Preview: The Honda Classic 2022

Matt Jones leads the field of 144 in the first of four events in the Florida Swing.

The Honda Classic 2022

PGA National Resort & Spa

Champion Course

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

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Yards (per official scorecard):7,125
Par:70 (35-35)
Greens:TifEagle Bermuda; 7,000 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter:Tournament speed (wind dependent).
Rough:TifSport Bermuda over-seeded with Ryegrass at 3″.
Bunkers/Water Hazards:67/15 (Water in play on 15 holes).
Architect(s):Fazio Brothers (1981); Jack Nicklaus (multiple, ongoing).
Purse:$8 million ($1.44 winner) plus 550 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion:Matt Jones (-12).
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:No multiple champions since the move in 2007.
72 Hole Tournament Record (since 2000):267; Camilo Villegas (2010).
Course Record (property): Course Record (redesign):61; Matt Jones (Round 1, 2021); Brian Harman (Round 2, 2012).
Youngest Winners:21; Sungjae Im (2020).
Oldest Winner:43; Padraig Harrington (2015).
Fact of the Week:9 of 15 winners since the move have been internationals.
Fact of the Week II:Matt Jones was the first winner in four that was more than one shot.

Notes:

  • Field of 144.
  • Top 65 and ties play the final two rounds.
  • Only 12 of the OWGR top 50 in attendance.

2021-2022 Season Winners

EventWinner
Fortinet ChampionshipMax Homa
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSam Burns
Shriners Children’s OpenSungjae Im
CJ CUP @ SUMMITRory McIlroy
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPHideki Matsuyama
Bermuda ChampionshipLucas Herbert (first TOUR win)
Mayakoba ChampionshipViktor Hovland
Hewlett Packard Houston OpenJason Kokrak
The RSM ClassicTalor Gooch (first TOUR win)
Sentry Tournament of ChampionsCameron Smith
Sony Open in HawaiiHideki Matsuyama (2)
The American ExpressHudson Swafford
Farmers Insurance OpenLuke List (first TOUR win)
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmTom Hoge (first TOUR win)
WM Phoenix OpenScottie Scheffler (first TOUR win)
The Genesis InvitationalJoaquin Niemann

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details on those who play well here. The piece has been updated within the last month and has EXTRA DETAILS that I’m not going to put in here.

Event Winners:

Year/Player/Score * – PlayoffNotes
2021 Matt Jones, (-12)  Opened with 61, won by five, the largest margin of victory at Champion Course.
2020 Sungjae Im   (-6)Second highest winning total at Champion Course; first career win.
2019 Keith Mitchell (-10)Holed a birdie at the last to avoid a playoff with Brooks Koepka and Ricky Fowler for his first TOUR victory.
2018 Justin Thomas (-8)*Defeated Luke List in a playoff; not entered this week.
2017 Rickie Fowler (-12)Set the 54 hole record by two shots and won by four over Gary Woodland.
2016 Adam Scott (-9)Not entered this week and neither is the man he held off on Sunday, Sergio Garcia.
2015 Padraig Harrington (-5)*Defeated Daniel Berger in a Monday playoff to win the EVENT for the second time but the first on the Champion Course.

Last Time – The Genesis Invitational

Thoughts on Chalk (My plays will be obvious)

Jon Rahm (+900):You’ll know when I’m ready (again) to pull the trigger. Simply no value in this field at that number or for any of the markets.T21 and that INCLUDES at 65 to close.

Patrick Cantlay (+1200): Looks like he’s on autopilot. So few mistakes and mentally ice cold. Won at Sherwood up the street in 2020 fall.  T33 after barely making the cut. Weirdly up and down week after rolling in on fire.

Dustin Johnson (+1600): Just pounds top 10s here annually and I wouldn’t expect anything less this week. Sneeky/Cheeky play this week on his favorite track but he hasn’t won since the Autumn Masters in 2020. MC after getting caught up in the Saudi business. Getting married soon as well. #DistractedAF.

Justin Thomas (+1600): He’s usually in 6th gear by now but every year is different. Signs of life at WMPO as he back-doored a top 10 with 66 on Sunday. Should have won here in 2019 but blew a four shot lead. Solo 6th. Learned he’s gonna design a golf course with Jack outside Jupiter over the coming years.

Cameron Smith (+2000): T4-MC-WIN in three events in 2022 doesn’t chase me away. Fantastic bag and fantastic form suggests he’ll be lurking again this week. Top 10 to back up his T4 last year. Nope, T33. Hell, he was the THIRD best Cameron of the week after Young (T2) and Tringale (T13).

Collin Morikawa (+2000): Bit of a stumble in the Middle East, for him. On paper it’s perfect but it’s only this third start and T26/T44 are the two paydays. Ride or die! T2 after a closing 65 that made Niemann’s rear view mirror read OBJECTS LOOK CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.

Rory McIlroy (+2200): I’ll lean here as he rolls in with four top 12s including a win since October. Sure he MC last year but so did JT. Interesting. T10 as he’s bubbling at the surface. Hope to see him at Bay Hill.

Hideki Matsuyama (+2500): Loaded fields bring tempting numbers. I’ll just sign up for another top 10. Battle to make the cut but never fired on the weekend. Seeing him and Cantlay sputter was not expected. T33. Loss.

Viktor Hovland (+2500): DESTROYED this place tee to green last year on his debut (T5). Stark reminder than The Riviera Country Club is a 14 bag test, not just tee to green. Short game isn’t a strength but the Ball-Striking is ridiculous. Might have to be perfect for him to cash that ticket though…Destroyed it again for T4. Some player.

Xander Schauffele (+2500): Hasn’t missed in four tries and won’t be bothered by Poa. He might enjoy it after making nothing last week T3 at WM Phoenix Open while torching that place tee to green. 14 clubs in his bag too. 3 way action. T13 means 1 out of 3. Rubbish.

Scottie Scheffler (+2800): Back to back? Sure, why not? He won some college stuff here and hits it GREAT. I don’t do guys after their first wins, especially on a track like this but I might have to make an exception as well as he’s hitting it. Top 10 out of curiosity on my theory! T7 because he hits it like a boss. Backing up his win on that course with that field answered all of the questions and provided a win ticket.

33-1 or Worse Select Opinions

Will Zalatoris (+3000): FLYING to start the year and should have won at Torrey Pines. Instead he lost a playoff and got COVID. Tough place to shake off the rust. T26 with four rounds at par or better.

Brooks Koepka (+3300): Careful. Like Bubba, he plays well where he plays well. This week doesn’t qualify. MC

Matt Fitzpatrick (+4000): WD from Pro-Am with a stomach deal? Better look into that before you set it and forget it. WD Pre Tournament.

Sungjae Im (+4000): Holy shit he took two weeks in a row off! People thought he died! How he’s above Scott and Watson here is something, especially off a layoff. I’ll let you. T33 with two bad ones.

Bubba Watson/Adam Scott (+4500): 5 wins between them. Excellent results in the Middle East and made cuts last week. Bubba MC while Scott was contending in the B Flight (T4).

Max Homa (+5500): His spiritual home. T3 Fairways last week suggests he’s dialed in for a sturdy defense. I agree. Yep, T10.

Joaquin Niemann (+5500): Rolls in on a pair of top 10 paydays. Does he have enough short game? I would say so as he chipped in from everywhere and set the 54 hole record! WINNER.

Talor Gooch (+6000): Last Sunday is going to scare you away or light your candle. Candle lit. Top 10. Top 20. Tea leaves misread. MC.

Thomas Pieters (+7500): Lovely walk down memory lane as he won the NCAA championship here and was T2 in 2017. Oh, and he’s SHIT FIRE HOT in Europe. Top 10, Top 20. MC as we give more back.

Patrick Reed (+9000): Nobody hits a ton of fairways or greens here and not many can grind it out like he can. Masters angle doesn’t hurt either. My favorite MC. Not. Even. Close. Bud.

Si Woo Kim (+9000): Really steady run of form. Top 10, Top 20. 73rd.

Funny Money

Cameron Tringale (+10000): This is the right week during his streak for a big finish. T13

Erik Van Rooyen (+15000): Yeah, form is too good not throw out a ticket or two. 65 on Saturday had me hoping for a back door. Door slammed on Sunday. T39.

Doug Ghim (+15000): Eight straight. Streak broken. MC.

Adam Hadwin (+15000): Seven straight here. #OnBrand. Streak broken. MC.

Francesco Molinari (+20000): The book doesn’t give away free money. Careful. T55. Hope you didn’t swallow the entire hook.

JJ Spaun (+30000): Should play the weekend. Did not.

James Hahn (+35000): Three straight T15 or better. Let’s gamble! T61 continues the run of cuts made.

Dylan Frittelli (+40000): Top 40. T26 hey hey!

This Week – The Honda Classic

More water balls than any other joint minus TPC Sawgrass should get you in the ball-striking frame of mind.

Don’t have to putt it great here to win either as the massive greens have TifEagle Bermuda to navigate.

Bogeys will be made as there hasn’t been an event in the last five years where more than 15 guys have made LESS THAN 10 bogeys for the week.

Over-seeded rough has grown out but the greens provide big targets for recovery shots. Plenty of bunkers will catch the errant tee balls and approaches and the “others” will find a watery grave.

Hit as many fairways and greens as possible and try to make just as many pars. The two Par-5 holes are the easiest on the course so taking advantage twice a day is almost required to stay in the hunt.

Jack Nicklaus’ signature is the hole gets tougher the closer you get to it so accept par and move on. TifEagle greens were installed after the 2017 edition and should be settled and receptive by now. It won’t make the task any easier!

The weather will cooperate half of the time including Friday and Sunday. The other two afternoons should be breezy and that’s life in Florida. The event returns to February after following THE PLAYERS last season.

For those of you who don’t read HFC, I’ll help this week:

Recent Course Rankings (since 2018):

2021: 6th most difficult; 71.102

2020: 3rd most difficult; 71.904

2019: 5th most difficult; 71.016

2018: 2nd most difficult; 72.203 – first year with new greens

Winners trends here are strange as crusty veterans mix with 20-somethings mix with first timers on TOUR.

Wide open field this week with plenty of questions as opposed to answers!

Thoughts on Chalk

Sungjae Im (+1200): Full bag and previous winning experience here makes this an obvious selection. T8 on defense suggests the moment doesn’t get too big for him. Gotta love a guy who busts off a two week break to get amongst it at Riviera! That’s gonna sharpen the set before this week.

Daniel Berger (+1600): Couldn’t defend at Pebble (back injury). Didn’t make the cut at WMPO where he usually rakes. He should be rested after skipping Riviera. I don’t like “should” and not this price.

Brooks Koepka (+2000): Home game as well like Berger for Koepka and many others this week. Koepka is healthy, minus his hair dye, but he’s on familiar ground this week and almost won here in 2019, the last time he was healthy.

Joaquin Niemann (+2000): Surprised he’s still in the field but since he lives in the area maybe I shouldn’t be! He might be more excited to sleep in his own bed that battle The Bear Trap. I’ll try the SchefflerTheory again this week and stick him in for a top 10 just in case he keeps hitting it LIKE THAT again.

Billy Horschel (+2200): His grass, his home state and T6/T11 in his last two on TOUR. I can’t remember the last time he missed a weekend and this will be his 10th attempt here.

Louis Oosthuizen (+2200): He’ll make the drive from his farm in Ocala as he plays just his second event of 2022. All this is just prep for St Andrews in July folks!

Tommy Fleetwood (+3000): If there is a place in the States, and granted I don’t have many to choose from because his record over here has been dire for a couple of years, this is it. Cashed third in 2020 and T4 2019 in his only two visits and rolls in with T8 from the Saudi desert.

33-1 or Worse Select Opinions

Shane Lowry (+3300): Never MC in four tries here and he’s started with three straight T25 or better in Europe. Third straight year in this event.

Alex Noren (+3300): T6 in Scottsdale is the best in stretch of 3 straight makes. Missed the playoff by a shot in 2018.

Keith Mitchell (+3300): Nothing is bothering him at the moment. Another week of solid ball-striking and Bermuda putting should be right up his alley. Top 10.

Matthew Wolff (+4000): Absolutely all over the shop but there’s no questioning his talent. Blistering finish to 2021 may be rekindled after T6 in Saudi and a week off? Sticks out in this field.

Brian Harman (+4000): Last year was the first year in 10 he didn’t play. He’s back this year and playing well on TOUR. Interesting.

Funny Money

Matt Jones (+4500): Hit it GREAT last week at Riviera (T15) and was T3 at Sentry on big Bermuda.

Jhonattan Vegas/Mito Pereira (+4500): Load ’em both.

Ryan Palmer (+5500): My lean is veterans this week and he more than qualifies. Can also handle the breeze.

KH Lee (+6600): Solid solid solid but is going the wrong way here! MC-T38-T7.

Lucas Glover (+7000): Four of the last five T21 or better and this is his part of the world.

Sam Ryder (+12500): Top 10 last year and T26-T23 in his last two on TOUR. Owns a 63 here.

Sepp Straka (+14000): Closed like a madman for T15 at Riviera. I’ll jump on!

Beau Hossler (+14000): The harder the track, the better.

Kramer Hickok (+17500): T21-T30 last two years with half of those rounds in the 60s.

Ryan Armour (+20000): He should hit every fairway.

Brice Garnett (+27500): T25-T11 last two years. Get healthy!

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

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