What’s up people! I’ll start off by begrudgingly congratulating Joaquin Niemann on his extremely impressive performance at The Genesis Invitational last week. He played so well; it made the golf tournament bad in my opinion. Guy had such a big lead that it kinda of took the fun out of it. Especially when you had a Morikawa ticket in your back pocket and he rallies to get it close but ultimately comes up short. Only real bright spot of last week for me was my top 20s. I was able to hit Bobby Mac and Homa at +350 and +180 respectively. So that somewhat saved an otherwise not so great week. But now it’s time to put that behind us and look forward to the new upcoming week!
The Honda Classic
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Course: PGA National
Par: 70 – 4 pars 3s, 12 par 4s, 2 par 5s
Length: 7,125 yards
Average Green Size: 7,000 sq ft.
Field Size: 144 players – Top 65 players make cut after 36 holes
Purse: $8 Million – Winner $1.44 Million
Previous Winners – Odd Included
2021: Matt Jones (-12) – 80/1
2020: Sungjae Im (-6) – 35/1
2019: Keith Mitchell (-9) – 300/1
2018: Justin Thomas (-8) – 12/1
2017: Rickie Fowler (-12) – 16/1
2016: Adam Scott (-9) – 20/1
Let’s talk Honda Classic! We have to start with the golf course, PGA National, and point out this is one of the hardest stops on the tour every single year. It has actually been the most difficult non-major par 70 on the PGA tour in 6 of the last 9 seasons. So, this place is no joke! Highlighted by the “Bear Trap” which is the stretch of holes 15-17 which is considered the hardest stretch of holes in golf. So, what exactly makes this place so hard? First of all, most of the course is exposed, leading to heavy impact from winds. We are right next to the Atlantic so winds will definitely play a factor. Then add in the fact that there are 67 bunkers and 15 holes with water in play. This tournament has seen the most water balls in each of the last 3 years. The fairways are extremely narrow and difficult to hit on top of all of this. So, I think it’s pretty evident to see why this place is such a challenge.
So, what type of skill set are we looking for in players this week? I think driving distance will definitely be helpful. While the fairways are narrow, the rough is not overly penalizing. So, we can see guys bomb and gouge this place a little bit. However, they can’t be too inaccurate off the tee because of the water hazards I mentioned earlier. So, we need guys who can truly gain strokes off the tee. A big stat I’ll be looking at this week will be bogey avoidance. This is not a birdie fest! So, making par is a good score on a majority of these holes. Avoiding bogeys and being able to grind out pars will be the name of the game. I am also looking for players that score well on par 5s. There are only 2 per round and this is where players need to be taking advantage and making some birdies. Another key metric ill be looking at is wind positive players. Wind will likely play a major factor, so I need guys that can control their ball flight and make shots through the wind. Lastly putting is huge here. Were out of the Poa grass in Cali and into Bermuda. Ill be looking for guys who have success putting on this surface.
The field of players at this week’s tournament is not the best. I must admit that. I have to think that a lot of the big guys on tour just don’t want to come play in this very difficult event. Also, the purse isn’t the biggest in the world, so I can imagine that’s another factor of why so many guys pass on this event. However, the purse did increase from 7 to 8 million this year which is a nice jump. But then you look at the odds and see Sungjae Im is the favorite and it just kind of speaks to the field we have here. I’ll be honest this truly isn’t my favorite tourney in the world and ill likely be keeping it a little lighter.
Brooks Koepka +2200
To me this is just a bet that needs to be made. We see Brooks around this price in tournaments with start studded fields. So, in a field that is not very great, if we’re going to get a Brooks +2200 I am going to take it.
Tommy Fleetwood +2800
Fairway Jesus! Fleetwood might be the guy this week. Two previous appearances at this event he finished 3rd and 4th. He hast played a ton this year but has had some decent outings. An Englishmen so he is used to playing in high winds.
Keith Mitchell +3500
Mitchell is one of my favorite plays this week. The guy has been playing some outstanding golf this year. He has 5 starts where he finished inside the top 12. On top of that he won The Honda back in 2019. I am loving this play.
Mito Pereira +5000
Mito is having a decent first year on tour, but I think he is due for a breakthrough very soon. He hits is very well off the tee and then has a good short game and great putter. Seems like the type of guy that would have success here. I mean he won twice on the KF tour last year, so he is capable of winning
Nicolai Hojgaard +8000
Sign me up for some Hojgaard. I am pretty excited to see this guy finally playing on the PGA tour. He is quite the boom or bust player where we can see him either missing the cut or finishing top 5. I am also seeing him at like 50/1 on other sites, so when I saw an 80/1 it was worth a little shot.
Mito Pereira +200
Doubling down on my Pereira outright. Let’s get a little exposure on the top 20.
Aaron Wise +220
Wise was #2 in shots gained Tee to Green last week at Riviera. If he comes close to that this week he will finish top 20. He also finished 13th here last year.
Chris Kirk +280
I like Kirk because he has played this event now 10 times. He has the experience. Last time out he was 14th at WMPO. So I like a shot here for a top 20.
Aaron Rai +330
Rai has flashed many times this year. He has 4 top 20s this season. In a field that is a lot less talented I think Rai is good value at +330
Full Tournament H2H:
Fleetwood > Billy Ho +110
Wolff > P Reed -120
Oosti > Niemann +105
Bez > Harman +115
That'll do it for my card this week. I am playing this one a little lighter, but nonetheless there is money to be made out there. Tune into Smokin' Greens podcast Wednesday mornings at 8:00 am for picks, explanations and break downs. Please follow along on twitter as well!
Twitter: @Bminus3 @Smokin_Greens