Weekly Preview - The Honda Classic

Greg 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:

  1. Y.E. Yang

    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.

  2. Padraig Harrington

    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.

  3. Rory McIlroy

    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.

  4. Sergio Garcia

    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.

  5. Chris Couch

    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:

  1. David Duval

    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.

  2. D.J. Trahan

    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.

  3. Ben Curtis

    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.

  4. Vijay Singh

    Singh has a solid track record here, but his form has been off this season, and it would be wise to wait on him.

  5. Stuart Appleby

    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.

Article first appeared 3/3/10

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week: The Honda Classic

Group A

  1. Ernie Els
  2. Steve Marino

Slim Pickens in Group A this week. Els is a past champion, who's not the same player he was even two years ago, but he could find the magic again this week. Marino has been consistent but not spectacular here.

Group B

  1. Y.E. Yang
  2. Sergio Garcia
  3. Padraig Harrington
  4. Rory McIlroy

Pretty straight-forward selections in Group B this week as all four players selected are in my top-5. All four have solid track records at the Honda, and all have played well this year with the exception of Harrington.

Group C

  1. Chris Couch
  2. Brandt Snedeker

I'm putting my money where my mouth is this week. Is Couch a huge gamble? Of course, but just in case I am way off here, I have Snedeker who's proven to be one of the more reliable players on the PGA Tour this season.

Starters Round One

  1. Ernie Els
  2. Y.E. Yang
  3. Sergio Garcia
  4. Chris Couch

Els has a better track record at this event than Marino, and Marino struggled a bit last week, so I'll start with Els. Can't go wrong in Group B this week, but I'll go with the two players who have played well most recently, Garcia and Yang. Couch not only made the squad this week, but after his performance last week, he's getting the first-round nod over Snedeker who blew up late last week.

Round Two and Going Forward:

As mentioned earlier, I'm not completely thrilled with the selection in Group A, but I must play the hand that is dealt. I'm hoping that Els can show some of his old form and Marino can shake off his poor performance from last week. Neither player will have a lock on the starting spot; starts will be determined on a daily basis. Group B is so loaded that my main concern is getting starts for all four players early in the week. The plan is to swap the starters for the bench players on Friday. The only possible exception is Harrington. If he starts poorly, I might wait another round on him. Group C should be interesting this week. I'll obviously keep a close eye on Couch, but Snedeker's early performance should be interesting as well, as he had a legit shot at winning last week and pretty much fell apart in the final round in Phoenix.

Certain data by STATS LLC