Honda Classic 2013: Contenders to Keep a Close Eye on This Weekend

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2013

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - MARCH 01: Rickie Fowler lines up a putt  on the 16th hole during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa on March 1, 2013 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Defending tournament champion Rory McIlroy is out, and Tiger Woods is, well, still alive at the 2013 Honda Classic, despite barely making the cut.

Americans Luke Guthrie (-9) and Michael Thompson (-8) lead the pack of players who survived Friday's cut at even. But with the first two rounds at the PGA National Golf Club in the books, it's time we take a look forward at some contenders fans should be keeping a close eye on this weekend. 

Let's begin.


Graeme McDowell (-5 through second round)

The 2010 U.S. Open champion, Graeme McDowell isn't going to shy away from the pressure this weekend. He's played well through the first two rounds, bogeying only three of 36 holes, and has looked in control of his swing at all times.

McDowell has been particularly smooth on the back nine, recording only two birdies there, but zero bogeys through the first two rounds. Fellow pro golfer Scott Stallings even gave McDowell a shout-out on Friday: 

Look for him to continue to play mistake-free golf on Saturday and Sunday as the stakes get higher.


Rickie Fowler (-4 through second round)

Rickie Fowler played a beautiful round of golf during Thursday's first round, cashing in on four birdies on the back nine to finish five under after Day 1. 

On Friday, Fowler was less than stellar, double bogeying hole No. 11 and ultimately finishing one over for the round. But to be fair, things could have gone down hill for the 24-year-old after that shaky moment on 11. But instead he played a composed game the rest of the way and set himself up nicely for the weekend.

Just five strokes off the lead heading into Saturday's third round, Fowler has as strong a shot as anyone to climb up the leaderboard and take home the title. The only question is whether he will make the most of his talent and strong start.


Tiger Woods (E through second round)

Tiger Woods may be nine strokes back of the leader coming into this weekend's final two rounds at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., but it would be foolish to count him out with 36 holes still left to play.

Yes, Tiger has been all over the place to start the Honda Classic, but he's got to turn it around at some point doesn't he?

It seems like he's bound to get a lucky bounce at some point along the way. Tiger is too talented a golfer to not take advantage of McIlroy's absence. After all, it was just last year that he shot an eight-under 62 in the final round to make his way back into the mix and just narrowly miss out on the championship. 


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter