Camilo Villegas and 10 Golfers Guaranteed to Be in the Mix at the Honda Classic
Last year, Camilo Villegas ran away from the field, finishing at 13 under, a five-stroke margin over Anthony Kim.
This year's tournament will be played with the same circumstances as last year: Tiger Woods won't be there. Lee Westwood will, as well as Rory McIlroy and Ross Fisher.
So kind of them to grace us with their presence. We wouldn't want them to come out to the Players', now would we?
Anyway, this year's tournament promises an exciting weekend of golf despite the lack of media gossip about Tiger.
This week, the "Bear Trap" must be conquered. Ranked the second-hardest trio of holes in golf, second only to the last three at Quail Hollow, this trap can really do golfers in.
So who will jump over the trap, and who won't make it through the trap?
Dark Horse: Camilo Villegas
I have done this twice in a row in stroke play now: picking last year's winner for this week. However, the odds are that anyone who won in a previous year will not be winning that tournament the next year.
Not only the defending champion issue comes to this.
The reality of Villegas is that he is coming in without a top 25 this week. He does, however, have a missed cut, withdrawal and a disqualification in five tournaments this year.
He has no momentum.
Let's be realistic with our hopes. Maybe he can just PGA National better, and will come up big. Then again, only 16 guys were under par last year.
So, to be serious, pencil in lightly Camilo Villegas as a dark horse for the weekend.
Don't blink; you may miss seeing his routine.
Despite the clear lack of a consistent game, I can see Snedeker peeking in this week for a win. He has a T8 and T9 in the two cuts he did make, and has the game to do better than he has.
Issue is, Snedeker never seems to be thinking about anything on the golf course.
Just for your reference, there's no bonus for time saved during a round. If there were, he would have won it.
What I like about Snedeker this week is that he is coming off an MC. He has motivation and game and is a great golfer for the game.
Watch out for the name of Snedeker to sneak into the leaderboard this week.
The first of the Euros on this list, Edoardo comes in a little bit farther back. Despite the fact he is ranked 24th in the world, this year has been somewhat inconsistent for him, with a T8, T17 and a T71 and 72.
Despite the failure to get it done this year, Edoardo has the ability to get the work he needs done.
I can see his week ending with his name somewhere on the leaderboard.
Last week was a disappointment for Scott, who was taken out in the first round of the match play by American Ben Crane.
However, this isn't something new to Scott. Historically, his best golf comes at the end of the year.
But this week, the potential for him to succeed is limitless.
Behind Luke Donald, Scott and Martin Kaymer battle it out for the best swing.
And trust me: At the Bear Trap, you need to be able to work the ball to come out on top.
So far, Rickie Fowler has only finished outside the top 25 once out of four tournaments.
Last week, he ran over Phil Mickelson in his second-round match before Matt Kuchar did him in in the Elite Eight.
All things aside, Fowler will very much be in the talks going into the weekend, still looking for his first ever victory on tour.
However, I think he's going to have to wait for that to happen.
But you can expect the prison suit to be out for this Sunday's round, as Fowler goes low.
After two straight underwhelming years of golf, Vijay has brought his game back. He has a second- and third-place finish and a T20 this year.
His last tournament in stroke play, the Northern Trust Open, Vijay made a great run in an attempt to win his first tournament in over two years.
However, Aaron Baddely just played great golf, not allowing the pressure Singh applied to get to him.
This week will be another great finish for Singh, but it won't be breaking his winless draught.
So far, Kuchar is showing that last year wasn't a fluke. Had he not run into a red-hot Luke Donald in the semifinals, Kuchar very well could have been in the winner's circle.
Instead, Kuchar settled for a 2&1 win in the consolation match over Bubba Watson.
This week is just going to be more business for Kuchar. In other words, it is going to be another top 10 for the most consistent player in golf.
If you can't see Kuchar doing this, you may want to get your glasses checked.
Last year, Kim came in T4 at the Honda Classic, with only two rounds in the 60s. This year he will be looking to improve on the success last year.
If Kim can get all four rounds in the 60s this week (this next part may be obvious), he will be in the same situation as Camilo Villegas.
Kim is fighting hard to get back to where he was last year, but the struggles are obvious.
He needs a breakthrough performance, and this week may provide him with that confidence to go out and play the game without any second thoughts.
After a few weeks of not being noticed on tour, Vegas is primed to be back. One of the tougher courses played, PGA National is a demanding course.
However, Vegas has what it takes to make it back on the leaderboard.
After a few wonderful weeks, it is clear who the favorite for Rookie of the Year is. But what Vegas needs to do is keep up the play.
A few good starts at the start of the year are not the consistency that Rickie Fowler posted with his performance, with seven top 10s and ten top 25s.
I think Vegas could put those numbers up, if not better. And it starts this week.
Contender: Luke Donald
Many people are saying Luke Donald is coming in with all the momentum to win this week. However, remember that last week was match play.
Donald didn't have to play every hole at his best, but he did.
What he has on some of the players last week is that as champion, he didn't play many holes to do so. That will eliminate fatigue as a factor.
The best thing about this week is the length of PGA National. Being a par-70 course, the distance will be much more limited than last week's tournament at Dove Hill.
All of these signs point to Donald placing high this week, but winning back-to-back weeks just doesn't seem realistic to me.
Winner: Graeme McDowell
Yes, I have a Euro taking this one.
It is undeniable how much better McDowell has been than all golfers since the US Open. Only Martin Kaymer even puts up a fight with how important to the game McDowell was.
With that said, last year's successes won't mean a thing if he can't follow them up. This is the start of the follow up, right here, right now (well, Thursday morning).
He already has a second-place finish, so there is no need for him to do that again.
This week, despite having such a strong field, I am going to say on an over/under basis that Graeme McDowell's win will be over two strokes.