Sleepers Picks: Humana Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation

January 15, 2013
Rob Bolton
Sleeper Picks: Humana Challenge
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Ken Duke ... Making his 2013 debut. For as much as he projects as a rightful birdie machine this week, he hasn't linked four (or five) solid rounds at this event, and that includes his torrid two-year sprint on the PGA TOUR in 2007-08. Last year's T39 is his personal best in four appearances. He sat only four strokes back at the midpoint before settling for even par post-cut. Since logging one top 10 in every month from February through July last year, he closed with six cuts made in 10 starts, none of which was a top 15.
Martin Flores ... The 30-year-old product from the University of Oklahoma realized some of his potential in 2012, finishing inside the top 100 in both FedExCup points and earnings. He carded a bogey-free 67 in the second round at Waialae last week before being voted off the island, missing the cut by two strokes. In his only previous start at the Humana, he sat one stroke off the lead after 54 holes in 2010 before closing 72-72 to finish T18. Because he's such a terrific putter, you'd expect him to contend on harder tracks, but he's been able to dial in his irons several times. Combine that unpredictable angle with a comfort zone in La Quinta and you have one formula for a Sleeper.
Matt Jones ... Admittedly focused on the game again, the Aussie has lived just inside the bubble with status for a few years. He posted only two top 10s in 44 starts in the last two seasons, and then regained his fully exempt status at q-school. An opening T15 at Waialae might be a harbinger as he was solid, not spectacular, throughout the bag. He's 3-for-3 at the Humana with a T8 in 2010 when he posted five rounds in the 60s, a feat he's accomplished just once since (2010 Colonial).
Stephen Ames ... Yes, he's a former PLAYERS champion (2006), but he's already done something this year that he accomplished just twice in 2012 -- record a top 25. In fact, he made only seven of 20 cuts last year. Now just 15 months from turning 50 but fully exempt on the PGA TOUR through the 2013 season, he could extend his status with more success like last week's T20 on Oahu. Thanks to ranking fourth in fairways hits and 13th in strokes gained-putting, he converted 19 birdies. He hasn't missed a cut in his last nine appearances at the Humana, four of which resulted in top 25s, including last year's T22.
Justin Hicks ... The Tour grad is back on the PGA TOUR after failing to make the grade as a rookie in 2011. However, he notched a solid B at the Sony Open in Hawaii where he tied for 15th place. It was his second-best result in 29 career TOUR starts. He ranked 23rd in both greens in regulation and strokes gained-putting at Waialae but scored well, rolling in 19 birdies to rank T16 in par breakers. The first-timer at the Humana Challenge will need more of that kind of taut execution in the desert.