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Five Players To Watch – 2014 Humana Challenge With The Clinton Foundation

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Power Rankings: 2014 Humana Challenge

Humana Power Rankings
Photo Courtesy of Humana Challenge - Official Facebook Page

As I’ve touched on several times over the course of the last year, the PGA Tour has always been notable for its charitable outreach. Not only does its support of the First Tee program bring mentorship and values to young people around the nation through golf, but the Tour and its players have consistently taken up causes ranging from support for military families to helping people recover from natural disasters like the tsunami in Indonesia or flooding that has ravaged the Midwest.

You may recognize the name of the charity that supports this week’s tournament. Former President Bill Clinton’s foundation focuses much of its energy on improving health and wellness for people worldwide, with an emphasis on physical fitness. Given the former Commander in Chief’s love of golf, it’s a perfect fit. If you recall, Clinton actually became the first sitting President to play in a PGA Tour event, when he teamed with George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Bob Hope and pro Scott Hoch when the tournament still carried Hope’s name.

While the tournament is known for its pro-am format, though, it’s still all about the competition for the PGA pros who will tee it up this week. With play spread around three courses at PGA West (the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer tracks), as well as La Quinta Country Club, you’d think scoring might be difficult to come by, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Since 2009, the highest winning score was a remarkable 24-under-par, and last year the cut came in at -10. Three short par-72s will mean players will be going low early.

As the third event of 2014 gets ready to kick off, who will rise to the top of the leaderboard? Read on to see my predictions.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and join him on Google+.

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5) Bill Haas

Peter Casey - USA TODAY Sports

Bill Haas is off to something of a slow start this year, with no top-ten finishes thus far in three events. If there was ever a place to get back on track, this would be it. Haas won this tournament in 2010 and narrowly lost a playoff in his defense the following year. Scores are out there to be had, so why not Haas?

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4) Keegan Bradley

Allan Henry - USA TODAY Sports

Keegan Bradley has only played two events so far this season, but he’s got a top ten and a near-miss, having finished T11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions. He fell off a bit at the World Challenge, posting two 75s, but a month off to relax and ring in the new year should serve him well.

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3) Brandt Snedeker

Reid Compton - USA TODAY Sports

Simply put, there’s not a putt out there that Snedeker can’t make. He played well at Kapalua two weeks ago, and as long as his knee isn’t bothering him, I expect a strong showing from Snedeker this week.

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2) Zach Johnson

Joshua S. Kelly - USA TODAY Sports

Zach Johnson’s hot hand had to cool off eventually. That is, if you consider a tie for eighth with four sub-70 rounds at Waialae “cooling off”. Johnson posted two 65s at this tournament en route to a top-ten in 2012, and these courses won’t put up much of a fight this year either.

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1) Webb Simpson

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Webb Simpson already has one victory this year, going crazy low at the Shriners Open in Las Vegas. With fast, warm conditions not dissimilar to that this week in California, don’t be surprised to see another repeat winner in this early part of the season.