Golf Rankings for Humana Challenge
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Golf Rankings for Humana Challenge

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The PGA Tour returns to the mainland of the United States after hosting a pair of events in Hawaii over the last two weeks. However, there are a lot of changes in store to catch up on. First, the Bob Hope Classic name is out after 47 years and officially dubbed the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. The fifth round has been dropped in favor of a traditional 72-hole tournament, which is now being played over three different courses instead of four. These courses are among the easiest on Tour, so expect another low-scoring affair. There have also been changes to the pro-am aspect of the event, but that does not impact fantasy managers.

1. Bill Haas [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #31

The winner of the 2011 FedExCup began the season with a 20th-place result in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. In his last two trips to La Quinta, Haas left with a victory in 2010 and a share of the runner-up position last year. In addition to taking home the FedExCup trophy and the big payday, Haas ranked 11th in total driving and 19th in All-Around Ranking.

2. Matt Kuchar [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #7

Typically a model of consistency, Kuchar missed two cuts and finished 19th or worse in six of his last nine starts. In 2010, he finished with a share of second at La Quinta before notching a T7 a year ago. Even while hitting some bumps at the end of the season, Kuchar ranked fourth in scoring average and sixth in All-Around Ranking. Expect Kuchar to return to his normal self, a top-10 machine.

3. Phil Mickelson [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #5

Even though he won the Shell Houston Open, finished as a runner-up on two occasions and recorded two top-10s in his final three starts, 2011 didn’t meet up to Mickelson’s lofty standards. Lefty hasn't played this tournament since 2007, but owns wins from 2002 and 2004. Last year, Mickelson was good for 16th in scoring average and 21st in All-Around Ranking.

4. Charles Howell III [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #56

With a share of second at the Sony Open, Howell continues to impress. Last year (in addition to finishing eighth in scoring average), he made 25 cuts in 30 starts with seven top-10s and 15 top-25s. In the last two events at La Quinta, Howell finished T13 and T26.

5. Brandt Snedeker [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #19

After finishing T10 at La Quinta in 2010, Snedeker missed the cut last year. However, he came up big to start the postseason with a pair of third-place finishes. Snedeker ranked 10th in strokes gained – putting, 13th in scoring average and 14th in All-Around Ranking. As one of the best putters in the game, Snedeker could catch fire in a birdie-fest like this.

6. Dustin Johnson [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #11

He’ll look brilliant one week and very shaky the next, but Johnson’s skills are alongside the elite players in the game. He hasn’t started at La Quinta since 2009, but can't be ignored. While DJ bombs it off the tee, he can sometimes struggle with the putter and closing out a tournament. Last year, Johnson made 17 cuts in 21 starts and recorded one win and five top-five finishes.

7. Martin Laird [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #106

While the second half of his 2011 season didn't match the quick start, Laird is a talented player. His strong ability to capitalize on birdie opportunities allowed him to finish as the runner-up in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Laird finished a career-best T22 at La Quinta last year prior to missing one cut and finishing outside of the top-50 on two occasions. If he keeps draining birdies, the ceiling is very high this week.

8. Bo Van Pelt [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #104

Despite missing the cut at La Quinta last year, BVP ended 2011 with three top-10s, eight top-15s and 10 top-25s over his last 14 starts. That strong finish would allow Van Pelt to rank ninth in total driving and 10th in All-Around Ranking. Van Pelt finished T5 in this event back in 2009 and could be headed for a similar result.

9. Brian Gay [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #166

Over the last three starts at La Quinta, Gay has finished 19th or better including a career-best T5 last year. Gay finished T6 last week at the Sony Open and could very well keep it rolling. In 2011, he ranked 17th in strokes gained – putting.

10. Carl Pettersson [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #149

While his track record at this event is not very good, Pettersson earned a share of second last week at the Sony Open. Dating back to last year, the Swede has recorded four straight top-20 finishes. In 2011, Pettersson finished 23rd in both strokes gained - putting and All-Around Ranking.

11. Kevin Na [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #73

After a T12 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and missing the cut at the Sony Open, Na is heading to a site where he's experienced a lot of recent success. In his last two starts at La Quinta, Na has finished T5 and T8. With a strokes gained - putting ranking of eighth, Na figures to be in the mix once again.

12. Chris Kirk [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #53

Following a T7 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Kirk placed T38 in last week's Sony Open. As a rookie, he went 25th in All-Around Ranking and picked up a win at the Viking Classic. While he struggled at times to make the cut, Kirk can excel on an easy circuit like La Quinta, where he finished T7 a year ago.
 
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