Honda Classic 2013: Golfers Destined to Slide over the Weekend

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIIMarch 1, 2013

PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - FEBRUARY 14:  Scott Harrington hits a shot during the first round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club on February 14, 2013 in Pacific Palisades, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The field took a collective sigh of relief when defending champion and top-ranked golfer in the world Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Honda Classic today citing wisdom tooth pain.

The current top 10 as it is features some big names and a few shockers. With top-ranked golfers such as Geoff Ogilvy, Lee Westwood and Dustin Johnson steadily pushing their way up, their less-heralded competition will likely start to slip over the course of this weekend. Here are some names to look out for that are destined to slide down the leaderboard after big early rounds.



Luke Guthrie


The 106th-ranked golfer in the world shot a staggering 7-under in round two. He is the current leader in the clubhouse at minus-9 ahead of Michael Thompson and Lee Westwood. Barring anything unforeseen, it is highly unlikely anyone will catch him heading into the weekend.

Guthrie's odds are stacked highly against him. After a huge second round he now will face immense pressure heading into round three to prove that his round two wasn't a fluke and that he can actually do that again.

Since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National Champion Course back in 2007, no golfer ranked as low as Guthrie has won. With such a large amount of more experienced golfers nipping at his heels, it would be tough to see Guthrie holding onto his one-shot lead.

If Guthrie is to hold on, look for him to pull out a close victory a-la Rory Sabbatini in 2011. Rory had a five-shot lead going into the final round after a course record 64 on day two.


Michael Thompson


Right behind Guthrie on the leaderboard at 8-under overall is fellow American Michael Thompson. Thompson shot a 5-under 65 in round two to make his way all the way up to second place.

The 114th-ranked Thompson has made just one cut in five events this season. He currently ranks 177th on the tour in birdies yet managed to break out a whopping six of them in round two.

While it would be a great story to see the 27-year-old Tucson, Arizona native stick around in this one, the likelihood of the youngster keeping up his current pace is slim. Look to see how he responds to being in unfamiliar territory after his big 65 in round two.



Branden Grace


The 24-year-old South African came out roaring in his Honda Classic debut. With no earnings so far this year, Grace shot a 65 in the first round to tie him for the lead after day one.

The closing stretch at PGA National is known as the "Bear's Trap," citing the extreme difficulty of the last four holes. Grace came out in round one cold-blooded and birdied holes 15-18 to finish his round in jaw-dropping fashion.

While a monumental feat, the question remains if Grace can continue to play top-notch golf like that in order to stay near the top of the leaderboard. He is going to have to be much stronger throughout the full rounds and not rely upon that ever happening again.