Mark Wilson: He can't hit the ball out of his shadow, he's never seen a Top 25 in a major and at 5-foot-8, he certainty can't dunk. But Wilson had the patience and the guile to handle the winds at the Humana Challenge, and he had no problem rolling up a bunch of birdies at the red-number event. When someone lucks into a win or two, you can write it off; Wilson now has five, and has to be taken seriously. Work ethic and equanimity go a long way.
Phil Mickelson: The putter was coming around at the end of the weekend, and now he's back in San Diego at a Torrey Pines track he knows by heart. He's the logical favorite this week, especially with Tiger and others off at the Abu Dhabi money grab.
Humana Challenge: The former Bob Hope Classic brought in a better field than usual, and it was refreshing to not deal with a 90-hole event. The tidier format is a change for the better.
Robert Garrigus: Mind, body and soul are all in line for a career year, and the long-hitting Idaho native had a near-miss in his season debut, fashioning a snappy 61 on Saturday en route to a tie for second. Garrigus's length gives him a chance to go low at any time, and he's finally in a settled place off the course.
J.B. Holmes: He's back on the course after brain surgery, and I don't care how he hits the ball this week. It's simply encouraging to see him back doing what he loves to do. The off-course perspective might help Holmes in other ways; he's been a harsh self-critic in the past, but nothing forces a reality check like a health scare. Welcome back, Long John.
John Senden: The iron-wizard has come out in fine form, finishing T23 in Hawaii and then running T6 at the Former Hope last week. Senden is a little like Robert Allenby in that the win total doesn't seem to match the ability - how does Senden have just one PGA Tour victory at this point in his career? Nonetheless, I'll take the sucker bait and sign off on him for a strong season. He wasn't just an iron star last year: Senden also ranked eighth in total driving and 64th in putting, a profile that can win anywhere.
Dustin Johnson: He's back from knee surgery, but now his back is acting up, and Johnson's always had the body and swing that make you worry about physical issues. It will take a lot of positive results before I put him back in my Top 5.
Tiger Woods: He can complain about Hank Haney's upcoming book all he likes, but Team Tiger dropped the ball by not insisting on a confidentiality agreement when the pair worked together.
Chris DiMarco: I see the strong start to 2012 (T13, T30) and I'd like to hop on board, but I also remember what DiMarco showed us last summer: he played sharply in July and early August, then morphed into a trunk-slamming machine down the stretch (making just 2-of-6 cuts and a lousy $21K). DiMarco is too young to be counted out at age 43, but I'd like more data to consider before I buy in.