The PGA Tour returns to the mainland this week for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here are some featured pairings to watch in the California desert (note: two pro-am partners; 54-hole cut; all times ET):
Bill Haas and Patrick Reed: 11:40 a.m. Thursday at La Quinta, 1:20 p.m. Friday at PGA West Nicklaus, 12:50 p.m. Saturday at PGA West Stadium
The past two champions are paired for the first three rounds here. Haas, who won last year at 22-under 266, has four top-six finishes in this event in the past six years. He tied for 18th two weeks ago at Kapalua. Reed set a tournament record here in 2014, when he blitzed the field by shooting 28 under. He followed it up with a T-24 a year ago. With seven consecutive top-10s worldwide dating to last year, P-Reed arrives in the desert as one of the hottest players on the planet not named Jordan Spieth.
Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman: 12:10 p.m. Thursday at La Quinta, 11:40 a.m. Friday at PGA West Nicklaus, 1:20 p.m. Saturday at PGA West Stadium
Mickelson makes his highly anticipated 2016 debut this week, but expectations should be tempered: In his four starts here since 2006, he has not finished better than joint 24th. Lefty hasn’t played anywhere since the Presidents Cup in October, and has not logged a PGA Tour start since the BMW Championship in September. Since then, he has parted ways with swing coach Butch Harmon and hooked up with Andrew Getson. Hoffman is making his first start of 2016, but his new season hasn’t gotten off to a great start (consecutive missed cuts in the fall). A winner here in 2007, he has finished inside the top 10 each of the past three years, including a tie for second a year ago after a closing 64.
Zach Johnson and Luke Donald: 1:10 p.m. Thursday at La Quinta, 12:40 p.m. at PGA West Nicklaus, 12:10 p.m. at PGA West Stadium
Johnson makes his third consecutive start, looking to build on his record at this event that includes top-eight finishes twice in the last four years. Johnson has improved each of the past two weeks on Tour, starting with a T-21 at Kapalua and following it up with a T-9 last week at Waialae. Donald, who missed the cut last year in his lone start here, tied for 28th at the Sony. He doesn’t have a top-10 on Tour since the Travelers last June.