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The Honda Classic Preview: Tiger vs. Rory, Round 2

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Another year, another WGC Match Play event in the books, another worthy champion and, of course, another discussion on how to fix this "broken" event. Personally I am torn on this issue. While I agree that there could be some improvements made to the format, I do thoroughly enjoy the event, at least the first few days anyway. Therein lies the problem, though. Without Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy in the mix, Sunday was guaranteed to be a letdown, at least for many golf fans. As someone with Matt Kuchar on one of my fantasy teams, I was more than happy to see the final pairing, but again, I was in the minority. So, how to fix this event, if it needs fixing at all? For starters, a first-round bye for the No. 1 seeds seems reasonable. After all, what's the point to the World Golf Rankings if they don't really mean anything? The only time the WGR comes into play is when WGC events and majors need to fill spots, but even then it's only those near spot 50 or 64 that really matters. Put some emphasis on the top-four spots and maybe people will start to care about the WGR. Will this solve all the match-play issues? No, not by a long shot, but it's a start, and it's not so drastic that the detractors really couldn't complain ... too much. Changes or no changes, the golf fans will still tune in to watch this "broken" event year after year. As far as Wednesday golf on the PGA Tour, it doesn't get any better.

This week:
The Honda Classic

Last Year:
Rory McIlroy shot a final-round 69 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Tiger Woods.

Players to Consider:

1. Tiger Woods

This isn't one of those stops where Woods has an outstanding track record ... yet. But that's only because he's played here once. Of course, he finished runner-up in his only start here, so maybe a few years from now, he'll have a dominant track record here as well. Woods was bounced from the match play in round one last week, but it's not like he played poorly.

2. Justin Rose

Rose played pretty well last week in the desert, but he ran into a buzz saw in Nicolas Colsaerts in round two and was sent packing. His history here is solid with three top-15s in four starts at the current venue, including top-5s in his two most recent starts.

3. Lee Westwood

Westwood bailed early from the match-play event last week, but he's off to a decent start on this side of the pond this year. He's had three consecutive top-30s, including two top-10s.

4. Y.E. Yang

Yang is not off to a great start this season, and his game has been off for the better part of the last 18 months, but if he's going to get back on track, this is the place. Yang won here in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2011. Even in a down year last year he still managed a top-30 here.

5. Charl Schwartzel

Schwartzel disappointed last week at the match-play event, but no one has been better this season in stroke-play tournaments. Schwartzel also has a decent track record at this event, which should help him recover quickly from his early exit last week.

Players to Avoid:

1. Geoff Ogilvy

Ogilvy's history at this event is good, but there are two problems. First, his track record at this event is based entirely on results from a different course. Ogilvy has yet to play this event on its current course. Second, he's simply lost now. Ogilvy is so far gone, you have to wonder if he'll ever get his game back.

2. Camilo Villegas

There was a time when betting against Villegas in Florida was a risky proposition, but not anymore. Villegas won this event in 2010, but his overall game has dropped significantly the last two years, and he's missed consecutive cuts.

3. Robert Allenby

As was the case two weeks ago at Riviera, Allenby has a strong track record here, but just like two weeks ago, Allenby's game appears to be a shambles entering this week. Allenby has yet to make a cut this season, and his two most recent rounds were in the mid-70s.

4. J.B. Holmes

Speaking of games a shambles, Holmes is really struggling this season. Holmes has made only one cut in four tries this season and nine of 10 rounds have ended in the 70s.

5. Johnson Wagner

There are a few spots on the schedule each season where Wagner is a legitimate contender, but this isn't one. Wagner has made the cut here only thrice in six starts and has never finished better than T40.

YAHOO! FANTASY GOLF

Group A

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Tiger Woods

It will be tough to top these two this week. They are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the World and finished one and two, respectively, here last year. Neither player had success last week, but that was a reflection of just one round.

Group B

1. Justin Rose
2. Ernie Els
3. Keegan Bradley
4. Fredrik Jacobson

I was expecting more fire-power in Group B this week, but as a whole, there isn't much beyond Rose that I like. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of talent here, just not the overwhelming track records that we find elsewhere. Els has a win here in 2008, though, but he's not the same player he was a few years ago. He does have a pair of top-25s in his last four starts, though. Jacobson is playing well and that could carry over to this week. As for Bradley, there's not that much to like, but he did finish in the top-15 here last year.

Group C

1. Charl Schwartzel
2. Lee Westwood

A very nice combo in Group C this week. Schwartzel nearly won a couple weeks back and should pick up where he left off at Riviera. Westwood has a pretty solid track record here and has also played well in stroke-play events this year.

Starters Round One

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Justin Rose
3. Ernie Els
4. Lee Westwood

I'm going to wait on Tiger this week; not because I expect him to play poorly out of the gate, only because of his limited track record here. Having McIlroy to slide into the starting role Thursday makes that decision a lot easier also. Rose is an obvious starter in Group B, but the second spot was much harder to fill. I chose Els because of his history here over Jacobson who's playing better. Tough call in Group C as well as Schwartzel is on fire, well as of two weeks ago he was anyway. Westwood has the track record here, though, so he gets the first crack.

Round Two and Going Forward:

I'll obviously be keeping a close eye on Tiger in round one this week as well as McIlroy. The second-round starter likely will be determined on how Woods plays, however. If he comes out of the gate strong, then I'll likely pull the trigger right away as to avoid a tough weekend decision. Rose looks locked into one starting spot in Group B, perhaps for the entire week. The other spot will be up for grabs Friday. Els can hold that spot with a good start, and Jacobson is likely the first one in if Els falters. Bradley will have to show me something Thursday and Friday before he gets the nod. Group C will also be up for grabs Friday, but for different reasons. Both players are more than capable this week, and I'll likely just stick with the hot hand. As always, stay tuned on Twitter @gregvara for lineup updates.

Follow @gregvara on Twitter.

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