Charley Hoffman: He opened this season with solo fourth on a course he’s played plenty of times in Las Vegas but he still played it well. I’ll pay attention to any 64 on Sunday and that’s what Hoffman posted. I like Hoffman this week as well because he rolls in plenty of birdies, mashes par fives and his birdie or better conversion percentage was eighth on TOUR last year. Heck, he was even eighth in par breakers and I know you guys love you some par breakers!
David Lynn: By far the funniest/dirties player on Twitter, Lynn also has been laughing all the way to the bank after his win in Portugal two weeks ago. He fired 65-65 to open and closed with an emphatic 63 to raise the trophy. Yowsa. He also enjoys playing on paspalum surfaces as evidenced by his solo second behind Rory McIlroy at Kiawah Island in 2012. His premium short game travels the globe and that’s where he makes his money. Short course this week can’t possibly hurt either!
Roberto Castro: The youngster from Georgia Tech steamrolled July, August and September to almost treble his winnings from 2012. In the biggest events of the summer, Castro was T12 at the PGA, T9 at the DBC, T15 at the BMW and T9 at The TOUR Championship. Splitting fairways and racking up GIR is the key to his success and this led to domination on par fives and boatloads of birdies. His confidence is sky high and I would look to another step up in 2013-14.
Rickie Fowler: In 18 weekends in 2013, Fowler finished T39 or better in 16 of them. The reason behind his success was his putting improved from 111th to 13th. Conversely, his ball striking went from 48th to 117th. Weird, eh? He won the 2011 Kolon Korea Open for his first professional title and was a T5 at CIMB in 2010 so he’s quite comfortable playing in this part of the world.
Brendon de Jonge: This is the PERFECT STORM for de Jonge. Every gamer will be down on him after his 74-70 MC last week in Las Vegas after he was second there last year. I think, myself included, forgot how important it was to him to play in the Ryder Cup and he might have needed one event to get his sea legs back. I would be surprised if he didn’t fire this week and not make tons of birdies. He’s been playing too well for too long to foresee a slump starting now.
Charles Howell III: He’s begins every season on the good foot and this year is no different as he’s posted seven of eight rounds at 70 or better, including 65 to close last Sunday in Las Vegas. Here’s another player who can make birdies with the best of ‘em and his short game will keep him in most tournaments.
Matt Jones: His 2013 season was his best as he finished in the top 30 in scoring average and had his ways with par fours and fives. He was also in the top 30 in ball-striking while finishing 8th in scrambling. He now has four top 10s in his last eight events so there’s plenty to like here.
Ryan Moore: He’s now belted out nine cuts on the trot including finishes of T11 (BMW) and T9 (Shriners) in his last two events. He’ll keep the ball in the fairway and roll in the putts. He’s hot. Good enough for me!
Gary Woodland: After letting me (and others, I know) down at the season-opener at CordeValle, Woodland should come good this week. He’s only been cut ONCE since late March and that was last time out at the Frys.com. He makes tons of cuts and tons of birdies and I like that combo! Plus, he won’t have any problem overpowering this course.
Horses-for-Courses/Far East Heat Check/Long-Shots
(course form listed first)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat: T3, 2010; MC, 2011; WD, 2012; WIN, 2013. So he likes the course! His current form is decent as well with a T4 at the CJ Invitational two weeks ago on the Asian Tour.
Scott Hend: T78, 2010; MC, 2011; T11, 2012; He trails only Aphibarnrat on the money list as he has racked up three victories and three sixth place finishes this season. He’s fit and he fired 64-63 Friday and Saturday last week to win in Macau.
K.J. Choi: Second, 2010; DNS, 2011; DNS, 2012; DNS, 2013. He’s made 11 of his last 12 cuts on TOUR but he didn’t crack $1 million in winnings for the second consecutive year.
Brett Rumford: T39, 2010; T17, 2011; MC, 2012; DNS, 2013. Rumford has been on fire as of late across the globe. In consecutive starts from the end of August through mid-September he finished T6 at Gleneagles, T8 in Wales and T15 at the European Masters. Last week he chalked up solo sixth in Perth.
Sang-Moon Bae: He won his last time out at the Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea. His best finish on TOUR since his win at HPBNC in mid-May was T31. Winning golf is winning golf.
Shiv Kapur: MC, 2010; T13, 2011; T52, 2012; T22, 2013. He’s had a couple decent finishes on the Challenge Tour his last two times out including four rounds under par in China last week.
Seuk-Hyun Baek: T17, 2011; MC, 2012; T40, 2013. He’s currently fifth on the order of merit list of the Asian Tour and five of his last six tournaments have found him in the top 10.
Anirban Lahri: I’ll take a look at anyone who finishes the previous weekend with 62 on Sunday for solo second. The bad news is he’s only made one weekend of four at this course and only has one round in the 60s. You want a longshot? Here’s your winner!