At the Sony Open last week some of the tour’s rookies put on quite a show at the season’s first full-field tournament. Russell Henley had quite the weekend debut and fired an incredible -24 over 72 holes in route at a three shot victory and a $990K first place check. Henley made five consecutive birdies down the stretch while holding off veterans Tim Clark and Charles Howell III.
This week the PGA tour finds its way back to the US mainland and the Humana Challenge, formally known as the Bob Hope, partnering with the Clinton Foundation at PGA West. The tournament is played over three different courses: Palmer Private at PGA West, Nicklaus Private at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club. It is a full-field of 156 players scheduled to play. The Clinton Foundation partnership is in its second year.
Arnold Palmer Private is a 6,950-yard, par 72 course that has four lakes and a canal that is in play. Palmer Private will serve as the host course for the event and the final round will also be played on this course.
Nicklaus Private will traverse 6,951-yard par 72 course that boasts the highest slope (146) and rating (74.3) of the three courses to be played over the weekend. La Quinta Country Club will play to a length of 7,060 yards and will also be challenged as a par 72 track.
As a Pro-Am, there will be plenty of celebrities in the field. Some committed celebrities are Alice Cooper, Ozzie Smith, Ron White, Eric Dickerson and Michael Bolton just to name a few. The tournament has also brought a star-studded field of professional players in their own right. A couple of notable omissions from this week’s tournament are Tiger Woods and his new Nike stable mate, Rory McIlroy, who will both be debuting this week in Abu Dhabi.
Deciphering the field this week to come up with a projected winner can be a challenge. There are a lot of quality players in the field and when you are only entering the second full field event of the year many players are still working out the kinks. Here is a breakdown of some possible contenders this weekend at PGA West:
Charles Howell III has not lived up the hype during his career but he started off 2013 with a nice finish at the Sony Open. Howell carded two eagles and 16 birdies over four days in route to a third place finish. Howell does not have a history of incredible success at this tournament but if his putter is working, like last week at the Sony, he has a shot.
Matt Kuchar has not won at the Humana but does have four straight Top 25 finishes at this tournament including a -29 par, second place finish in 2010. He is coming off a tie for fifth at the Sony, where he only made three bogies over 72 holes, and tie for 9th at the Tournament of Champions. There is no reason to believe he cannot win this week at PGA West. His quality short game will be an advantage this week.
Robert Garrigus ended last season with a tie for second at Disney and is looking to start off 2013 with a bang. He is debuting this week at the Humana. At this tournament last year he carded a second place finish. Had it not been for an opening round 73 he probably would have won. The man has a shot.
Brandt Snedeker started his season with a fine third place finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. . He finished eighth here in 2012 and tied for 10th in 2010. At this track the pros go low so going with a guy that has a killer flat stick is never a bad idea. There is no reason why the defending Fed Ex Cup champion cannot garner a victory at PGA West this week.
Pat Perez is a previous winner of this tournament back in 2009 when it was still the Bob Hope. He also finished 14th here in 2012. Perez is also coming off of two consecutive Top 10s which is never a bad thing. This is the only venue that Perez has tasted victory in his PGA Tour career so there is no doubt pleasant thoughts will run through his memory as he strolls the fairways at PGA West.
Forced to pick one winner this week I will take Matt Kuchar. His quality short-game and previous history over this track are both “plus” attributes in my book. The concern is this is his third straight week and I do not normally take guys without a break. That being said, it is the beginning of 2013 and a break is probably not needed yet. I like Kuchar to win his fifth PGA Tour event.
Who will win the Humana Challenge?
- Matt Kuchar (100%, 1 Votes)
- Brandt Snedeker (0%, 0 Votes)
- Robert Garrigus (0%, 0 Votes)
- Charles Howell III (0%, 0 Votes)
- Pat Perez (0%, 0 Votes)
- Other (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 1
Past results (2013):
Tournament of Champions
Prediction: Dustin Johnson
Winner: Dustin Johnson
The Sony Open
Prediction: Zach Johnson
Winner: Russell Henley