The CMNHC is such a hard tournament to handicap. Virtually all the players in the field have been out of competition since at least The McGladrey Classic, so good luck guessing current form. This week is all about status. Some players would give anything to just crack the top 150. Others the top 125. Still others are playing for top 70 status for the invitationals or a certain goal to reach a compensation tier from an equipment sponsor. That said, here are some trends to keep an eye on:
- There is always someone that comes out of nowhere to earn a PGA TOUR card or make a dramatic jump inside the top 150. Tommy Gainey, who broke through in our last full-filed event, finished runner-up to Davis Love III in 2008 at the end of an otherwise horrible rookie year to at least gain conditional status in the 126-150 category. Sung Kang and Tom Pernice Jr. both tied for third last year to move inside the top 125 in the 120 and 121 spots respectively. Good luck at figuring out who, but someone who is not on anyone's radar will catch lightening in a bottle.
- The cream usually rises. Since 2003, the winners are Vijay Singh, Ryan Palmer, Lucas Glover, Joe Durant, Stephen Ames (twice), DL3, Robert Garrigus and Luke Donald. Anyone who's stumbled upon this blog knows that these are all legit players. If you look further back, you'll see Tiger Woods' name on the trophy.
- When in doubt, look for solid putters and guys who aren't afraid to go low. At least lately, the trend has been less about length and more about solid putting. Yes, I realize Garrigus is a bomber, but he's also streaky. I maintain that this is a tournament to find a streaky player with a penchant for low scores and ride him. Actually, Gainey is a good example. In retrospect, he fits that formula and his success in 2008 isn't a surprise knowing what we know now.