This week the 2016 fantasy golf season shifts to California, as 156 players tee it up at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.
Group 1: Zach Johnson: New equipment in the bag for Johnson in 2016 but he remains his consistent self, finishing tied for ninth last week at the Sony Open and tied for 21st in Maui.
Group 2: Tony Finau: “Golf in a dome,” as they say of the event formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic, is a perfect fit for the bomber who has no shortage of firepower.
Group 3: Charles Howell III: Another player who made a wholesale equipment change this year, but his record in the Coachella Valley (10 starts, eight made cuts) is stellar.
Group 4: Jhonattan Vegas: Although he struggled through a pedestrian 2015, Vegas returns to the site of his breakthrough victory (2011) following a solid fall that included two top-10 finishes.
Group 1: Patrick Reed: On a run of seven straight top-10 finishes worldwide, and he won in Palm Springs two years ago.
Group 2: Bill Haas: The defending champ also won in Palm Springs in 2010.
Group 3: Alex Cejka: Missed the cut at Sony, but a strong start to the fall season bodes well. He was top 15 his last two starts in Palm Springs.
Group 4: Steve Stricker: Shaking some winter frost from his game at Sony, but it’s still hard to pass on this guy in Group Four.
Group 1: Patrick Reed: The hottest player not named Jordan Spieth returns to the site of his record-setting victory, in 2014. If he doesn’t win, he should at least be a lock for his eighth consecutive top 10.
Group 2: Ryan Palmer: Knocked off the rust with a T-13 last week at the Sony. Has top-10s in four of the past five years here.
Group 3: Charles Howell III: Picked him last week, too, and he delivered, finishing in a tie for 13th. That’s now five top-20s in his last six starts.
Group 4: Harold Varner III: Has made his last four cuts – including a T-13 last week at the Sony – which is pretty good value considering the dearth of appealing options this week in Group 4.