Power Rankings: 2018 Honda Classic

Will Gray
Golf Channel
See which players you can expect to contend this week as the PGA Tour heads east to Florida for the Honda Classic.

Power Rankings: 2018 Honda Classic

See which players you can expect to contend this week as the PGA Tour heads east to Florida for the Honda Classic.

The PGA Tour heads east to Florida this week for the Honda Classic. A field of 144 players will tackle the Champion Course at PGA National, including the infamous three-hole stretch dubbed the "Bear Trap."

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Rickie Fowler won this event last year by four shots over Gary Woodland and Morgan Hoffmann. Here are 10 names to watch in Palm Beach Gardens:

1. Justin Thomas: Thomas is one of several local residents in the field this week, and while he has missed the cut here two of the last three years those results were sandwiched around a third-place showing in 2016. Thomas is the highest-ranked player teeing it up at Honda and has opened the year with four straight top-25 finishes.

2. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard has a remarkably consistent record of late at PGA National, with seven straight made cuts and three top-15s in his last four trips. That includes a runner-up finish two years ago, and Garcia returns to PGA Tour action for the first time since the Tour Championship, rested and relaxed after three weeks off.

3. Rickie Fowler: Last year Fowler held on over the weekend for a much-needed victory that served as the highlight of a strong season. This time around he tees it up for the first time since a weekend fade at TPC Scottsdale cost him a shot at another trophy. Including last year's win, Fowler has four top-15s here since 2012.

4. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy ascended to No. 1 for the first time with a win here in 2012, and he lost in a playoff two years later. But he hasn't played a weekend round since, missing the cut in 2015 and 2016 and skipping last year's event. Throw in 2013's ToothGate withdrawal and it's been entirely feast or famine for McIlroy, who hopes a return to Bermuda greens will get his putting back in line following a T-20 at Riviera.

5. Tyrrell Hatton: Hatton finished T-4 in his tournament debut last year, and he hasn't finished outside the top 20 in any event since the PGA Championship in August. That's a run of 10 worldwide starts and includes two wins and six top-10s. Expect the Englishman to make some noise come the weekend.

6. Gary Woodland: Woodland was a co-runner-up last year, and he's just a couple weeks removed from a watershed victory in Phoenix. While he missed the cut at Pebble Beach, Woodland's early season has been otherwise solid and he also tied for sixth at PGA National back in 2011.

7. Russell Knox: Knox is from Scotland and lives in Jacksonville Beach, so he's familiar with both golf in the wind and the grass conditions offered this week in South Florida. Prior to winning on Tour, he lost here in a playoff in 2014 and followed the next year with a third-place showing. He tends to thrive on ball-striker layouts, and after a disappointing 2017 he's opened the new year with four top-30s in five starts.

8. Alex Noren: The Swede barely missed out on his first PGA Tour win in San Diego, but he hasn't missed a beat since. Noren followed his playoff loss to Jason Day with top-25s in both Phoenix and L.A., and now appears poised to contend once again on a course very reminiscent of Torrey Pines: long and tough, with plenty of trouble.

9. Daniel Berger: Berger was essentially unheard of when he lost to Padraig Harrington in a playoff here in 2015. While he's missed the cut each of the last two years, he returns now as a seasoned Tour veteran with a pair of wins. His experience at PGA National dates back to his days of junior golf, and he opened the year with three straight top-15s before a missed cut at Riviera.

10. Brian Harman: Harman hasn't played since a missed cut at Torrey Pines, during which time two other southpaws have made it to the winner's circle on Tour. There's reason to think Harman might make it three in a row, given the fact that he opened the wraparound season with five straight top-10 finishes and cracked the top 15 at PGA National in both 2012 and 2015.

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