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Handicapping the Honda Classic

I had to crash that Honda, honey. Let's get to this week's fantasy breakdown.

A-List: Not the deepest pool in the world, but I think we can use Ernie Els with confidence. He won here in 2008, he's off to a good start in 2010, it's a home game for him now, and I like the body language he showed at the Accenture. Big Easy, come on down. Steve Marino rides shotgun on my card; while he hasn't made a deep run yet at the Honda, there's a comfort in his four starts here (20, 24, 32, 32). Iron play is critical at PGA National and that plays right into Marino's wheelhouse (note his GIR ranking in recent years).

Who not to pick: Justin Leonard (he's been lost all season), Vijay Singh (is this a cliff year?), Stephen Ames (who wants to root for him?).

B-List: Y.E. Yang should be a consensus play this week; he's the defending champ at the Honda, the PGA Championship victory pushed his confidence to another level, and he's off to a strong start in 2010. Don't swim against the current on this one. Robert Allenby is another obvious pick; he's snagged three Top-5 checks here and this is the type of course where putting's importance is de-emphasized. Allenby will get the monkey off his back and win this year, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

What do we do with Mark Wilson this week? He took down Camilo Villegas in a 2007 Honda playoff but hasn't made the weekend since. The track seems to set up for Wilson and I like him as a bench option, but I'll play it by ear from Friday-on. Villegas? The schedule is the only concern, off nine pressurized days of play and media responsibilities, plus some off-the-course stuff. I can't blame you if you opt for him here, though I'm concerned about a mild step back. Alex Prugh? Hasn't been here yet and his distance won't give him a leg up for this week's challenge. Maybe it's time to roll with Padraig Harrington on a name drop, his early-season slump to the side (note that his 2005 Honda victory was on a different course).

Who not to pick: Man, did I hate Sergio Garcia's body language at the Accenture; he's still the type of player that folds up shop when the slightest bit of luck goes against him. And his tank job against Villegas in the third-place match is telling as well. Underachiever and proud of it, that's Garcia for you. He cashed a decent check here last year (T13) but that's not swaying me. I'm also skipping J.B. Holmes for this week; he missed the cut in his Honda Classic debut last season and I don't like how the course sets up for him. (One late addition to the "skip" list - Lee Westwood. He's battling a sore knee and is no sure thing to start or finish.)

C-List: It's a little surprising Tim Clark hasn't played at the Honda yet because this is exactly the type of course where he can break through and win, a track that favors accuracy over power. I'll give him a show of faith, and back him up with Paul Casey, too big a name to ignore (though his last Honda Classic start came in 2002). Brandt Snedeker also makes for a reasonable backup plan, but I wonder if that Sunday meltdown in the desert is going to leave a mark.

Who not to pick: My colleague Greg Vara picked Chris Couch for the C-List this week, something that doesn't make sense to me (no offense, Greg). Couch has messy GIR stats over the past 14 months, a major red flag for this course, and his resume at the Honda speaks for itself (cut, 60, cut, cut, cut, albeit two of those trunk slams were too long ago to matter). Also steer clear of Ben Crane, who withdrew Tuesday.

Alright putters, who we got this week? Let's find some winners.

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