lead and proceeded to shoot -5 seemingly for the win. However, Andrew Landry’s 18th hole birdie forced a playoff between the two players. The playoff proved a nerve wracking experience and required 4 additional holes to decide the tournament. After pars on the first 3 playoff holes, Rahm would hit a birdie putt on the 4th playoff hole for his 2nd PGA Tour win. The Spanish golfer is set to defend his title this weekend.
Justin Rose. photo courtesy Getty Images
Rahm is currently ranked 7th in the world and a repeat could be on the cards. However, standing in his way is world number 1 Justin Rose. Rose is set to play his first PGA Tour event since winning the 2018 FedEx Cup and fans are eager to see how he will perform after the holiday break. Danny Willett is another golfer with a good chance of winning. The English golfer is best remembered for winning the 2016 Masters, but is on good form after winning the European Tour’s ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Veteran Phil Mickelson is also slated to tee off this weekend and is already a 2-time Desert Classic winner. Locals will undoubtedly be cheering for University of Southern California freshman Charlie Reiter after he proved his pedigree last year, starting brightly before fading as a high school senior. Fans can keep up with the tournament through Golf Channel. Television coverage is provided 3-7pm ET Thursday-Sunday. The tournament is also live-streaming select groups Thursday and Friday on PGA Tour Live. Radio coverage is provided by PGA Tour Radio on SiriusXM and PGATour.com for all 4 days of the tournament.