As usual, we'll make this a combination effort, looking back at the Transitions Championship and looking ahead to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Gary Woodland: A victory certainly validates you, but Woodland also looks good under the hood. Sure, he's a little wayward off the tee now and again, but you can say that about so many name players. He's eighth in driving distance, 15th in GIR, 11th in putting average and fourth in scoring. That's a portable profile that will serve you well on many tracks.
Martin Laird: To win at the Arnold Palmer, you need to be long and accurate with your driver - especially since they've lengthened the course in recent years. Laird's tee game is outstanding and the rest of his game is in fine form as well - he ran fifth at the Transitions Championship and T10 the previous week. Get him on your short list of favorites.
Tiger Woods: We have to give him a shot here, of course - he's only got six Arnold Palmer wins to point to. And when we last saw Tiger, he was putting together that splendid 66 at Doral. The timing is right for him to win again.
Webb Simpson: The confident youngster is quietly inside the Top 20 on the money list, pushed by three strong finishes, including a second-place run last week. It would be fitting if Simpson made a run at Arnie's tournament, given they're both Wake Forest alums.
Robert Allenby: He's in the middle of a good-not-great season - five straight cashes and two big ones, but no major push toward a trophy yet. He's got a fair shot at the Arnold Palmer, a ball-striker's course where Allenby has two recent Top 15s. He'll be a four-round story this week.
Alex Prugh: He was one of the surprises of 2010, but the story hasn't carried over thus far in the new year - no cashes over $70K and already three trunk slams (including a quick ending last week). Problems with iron play and scrambling have been difficult to overcome thus far.
Ben Curtis: He's second in tee accuracy this year, but it hasn't done him much good, as he's buried in so many other key stats (176th in driving distance, 121st in GIR, 173rd in putting). The surprise season Curtis gave us in 2008 looks like a long-lost mirage now.
Sean O'Hair: What happened on the way to stardom? He couldn't last through the weekend at the Transitions, and he's yet to bank anything past $50K in the new season. It's miraculous that O'Hair is 70th in scoring because he's well into the hundreds on every other key rank. Quite simply, he has no idea where the ball is going, be it from the tee, on approach shots or around the green.