Event: Honda Classic | Dates: Feb. 24-27
Course: PGA National | Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Tourney / Course Overview
The Cali swing is in the books and now the PGA TOUR heads East for the first of four straight events in the Sunshine State, beginning with this week’s Honda Classic from PGA National in West Palm Beach. This area of Florida is where many current and former pros call home, so expect most of the field to have a good lay of the land regardless of whether they have teed it up at the Honda before.
The âBear Trapâ as it’s known, is a Jack Nicklaus redesign of a Tom Fazio original layout with big numbers waiting at seemingly every hole for those who aren’t hitting the golf ball where it is supposed to be. The course tips out at 7,125 yards as a Par 70 and is almost always played with high wind gusts, which when accompanied with those difficult water and bunker features lead us to a winning score in the single digits under par. Look for those in form with accuracy off the tee and who can scramble around these Bermuda greens. Par is a great score on every hole at this place and players know that shooting near 70 each day should keep them in contention over the weekend.
When building your card look to focus on recent Par 3 scoring as well: all four of them on this course play extremely difficult, especially #’s 15 and 17, the bookend of the Bear Trap section of the course.
I am going to start my betting card this week with a feel-play in Chris Kirk (+7000). Kirk finished tied for 25th last year at The Honda amid his best run of golf in his career which saw him rack up four top 10 finishes before the end of April. The 36-year-old Georgian can keep a clean card, ranking inside the top 25 on tour this season in both scrambling and bogey avoidance. As mentioned above, keeping mistakes to a minimum this week is what we want to look for, so I will be on Kirk for both a Top 10 bet (+600) and his outright number.
The Honda Classic is unique in the way that it plays so tough in relation to par without having to drive the ball a long way, so players like Christian Bezuidenhout (+4100) who are very short off the tee do not have a disadvantage like they do at so many other courses. Bez ranks a putrid 203rd in Driving Distance but more importantly, he ranks inside the top 15 in this field in driving accuracy, so he should have a leg up on the field this week when it comes to keeping the golf ball dry. The South African is playing his first full campaign on the PGA TOUR this year and has three top 20’s to his name thus far. He made his hay on the European Tour as a world-class putter, something that has not revealed itself yet for him in the States. I am banking that he can put a lot of pars on his card over the four rounds and positive regression with his flatstick can propel him into contention. Play his Top 5 prop (+1100) and sprinkle a few bucks on him to win the tournament.
Although he projects to be quite a popular pick this week, I must play Billy Horschel (+2100) given his recent form. The Florida native heads to West Palm Beach off an 11th-place tie at Torrey Pines backed up with a 6th-place finish (tied) in Phoenix where he gave himself an opportunity to win the golf tournament on Sunday. Horschel ranks inside the top 5 in the field this week in SG: Around the Green, Birdie average, and driving accuracy while topping out in overall putting. The numbers are just too favorable to ignore the man in Lacoste apparel as he tries to win for the 7th time on TOUR.
My Card (all prices from Fanduel Sportsbook)
Chris Kirk Top 10 (+600)
Chris Kirk Outright (+7000)
Christian Bezuidenhout Top 5 (+1100)
Christian Bezuidenhout Outright (+4100)
Billy Horschel Outright (+2100)