Philadelphia, PA – The PGA Tour has finally kicked off its Florida swing. And as the weather improves, so do the fields.
With heightened competition, inevitably, comes a little friendly wagering. So I give you the Honda Classic '13 Pool, as conducted by yours truly and a few other golf enthusiasts/degenerates.
Each of the four participants chose four golfers (snake draft format), with highest cumulative earnings determining the winner. Here are the picks in order:
* = my pick
TIGER WOODS - And with the first pick ... Hard to argue with Tiger here. The world No. 2 suffered a first-round loss to Charles Howell III at last week's Accenture Match Play Championship, but he secured a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in his only other PGA Tour start this season. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
RORY MCILROY - The defending champ and world No. 1. You can't fault anyone for snagging Rory with the second pick, but I wouldn't call him the safest bet at the moment. Like Tiger, Rory is coming off a first-round loss last week (to Shane Lowry) and he was cut in his only other appearance this year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. And let's not forget the new clubs.
* LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN - The world No. 5 made his PGA Tour season debut last week and defeated Richie Ramsay in the first round before falling to Robert Garrigus, 3 & 2. Oosthuizen is coming off a promising sophomore campaign and he already has a win under his belt this season at the Volvo Golf Champions on the European Tour.
DUSTIN JOHNSON - Johnson won the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but since then he has struggled. A withdrawal, a tie for 51st, consecutive cuts and a first-round match play loss to Alexander Noren have followed his win in Hawaii.
LEE WESTWOOD - This essentially boils down to a home match for Westwood, who recently moved his family from England to nearby Palm Beach Gardens. The world No. 9 hasn't finished higher than 21st this year on the PGA Tour, but he did place fourth at this tournament in 2012.
* CHARL SCHWARTZEL - Also a Palm Beach Gardens resident, Schwartzel has gotten off to a fast start in 2013 with a win (Alfred Dunhill Championship) and a runner-up result (Joburg Open) on the European Tour and a third-place finish at the Northern Trust Open.
GRAEME MCDOWELL - The 2010 U.S. Open champ defeated Padraig Harrington, Alexander Noren and Shane Lowry last week before running into eventual runner up Jason Day in the quarterfinals. McDowell has a pair of top-10 finishes in his last two appearances at this event.
MARTIN KAYMER - The European Ryder Cup hero is making his inaugural Honda Classic appearance. He made it to the third round last week before falling to defending champion Hunter Mahan and has posted two top-10 finishes in two other European Tour starts this year.
KEEGAN BRADLEY - Bounced by Marcus Fraser in the first round last week, Bradley has become an unfortunate lightning rod amid the anchoring storm. The 2011 PGA Championship winner voiced his displeasure over the added attention last week and chances are the distractions could prove a detriment again at the Honda Classic
JUSTIN ROSE - Rose defeated K.J. Choi as a second seed last week before falling to Ryder Cup teammate Nicolas Colsaerts, 4 & 2, in the following round. The world No. 6 recorded a runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year.
* NICOLAS COLSAERTS - Last week, Colsaerts was ousted by eventual champion Matt Kuchar, 4 & 3, in the third round. The big-hitting Belgian, who proved his mettle with the putter at Medinah, is searching for his first PGA Tour win. He will need to improve upon a tie for 44th at the Farmers Insurance Open and a pair of February cuts.
RICKIE FOWLER - Fowler started the year strong with back-to-back ties for sixth (Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Farmers Insurance Open) before missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and a first-round match play loss to Carl Pettersson.
FREDRIK JACOBSON - Jacobson has quietly had an impressive start to his season with a tie for seventh at Pebble Beach and a tie for third at the Northern Trust Open. The 2011 Travelers Championship winner defeated Ernie Els and Marcus Fraser last week.
* JAMES HAHN - The rookie garnered attention when he tied for fourth at the Humana Challenge in January. He Gangnam Styled his way to a 16th-place result in Phoenix and shared the third-round lead with Brandt Snedeker at Pebble Beach before settling for a tie for third.
JASON DUFNER - A two-time winner in 2012, Dufner has made the cut in each of his four Honda Classic appearances. His best finish this season is a tie for 18th at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
CHARLIE BELJAN - Beljan's anxiety issues haven't been a detriment on the course of late. He won at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic last year despite being hospitalized for a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. A few weeks ago, he calmly drained a tricky birdie putt on No. 18 at Riviera Country Club to get into a playoff. He eventually fell to John Merrick on the second extra hole.
DO US ALL A FAVOR AND SHUT UP
Hey, guy in the gallery, do us all a favor and shut up. Be quiet. Have a little self respect.
No one wants to hear you yelling "Get in the hole!" on a par-4 tee shot. It's not necessary to scream "mashed potatoes" when Tiger hits driver. Mashed potatoes? What is wrong with you?
And "Baba Booey"? Really? You've resorted to yelling Gary Dell'Abate's nickname? Do you know how he got that name? Dell'Abate (Howard Stern's producer) earned the moniker in 1990 after accidentally referring to Quick Draw McGraw's sidekick Baba Looey as Baba Booey. This is the guy you want to be associated with? Have you heard how much Stern kills him on that show?
And let's not forget "Yabba Dabba Doo!" Fred Flintstone? Come on. You're better than that. Act like you've been here before.
You are the guy yelling "Freebird" at a concert. No one wants you here; not the players, the fans or the people you came with. So stop. Go home, watch the tournament on TV, and annoy your miserable wife and kids. As long as we don't have to listen to it.