Honda Classic experts' picks

February, 28, 2012
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: the Honda Classic.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf writer: Y.E. Yang
Before he became the PGA Tour's version of Buster Douglas at the PGA Championship, this Korean earned his first PGA Tour win at this event. He finished second here last year, so the good vibes at this course continue for Yang.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Y.E. Yang
The 40-year-old former PGA Champion has a win and a second-place in just four appearances at PGA National's Champion course. At last year's Honda Classic, the South Korean shot a 4-under-par 66 in the final round to finish 1 shot back of the winner, Rory Sabbatini.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Robert Allenby
Allenby was a tough-luck loser Sunday in an eight-hole playoff in Mexico after a double bogey on the final hole. He lives in the Palm Beach area and has three top-5s since the Honda moved to PGA National.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Jerry Kelly
In his previous two starts at this event, the affable Wisconsin native owns a third-place finish last year and a T-12 in 2010. As we've seen with winners such as Mark Wilson since this tournament moved to PGA National in 2007, you don't have to be a bomber to contend for a victory.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Tiger Woods
He lives close by, he's been playing good golf for the past four starts and the course is a Jack Nicklaus design. For those reasons -- and if I didn't have him somewhere on this list, I'd have to go into hiding.

Farrell Evans: Mark Wilson
Coming off a third-place finish last week at the Accenture Match Play Championship, the 2007 Honda Classic winner will shine in the star-studded field assembled in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. With his win early this year at the Humana Challenge, the 37-year-old former University of North Carolina math major cemented his reputation as a fast starter in the PGA Tour season. His five career wins have all come in the first three months of the tour schedule.

Bob Harig: Rory McIlroy
He's not fared particularly well at PGA National in three previous appearances, but McIlroy is on the cusp of the No. 1 ranking after a runner-up finish last week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. McIlroy has been out of the top 10 just once in his past 11 starts.

Kevin Maguire: Mark Wilson
Wilson is a previous winner here but falls into this category more for his recent play, including a third-place finish at the WGC-Match Play.The Illinois native has the Ryder Cup (outside of Chicago in September) on his radar, and a few more high finishes could lock up one of the eight automatic berths on Davis Love III's squad.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Chris Couch
Born and raised just outside Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Couch, at age 16 in 1990, became at the time the youngest man to qualify to play in a PGA Tour event, the Honda Classic (a different golf course, though). Twenty-two years later ... I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Farrell Evans: Sang-Moon Bae
With a tie for fifth at the Accenture Match Play, the 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie earned his best finish of the year. He has 11 professional wins in Asia. He didn't have his best stuff in the match-play quarterfinals against Rory McIlroy, but he showed last week that he could hold his own against anybody in the world.

Bob Harig: Jim Furyk
He finds himself on the outside looking in for next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship. He is 59th in the world and needs to move into the top 50 at the conclusion of the Honda.

Kevin Maguire: J.B. Holmes
He's coming off a T-8 finish in his last start at the Northern Trust Open, but Holmes' game is starting to come around after brain surgery sidelined him for the second half of the 2011 season.


Michael Collins: Jason Bohn
My original pick, Danny Lee, supposedly went and WD'd on me, so I'm taking Bohn. He's still playing this week ... right?

Farrell Evans: Robert Allenby
The 40-year-old Australian has four top-20s at PGA National, including three top-5s. Last week at the Mayakoba, it looked like he would end a 10-year winless streak on the PGA Tour, but he doubled the 72nd hole and lost in an eight-hole playoff to John Huh.

Bob Harig: Graeme McDowell
He bowed out after the first round of the WGC-Match Play, and McDowell is itching to get his game back on track. He tied for sixth at Honda a year ago.

Kevin Maguire: Rory McIlroy
The Northern Irishman came up just short of taking over as No. 1 in the world at last week's match play. He won't let a second chance slip by, as a victory at the Honda Classic would give him enough world-ranking points to overtake current No. 1 Luke Donald.



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