PGA TOUR: Contenders and Pretenders in the Honda Classic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour makes its next stop in sunny Florida at PGA National, a Jack Nicklaus design known for eating golf balls by the dozen.

A treacherous layout, the course is one of the more difficult courses on the PGA circuit that doesn’t host a major. Holes 15-17 have been dubbed “The Bear Trap” and may be the toughest home stretch in golf, never short on drama and excitement.

Who will be able to tame the Bear Trap and who will be eaten alive?

I’ll start with my pretenders, the men who don’t stand a chance on this trouble-ridden golf course. Dustin Johnson is pretender number one because he simply isn’t accurate enough to score on this golf course. Johnson loves to hit the driver and his inability to hit it straight will penalize him this week. He ranks 168th in driving accuracy this year.

Pretender number two is none other than Tiger Woods. Tiger claimed he played well last week when he was ousted from the Accenture Match Play in the first round by Charles Howell III, but I still don’t think he wins this week. Woods’ game is on the rise, but his lack of a putter will haunt him this week. Woods may still sneak in the top ten, but anything short of a victory is pretending for Tiger.

Now to the contenders, the guys who you may very well see hoisting the trophy on Sunday.

The three guys I’ve narrowed it down to are Graeme McDowell, Charles Howell III and Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy isn’t necessarily playing that well right now, but I give the benefit of the doubt to the number one player in the world, who also happens to be the defending champion at PGA National. I don’t believe he’ll win, and he could even play terribly just like he did last week, but something tells me he’ll be in the mix this weekend.

McDowell is playing well after taking some time off this winter. He has become a popular pick this week and for good reason: he hits it straight off the tee and is one of the best clutch putters in the game.

As for Howell, he’s one of the hottest players on tour right now and is coming off a victory against Tiger last week. He’s already posted three top-10’s and what’s better for a player’s confidence than taking down Woods?

I can’t pick a winner, but these three guys will be factors at PGA National. Don’t forget about young Russell Henley, who has been solid this year, including a win at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny


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