2015 Humana Challenge Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #BirdiePlethora

Following the PGA Tour’s annual fortnight’s stint in Hawaii, we trek back to the mainland for this week’s Bob Hope Classic….errrrr, I mean the Humana Challenge.  Sorry Bill and Hilary, but this tourney will always just be known as “The Hope” to most of the Tour. 

The Humana is played on three different courses over a four day span, as recall that it formerly was one of the Tour’s five day events (Vegas being the other), but just a few years back was reduced to a four day event.  The four course rota includes the Palmer Private course at PGA West, which hosts two of the four rounds (one round Thurs, Fri or Sat, depending on the player’s draw, and then the final round on Sunday), plus La Quinta and PGA West’s Nicklaus private course.  Also note that the cut this week is after Saturday’s round, not on Friday like most traditional events.

This tourney is an annual birdie plethora, with the highest (worst) winning score in relation to par since 2008 being -24.  That’s right, 24 under par is the worst winning score in the past seven years!  Nothing like shooting a 68 and getting absolutely lapped by the field.

This year’s field includes the likes of defending champ Patrick Top-5-on-the-planet Reed, Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel, Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and others.

A somewhat soft week for my picks last week at the Sony Open, as all picks made the cut, but other than Jerry Kelly (t-6th) most were relative disappointments.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Zach Johnson t-64th, Hideki MDF)

Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
– The Iowegian feasts on birdie-making venues such as the Humana (and of course the John Deere Classic too), and although his t-64th last week at the Sony will make you think twice before rostering him this week, just consider the fact that Zach’s past three appearances here have gone t-3rd, t-23rd and t-8th (he also had a t-20th here way back in ’04 in his only other appearance).  Basically, Zach plain and simple fits the mold of a player that should and will eventually win here, regardless if he may or not be in prime form at the moment.

Harris English
Harris English
– Mr English most definitely qualifies as one of the streakiest players on Tour, but good news for us is that we know that he’s dialed in at the moment, following his t-3rd last week at the Sony, making him an easy pick this week.  Nevermind his relatively soft course history here (t-33rd, t-65th, t-19th), Harris will be in contention come Sunday again this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Kelly t-6th)

Stuart Appleby
Stuart Appleby
– Thankfully the man all-too-often confused with his fellow countryman Robert Allenby comes into this week fully healthy, and his t-17th last week at the Sony where he fired scores of 68-69-67-66 give him some solid momentum into a tourney where he has excelled before (t-9th here last year).  It may sound funny, but I can already see Steve Sands with his Golf Channel smirk as he interviews Stuart about his inspired play based on what happened to his fellow Aussie mate last week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Kirk t-26th)

Chris Kirk
Chris Kirk
– Oh Captain Kirk, what a cute little backdoor t-26th that was last week at the Sony after your slappy 74 on Saturday.  Sorry folks, I said it here last week, but I’m just simply not a Chris Kirk believer.  There’s just simply no way that his scrappy swing and putting stroke can produce enough red numbers this week to even sniff contention.  His three results here at the Humana: MC, t-42, t-7th.  Fade, fade, FADE.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Leishman t-37th)

Nicholas Thompson
Nicholas Thompson
– Lexi’s big brother continues to fly under the radar, despite some solid play of late.  Already making his eighth start of this PGA Tour season, Thompson has made his past five cuts, including a t-9th at Mayakoba to round out the fall portion of the schedule.  Thompson opened the Sony last week with rounds of 69-67-66, only to slip to a 72 on Sunday and a t-44th finish overall.  One not-so-good final round doesn’t suddenly mean that he’s playing badly, it just means that he’ll be even more unnoticed this week than before.  Also note that Thompson has made his past two cuts at the Humana, including a t-6th in ’13 and a t-12th in ’08.  Nicholas Thompson is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf 

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