For Hudson Swafford, winning the CareerBuilder Challenge last January gave him the coveted invitation to the Masters. But Swafford is looking forward to another perk of the CareerBuilder title.
"Everybody says with your first win, you look forward to Augusta,” Swafford said via teleconference Wednesday at media day for the CareerBuilder event. “But everyone that has won multiple times always looks forward to going back to Maui (the Tournament of Champions).”
Swafford will play in the Tournament of Champions for the first time the first week of January, just two weeks before he returns to La Quinta to defend a title for the first time in his five-year PGA Tour career. Swafford will be one of 156 pros teams with 156 amateurs during the four-day, $5.9 million event Jan. 18-21 on three desert courses.
Swafford’s first tour win, a one-shot victory over Adam Hadwin in the rare rainy conditions of the 2017 tournament, did earn him the Masters start as well as starts in other tournaments. The 500 FedEx Cup points Swafford earned in La Quinta helped him make a run to the third leg of the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs. But it is becoming a winner on the tour that was the highlight of his year.
“It was incredible. It was an incredible experience,” Swafford said. “Birdieing three of the last four down the stretch, it was kind of a surreal finish. A dream come true kind of deal.”
Swafford will be joined in the field by tournament ambassador and two-time CareerBuilder winner Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm, the No. 4 player on the official World Golf Rankings. On Wednesday tournament officials announced that 2015 winner Jason Dufner has committed to the field, and that the tournament has extended three of its eight sponsor’s exemptions. Those go to two-time major winner and now PGA Tour Champions player John Daly, tour rookie Maverick McNealy and 2003 CareerBuilder and Masters winner Mike Weir.
Daly has a long history in the tournament, dating back to his debut in 1992. Weir is not only a past champion of the event but also is a member at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells as well as being popular with Canadian fans. McNealy is a first-year pro who was the No. 1 amateur in the world during his time at Stanford and whose parents own a home in the desert.
Other players already announced include past champions in the desert Bill Haas, Chad Campbell, Jhonattan Vegas, Mark Wilson and D.J. Trahan, major championship winners Angel Cabrera and Lee Janzen and past Ryder Cup players Kevin Chappell and Brant Snedeker.
Tournament executive director Jeff Sanders said the tournament is on schedule to debut its new tournament model including golf, concerts on Friday and Saturday, no upgraded tickets for any hospitality area and more. The new initiatives are designed to bring more people from the desert to the golf course.“We are going to have some fun. We are going to bring everyone in.
We are going to treat everyone like a sponsor,” Sanders said. “We got rid of all cover charges, wrist bands, all of that. It’s gone. This event is for everyone.
“It’s very important that we bring the community back in a big, big way to the golf tournament,” he added.
Sanders added that the event will still focus on the top players in the world, but will offer more to attract casual or non-golf fans. That includes the concerts featuring Huey Lewis and the News and The Goo Goo Dolls.
“The idea here is to go to the tournament, watch your favorite player, end up going to one of the greenside venues and then stick around for the music,” Sanders said. “So our focus here again is fun, make a day out of it and let’s hope we have a lot more people here.”
Written by Larry Bohannan, posted by The Desert Sun: http://www.desertsun.com/story/sports/golf/careerbuilder/2017/12/13/hudson-swafford-relishes-perks-came-careerbuilder-win/950619001/