FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2018 file photo Charles Howell III watches his drive off the second tee during the final round of the RSM Classic golf tournament in St. Simons Island, Ga. Howell’s victory made him eligible to start the year on Maui for the first time in 11 years. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, file)
FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2018 file photo Charles Howell III watches his drive off the second tee during the final round of the RSM Classic golf tournament in St. Simons Island, Ga. Howell’s victory made him eligible to start the year on Maui for the first time in 11 years. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, file)| (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, file)
Golf

Golf: Mike Kern Hopes for Hadwin (+2500), Howell in Desert Classic

In the former Bob Hope tourney, a middling field offers big payout possibilities

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Next up on the PGA Tour is the Desert Classic, formerly known as the CareerBuilder Challenge. Yet most folks remember it as the Bob Hope Desert Classic, which is played on three different courses in Palm Springs (about two hours east of Los Angeles). Until 2012 it used to be a celebrity-centric event that was 90 holes instead of 72. So much for the history (and geography) lesson.

Jon Rahm, who finished eighth two weeks at the Tournament of Champions in Maui (with a limited field for last season’s winners), is the favorite. He’s +650. What I usually try to do is go for longer odds, although it should be noted that just 12 of the top 30 in the current FedEx Cup standings are actually in the field. So that might enhance the chances of a guy like Rahm, who is after all your defending champion (he won in a playoff, over Andrew Landry). So there is that.

The tourney, by the way, is celebrating its 60th birthday. Which means it’s as old as me. Don’t know what that means, but I thought it was worth mentioning. When you get older you do things like that, for maybe no reason. So thanks for putting up with me and my wandering mind.

Phil Mickelson, who won last year at the age of 47 for the first time since the 2013 British Open, is a two-time champ. But those victories came in 2002 and ’04. That too is a long time ago. But at +4,000 some people I’m sure will take a shot if for nothing else than just because. I would not be one of them. And I like Lefty. Then again, who doesn’t?

The second fave is Justin Rose at +900, who is playing in the United States for the first time since winning the Tour Championship in August. You can never really go wrong backing him, but I just don’t think this is the right time yet. Naturally I’ve been wrong before.

Charles Howell III, who seems to play better early in the year, is +2000. So maybe. For reasons I can’t fully understand, Patrick Cantlay is +1600. Again, it could always just be me. That’s the chance you take. Like with my football teasers. But at least my picks come with a warning.

The guy I’m looking at is Adam Hadwin. He’s listed at +2500. Not too shabby. Obviously that’s only a nice number if you cash. He shot a 59 here in 2017. More to the point, he’s been in the top six each of the last three years. Hopefully that means something.

Andrew Putnam, who was second last week, is also +2500.

Danny Willet, the 2016 Masters winner, is making his first appearance in North America since winning the final event last year on the European Tour. He’s +6600.

In the really pertinent news, Tiger Woods made it official. He’ll tee it up for the first time in 2019 in next week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, which he’s won like a zillion times (but not in awhile). Of course it’s also where he won the 2008 U.S. Open on one healthy leg. Which of course also happens to be his last major victory. But he’s back, right? Anyway, can’t wait to see how low the odds on him are going to be. See you then.

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