Golf Rankings for The Honda Classic
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Golf Rankings for The Honda Classic

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Starting in 2007, The Honda Classic has been held on the Champion Course at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. With many of the top international players stateside for last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, several will stay in the U.S for this event and the WGC-Cadillac Championships. With the loaded international field and the challenging course, highlighted by the treacherous Bear Trap of holes 15-17, this week could prove to be the biggest challenge of the season thus far.

1. Rory McIlroy [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #10

A victory this week at the Honda Classic would put the 22 year old McIlroy in the No. 1 position of the Official World Golf Rankings. The Irishman has finished no worse than 11th in his last 10 worldwide events, including nine top-fives, seven top-threes, four runner-up performances and one victory. In three career Honda starts, McIlroy has one top-15 result and has finished 40th or worse in the last two. The sensational hot streak is the real story here, however.

2. Lee Westwood [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #36

Over his last 13 worldwide starts, Westwood finished 30th or better each time, including two wins and eight top-10s. He’s coming off a fourth-place result in match play and finished T9 at the Honda in 2010. On the European Tour, Westwood currently ranks ninth in scoring average.

3. Ben Crane [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #106

Few golfers have opened the 2012 season as consistent as Crane. In his first four stroke play events, he’s tallied a runner-up performance and two more top-10s. His last two starts at the Honda were a solo third effort in 2009 and a T12 in 2008. Crane sits first in strokes gained – putting and is second in both birdie average as well as All-Around Ranking.

4. Robert Allenby [Yahoo Class C]

After blowing last week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic with a double bogey on the final hole, Allenby will be seeking revenge on a course he’s played very well at in the past. From 2007-09, the Australian recorded three straight top-fives in the Honda. Last week’s runner-up finish was Allenby’s first top-20 in five starts this year.

5. Tiger Woods [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #1

After playing three strong rounds at Pebble Beach, Woods collapsed to finish T15 in his 2012 Tour debut. In last week’s match play event, he was bounced in the second round due to the same putting issues that cost him at Pebble. If Tiger can figure out his short game he’ll be a factor at the Honda despite never competing on the Champion Course.

6. Charl Schwartzel [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #17

Last year was Schwartzel’s first start at the Honda and saw him finish inside the top 15 with three sub-70 rounds. Schwartzel collected nine top-20s in his last 10 worldwide events with five top-fives. With so many other big international names in the field, Schwartzel may come at a nice value.

7. Y.E. Yang [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #132

While Yang has failed to impress this season after missing his first two cuts following a T34 at the Northern Trust Open, he’s been an all-or-nothing player at the Honda. Yang struggled mightily in 2008 and 2010, but won in 2009 and was the runner-up last year. Managers willing to gamble on Yang should be prepared for anything.

8. Justin Rose [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #11

Rose finished solo third at the Honda in 2010, but skipped this event a year ago. Last week, he was eliminated in the first round of match play, but prior to that Rose recorded a T13 in the Northern Trust Open. Rose is a streaky player, but very capable of another strong performance at this site.

9. Keegan Bradley [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #18

Although Bradley missed the cut at the Honda last year (his first start at the site), he’s finished no worse than 22nd in any of his six starts this season. In his last stroke play event--the Northern Trust Open-- Bradley finished with a share of second. He currently sits 11th in scoring average and first in All-Around Ranking.

10. Kyle Stanley [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #165

In his first start at the Honda, Stanley finished T24 last year. With a win and a runner-up finish over his last three stroke play events of 2012, Stanley currently ranks first in FedExCup points. He also sits first in scoring average, fourth in driving distance, fifth in greens in regulation percentage, eighth in birdie average and third in All-Around Ranking.

11. Johnson Wagner [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #123

Wagner has competed at the Honda each of the past five years with two missed cuts and two other finishes outside of the top 60. This season, however, he’s picked up a victory, a share of second and another top-10 in six starts. Wagner is sixth in strokes gained – putting, 11th in scoring average and 12th in birdie average.

12. John Huh [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #142

The impressive rookie won last week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic and has finished 12th or better in three of his last four events. Huh rates second in scoring average, 13th in total driving and fifth in All-Around Ranking. Despite never competing in this event his excellent run bodes well this week despite inexperience and the strength of the field.
 
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