PGA Tour Picks: Humana Challenge Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/21/2015
The PGA Tour said goodbye to Hawaii for the rest of the year with last week's Sony Open, and American Jimmy Walker won the event for the second year in a row -- just six days after blowing a likely win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Maui with a late final-round collapse and finishing second.
Walker wasn't going to cough up a 54-hole lead again at the Sony as he shot a final-round 63 (seven birdies over final 11 holes) to win it by a tournament-record nine shots. He hit 16 of 18 greens on Sunday, was bogey-free and had just one par putt from outside eight feet to finish at 23 under. Walker led the field overall with 29 birdies with a GIR of 81.94 percent. It was Walker's fourth career win, all coming in his past 32 starts. It took him 188 to get win No. 1. Walker is now up to a career-high 13th in the world. He is the first player to have a win the week after a playoff loss since Kyle Stanley at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2012 after losing the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff. The nine-shot win is the largest on the PGA Tour since Brian Gay won the 2009 RBC Heritage by 10 strokes.
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I didn't have Walker winning the Sony because it's hard as heck to repeat, and I thought his final-round collapse in the Hyundai would linger. Guess not. My pick to win was Chris Kirk, and his chances were killed with a third-round 74. He finished T26 at 9 under. On the Top-10 props, I hit on just Matt Kuchar at +165. He finished T3 despite a final-round 71. That snapped his streak of 255 consecutive PGA Tour rounds with at least one birdie. Head-to-head, I got Harris English at -115 over Luke Donald, Charles Howell III (-115) over Marc Leishman and Kirk (-125) over Hideki Matsuyama. Ditto on Jason Day at even money as the top Aussie finisher.
So now the Tour heads to California to begin its West Coast Swing with The Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation event -- formerly the Bob Hope Classic -- at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. This is staged over Palmer Private, Nicklaus Private and La Quinta Country Club courses the first three days and then back to Palmer Private on Sunday. All of them are pretty easy, at least from a pro's perspective.
Once the Tour hits the U.S. mainland, several players tend to make their debuts. Phil Mickelson, for example, will this week. Tiger Woods will next. Patrick Reed, who beat Walker in the playoff two weeks ago and then took last week off, is back to defend his title in the Humana. After shooting three straight 9-under 63s to open a huge seven-stroke lead, Reed closed with a 1-under 71 to beat Ryan Palmer by two strokes in 2014. Reed's 28-under 260 total was a tournament record (not counting when the Hope was a five-round event), and his 27-under total through 54 holes was a PGA Tour record for any event. Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard tied for third at 25 under.
Reed obviously looks to become the season's first two-time winner, but also having a chance are Ryan Moore (CIMB Classic), Nick Taylor (Sanderson Farms Championship) and Charley Hoffman (OHL Classic). Walker isn't playing. Neither is Robert Allenby, who you may have seen in the news as he claimed to be mugged after missing the cut last week. His story is starting to spring some leaks, however. Allenby was originally going to play but withdrew.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Humana Challenge Favorites
To no surprise, Reed is the 12/1 favorite at Bovada. He hasn't missed the cut since last summer's British Open. Kuchar is next at 18/1, and you know he's aware that streak ended and that he blew a chance at winning Sunday with his struggles. Kuchar has five straight Top 25s on Tour and hasn't been worse than T25 at this event in his last five trips. He was a co-runner-up in 2010.
Kirk, Mickelson and Palmer round out the favorites at 22/1 . Kirk killed it in the final round of the two events in Hawaii with a 62 in Maui and then a 64 on Sunday at the Sony. Kirk didn't play here last year and missed the cut in 2013. He was T7 in 2011. I'm fascinated to see Mickelson's game after he had just one Top-10 finish last season. It was his first winless campaign since 2003, and he hasn't played an official round since the Ryder Cup. He won this in 2004 & '02 when it was the Bob Hope. Palmer's runner-up last year here was third top-six finish at Humana since 2011.
PGA Tour Picks: Humana Challenge Expert Betting Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Reed at even money, Kuchar at +155, Bill Haas at +225 and Zach Johnson at +240. Head-to-head, go with Palmer at -130 over Mickelson (even), Haas (-115) over Harris English (-115), Billy Horschel (-115) over Brandt Snedeker, and Russell Knox (-115) over Donald (-115). Stuart Appleby is the pick at +350 for the top Aussie, Rory Sabbatini at +250 as the top South African and Knox at +550 as the top European.
I simply can't pick Reed to win a second straight tournament, both this season and here. That double almost never happens. I'm going to roll with Haas at 25/1 to win. It's his first start of the season, but he won here in 2010, was runner-up a year later and T6 last year.
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