The PGA Tour leaves the tropics of Hawaii and heads to La Quinta and 3 courses in the desert of the Coachella Valley, the first stop in the West-coast Swing. This event has gotten a major overhaul since last year including a name change, so who should you consider for your fantasy golf roster at La Quinta this year? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s look at what’s new at the tournament-formerly-known as the Bob Hope Classic.
The tournament had always been a showcase of pros and amateurs playing together on 4 courses in 5 rounds. This year…not so much. The celebs will still be a big part of the format, but won’t be around on Sunday. The new title sponsors are Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation to emphasize wellness.
The tourney’s been switched to a typical 72 hole format with 3 courses being used in rotation the first 3 rounds, and then the top 70 (and ties) Pros will finish Sunday on Palmer Private at PGA West. The cut will come after the 3rd round (instead of the typical 2nd), so make sure to make sure your lineup is set for the final round without any MC’s or MDF’s giving you the goose egg on the last day.
Congratulations to “winealot bo” who edged me by one shot to take the most points in the second tournament of the year. “Boss of the Moss” held on to the overall lead in our group, which everyone is welcome to join.
My picks for this week are after the jump:
Matt Kuchar-top 10 last year (T7) and runner up the year before. He’s used to the format and is known for consistency. He also has the ability to go low, and this week that will be vital on these courses, which rank among the easiest on tour. The winners score will most likely be more than 20 under so birdies and eagles will be needed in bunches which Kuchar can provide.
Phil Mickelson-Lefty’s won this event twice before in ’02 and ’04, but he hasn’t played it in the last 4 years and he hasn’t played any tournaments since November. I’ll start with him on my bench so if he struggles I can save the start, but he could go right to the front of the pack with his agressive style playing perfectly on the receptive greens.
Harrison Frazar-Frazar is coming off of two top 5′s in Hawaii and has 3 previous top 10′s at this event. I don’t expect him to be a regular on my roster all year, but I’ll ride him while his hot streak continues.
Bill Haas-I’ve been a fan of Haas for several years and last year he really stepped up his game. He lost in last year’s playoff to Jhonnattan Vegas after winning in 2010. He’s never missed a cut in 7 starts here and is as close to a lock as you can get to be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday. The one unsure thing about Haas is his current form; he finished t20 at the Hyundai before taking last week off.
Dustin Johnson-DJ plays well on the West Coast and his length always makes him a candidate to go low in a hurry. He hasn’t played this event since 2009 and this is his first appearance of the 2012 tour calendar.
Ryan Moore- This is Moore’s first event of 2012 as well and he has a mixed history here with 2 top 10′s, 2 missed cuts, and WD last year. He has the skill set to go low here and I’m putting him on my bench to see how he comes out of the gate this year.
Martin Laird-Laird is playing well (2 at Hyundai) and was just 2 shots off the lead after 4 rounds here last year before a disappointing final round saw him fade.
Vaughn Taylor- Taylor has made the cut here the last 5 years with 2 top 10′s. He’s never missed the cut here, and will look to get his 2012 off to a good start on the courses here at La Quinta.