Honda Classic Betting: After a few close calls, we finally hit an outright as Justin Thomas, dominated over the weekend in route to a one shot victory over Lee Westwood. If not for a Sunday collapse by Chris Kirk and a near miss top 20 by Will Zalatoris, it could have been an unbelievable week.
PGA National hosts the Honda Classic this week for the last stop on the Florida swing. PGA National is a par 70, playing around 7,100 yards.
It has played as one of the tougher courses on tour over the last handful of years. The “Bear Trap” (holes 15-17) is a super tough three hole stretch that decides this tournament.
The field this week is pretty average with only four of the top 25 players in the Official World Golf Rankings teeing it up.
Overall, the middle tier of players is really poor behind the top tier of Berger, Niemann and Im.
PGA National has water in play on most holes and is a position style golf course. Getting the ball in the fairway is important with the thick bermuda rough.
Avoiding the big misses that lead to penalties and doubles will be key. The difficulty and abundance of trouble at PGA National add some variance to this event.
For me, this is a ball strikers course (SG: Approach). Most guys will lay back off the tee when necessary to get in the fairway and then it will be an iron play contest.
Having a good week putting may make up for some poor iron play but I’d rather have the guy putting for birdie than saving par. Also, there are six par fours ranging from 400-450 yards so that will be a key area to focus.
According to fantasynational.com, there are a large number of approach shots from 175-200 yards at PGA National as well and is something to consider when looking at players. Par 3 scoring can really differentiate players here with all the trouble on those holes leading to some big numbers.
Prior success at the Honda hasn’t proven to be an indicator of future success like at some courses. Sungjae Im had one start before his win in 2020 finishing outside the top 50 and 2019 winner Keith Mitchell has two missed cuts in the starts here where he didn’t win here. The wind is expected to play a factor this week as well complicating things even more.
With the poor field, the winner could come from literally anywhere. Besides the top few players, the talent level in a field like this is pretty flat and makes it hard to predict.
Plus, if the wind starts blowing and there are wave advantages with the wind, it makes it that much more difficult. If you wanna take a week off and dive in the NCAA Tournament, this would be a good weekend to do it. Anyways, there is still money to be made.
Joaquin Niemann +2000 (BetRivers) (Berger WD has moved this number unfortunately)
Niemann isn’t usually priced this low but with the lack of top tier players in the field thats where he finds himself. He hasn’t missed a cut since last August and has 11 top 30’s in 13 events since that missed cut (4 top 10’s as well).
Niemann is ready to add win number two to his resume after two close calls earlier this year including a playoff loss in a loaded field at the Tournament of Champions. The stats also paint a nice picture for Niemann.
Niemann ranks 20th in the field in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and has gained strokes on approach in seven of his last eight starts. Niemann is also a really good driver of the ball, ranking 2nd in SG: Off the Tee and 3rd in SG: Ball Striking over the last 36 rounds of players in the field.
Niemann is one of the few golfers in the field who can win in any field let alone this one. I could definitely see him breaking through this week.
Shane Lowry +2800 (Draftkings)
Lowry is coming off a top 10 finish at The Players last week where he gained strokes in every major category. He hit the ball beautifully and it was his first nice showing of 2021 after a longish break following the Masters.
Lowry is one of the more accomplished players in this field and certainly has proven his ability to win. He ranks top 25 in the field in SG: Ball Striking and Opportunities Gained and is known for solid all around play.
Another reason Lowry is worth a look is if the weather gets nasty. Lowry is used to the tough conditions from playing in Europe and according to fantasynational.com, ranks 1st in SG: Total in Windy AF conditions over the last 36 rounds. Given the field strength, you can do a lot worse than a major champion this week.
Longshots I like: Brendan Steele +4500 & Chez Reavie +11000
Sungjae Im +164 (Betrivers)
The odds here aren’t great for a top 10 bet but Im is one of the premier players in this field. Im is the defending champion here and has played some really nice golf in Florida the last two years.
Im has made eight straight cuts with six top 30 finishes among those starts and those were much stiffer fields. Im is a really good all around player and consistently gains off the tee and on approach. Im ranks first in SG: Off the Tee, 3rd in SG: putting and 1st in Bogey Avoidance over the last 36 rounds.
In a tournament where I’ll likely have bets on a few pretty inconsistent and high variance players, it’s a good idea to have something tied to one of the few high class players in the field.
Longshot I like: J.T. Poston +700
Talor Gooch +175
Gooch showed off his immense potential last week at the Players with a top 5 finish. He gained a whopping 6.8 strokes on approach last week as well.
Gooch is a super talented young player who has been pretty inconsistent early in his career. However, he is starting to figure out the putting with three straight weeks gaining strokes putting.
If Gooch can keep his irons even close to last week with a little better driving, he will find himself high on the leaderboard. Gooch can really go low too, so you’re never out of it until the tournament is over.
Chris Kirk +350
I’m back on Kirk despite his horrific Sunday at the Players. He was playing so well and just lost his game for one round and TPC Sawgrass punished him. I still like his form and fit for PGA National.
Kirk hits the fairway and should give himself lots of looks for birdies. He ranks 3rd in the field in Opportunities Gained and 13th in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds in this field. His irons are on right now and he has strung together four top 20’s in his last six starts.
He has one of the smoothest and easiest swings on tour that should also play well in the wind that is expected this weekend. Kirk has gained strokes tee to green in five of his six starts in 2021. If his putter can heat up, he will contend for the win.
Longshot I like: Kelly Kraft +1400
Brendan Steele -114 over Rickie Fowler
Fowler has just lost his game. He never had the winning success that most people hoped for but he always seemed to come close. Now, Fowler isn’t even able to contend. His putting has gotten worse and doesn’t buoy his poor ball striking rounds anymore.
Fowler has three missed cuts and a 72nd place finish in his last five starts. He has lost strokes on approach in four straight and has the propensity for a big number which can happen easily at PGA National.
Steele is really a consistent player who has made seven straight cuts, never finishing worse than 43rd in those starts. His floor is considerably higher than Fowler’s and his ceiling is pretty similar too.
Steele consistently gains strokes off the tee with his long but straight drives and is solid everywhere else. Steele also has four top 15’s in his last five starts in this event and should be a safe option especially with how poorly Fowler has been playing.
Going with an old guy here this week. Furyk isn’t the player he once was but he is playing pretty well right now. He has four straight made cuts with two top 30’s. Those were in fields much stronger than this one.
Furyk is a super solid player who is always in the fairway and is a pretty good putter. Furyk has gained strokes on approach and putting in three of his last four starts. His chipping is good, gaining strokes around the green nearly every tournament.
Furyk struggles to keep up with the distance of all the younger guys on tour but that should have as much of an effect this week with a shorter course that requires precision.
Furyk should be a solid top 20 play at +350 and a high floor DFS play as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contending too if the conditions are tough. He is the ultimate grinder.