LA QUINTA (AP) — Hudson Swafford won the fittingly named CareerBuilder Challenge on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title, following three straight birdies with a closing par for a one-stroke victory.
Swafford shot a 5-under 67 on the Stadium Course at PGA West to finish the pro-am event at 20-under 268. The 29-year-old former Georgia player earned $1,044,000 and his first spot in the Masters.
“They don’t give them away out here. It’s not easy,” Swafford said. “I’ve been close. I’ve been in the heat lately. Just keep putting myself in position, and this just feels unbelievable.”
Adam Hadwin came back with a 70 after his third-round 59 to finish second.
“I can’t help but be slightly disappointed,” Hadwin said. “I really wanted to come out here and kind of prove that yesterday was just kind of a continuation of some good play and kind of get it done today, but I got beat. I felt like I did all the right things. Just a couple shots here and there and who knows what could have happened. But an incredible week, my best finish ever.”
Brian Harman and Bud Cauley each shot 69 to tie for third at 18 under.
Swafford tied Cauley for the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th, then pulled away on the 16th and 17th — a day after he dropped three strokes on the holes.
“Stepped up there and hit some really good shots on those two holes, knowing what happened yesterday,” Swafford said. “I was just really confident on those two holes today. I knew the bad stuff on those holes were gone. I had already seen it, it had already happened, and just visualizing really good shots.”
On the par-5 16th, he hit a 4-iron 230 yards to 12 feet — staying out of the 18-foot deep bunker that he hit into Saturday en route to a double bogey — and two-putted to take the outright lead.
“Just trying to maybe chase it up on the front edge, and it was probably my best swing of the day,” Swafford said. “It was just right out of the middle, flew on the green. I thought it was actually even going to get closer than it did. But after what happened yesterday, I was really satisfied with that.”
He hit to 1 1/2 feet on the par-3 17th, with the rock-lined island green called Alcatraz.
“It was just choke up and swing an 8-iron and it ended up being perfect,” Swafford said
Hadwin birdied the 16th and made a 25-footer on 17 to stay within a stroke.
Swafford found the fairway on the par-4 18th with water along the left side, then avoided the water again with an approach to the right side of the green. He lagged his 20-footer to 2 inches for the victory.
Hadwin’s drive on 18 settled in the dormant grass an inch from the green rough and his approach stayed right and settled into thick dormant rough. The Canadian saved par to finish second alone.
“I would have loved to have put a little bit more pressure on Hud coming up the 18th,” Hadwin said, “but just to be able to get up-and-down from the lie that I had from over there was pretty impressive.”
Five strokes behind leader Chad Campbell after five holes, Swafford birdied Nos. 7-9 to join Campbell and Hadwin atop the leaderboard. On the par-5 eighth, Swafford cut a 5-wood into the middle of the green and lipped out for eagle.
“The game just felt comfortable from there on,” Swafford said. “I just felt like I could hit any shot where I wanted to and just felt in total control.”
Campbell holed out from 108 yards for eagle on the par-5 fifth, then made a triple bogey on the par-3 sixth — hitting into the water and three-putting. He finished with a 71 to tie for sixth at 16 under.
Phil Mickelson shot a 70 to tie for a 21st at 11 under in the 46-year-old Hall of Famer’s return from two sports hernia surgeries.
“I think this was a good start for me for the year,” Mickelson said. “The only way to find out where your game is at is to play in competition. ... I’m much further along than I thought I would be.”