Honda Classic experts' picks

February, 26, 2013

Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: 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 at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Rickie Fowler

He does buck the trend in that he doesn't have a great track record at the course. Since buying a house nearby last year and after the comeback attempt against Carl Pettersson last week at the WGC-Match Play, Fowler is ready for another strong finish at the Honda after a seventh-place finish here last year.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Brian Harman

The 26-year-old left-hander doesn't have a PGA Tour win or a top-10 in 2013, but he does own the course record at the PGA National Champion course. Last year in the second round of Honda, the former Georgia Bulldog shot a 9-under 61 that included a 29 on the front nine.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Graeme McDowell

He has been in the top 10 each of the past two years at the Honda and is coming off a nice run at the Match Play.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Graeme McDowell

A couple of top-10s in the past two years shows the Northern Irishman knows how to play well under the difficult, windy conditions that can appear at PGA National.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Lee Westwood

Guess who had the second-best round last year on Sunday at PGA National? Yep, the best golfer without a major in the field this week. The beauty of stroke play is if the first round is just OK, you have three rounds to produce brilliance. Westwood can produce brilliance on this course.

Farrell Evans: Charl Schwartzel

The 2011 Masters champion was upset by Russell Henley in the first round of the Match Play, but in a stroke-play event this week, Schwartzel can showcase why he is one of the hottest players on the planet. He had a tie for fifth here last year.

Bob Harig: Jason Day

The only semifinalist at the WGC-Match Play to enter the Honda field, the third-place finisher last week heads to PGA National feeling good about his game after a consolation match victory against Ian Poulter.

Kevin Maguire: Fredrik Jacobson

His last three starts? A T-7, T-3 and a T-9 last week at the WGC-Match Play Championship by reaching the Round of 16. Three top-10s in the event previously never hurts either.

Super Sleeper Michael Collins: Brian Harman

Last year he made 21 of 30 cuts, but his only top-10 came at this event. He missed the first two cuts of his year, but he's back on track after making his last four. Expect him to recall all those good vibes from 2012.

Farrell Evans: Ted Potter Jr.

With a tie for 16th (Pebble Beach) and tie for 10th (L.A.) in his last two starts, the 29-year-old Silver Springs, Fla., native is steadily climbing his way onto leaderboards.

Bob Harig: Ernie Els

The winner of this tournament in 2008, Els is coming off a poor performance at the Match Play where he putted poorly in a first-round loss to Fredrik Jacobson. He has to be motivated to get back on track.

Kevin Maguire: Tim Herron

This year's Honda Classic will be his 18th start here and includes a victory in his first attempt in 1996 when it was held at TPC Eagle Trace.

Winner Michael Collins: Tiger Woods

His game is back in form, and he is returning to a place he closed with a 62 in 2012. I almost hope he's not peaking too early, but to see him get win No. 2 this early in the season can only mean a monster year is brewing.

Farrell Evans: Tiger Woods

Last year in the final round of Honda, the 14-time major champion shot an 8-under-par 62 to finish 2 shots back of the winner, Rory McIlroy. After getting bounced in the first round of the Match Play by Charles Howell III, Woods will be fresh and determined to take his second win of the year.

Bob Harig: Keegan Bradley

Now a South Florida resident, Bradley tied for 12th a year ago and had top-25 finishes in his past two stroke-play events before a first-round loss at the Match Play. That defeat ought to push him even more.

Kevin Maguire: Lee Westwood

A European player has won the Honda Classic five straight years, so let's make it six in a row. Now that the Englishman has a few stateside tournaments under his belt in 2013, PGA Tour win No. 1 for this year should come this week.





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