Consistent Kuchar Is California Dreamin’
After tipping up Jimmy Walker at 16/1 to win the Sony Open on Sunday, i now look to the Humana Challenge in California where Patrick Reed heads the betting at 12/1.
For the third event of the calendar year, the PGA Tour moves back to mainland USA for the Humana Challenge, formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic. This tournament was traditionally played over a mammoth five rounds, but was reduced to the standard four in 2012, although it is still played over multiple courses, and includes a pro-celebrity competition that draws the crowds.
Since 2012 the number of courses involved in this event has been reduced to three, at two different Californian venues: the PGA West Nicklaus and PGA West Palmer courses at Palm Desert, and La Quinta Country Club. Over the first three days, all three courses are used, but the final round, in which only professionals take part, is played on PGA West Palmer, a relatively short and straightforward course. All the courses used are amongst the easiest on Tour so expect some low scores this week.
In The Bunker
After a disappointing 2014, Phil Mickelson returns to action in California, but although he is a former winner of this event, I think we can oppose him this week. His last top ten finish in this tournament came in 2005 and since then he has only played it three times, failing to crack the top thirty on each occasion.
He’s also entitled to be a little rusty after his winter break and up against rivals who have a tournament or two under their belt already this year, he doesn’t make much appeal at 22/1.
Matt Kuchar made a reasonable start to 2015, putting in three good rounds at the Tournament of Champions and built on that by finishing third at the Sony Open last week.
As one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, once he hits form, you can rely on him to maintain it, and he is a good bet for a tournament in which he finished as runner-up in 2010. Back him at 18/1 to go one better.
Brandt Snedeker endured a pretty miserable 2014, but with his injury problems hopefully behind him, this could be the year when he reasserts himself at the business end of the world rankings. This is his first event of 2015, so as with Mickelson, there’s a risk in backing him, but odds of 40/1 offer some compensation and if he returns to his best, it could be a while before you can back him at that price’
The final name to add to your shortlist is Brendon Todd. After making the top ten at Kapalua in his first visit to that course, he finished down the field at the Sony Open, but I think he can bounce back in California. He managed his best result in this event last year, finishing sixth in only his second appearance and is worth a look at 35/1.