Jimmy Walker fired a final round 63 to win the Sony Open and just like that the PGA Tour is leaving Hawaii and making their way back to the mainland for the 2014 edition of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Formally known as the Bob Hope, the tournament in 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 a 54-hole Pro-Am with the final 18-holes being played by the top 70 professionals in the field.
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 6,924-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.
The total purse this week will be $5.7 million with the winner taking home a cool $1 million for a few days work. Five of the world’s top-30 players will be in the field for this week’s event headlined by Zach Johnson, winner at this year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Brandt Snedeker. So who has the best chance to win this weekend in California? Let’s take a look.
Horse for the Course
Robert Garrigus- He has five career starts in the Humana Challenge (or the Bob Hope) with four finishes inside the top-20 including a 19th in 2006, 14th in 2009, second in 2012 and tie for 16th last season. If it was not for an opening 73 in 2012 he probably would be a past winner. So far in 2014 Garrigus has played in four events finishing in the top-25 three different times including a tie for 12th at the Frys.com Open. Although early in the season, he is driving the ball very well evident by his sixth place ranking in driving distance and total driving. Garrigus is also top-10 in the all-around. If he can roll the ball a bit better on the greens (100th in total putting) he can be a factor this week.
Billy Horschel-He is coming off a tie for sixth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and also carded a tie for 11th at the CIMB Classic earlier in the short season. Billy finished 10th at this event in 2013 and that was before he found his confidence boost with his first career win. Over the past couple of years Billy has improved his wedge play and been able to put a lasso around his emotions allowing him to find a more consistent game. One key stat that jumps out about him is his improvement in strokes gained putting. Consider that in 2012 he was 113th on tour and by the end of 2013 he finished 28th. In a small sample size he is fifth on tour in driving accuracy in 2014. Factor everything together with the current field and Horschel has a shot this week.
Zach Johnson-In his last two starts at the Humana Challenge Zach finished tied for 23rd in 2013 and tied for eighth in 2013. He is familiar with the format, the courses and has shown a level of success at this California stop. He enters this week after playing very well on the Hawaii swing breeding confidence as he hits the mainland. Prior to the break Zach had played in four official events including a top 16 at the McGladrey Classic, a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and a tie for eighth last week at the Sony Open.
So far this season he is second on tour in driving accuracy at just over 78 percent and is second in the all-around standings. His scoring per round has been quite nice so far in 2014 ranking eighth in the opening round, 12th in the second round and 10th in the final round. He does need to improve his third round scoring which is currently 114th on tour. There is no reason that he cannot improve that number this weekend at a track he is familiar with.
Given Johnson’s current form and the lack of a powerful field there is no reason why he cannot win the Humana Challenge in California this weekend. At the end of the day he is hot firing with a new level of confidence that only helps his chances this week. If he can just make a few putts he is the logical choice to raise the hardware at the end of the week.
Who will win the 2014 Humana Challenge?
- Zach Johnson (39%, 30 Votes)
- Billy Horschel (28%, 21 Votes)
- Other (Please Leave Comment) (21%, 16 Votes)
- Robert Garrigus (12%, 9 Votes)
Total Voters: 76