Driver change may help streaky Kirk win Humana Challenge

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After a record breaking Sony Open, expect more low scoring when the PGA Tour hits the US mainland for the first time this year for the Humana Challenge in California.

Three courses are used on rotation in the pro-am format before the host course is played for a second time on Sunday. All three of the Palmer, Nicklaus and La Quinta layouts were ranked in the top ten of easiest tracks in both 2011 and 2012. For the record, La Quinta played just under a shot and a half harder than Nicklaus last year with the host venue, Palmer, somewhere in the middle.

Experience should count – only Jhonattan Vegas has won this event as a rookie in its 53 years history. But the same stats applied last week, when tour newcomer Russell Henley blew the field away in Hawaii.

The runner up to Henley in Honolulu was Tim Clark, who is the favourite this week at 14/1. He’ll have his supporters thanks to good course and current form but he looks too short in the betting for a player who has won only once on the PGA Tour in 244 starts. Instead side with Pat Perez (50/1), Chris Kirk (40/1) and Luke Guthrie (100/1).

Perez won this event when it was a five-round tournament back in 2009 and was a fast-finishing 14th 12 months ago. Ninth in the Sony suggests his game is in good nick.

Kirk changed driver late last year and has found more length off the tee. A streaky player, who shot 62 at Waialae last Friday, he opened 68-63 here last year before fading, but was seventh in 2011.

Guthrie has a similar profile to Vegas when the Venezuelan won two years ago. A late season Web.com Tour winner who might be more comfortable playing in front of the thin crowds over the first three days.

So it’s Perez, Kirk and Guthrie for me.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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