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BlogWho will win Humana on Sunday

Humana Challenge

January 22 – 25, 2015

PGA West/Palmer

La Quinta, Ca.

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $5.7 million

with $1,026,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Patrick Reed

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Who will win this week?

In watching the third round of the Humana, you sensed that it could possibly be Matt Kuchar’s week.  He was safely in the lead in a tournament in which took many birdies to win.  With just four holes left in the third round, Kuchar had played 50 holes, making an eagle and 19 birdies.  So that’s the pace that in past has won this tournament, making four birdies for every four holes you play.  So wisdom had it that with one par 5 left in the final four holes he would make that one birdie every four holes and be at 20 under and on top of the leaderboard.  But all of a sudden things drastically went wrong, instead of playing those last four holes in one under, Kuchar made bogeys on three of the four to finish up at 16 under.  In a way it was like last Sunday at the Sony when he had a good chance of winning, only to play his final 18 holes with a bogey and 17 pars.

So like that the tournament drastically changed as Erik Compton, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and Michael Putnam finished at 17 under to lead.  Sunday could prove to be one giant battle as 30 players behind the leaders are within five of the lead that means someone needs a 64 or 65 to capture this title.

So with four tied for the lead and four others within one who has the advantage?  Frankly nobody, it’s going to come down to who will play the best on Sunday.  This is a tournament that you have to go low in, it took an 8 under par total just to make the cut.  This week we have seen one 61 and five rounds of 63 so we know that a low round is out there.   One thing is that the final round will be played at the Palmer Private course at PGA West that has had the highest scoring average of 70.368.  But with another great day of weather look for a lot of low scores.

Any surprises out there?  Yes a couple, first 2010 champion Bill Haas who fractured his left wrist falling down some stairs in April and who has played and practiced very little the last three months.  Despite the lack of reps, you wouldn’t know it with his first three rounds in which he only made a single bogey and 18 birdies.  He has played near flawless in this event, since 2010 in 24 rounds he hasn’t shot higher than a 71 and is 112 rounds under par.  But the question, could he shot 64 or 65 on Sunday.  Another surprise could be Justin Thomas who finds himself in contention for the second straight week.  He led the Sony with opening rounds of 67-61, but shot 70-70 over the weekend to finish T6th.  Thomas who is making only his 18th career PGA Tour start also was in contention at the Sanderson Farms Championship last November, finishing T4th.  A solid final round 68 could secure his tour card for 2016 so it will be interesting to see how he plays on Sunday.  Lastly is the good play of Erik Compton, the double transplant phenomenon that is looking to improve upon his runner-up finish at the U.S. Open last June.  We all know the Compton story, but he found some inspiration on Sunday playing with Chad Pfeifer who lost his left leg in Iraq.  Be interesting to see whether it carries over to Sunday.

What about first round leader Michael Putnam?  With rounds of 63-67-69 he could stick around the top of the leaderboard, but he seems to be going backwards with his round on Saturday.  Putnam has struggled since being the leading money winner on the Web.Com Tour in 2013.  In 2014 he only had one top-ten finish and in this year his best finish was T26th at the CIMB Classic.  So the writing could be on the wall, look for him to struggle a bit on Sunday.

So who shouldn’t struggle on Sunday?  I have a funny feeling that Ryan Palmer could be the man.  His week has a rollar-coaster feel to it with rounds of 71-61-68.  His 68 on Saturday was even better when you consider that he played the five par 5s at the Palmer course in even par, including bogeys on 11 and 14.  Palmer has an incredible run at the Humana since 2011.  He did miss the cut in 2012, but in his other three starts finished 2nd (2014), 4th (2011) and T6th (2013).  In those three and this year’s starts in those 16 rounds he is 91 under par so you know he could go low.  In his last two Sunday’s at the Humana he shot 65 in 2013 and 63 last year.  If he could do that in Sunday’s final round he will win.  One other player to watch on Sunday is defending champion Patrick Reed.  He goes into the final round at 14 under, three back and we all know his fire power; he could shoot 63 on Sunday to jump up the leaderboard.

So realistically who has a chance?  There are 15 players at 17, 16, and 14 under.  I really think they are the only ones with a chance because you have to think that out of those 15 one will shot at least 65.  So that takes those at 13 under and worst out of the picture.  I also think that within those 15 someone will shot 63 that will do the deed.

Below is a list of the top-33 players on the leader board going to 12 under which is 5 shots back of the four leaders

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Of the top-33 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best: for the Humana Challenge

Player Sony Open Hyundai T of C Nedbank Challenge Mayakoba WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic McGladrey Classic Shriners Hospitals Frys.com Open
Patrick Reed
(149.33 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP DNP DNP
Matt Kuchar
(142 pts)
T3
(90)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
Shawn Stefani
(101.33 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T41
(3)
CUT
(-3.33)
T53
(0)
Harris English
(99 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(11.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Justin Thomas
(89 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP 71
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Rory Sabbatini
(82.67 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
T22
(9.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Charley Hoffman
(78.33 pts)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(66.67 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
T4
(26.67)
DNP
Jason Kokrak
(52.33 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP T66
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T46
(1.33)
Brian Davis
(50 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP 73
(0)
T73
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Tony Finau
(48 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
T7
(18.33)
T12
(12.67)
Ryan Palmer
(42.33 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
John Peterson
(39.67 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP T22
(9.33)
T75
(0)
T39
(3.67)
Martin Laird
(37.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 72
(0)
T18
(10.67)
T3
(30)
Boo Weekley
(36 pts)
T44
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
70
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(32 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Billy Horschel
(29 pts)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP T73
(0)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
David Toms
(23.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brendan Steele
(19.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
T21
(9.67)
Francesco Molinari
(13 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bill Haas
(10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP
Erik Compton
(9.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T74
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
T28
(7.33)
T46
(1.33)
Nick Watney
(4.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 85
(0)
T16
(11.33)
DNP
Alex Cejka
(2 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T18
(10.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
Michael Putnam
(1.33 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP T26
(8)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-33 on the leaderboard, who isn’t playing well: for the Humana Challenge

Player Sony Open Hyundai T of C Nedbank Challenge Mayakoba WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic McGladrey Classic Shriners Hospitals Frys.com Open
Steven Alker
(-14 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T32
(6)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Steve Wheatcroft
(-11.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T44
(2)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T73
(0)
T63
(0)
T71
(0)
Martin Flores
(-10 pts)
T78
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T69
(0)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Graham Delaet
(-9.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
Sung Joon Park
(-4 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP
Scott Pinckney
(-3.67 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T73
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T31
(6.33)
George McNeill
(-1 pts)
T71
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T33
(5.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
Lucas Glover
(-0.67 pts)
T76
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T73
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

In Conclusion:

Sunday will be the birdie fest of the year.  Look for players to come out strong with that thought.  In the last two tournaments we have seen marquee winners in Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker, I see that trend continuing with either Bill Haas, Ryan Palmer, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed or Nick Watney winning.  For a lot of folks they will be rooting hard for Erik Compton, his story is so wonderful and you just have to think he will win on the PGA Tour, he should just make it on Sunday.  There are a lot of players looking for their first PGA Tour win, like Compton, Justin Thomas, Michael Putnam, Scott Pinckney, Steve Wheatcroft, Alex Cejka and Francesco Molinari.  Just remember after all those years in which veteran players won the Bob Hope, since 2007 Charley Hoffman, D.J. Trahan, Pat Perez, Bill Haas and Jhonattan Vegas won for the first time at this event, so a first time winner could happen.  Still you have to look for someone with some experience and I have a funny feeling that the winner will be from in back of the pack.  Also, with so many close, a playoff could happen.

Who to watch for at the Humana Challenge

Best Bets:

Ryan Palmer

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (1 SB) 2 T6 CUT 4 T42 T48 CUT T10 CUT CUT

He is long overdue to win this event after being close the last four years, was runner-up last year

Bill Haas

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T1 T6 CUT T64 T2 Win T25 T16 T27 T19 T34

First with his win in 2010, but he also was runner-up the next year and was T6th last year. Topper on him is breaking par in everyone of his 49 Humana rouds. Yes he hasn’t played much but don’t think that will effect him.

Erik Compton

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T1 T69 CUT T42

Not a person in golf not rooting big time for him on Sunday. Only a matter of time before he wins, hopefully it’s on Sunday.

Best of the rest:

Matt Kuchar

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (1 SB) T16 T22 T7 T2 T25 CUT T27

Had a really great chance to put himself on top of the leaderboard, was at 19 under at one time. Can he rebound from that and his poor final round last week at Sony.

Justin Thomas

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T1 CUT

Has played well this year, he could be a surprise winner.

Francesco Molinari

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T9 (3 SB)

Needs a 63, he may have that in his wheel house.

Just don’t think so:

Michael Putnam

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T1 T48 T68

He has been going backwards this week, just don’t think he has the power to do it.

Scott Pinchney

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (1 SB)

May be more interested in a top finish instead of winning

Steve Wheatcroft

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (1 SB) CUT

Same with him plus never been in this position.

Alex Cejka

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T9 (3 SB) T13 CUT T58 CUT T30 CUT T43

May come close but look for him to fall a couple shots short of winning.

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