The Humana Challenge | Thursday 22 January - Sunday 25 January | La Quinta
This week the PGA Tour moves away from Hawaii and heads to California for the Humana Challenge, which will be hosted at the La Quinta Resort. There can be little doubt that the field will be breathing a sigh of relief as the threat of being kidnapped is now a thing of the past and the only thing they have to worry about this week is whether or not they will be able to make enough birdies to win in a tournament that is always a birdie fest. All jokes aside, I’m sure golfing fans the world over are relieved that Robert Allenby is okay, even if the details of his terrifying ordeal are still a little hazy. Moving on and looking at the tournament, it’s easy to see why it always captures the public’s imagination. As a pro-am event it is staged on three different courses, each of which everyone gets to play once and this means that the cut is made on Saturday as opposed to Friday.
Arguably the most famous of the courses is the Arnold Palmer course which offers majestic views, a canal and five lakes, all of which make for one of the most picturesque venues around. None of the courses offer much in the way of challenges though and the key this week is going to be the ability to get off to a flying start and maintain that as a single slip up could be the difference between winning and losing. Accurate iron play and putting will be the name of the game this week and a cool head won’t hurt when standing over those difficult birdie putts. All in all this looks like it’ll be a great event so get your bets on early and sit back and enjoy the ride. It promises to be a wild one.
To Win Outright
Patrick Reed 11/1
Matt Kuchar 14/1
Keegan Bradley 22/1
Bill Haas 22/1
Chris Kirk 22/1
Ryan Palmer (22/1 a win, 48/10 a place)
I don’t think I’ve ever tipped Ryan Palmer before but he looks like he could fare well in a tournament that will no doubt be to his liking. He’s been playing consistent golf for a while now and really came into his own last week in the Sony Open where he managed to finish inside the Top 20 against some stiff opposition. That finish was due in part to a second round 63 and if he can carry some of that form into this one he will do well. He has the ability to be a birdie-making machine and that should stand him in good stead this week. I’m backing Palmer each way.
Matt Kuchar (14/1 a win, 31/10 a place)
Kuchar did not disappoint last week and he almost landed me a decent profit so I’m sticking to my guns and backing him again this time around. He’s incredibly consistent and has managed eleven Top 10s in 24 starts so if you’re looking for a safe bet it doesn’t get much better than this. The price looks a bit too big to me and I can’t justify not backing him at a respectable 14/1. Again, each way is my bet.
Paul Casey (60/1 a win, 13/1 a place)
Paul Casey will arrive here with less course experience than a majority of the field and although that would normally be a warning sign, more often than not newbies fare well here. He came out swinging last week in the Sony Open and led after the first round. He failed to capitalise on that but never fear, he’s another birdie-making machine that will have at least two great rounds. If he can hold his game together throughout the tournament he’ll be in contention come Sunday and at this price he cannot be ignored.
Patrick Reed (11/1 a win, 24/10 a place)
There’s nothing that anyone can say that puts me off backing Patrick Reed this week and although he’s the favourite I’m surprised that he’s available at a very generous 11/1. He already has one win under his belt this year and arrives here as defending champion so you know that he has what it takes to do well in this tournament. Great current form and unmatched course form make Reed an interesting prospect indeed and for that reason he’s my bet of the week.