The Humana Challenge
Dates: January 22-25
Where: La Quinta CA Multiple Courses
TV: The Golf Channel
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
Bet your Humana Challenge predictions using your credit card where it WILL work for deposits and where you get a generous 100% bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500: GTBets Sportsbook.
It is a tough ask for casual golf fans to tune into PGA action while big time NFL games are on but there are no such conflicts and the Humana Challenge is there for the watching. This event, formerly the Bob Hope Classic, has a storied relationship with the PGA Tour and has been the scene of some of the craziest scenes in golf given the celebrity pro-am portion. The tournament has been converted to a four day event but the players still make their way around three different courses through the week. All will play the Palmer and Nicklaus layouts at PGA West and another round at La Quinta CC before heading back to the Palmer for the final round. All three courses are relatively short by Tour standards at roughly 7,000 yards and all play par-72. That leads to a fast scoring pace in most years, including a record setting start of 63-63-63 by 2014 champ Patrick Reed. He is back to defend his title against a strong field that includes Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Keegan Bradley among others. This is the first stop on the PGA Tours West Coast Swing, and marks a start of sorts as the first U.S. mainland event of 2015.
There really isnt much to say about the courses other than they are easy in terms of PGA play. The layouts themselves arent overly simple or lacking trouble but the pro-am set up needs to be relatively tame and the pros take full advantage of it. Expect a ton of birdies and there is little doubt that the winning total will push 20-under par.
Each week, we take a look around the online betting sites and highlight a few players that are looking good to win. We also breakdown some head to head matches that you can find at any golf sportsbook. Here are our picks for the 2015 Humana Challenge.
Ryan Palmer (20 to 1 odds to win)
With a pretty sizeable contingent of household names, Palmer gets a little lost in the shuffle but he shouldnt be overlooked this week. He finished 2ndlast year and enters the week as the 5thranked all-around player on Tour. Ryan is long off the tee, averaging right around 300 yards per drive and he couples that with an impressive putting average that was 10thon Tour in 2014. Those bookend stats helped him to top-15 marks in birdie average, scoring average and par-break percentage. You need someone who can go low here and Palmer has proven he can do that just about anywhere, including these courses.
Harris English (28 to 1)
Some players use the early season to warm up after a fall break but English hit the ground running this year with a T3 finish at the Sony and he is hitting nearly 75% of his greens on the young season. He finished 2014 no worse than 26thin distance, GIR%, birdies, scoring average and ballstriking. Those are impressive numbers across just about every relevant tee-to-green category. His overall results would have some more wins if the putter were a bit more consistent but Harris is a top-20 putter from 15 to 20 feet and that happens to be a very common birdie distance on Tour. He is this far down the list because the putter is average at best overall but if he gets hot, a strong contention will follow.
Russell Knox (50 to 1)
Knox made some noise last week with a solid T13 at the Sony that included four rounds in the sixties. He already has a top-3 at the Shriners during the fall portion of the schedule and managed a top-15 at the 2014 Humana. Knox is not a long player but that is not a huge negative this week and he balances his lack of distance beautifully with some of the best accuracy marks on Tour. Russell finished last year ranked 18thin fairways and 22ndin greens and added the 8thbest scrambling percentage. That clutch work around the greens helped him turn a below average birdie average into a top-25 scoring mark. Turning chicken-you-know-what into chicken salad helps players from giving away hard earned birdies and Knox should be able to keep up with the pace as he limits mistakes.
Francesco Molinari (80 to 1)
We mostly see Franky in big events only so this early stop is a bit of a surprise. Molinari is an overlooked but super-talented international player that gets lost in the shuffle as he plays almost exclusively in the WGC events and Majors. All that play against the best in the world makes him fearless and his experience level is very high given all his globe-trotting. He certainly qualifies as a long shot based on his relative lack of contention in the U.S. but he is among the top-15 pure talents in this field. His stats rarely tell the story so if you like huge value bets, here is your guy.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win featured matches are based on total score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets. To wager on golf at discounted odds and to find the largest selection of golf proposition wagers, sign up at 5Dimes.
Keegan Bradley (-110) v. Zach Johnson (-110) (prediction to win: Bradley)
Johnson is a former champ here and certainly the more accurate driver but that is about all he has over Bradley as Keegan has the advantage in putting average, birdies and ballstriking. The relative lack of length will allow Bradley to club down to 3-woods or long irons off the tee and that will close the gap in fairways hit between the two. Both are actually good players to get your money on this week as they have both the game and requisite attitude to do well here but Bradley is the better pick in this matchup as his birdie average will play out over the event.
Charley Hoffman (-110) v. Jason Dufner (-110) (pick to win: Hoffman)
Im convinced that the linesmakers really get golf on many levels as this pairing features two of the best everyman players on Tour. Neither Dufner nor Hoffman are getting caught up in their brand or belt color but both are heady grinders that really seem to understand that they have one of the best jobs in the world. I like Hoffman here because he has the tendency to score in bunches. He doesnt have the week to week consistency to make him a regular contender but he does have the ability to go low and is not afraid of shootouts. Dufner battled nagging injuries last year and he should have some rebound this season but Hoffman currently has the advantage in birdie average, ballstriking and all-around.
Good luck and good golf!