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2007 Honda Classic Predictions

2007 Honda Classic Predictions

2007 Honda Classic Predictions
by Larry Cook

We return to stroke play this weekend for the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. This comes after last week’s Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona a week ago. The top 5 players in the Fed Ex Cup are missing out on this week’s festivities so that will open the door for many players in this field to make a statement. Charley Hoffman, the winner of the Sony Open in January, will be the highest ranked player in the field. He’s followed by No. 9 ranked Jeff Quinney who has posted top-10 finishes in each of his last four tournaments. After him comes tournament favorite Jim Furyk who has posted top-5 finishes in each of his last three outings.

Last year’s tournament champion Luke Donald returns to the 2007 showdown on a roll himself. He has earned two top-10 finishes this year including 2nd at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and 7th at the Sony Open. Donald has been one of the most accurate players this season, hitting 71% of Greens in Regulation and is currently ranked 13th in the Fed Ex Cup standings. 2nd place finisher from 2006 Jeff Ogilvy will be missing out on the Nissan Open this year probably due to a grueling stretch in the Match Play tournament where he made it all the way to the Finals only to finish 2nd. Ogily's loss won't be missed too much because we have the 3rd-5th place finishers from a year ago returning to the line-up. These players include third (David Toms), fourth (Billy Mayfair), and fifth (Tom Pernice Jr.). Three of the last five winners besides Donald also make the field including Padraig Harrington, Todd Hamilton, and Matt Kutcher. This makes for an exciting tournament that will be full of great play from some of the best golfers in the world.

The first player you should look at would be the oddsmakers' favorite Jim Furyk with 8/1 odds to win this event. Furyk is one of the gutsiest performers on tour and with his unorthodox swing he always finds a way to get the job done. He is hitting 75.69% of Greens in Regulation on the tour this year and this accuracy will go a long way in Furyk holding the trophy on Sunday. The Champions of the past two Honda Classics are close behind with Harrington at 16/1 and Donald at 18/1. Luke Donald has been stepping on the scene as a perennial contender to win each tournament he enters. He already has a 2nd place finish this season and will be hungry to get a win under his belt in 2007. Henrik Stenson gets the 2nd place odds from the linesmakers at 14/1 after coming off last week’s win at the Accenture Match Play Championship. This guy has proven he can tee it up with the best in the world and his confidence has to be soaring right now. We feel we are getting the odds we need on Stenson and our money will be going with this proven winner. You don’t bet against Tiger Woods when he is on a run and we’re not placing our money against Stenson this week. He has the hot stick and will be looking to prove that his match play win was no fluke. Put your smart money on Stenson at 14/1 this week.

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Re: 2007 Honda Classic Predictions

Wilson, Weekley atop leaderboard entering Honda's final round
Sat, Mar 3, 2007
By Associated Press

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Mark Wilson has been to the PGA Tour's qualifying school 10 straight years, and has gotten so used to the drill that he just assumes it'll be part of his schedule. And Boo Weekley is probably best known for wearing camouflage pants and tennis shoes earlier in his career.

An unlikely pair, for certain.

But they'll be the final group Sunday at the Honda Classic.

Both shot 4-under 66s Saturday in the third round at PGA National, good enough to put Wilson atop the leaderboard at 6 under and Weekley alone in second, one shot behind entering the final round - where both will seek their first career tour victory.

''If I can walk off that green and know I'll be exempt through 2009, it'll be just a great feeling,'' Wilson said. ''But it's more about the journey, enjoying the whole journey that I've gone on. I played in the 1991 PGA Junior here, for instance. ... And here I am, 16 years later, with a chance to win on the PGA Tour.''

Wilson is 0-for-110 on tour, with a world ranking of 265. And Weekley - a guy from the Florida Panhandle who speaks with a drawl and is still blown away by the fact that pro golfers get free golf clubs - hasn't won any of his other 30 starts, with a world ranking of 196.

''When I played the practice round, I didn't think I had a chance,'' said Weekley, who had his first career top-10 tour finish in Mexico last week. ''The golf course, I didn't think it was set up for me real well.''

Daniel Chopra (68) is alone in third place at 4 under, while Steve Stricker (70) and Charlie Wi (72) were tied for fourth at 3 under. Robert Allenby (73), who entered the day tied for the lead with Wi, was 4 over on the back and is alone in sixth at 2 under.

Over the past 11 years, the Honda winner has been someone without a previous victory on tour, a list that includes the likes of Padraig Harrington, Todd Hamilton and Stuart Appleby.

The trend could continue in 2007, with Wilson, Weekley and Chopra - a combined 0-for-246 entering this week - all seeking that elusive first title.

''It just goes to show, everybody's good,'' Chopra said. ''There's such tremendous depth on the PGA Tour right now that everyone out here can win.''

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Re: 2007 Honda Classic Predictions

Wilson wins Honda Classic on 3rd playoff hole
Mon, Mar 5, 2007
By Associated Press

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Mark Wilson's long wait is over. He's a PGA Tour winner.

Wilson birdied the third playoff hole Monday to beat Jose Coceres and win the Honda Classic, his first tour victory in 111 starts.

Wilson rolled in a 10-footer on the par-3 17th, then retreated to the side of the green to see if Coceres - who had a putt of nearly the same distance, and nearly on the same line - could match the birdie. But the putt hit the lip and rolled away, and Wilson could finally exhale.

He thrust both fists into the air, hugged caddy Chris P. Jones, and rejoiced in knowing that both an exemption through the 2009 season and a $990,000 winner's check were coming his way.

Not bad for a guy who's ended his year at the tour's qualifying school in each of the last 10 years.

''Believe me, I studied the numbers last night,'' said Wilson, who was a math major at North Carolina. ''I looked at it and said, if I can win tomorrow, I might get into Doral and have a good chance with another good week of getting into the Masters for the first time. The numbers kind of get in your way sometimes, because then you put too much pressure on yourself, but in this case I think they helped me.''

Boo Weekley and Camilo Villegas were eliminated from the playoff with bogeys on the second hole, the par-4 10th, which was the first one played Monday by the foursome - all of whom finished regulation play on the PGA National course at 5-under 275.

Weekley missed a 3-foot par putt on the 72nd hole Sunday, one that would have won him the tournament. On the 10th hole Monday, his drive was deep in the left rough, leaving him no chance of reaching the long par-4, and he made bogey.

''It's a learning experience. I'm disappointed in myself after yesterday, but that's golf, man,'' Weekley said. ''That just happens. ... Just golf. Just a part of it.''

All four made par on the par-5 18th on Sunday night when the playoff began, but darkness forced the playoff to Monday.

Wilson got into the playoff largely because of a 45-foot par save at the par-4 16th late Sunday afternoon. He made another clutch 8-footer for par on the final regulation hole, then rolled in a 30-footer for par on the first playoff hole, yet that was just part of his dramatic week.

On Friday, he called a two-shot penalty on himself because his caddy inadvertently gave Villegas and his caddy club information on the par-3 fifth hole.

Without that penalty, Wilson might have won the event on Sunday - but didn't mind waiting until Monday.

''After the putts went in on 16, 18 and then in the playoff yesterday on 18, I just had a feeling someone wanted me to win,'' Wilson said.

Villegas and Coceres closed on Sunday with 4-under 66s, while Weekley and Wilson shot 71s. Tripp Isenhour (67), Robert Allenby (68) and Steve Stricker (69) followed at 4 under, and Brett Wetterich and Daniel Chopra (71) were another shot back.

The leaderboard was tight at the start of Sunday's round, and only got more congested during the afternoon.

Villegas wound up getting to the crucial 5-under mark with birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 - the final two holes of PGA National's famed ''Bear Trap,'' named in honor of course redesigner Jack Nicklaus.

Isenhour - who made a costly bogey at the 15th hole, the first of the three-hole stretch named in Nicklaus' honor - nearly joined the final logjam at 5 under, but his birdie putt at the final hole slid just past the right edge.

''I kept giving myself chances,'' Isenhour said. ''I got 'Bear Trapped.'''

It's the sixth time the Honda went to a playoff. The last time was 2005, when Padraig Harrington beat Vijay Singh and Joe Ogilvie at Mirasol on the second extra hole. It also was the tour's first four-man playoff since the 2004 Reno-Tahoe Open, and the first unscheduled Monday finish since the 2005 PGA Championship.

''I'm just thrilled,'' Wilson said. ''I'm just tickled to death.''

Notes: Robert Garrigus' final round started with a double bogey, and got worse. He took another double at No. 7, then put three balls in the water at the par-3 15th - making 9 there and furthering his spiral to a 14-over 84. He finished at 18 over. ... J.J. Henry bogeyed the par-4 eighth hole, ending a run of 26 straight holes without dropping a shot. ... Even though the course was demanding, most players said they enjoyed the test. ''We're hoping this is the first of many good tournaments here,'' Nicklaus said.

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