Weekly Preview - The Honda ClassicGreg Vara RotoWire.com Golf Writer
What is it about conservative play that drives the media and general public nuts? After Rickie Fowler decided to lay up on a critical par-5 late Sunday afternoon, he was immediately questioned, dare I say destroyed, by the announcers on the Golf Channel. Did Fowler make the right move? In hindsight it's easy to say he did not - after all, he lost - but is that reason enough to attack his decision? David Toms decided to lay up on the final hole of what became his first and only major championship win at the 2001 PGA Championship and it worked, but had it not, it was a widely held belief that he would have been raked over the coals for taking the safe route. Playing it safe and playing not to lose is not the same thing, and maybe that's the problem. Too often, the public views the safe route as the scared route, when, in fact, sometimes the safe route is truly the smart route. Although it didn't appear to be the case for Fowler last week, let's hope this doesn't set him back for years to come.
What the Phoenix Open means:
Hunter Mahan: Mahan is one of a handful of players on the verge of taking the next step on the PGA Tour, and last week was another step in his progression. It wasn't a huge step, but it's a building block to what could be a big year.
Rickie Fowler: Fowler certainly looked liked he belonged last week, but how he handles the disappointment of coming so close will define his rookie season. The talent is obviously there, but the same could be said for many before him who never quite panned out.
Y.E. Yang: Yang threw away a chance at another win last week when he sent a ball into the water late Sunday afternoon. He'll get a chance to atone right away at the Honda this week where he'll be defending his first PGA Tour win.
This week: The Honda Classic
Last Year: Y.E. Yang shot a final-round 68 on his way to a one-stroke victory over John Rollins.
Players to Consider:
I generally shy away from players who are defending for the first time, but considering he stood toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship last year I think he can handle the pressure this week.
Harrington skipped this event the past couple years, but prior to that he was a fixture in the top-20 here, including a win in 2005. Harrington should kick-start his 2010 season this week.
McIlroy finished 13th here last year in his Honda Classic debut, and it he should only get better from there. McIlroy will be motivated to improve upon his second-round exit from the Match-play event two weeks ago.
Garcia put any questions about his ailing wrist to rest two weeks ago when he earned a berth in the final four at the WGC match-play event. If he shows that form again this week, he'll be in the mix late Sunday.
Finished fourth last week at the Phoenix Open. If you are looking for a deep, deep sleeper, Couch could be your man this week.
Players to Avoid:
Duval's strong showing a few weeks ago proved to have no staying power as he missed the cut the following week. It's clear that Duval has some game left, but it's never going to be reliable again.
Trahan has yet to play the weekend at this event and though his game is much better now than it was when he last played here, he's simply not going to improve enough to warrant a selection this week.
Curtis is about due to come out of nowhere yet again and win, but it's not going to happen this week as his best finish at the Honda was a tied for 53rd in 2007.
Singh has a solid track record here, but his form has been off this season, and it would be wise to wait on him.
It's been almost 10 years since Appleby played well at this event. And considering the current state of his game, he's certainly not a wise choice this week.