Preview: The Honda Classic

Nobody jumps off the page this week and that’s ok.

The last two winners haven’t been obvious choices but the two previous were probably top three selections.

Better check on Mother Nature before you head to the window as well.

The Honda Classic

PGA National Resort & Spa

Champion Course

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

  
Yards (per official scorecard):7,125
Par:70 (35-35)
Greens:TifEagle Bermuda; 7,000 square feet.
Stimpmeter:12 feet.
Rough:Celebration Bermuda over-seeded with Rye at two inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards64/15 (water in play on 15 holes).
Architects:Jack Nicklaus (George and Tom Fazio (1980).
Course Record (last):61; Brian Harman, 2012 (Round 2).
Purse:$7 million; $1.26 million and 500 FedExCup points (winner).

Notes:

  • Field of 144.
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.

2020-2021 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEKJason Kokrak*
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPPatrick Cantlay
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay
Vivint Houston OpenCarlos Oritz*
84th Masters TournamentDustin Johnson
The RSM ClassicRobert Streb
Mayakoba Golf ClassicViktor Hovland
Sentry TOCHarris English
Sony Open in HawaiiKevin Na
The American ExpressSi Woo Kim
Farmers Insurance OpenPatrick Reed
Waste Management Phoenix OpenBrooks Koepka
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmDaniel Berger
The Genesis InvitationalMax Homa
WGC – Championship at The ConcessionCollin Morikawa
Arnold Palmer InvitationalBryson DeChambeau (2)
THE PLAYERS ChampionshipJustin Thomas

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Previous Winners: *Playoff

YearWinner ScoreComment
2020Sungjae Im-6First TOUR win, second visit to Honda.
2019Keith Mitchell-9First TOUR win, second visit to Honda.
2018Justin Thomas-8Defeated Luke List on the first playoff hole for his eighth win on TOUR.
2017Rickie Fowler-12Won in his eighth appearance
2016Adam Scott-9Held off Sergio Garcia by a shot even with a QUAD in Round 3 on his card.
2015Padraig Harrington-6Knocked out Daniel Berger in a Monday playoff.

Facts and Figures:

Lowest Rounds – Last Year66; Multiple players
Defending Champion(s) Event:Never.
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:Event, Harrington. Champion Course, Nobody.
First Time – TOUR:Im, 2020. Mitchell, 2019. Michael Thompson, 2013.
First Time – EventNope.
Youngest Winner:Sungjae Im, 21.
Oldest Winner:Padraig Harrington, 43.
Local Winner:Thomas, Fowler.
Odd Fact:Kenny Knox once shot 80 in this event and went on to win. #Windy.
Odd Fact II:Bermuda greens debuted for the 2014 event.

Quick Thoughts

Five weeks in a row on tough tracks, including this one.

TifEagle for the fourth consecutive week.

Bermuda for the fourth consecutive week.

Flat, windy, coastal links that punishes loose play tee to green.

Huge greens = bailout city = par is a good score.

This event has jumped all around late February and early March.

Over the few years it’s followed a WGC event, preceded Doral, and even was the first event after Riviera.

No repeats. No multiples.

Jack track = plenty of room off the tee and big greens but difficult greens.

Bear Trap baby! Survive and advance and make a birdie at 18.

10 of the last 16 winners are internationals.

Par 70 didn’t allow a score under 66 last year!

Make pars. Keep big numbers off the card. Hope the weather cooperates.

Chalk – Betting favorites and my opinions on them

Daniel Berger (+1100): Just WD from the Wednesday Pro-Am. Never good to bet or play fantasy in a vacuum. Does it mean beware the injured golfer? Or is a WD looming? At 11-1, it makes my decision easier: Pass.

Sungjae Im (+1400): Cashed 8 straight on TOUR and loves it here. The Florida trend is T28-T-21-T17 and he closed with 66 last week. I hate first time defenders but might have to make an exception this week.

Joaquin Niemann (+1800): Not in love at this price but he’s cashed in 13 straight. Putting won’t be the issue this week as past champs here haven’t needed gaudy stats on the greens.

Lee Westwood (+2200): He “rested” after THE PLAYERS by heading to Augusta to play with his son. Fit as a fiddle these days, we’ll see if he can keep it rolling. I’ll be watching from the sidelines.

Shane Lowry (+2500): Trying to catch him on the “up” is smart as he closed 69-68 for solo eighth at THE PLAYERS. Noted wind player who’s improved every start here since 2016 (T53, T49 and T21). Sure. Top 20.

Russell Henley (+2800): T24 or better his last three including T8 2020. Winner in 2014 hasn’t posted a top 25 since his season opener at Sony. He’s won there and won here. Win ticket. Top 10. Top 20.

Adam Scott (+3000): Should be a solid contender late into the weekend. Should be. I’m done chasing him for now.

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

Talor Gooch (+4000): Strong ball-striking show last weekend at Sawgrass should have plenty interested. Grew up in Oklahoma so wind shouldn’t bother him. Plays Riviera well. Top 10. Top 20.

Chris Kirk (+4000): Plenty in the water here over the years. MC in four of his last five visits. Will test the course historians against very good form, minus his blown engine Sunday (79) at Sawgrass. I’ll sit this one out but would lean form if pressed.

Brendan Steele (+4000): Seven straight on TOUR and four of his last five here are T14 or better. Skinny win ticket. Top 10. Top 20.

Cameron Tringale (+4000): Never hit the top 25 so from 10 tries.

Cameron Davis (+4500): Length has never hurt around this joint. Australians don’t mind a bit of sand or breeze either. Top 20.

Rickie Fowler (+5500): Take him every week until he wins again and you’ll be back to even. Go ahead, name his last top 10. I’ll wait.

Keegan Bradley (+5500): Making cuts but not here as he’s MC in 4 of his last 5. Something gives. Again his success here was before Bermuda so be careful.

Doug Ghim (+6000): Pressure cooker in the penultimate group last Sunday popped  the popper. T37 in five of his last six on TOUR suggests he’s almost ready. Top 20.

Wyndham Clark (+6000): Super course horse this week (T11, T7). MC last week but T8 prior at Riviera. Skinny win ticket, Top 10, Top 20.

JT Poston (+7000): Big Bermuda greens work for me. He owes me one. Skinny win ticket, Top 10, Top 20.

Ben An (+7000): Enjoy your top 20 easy. Those bolder will get into the top 10 and top 5.

KH Lee (+7000): Cashed six of his last seven, including four rounds of par or better last week. Excellent here as well. Top 20.

Top 20 plays

Jhonattan Vegas

Michael Thompson

Richy Werenski

Patrick Rodgers

Denny McCarthy

Brice Garnett

Adam Long

Kris Ventura

Adam Hadwin

Roger Sloan

To Make The Cut

Kramer Hickok

Scott Harrington (!)

Joseph Bramlett

Last Week’s Recap

Dustin Johnson (+1200): No chance I’m talking you out of this one. Last three are the best three. Knocked the rust off at The Concession. Will be in the conversation for every big event. Tough price vs. this field though. T48 and no rounds in the 60s.

Bryson DeChambeau (+1600): Fresh off a win, only Woods in 2001 has won the week prior and then won at TPC Sawgrass. Not much fazes the big lad but water on 17 holes might alter the game plan. His scoring average suggests he’s a VERY quick learner. T37-T20 in his two tries. So close.

Rory McIlroy (+1600): Won’t need to hole every putt this week and that won’t hurt but it hasn’t been the putter holding him back. His “off” weeks are top 10s. Yep, start there. Next thing you know he’s admitting to messing with his swing to chase Bryson. Sigh.

Jon Rahm (+1600): He posted 64 in Round 3 last time. He posted 82 in Round 3 on his debut in 2017. Full bag helps. Salty taste might too. Three visits, each one has a round of 76 or worse. Careful. T9 with a 73 on Sunday.

Justin Thomas (+1800): Uneventful T15 with 21 birdies at The Concession is good news. Catch him on the up. Top 10. Caught. Winner.

Collin Morikawa (+1800): No thanks at this price. If he wins, we’ll be begging for 18-1 down the road! I know I might be in the minority here but Pete doesn’t make it that easy. T41 included 66 on Sunday. Better days ahead here.

Xander Schauffele (+2000): I’m red ass on him after his no-show at The Concession.  Don’t gamble angry. Not a big sample size here, just six rounds but  T2 and MC. Haha. MC and the “streak” continues in the wrong direction. Weird.

Patrick Cantlay (+2000): T2 at Amex on Pete Dye West. Bit different field this week but he did close 61 there. MC.

Webb Simpson (+2200): On Bermuda, as safe as it gets. T16-WIN-T16 in his last three. Free money top 20. Famous last words! Yikes. MC.

Viktor Hovland (+2500): He told you after The Concession he doesn’t like golf in Florida. He had you fooled after 36 holes at Bay Hill. His weekend hammered home the details. See you down the road. MC.

Tony Finau (+2800): Thank you ma’am, may I have another? Win ticket. Top 10. Top 20. Don’t mind that dumpster fire. It’s just mine. Wrong week for a 78 but did close with 69 Friday to suggest it was a one-off.

Jordan Spieth (+3000): Ride the form. Confidence is back. Rewarded his decision to play API with another top five. Top 10. Blew a tire on Sunday and fell to T48.

Tyrrell Hatton (+3000): Made nothing on last week but hit it well. Hitting it well this week will lead to more makes on the smaller greens. 76-69 MC.

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

Hideki Matsuyama (+3300): T23 or better in 5 of 6 appearances. Top 10 and top 20. 76-69 to also MC shot and blow up my shit.

Daniel Berger (+4000): Should be as comfortable as can be. Skinny win ticket here plus top 10 and top 20. T9 to get some back.

Tommy Fleetwood (+4500): Another top 10. Nope. And wiped out my OAD to boot.

Cameron Smith (+5500): T11-T4 last two starts but never posted a round in the 60s here. Let’s gamble. Top 20. T17. Smiley face.

Corey Conners (+7500): Heat check. Top 20. Solo seventh. Boom.

Sergio Garcia (+7500): Top 20. T9 after first round led. Boom again.

Jason Kokrak (+8000): Final win ticket. Top 10. Top 20. Are those fireworks? T9.

Max Homa (+9000): I lied, stick a dollar on him to win as well. Gotta have all shapes and sizes this week! Top 20 too. It was nice while it lasted.

Top 20 Plays

Chris Kirk – Top 10 to start Sunday, 79 crusher.

Carlos Ortiz – MC.

Keegan Bradley – T29.

Emiliano Grillo – Missed on the number.

Andrew Putnam – MC.

Charley Hoffman – Big 67 to close and cash.

Brendan Steele – T41

Martin Laird – T69

Vaughn Taylor – MC

Jason Dufner and Scott Harrington to make the cut – MC for DufDaddy but three straight on TOUR for Harrington. Last two in here!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter (@mikeglasscott) or email me: mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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