Power Rankings: Honda Classic


This week the PGA Tour heads to the Sunshine State, beginning a stretch of four consecutive events in Florida. First up is The Honda Classic, staged at PGA National and once again boasting a strong field that features four of the game's top six in the current rankings.

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Rory McIlroy returns to defend the title he won last year over a hard-charging Tiger Woods, a victory that propelled him to No. 1 in the world. Here are 10 players to watch this week as the game's best try to tame the 'Bear Trap' in South Florida:

1. Justin Rose: The Englishman has finished inside the top five each of his last two appearances here, including a third-place result in 2010. Rose led the Tour in GIR percentage in 2012, a metric that will be key this week, and showed an ability to win on Florida courses at Doral a year ago.

2. Graeme McDowell: Unlike many on this list, G-Mac had a solid showing at last week's Match Play, and now heads to Honda where he has been inside the top 10 each of the last two years. Now living in Orlando, the Ulsterman has plenty of experience on the Bermuda greens he'll see this week.

3. Charl Schwartzel: Stubbed his toe against Russell Henley at Dove Mountain, but his track record across the last few months is reason enough to keep him high on the list. Finished T-14 in his first Honda appearance in 2011, and improved upon that with a T-5 showing here last year. 

4. Tiger Woods: His closing 62 last year remains the lowest Sunday round of his career, but prior to that round he was just 18th entering the final round. Woods didn't make a bogey in his first-round loss at the Match Play, but is also making just his second appearance in this event at PGA National.

5. Louis Oosthuizen: Making his third Honda start, but surprisingly still seeking his first result after withdrawing due to illness midway through the event in both 2011 and 2012. Already has a win in South Africa this year to his credit, and is approaching the part of the season where he heated up a year ago.

6. Rory McIlroy: The defending champ returns with more questions than answers after a rough start to 2013. One of only two players last year with all four rounds in the 60s, the Ulsterman may still be getting used to his new equipment, having played only three competitive rounds thus far this year.

7. Fredrik Jacobson: One of the hottest players around, Jacobson parlayed top-10 finishes at both Pebble Beach and Riviera into a third-round showing at Dove Mountain. The Swede has been inside the top 30 here in four straight appearances, including back-to-back top-10 finishes in 2009 and 2010. 

8. Lee Westwood: The Englishman is playing in the States for the fourth week in a row, and has been inside the top 10 at Honda two of the last three years. While overshadowed by Woods' 62 a year ago, Westwood fired a 63 of his own in the final round to finish alone in fourth place.

9. Ernie Els: A winner here in 2008, Els had a solid outing in his last stroke-play event (T-13 at Riviera) before a first-round exit in Arizona. The reigning British Open champion has a pair of top-25 finishes here since 2009, including a T-21 showing last year.

10. Charles Howell III: Buoyed by his upset win over Woods at the Match Play, Howell heads to an event where he sandwiched a T-10 finish in 2011 around T-26s in both 2010 and 2012. Currently No. 64 in the world, Howell needs to crack the top 50 by month's end to make it into The Masters.