Good morning ladies and gents and Happy Fat Tuesday. Many people ripped on the field at the Honda Classic, but boy did that end up being quite the Sunday leaderboard. Heavyweights, randoms, and an old legendary veteran in Vijay Singh all clashed to give the fans one of the more entertaining Sunday’s of the season. Hopefully drama-filled Sunday’s are the theme for the entire Florida swing and we get another entertaining finish this weekend at Arnie’s place. While it was unfortunate to see Tiger have to withdraw from the event, this is still a field stacked with big names. As always, let’s quickly review last week’s performance before diving into the API.
Honda Classic Power Ranking Grade: B
-10 of 12 golfers ranked made the cut.
-5 of the 12 golfers ranked finished in the top 20.
-3 of the 12 golfers ranked finished in the top 10.
A true B week for me at Palm Beach Gardens for the Honda Classic. A lot of good sprinkled with a few poor placements, most notably the Adam Scott MC. Rickie came in at the top spot of my rankings and Brooks Koepka was placed in the infamous #4 slot and both missed out on the playoff by one stroke after that ice-in-the-veins birdie putt from Keith Mitchell on 18. Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia both had very solid showings and Gary Woodland battled his tail off after looking destined for a 36 hole exit. In addition to Adam Scott, my Cameron Smith selection was off the mark as the Aussie fired a Friday 79 to miss the weekend. Time to move on to the 2nd stop of the Florida swing.
Standard Disclaimer: For non-major Championships I will be ranking 12 golfers a week, and for the Majors I will be going 20 deep. I don’t rank for guys that I think will be in the mix, I rank solely on likelihood of winning the golf tournament. Thus, whoever I give the #1 spot to each week, is the guy I feel is most likely to reach the winner’s circle, and so forth down the list. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Rickie Fowler– Back to back weeks the 30 year old takes the number one spot in my rankings. Said on record many of times that I believe this is his year and last week only added to that belief. Incredibly clutch birdie birdie finish to give himself a chance at a playoff will motivate him into this week. The modern-day Arnold Palmer gets it done this week.
2. Justin Rose– Not much needs to be said for this one. Well rested after a seemingly forced start in Saudi Arabia, but as always the gold standard for consistency. Four career top 10’s at the API.
3. Francesco Molinari– The Italian Stallion had quieted down a tad after his legendary summer/fall of 2018 but seemed to be back on track in his last start in Mexico City. A course that suits him with three top 10’s here previously. Expect to see Francesco right in the thick of things.
4. Tommy Fleetwood– A bit of a disappointing start to the season for the Englishman but returns to an event where 6 of his 8 rounds he has broken 70. Sputtered in Mexico after a strong start and will look to get back on track this week.
5. Rory McIlroy– 5 seems a bit low for Rory given he is the defending champ and hasn’t finished outside the top 5 in any start this season. I just don’t see him putting anywhere near how he rolled it last year in this event. Just a hunch, but seems due for a sloppy start and I think it could come this week.
6. Brooks Koepka– The other victim of the big-time Keith Mitchell birdie putt on 18. Had minimal success at Honda before last week and turned that into a T2. Similarly doesn’t have unreal history at the API, but don’t let the scare you off. Brooks has taken his game to a whole new level and will be primed to build off last week.
7. Ian Poulter– It’s about darn time Poults gets some love on these rankings! Despite not getting much buzz, IJP is one of the hottest golfers in the world to start the 2019 year. An Orlando resident, this will be a bit of a home game for Poults, and a trophy he badly wants to add to his infamous collection room.
8. Jason Day– JDay has a very interesting history at Arnie’s Place as he has found the winner’s circle but also hasn’t finished inside the top 15 in any other start. Very steady and consistent start to 2019 and he has been working very hard on his craft as Augusta approaches.
9. Marc Leishman- Would be a lot higher on this list if not for the very quirky outing in Mexico City. With that said, he is still a former champion who had been playing rock solid golf for all of January and February. Leish should get back on track at a course that really fits his eye.
10. Hideki Matsuyama– Continues to be one of the best ball-strikers in every event he enters, but has yet to make serious headway towards a trophy. This could be the week that changes, but I continue to be a little less high on his winning prospects compared to most experts.
11. Kevin Kisner– My sleeper for the week. 2nd place finish here two years ago in which he had the 54 hole lead. That runner-up was sandwiched around two MC’s, so maybe he is due again. Has played pretty solidly in his last two starts at Pebble and Chapultepec, and is ready to take the next step.
12. Phil Mickelson– Added this event back on his schedule for a reason. Nobody has tried to embody Arnie’s on-course antics more than Lefty and he will have plenty of motivation to add a 2nd career victory at The King’s event. Putter was very spotty in last start in Mexico but if gets back on schedule with the flatstick he could be poised for another charge.
Seeing many of the world’s best peg it up around Arnie’s place always makes for great television. Throw in the fact that this year the event doesn’t coincide with the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and it only gets better. The weather should be perfect and despite a WD from Tiger there will still be plenty of starpower.