Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Humana Challenge - Fantasy Picks


If you thought that scoring was low last week at Waialae Country Club -- a nine-shot romp by Jimmy Walker, who totaled 23-under 257, is persuasive -- just wait until this week's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. It's often referred to as golf in a dome, and for good reason. Once again, superlative conditions are in store in La Quinta, California. Nothing but sun, light winds at worst and high temperatures in the upper 70s are forecast. En route to his wire-to-wire victory last year, Patrick Reed scored a tournament-record 28-under 260.

PGA West's Palmer Private Course serves as the official host with PGA West's Nicklaus Private and La Quinta Country Club sharing duties during the first three rounds. All 156 golfers are scheduled to play one round on each. The cut will fall after 54 holes are in the books. However, in a new provision this year, if greater than 78 golfers survive the cut, all will earn FedExCup points and official earnings, but only the low 60 and ties will compete in the final round on Palmer Private.

All three courses in the rotation rank among the easiest par 72s on the schedule. In fact, you have to go back to 2012 to find a season in which they didn't finish as the three easiest on the PGA TOUR. So, with another shootout on tap, expect a blend of torrid form upon arrival with sudden putting prowess to populate the final leaderboard. Not surprisingly, Reed led last year's field in par breakers (two eagles, 30 birdies) and the all-around ranking. (Only Palmer Private is lasered for ShotLink purposes)
  1. Patrick Reed - Defending champion is chasing two back-to-back streaks after his win at Kapalua. Ranks second in strokes gained: tee-to-green (1.988).
  2. Bill Haas - The 2010 champ also has a P2 (2011) at the Humana. Third in all-time earnings at the event. Seventeen consecutive cuts made with 10 top 25s.
  3. Matt Kuchar - No worse than T25 (2009) in last five appearances; co-runner-up in 2010. T3 at the Sony Open is fifth consecutive top 25 on the PGA TOUR.
  4. Ryan Palmer - Twelve consecutive cuts made worldwide; last seven are top 25s. Solo second here last year is third top-six finish at Humana since 2011.
  5. Brandt Snedeker - Full year removed from knee injury. T10s in his last two PGA TOUR starts; five top 15s in his last eight. Two top 10s at Humana.
  6. Zach Johnson - His putting regressed (again) last week, but he placed seventh at Kapalua. Top 25s in last three Humanas; capped T3 last year with a 62.
  7. Jerry Kelly - Tied for sixth at Waialae with a career-low-tying 62 in the second round. Solo fifth in previous start at Mayakoba. T13 at the 2014 Humana.
  8. Brendon Todd - Under par in all four rounds at Waialae, but settled for a T44. That followed a T8 at Kapalua. Shared sixth here last year.
  9. Jason Dufner - First appearance since a T12 in 2012. Rested since capping off a four-week return from bulging discs with a T7 in Thailand in mid-November.
  10. Charley Hoffman - Took last week off after a T14 at the 34-man Hyundai TOC. Won 90-hole Humana in 2007; four top 10s, including the last two editions.
  11. Keegan Bradley - First official action since a T3 at Hero World Challenge. Placed T18 here last year. Also T7 in 2011, the last year Humana went 90 holes.
  12. Justin Thomas - A second-round 61 at Waialae fueled a share of sixth place despite even-par 70s on the weekend. Led 2014 Web.com Tour in par breakers.
  13. Shawn Stefani - Followed a solo second at Mayakoba with a T6 at Waialae two months later. Three straight top 25s. Ranks 21st in adjusted scoring.
  14. Harris English - Regained form (and probably a little confidence) with a T3 at the Sony Open. He's 3-for-3 at the Humana Challenge with a T19 in 2012.
  15. Rory Sabbitini - Rallied for a T6 at Waialae with a Sunday 63. Second top 10 in last three starts (CIMB), one shy of last season's total. T14 here in 2012.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  
This article was written by Rob Bolton (@RobBoltonGolf) and was originally posted on PGATOUR.com.