I've heard people say that the golf season doesn't really start until the Tour hits Florida. Sorry, I disagree. Tiger Woods started the season with a bang at the Mercedes Championships. But while Florida might not be the start of the season, it is the beginning of a new phase, and most of the guys who were hot on the West Coast probably won't stay that way in Florida.
The biggest reason, by far, is the difference in the greens. Mark O'Meara owns Pebble Beach because he grew up in California and learned how to read poa annua as well as bentgrass greens that have poa annua in them. He learned to play the break toward the ocean at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines and the break away from the mountains at the Hope. So did Tom Watson, who played at Stanford, and Phil Mickelson and Johnny Miller, a pair of desert foxes who can also read the greens out West. But in Florida, the players face flatter bermuda greens with much more grain—I've seen putts actually break uphill because of the grain. The guys with the hot putters out West are going to need time to adjust.
Like the greens, the rest of the playing surface takes some getting used to. There's nothing tougher than bermuda rough. Remember that ugly shot Greg Norman hit two years ago at the 72nd hole at Doral? The bermuda rough grabbed his club head and yanked it left. Norman not only missed the green, he also almost hit his ball left of the lake.
There are other factors, like the time difference, that make coast-jumping difficult. And let's not forget about the weather. It can get windy on the West Coast, but it won't blow for four straight days the way it will in Florida. And because of the humidity the ball doesn't travel as far as it does in the desert.
Of course, it's all what you're used to. I grew up in the southeast and had trouble playing the West Coast early in my career. I couldn't wait for the Tour to hit Florida, where bermuda fairways, grainy greens and 80% humidity made me feel like a rabbit in a brier patch. Break out the rain gear and practice your knockdown shots, guys. You'll need them.