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Humana Challenge Preview and Picks

By: Gregg Price    Date: Jan 21, 2015    Print Article   

The PGA Tour leaves the island of Hawaii and heads to the mainland this week for the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, formally known as the Bob Hope Classic. The legendary entertainer had his name added to this event back in 1965 and it remained there until four years ago when a new sponsor was finally added after a three-year hiatus. The 156-player field is played over three courses and the first three days includes a pro-am each day.

Jimmy Walker ran away with the Sony Open last week with a nine shot win over Scott Piercy thanks to a weekend 62-63 card. It was his second consecutive Sony Open victory and his fourth PGA Tour win since the start of last season. He won last year by one shot over Chris Kirk and like 2014, he skipped the Humana Challenge. The defending Humana Challenge champion is Patrick Reed who held off Sunday charges from Ryan Palmer and Zach Johnson to win by one shot. He won two weeks ago at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

PGA West's Palmer Private, PGA West's Nicklaus Private and La Quinta Country Club make up the three-course rotation with PGA West's Palmer Private taking the top 70 players on Sunday. Because the first three days all consist of pro-ams, play is slow which can be frustrating to some players but they do get a benefit of easier than normal pin placements which is a big reason that scores have been so low over the years. Since 2012 when the event was scaled back from five days to four days, the winning scores have been -24, -25 and -28.

Ryan Palmer (+2,200) fits both recent form and course history. He has made 12 straight cuts going back to last season including a T17 last week at the Sony Open. Palmer finished solo second here last year thanks to a Thursday 64 and a Sunday 63, both taking place on Palmer Private. In 2013, he finished T6 with his two best rounds also taking place at Palmer Private.

Bill Haas (+2,800) is making his first start since November but this is certainly the best place to make his 2015 debut. He won here in 2010 and while 2014 was his first year without a victory since 2009, he is riding a streak of 17 straight made cuts. In addition to his win here, he lost in a playoff in 2011 and finished T6 last year. As long as he can shake off the rust, he should be in contention once again.

Brendon Todd (+3,500) was a winner on tour last year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in a very strong field. He is coming off a disappointing T44 last week which came after a T8 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He made his first stat at the Humana Challenge in 2012 which resulted in a T26 but backed it up last year with a T6 and was two off the lead heading into the weekend.

Justin Thomas (+6,000) is getting exceptional odds here. The rookie is coming off a T6 last week at the Sony Open, his second T6 or better over his last three starts. He did make seven starts last year with one of those being at the Humana Challenge and while he missed the cut, the experience will help this year. He led the Tour last year in par breakers, an essential stat to have success here.

Steven Bowditch (+19,000) will be our longshot pick this week. He is off to a solid start this season with four made cuts in five events including a solo second at the Open. He finished T22 and T37 in Hawaii, nothing exceptional and while his T47 and T48 in two starts at the Humana Challenge are average, he is one of the streakiest putters on tour making this stop a great one if he gets hot.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Humana Challenge - All for 1 Unit

Ryan Palmer (+2,200)
Bill Haas (+2,800)
Brendon Todd (+3,500)
Justin Thomas (+6,000)
Steven Bowditch (+19,000)

2015 Record to date after 1 event: -5 Units

Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units

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