http://www.digitaljournal.com/sports/a-look-ahead-to-the-masters-the-2014-honda-classic/article/374150

A look ahead to the Masters: the 2014 Honda Classic

Posted Mar 3, 2014 by Nicole Weddington
As the Masters draws nearer and nearer, the 2014 Honda Classic is a pivotal contest for the world's top contenders in Golf.
PGA: The Honda Classic-Final Round
PGA: The Honda Classic-Final Round
Brad Barr, Reuters
Sunshine and blue skies mingled with a warm ocean breeze together combine for a great golf outing and Palm Beach Gardens is already proving to be the ideal venue for enjoying all of them. This year's Honda Classic, going on now, is host to seven of the world's top eight golfers, according to the Official World Golf Rankings. These players have their work cut out for them, too.
This is a tough course with some the most challenging greens anywhere. That is sure to present challenges for everyone, making predicting the outcome equally challenging.
A close eye is being kept on several players who will be the ones to watch when the Masters 2014 proper gets underway — not the least of which is Tiger Woods.
Woods has won this event eight times since 2000, including the last two years in a row. He is a definite favorite for doing so again in 2014. Adding to his odds is the fact that Tiger has enjoyed a few weeks' rest, as have several other of his closest competitors. What could sway his chances is the fact that he has only played on this particular course three times with his best finish as a runner up to Rory McIlroy back in 2012.
Woods began his 2013-14 season tying for 80th in the Farmers Insurance Open on a course he knows well: Torrey Pines. He also finished tied for 41st in Dubai — the worst beginning to a season in his entire professional career thus far. If he doesn't win at Palm Beach Gardens, this Champion Course will be listed among the ranks of Winchester Country Club, TPC, Dove Mountain and Riviera Country Club — all venues where Woods remains winless in a minimum of three starts.
Another player to watch at Palm Beach is Jordan Speith. He is only 20 years old but he is already being mentioned alongside Tiger Woods after a strong start to his PGA Touring career. The parallels between Speith and Woods are interesting. Just like Tiger Woods, Jordan Speith proved himself multiple times early on — even before entering the world of professional golf — winning Junior Amateur championships before going on to dominate in college golf during his freshman year.
Speith quickly became the world's first teenage champion on the PGA Tour in 82 years. He also managed a second place finish at the 2014 Hawaii Tournament of champions, just behind veteran player Zach Johnson.
It is also worth paying attention to Rory McIlroy. He started out his 2013 season as the top-ranked golfer in the world. Due to a series of issues both on- and off-course, he is currently ranked sixth. Does that shortfall hurt his chances in Palm Beach?
Things are going well for McIlroy at the moment. He just announced his engagement to professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. Right now, his spirits and confidence are high, which is a good combination for keeping him well on his game.