Last week the golf world had a dual focus. In Tuscon, the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship where 64 of the best players in the world met Hunter Mahan won a big victory over Rory McIlroy in an exciting final match that capped a great week of upsets, drama, and some pretty decent golf. Meanwhile, the rest of the golfers and those playing fantasy golf in the official PGA Tour game turned their attention south of the border for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. John Huh pulled out the win at El Camaleon after 8 playoff holes against Robert Allenby.
In the FantasyCPR group, the Chiefs and “Not at the table Carlos!” tied for the win with 160 points for the week. Carlos was one of the two people in our 14 member group (which you can join) who had John Huh for the week, with the other being Cracker Woods. Squatney Leather remains our overall leader with MT Cup moving into second place passing Tyrone Webb who slips to third. My entry is currently fifth in our group and in the 91st percentile overall. I was in the top 10K before a rough round Sunday dropped to 10,192.
This week the Tour heads to Florida for the first stop on the Florida Swing at the Honda Classic in Palm Springs. The PGA National’s Champion Course boasts some of the most difficult par 3′s on tour and the famous “Bear Trap” on holes 15-17. Last year, The par 70 PGA National was once again the most difficult track to host a non-major. Don’t look for super-low scores this week to be sure and scrambling, putting, greens in regulation, and bogey avoidance will be key to winning the Honda (as usual).
Here’s who I like to tam the Bear Trap this week:
Keegan Bradley- Bradley lost in the 2nd round last week in Tuscon and the week before lost in the playoff at the Northern Trust Open to Bill Haas. He’s off to a good start this year with 5 stroke-play tournaments and 5 made cuts and 5 top 25s. As golf fans know, he won last year’s PGA Championship, so he knows how to overcome difficult courses. He’s looking for his first W of the year and could find it in Palm Spring Gardens if he can avoid the Bear Trap. Last year, he did miss the cut at this event after a 76-71.
Charles Howell III-CH3 finished 10th here last year and t16 last week in Mexico. Last year he had just 6 holes over par all week at PGA National which is key. He’s a safe pick to make the cut as the last 2 years he’s been t26 and t10 which are the only years he’s played it at this venue.
Rory McIlroy-McIlroy made it to the finals in the dessert and fell short in his comeback bid to catch Hunter on the back 9 and get to the #1 player ranking in the word. While the Match Play Championship was his first US event, his last 11 starts worldwide have netted him eight top-three finishes including two wins and four runners-up.
Lee Westwood-He’s playing well (semi’s loss in Match Play) and knows the course. Best finish was t9 in 2010. He made the cut here last year and finished t29.
Mark Wilson-Wilson has won this event before, played well last week (finished 3rd), and is off to a hot start to this season. I expect him to be around the leaderboard on Sunday.
Robert Allenby-Allenby has 3 top 5′s here in the past although he hasn’t won and looked incredible on Sunday in Mexico. If he gets hot he could run away with this, and it looks like he’s getting hot based on last week’s performance right up until the 8th playoff hole. If the trend of huge disappointment followed by victory (see Stanley, Kyle) continues, Allenby is the pick for this week.
Ben Crane-Crane may be an obvious choice, but he’s also too good to pass on. He’s started red hot this season with 3 top tens highlighted by a second place finish in Phoenix. His record at PGA National is solid as well with a 3rd place finish in ’09 after a t12 in 08. The Oregonian took last week off and looks to continue his solid play as he and the rest of the field navigate the Bear Trap.
Sang-Moon Bae-Bae made the final 8 at Tuscon and gave Rory all he could handle. Before Match Play, he was 4-4 in made cuts with his best finish being a t14 at the Humana.