Expert picks: Honda Classic


The Florida Swing gets underway this week with the Honda Classic, and our experts offer up their fantasy choices below. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: He's the best on the planet and gets a bit of a home game this week.

Group 2: Fredrik Jacobson: Bounced early at the Match Play, he loves PGA National and its tight confines.

Group 3: Marc Leishman: Enjoys the Champion Course, scoring T-17 finishes here in consecutive years.

Group 4: Bobby Gates: In a desperately-wanting group, Gates has cashed in every event this season.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: The Honda may be new to his schedule, but he's certainly familiar with the venue. While his putting stroke may be lagging, going out early last week in Arizona gave him the opportunity to go back home, near PGA National, get some rest and figure it out.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Another one of the many Tour pros who makes his home in South Florida. While he missed the cut last year and went out early at Dove Mountain, with his talent and drive he is poised to finally pick up his first victory.

Group 3: Ricky Barnes: He was solo fourth last year here, which ranked the most difficult non-major venue played in 2011. He eats up the tough tracks and is one name we've started to see a lot of on top of the leaderboards during the world-class events.

Group 4: Rod Pampling: He enters this year's event off two top-15s in four starts and the Aussie can get hot on Bermuda greens; take his 2006 victory at Bay Hill as an example.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Keegan Bradley: With positive momentum going, Bradley should be comfortable in his South Florida backyard.

Group 2: Mark Wilson: Off to a strong start this season, Wilson has already proven he can prevail at PGA National.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Gay, a Florida resident, will be looking to go from a warm West Coast run to a hot one in South Florida.

Group 4: Rod Pampling: While Pampling hasn't played the Honda Classic in seven eyars, he's pretty good on Florida courses.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Charl Schwartzel: Will be overlooked in this group, but recent form and love of PGA National make for a solid pick.

Group 2: Y.E. Yang: The Yanger is hot or cold here with a win, second-place finish and missed cut in the last three years.

Group 3: Marc Leishman: May be the only person to pick him, but he's T-17 the last two years here and has made cuts in all three events this year.

Group 4: Alex Cejka: Made cut at the Honda Classic each of the last four years. Good enough for this group.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Last 11 starts - two wins, four seconds, two thirds, one fourth, one fifth, one T-11. Any questions?

Group 2: Ben Crane: Three top-10s this year. Solo third at PGA National in his last appearance in 200. Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained putting.

Group 3: John Rollins: The 2009 runner-up has three top-10s this season. Ranks sixth in the all-around and 18th in bogey avoidance.

Group 4: Rod Pampling: While he's a first-timer at PGA National, he keeps his ball in play. Two top-15s in his last three starts this season.

You can watch complete coverage of the Honda Classic Thursday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 3PM-6PM ET.