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BlogHonda Classic Preview and Picks

Honda Classic

February 28th – March 3rd, 2019

PGA National Champion Course

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,125

Purse: $6.8 million

with $1,224,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 33 of the top 100 and 13 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with three players from the top ten: #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Brooks Koepka and #9 Rickie Fowler. The other top 50 players are #21 Webb Simpson, #23 Gary Woodland, #24 Cameron Smith, #26 Alex Noren, #29 Sergio Garcia, #31 Adam Scott, #36 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, #38 Matt Wallace, #39 Billy Horschel and #40 Kyle Stanley.

Last year there was 46 of the top 100 and also 21 top-50 in the field.  So you can see the difference that changing the date between the Honda and the WGC-Mexico, along with moving the Players Championship to March has done to this event.

The field includes only 7 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for this year.  Those players are, #3 Gary Woodland, #6 Justin Thomas, #13 Rickie Fowler, #15 Kevin Tway, #17 Brooks Koepka, #22 Adam Scott and #23 Adam Long.

The field includes 9 past champions: Justin Thomas (2018), Rickie Fowler (2017), Adam Scott (2016), Padraig Harrington (2015 & ’05), Russell Henley (2014), Michael Thompson (2013), Rory Sabbatini (2011), Ernie Els (2008) and Vijay Singh (1999).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Honda field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Honda in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Honda.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Honda Classic

Player WGC – Mexico Puerto Rico Genesis Open Super 8 Perth AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Saudi International Farmers Dubai Desert Desert Classic Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C
Justin Thomas
(268.83 pts)
9
(67.5)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
3
(30)
Sergio Garcia
(159.67 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DQ
(-3.33)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Cameron Smith
(153.67 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP T49
(1)
DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP
Michael Thompson
(149.67 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(149.5 pts)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP 80
(0)
2
(33.33)
Martin Trainer
(147.33 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T28
(22)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T73
(0)
DNP
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(123 pts)
T3
(135)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Adam Scott
(118.33 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Roger Sloan
(114.33 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
Daniel Berger
(112 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(109 pts)
T36
(21)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matt Wallace
(108.17 pts)
T33
(25.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(107.5 pts)
T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
T10
(26.67)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP
Scott Langley
(94 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP 6
(60)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP
Johnson Wagner
(93.33 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP 57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP
Talor Gooch
(93.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T3
(60)
DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
J.T. Poston
(91.33 pts)
DNP DNP T28
(22)
DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP
Trey Mullinax
(78.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(28)
T15
(23.33)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP
Scott Piercy
(76 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(40)
T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP T33
(5.67)
T19
(10.33)
Jason Kokrak
(74.33 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Lucas Glover
(73.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(73.17 pts)
T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP 24
(8.67)
Scott Brown
(72 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
T37
(13)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
Wyndham Clark
(68 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP T35
(10)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sung Kang
(62.67 pts)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP
Roberto Diaz
(62 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Vaughn Taylor
(61.67 pts)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Chris Stroud
(60 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T10
(40)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Max Homa
(59 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP T10
(40)
T26
(16)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brian Gay
(57.67 pts)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP
Billy Horschel
(56.5 pts)
T45
(7.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP 8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
Sungjae Im
(53.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(53.17 pts)
T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Adam Long
(51.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Jonas Blixt
(51 pts)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP T38
(12)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Honda Classic

Player WGC – Mexico Puerto Rico Genesis Open Super 8 Perth AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Saudi International Farmers Dubai Desert Desert Classic Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C
Rod Pampling
(-43.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Chase Wright
(-40 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP
Whee Kim
(-38.33 pts)
DNP T71
(0)
WD
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Seth Reeves
(-36.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Tom Hoge
(-32.67 pts)
DNP T55
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T44
(4)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bronson Burgoon
(-30 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Grayson Murray
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
59
(0)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Chris Kirk
(-26 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
D.A. Points
(-25.33 pts)
DNP T42
(8)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Armour
(-24 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

What a great west coast swing and the start of the calendar year.  In the eight events, 7 of the 8 winners are in the top-45 of the world rankings with four of them, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler in the top-ten.  Most of them are the elite of the elite, as the only non-marquee winners were J.B. Holmes (World ranked 44th) and Adam Long (world ranked 137th)  As we have said before it was a very successful portion of the tour and with Dustin Johnson winning the first World Golf Championship of 2019, the question could be asked, are we in for a lot of marquee names winning the big events of the year?

One thing that came out of Mexico is that Dustin Johnson is the best player in golf.  We have known this for years now but he has not shown that consistency which makes a player really great.  Johnson showed that last week in Mexico.  He knew his game is good, he just needed to find a few tweaks and that came when he arrived in Mexico.  With his 21 under total, he just about lapped the field as he only had one bogey and one double bogey.  He played it off with 22 birdies and an eagle.  We have seen him playing well in the past on this course, in 12 rounds he is 47 under and in all of his rounds he has been under par and only shot in the 70s once, his opening round in 2017 when he shot 70.  Now we can point out that Johnson has always played well on this course, but if you look at his stats for the week you can see.  From Tee-to-Green he was 2nd in Strokes Gained as he was T-25th in driving accuracy and 1st in Greens hit.  For the week he missed only 14 greens, but not only was his tee to green game great, but he was also the best around and on the greens.  Of the 14 greens, he missed he was able to get it up and down 12 times to lead the scrambling category.   On the greens, he couldn’t be better, of the 65 putts he had inside of 10 feet he made 61 of them.  But he also showed that he was able to make putts over 10 feet, he made 4 of 10 putts from 10 to 15 feet, he made 3 of 9 putts from 15 to 20 feet and made 2 of 11 putts in the 20 to 25-foot range.  So with stats like this, we can see how he led the Strokes Gained-Putting category.  When players like Dustin, Rory, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Jason Day put up numbers like this, yes they are going to win.  This was something that Tiger Woods did week in and week out between 1999 and 2002.  So what does this mean for the future?  I can see that Dustin could go crazy as he did in 2017 when he won three events in a row and went to the Masters still playing great, but he slipped on some stairs in his rented home in Augusta and was forced to withdraw.  He came back five weeks later but he had lost that magical touch in his game and confidence.

We can see that happening again with his win in Mexico, he is doing everything as perfect as can be.  His driving, iron play, and putting are all syncing up right now and he knows how to maintain it.  Johnson has just finished a stretch of playing four straight weeks and will only play in the Players Championship and the Match Play Championship before the Masters.  He feels this is the right thing to do so that he could continue his great play and not be tired.  Of all the majors he has done the worst at the Masters, but has learned a lot so that in his last three starts has finished T-6th in 2015, T-4th in 2016 and T-10th last year.  But again, there isn’t a person in golf that doesn’t feel that Dustin is the favorite right now.

Rory

We have looked at his game since he finished T-4th at the Tournament of Champions in Maui.  He has been getting better in every start and with his runner-up finish in Mexico, he has now been in the top-five, in four straight starts.  His 16 under par performance would of been good enough to win the previous two events held in Mexico.  But Johnson went crazy and that is why Rory finishing 5 back.  Despite what happened, Rory was very happy with the way he played and the way his putting is coming around.  One of Rory’s problems is making putts over 10 feet and he made six of them this week and only had two, three-putts.

Now for Rory, he spent a good amount of time after the Ryder Cup thinking of ways to complete the Grand Slam and win the Masters.  What he decided on was to focus on the PGA Tour and not play in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  He played in the Tournament of Champions for the first time, and then the Farmers and Genesis.  He will defend his championship at the Palmer, then play the Players and Match Play to get his game to peak at the Masters.  If Dustin is the best, Rory is the second best.  If Rory could putt like Dustin, he would be able to beat Dustin because Rory’s tee to green game could be the best.  So it will be very interesting to see how Rory does but we can see one possible thing happening, we haven’t seen the last time for both Rory and Dustin being in the last pairing on Sunday.

As we left the west coast, several players other than Dustin and Rory showed that they could be ready to break out and win at Augusta.  Those are Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, and Matt Kuchar.  All of them have won and have shown that they will have there games ready for the Masters.  I also would put in Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas on that list.

Florida’s “dirty little secret”

The dirty little secret about this week’s move from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, just because you played well in January and February doesn’t mean you will play well the next six weeks leading to the Masters.  Players will go from lot’s of Poa Annua and plush fairways in the desert too, Bermuda greens and robust Rye rough.  The weather in Pebble and L.A. was terrible, but the rest of the weeks showed near perfect conditions, with very little wind.

Players will now start to cope with humidity and lots of wind.  Playing courses like Pebble Beach, TPC Scottsdale, Torrey Pines, Club de Golf Chapultepec, and Riviera will be different than PGA National, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass and Innisbrook.

For players like Gary Woodland, Charles Howell III, Marc Leishman, J.B. Holmes, Paul Casey, Cameron Champ, Andrew Putnam, and Adam Long they have experienced a great couple of months in Hawaii, Arizona, California, and Mexico but there are no guarantees that the good times will continue to roll in the months to come.  Just ask Patton Kizzire and Brendan Steele.  For Kizzire he twice at Mayakoba and Sony Open, left California 1st in the FedExCup point rankings but after finishing T-12th at the WGC-Mexico he only had one top-25 finish and finished 30th in the FedExCup race.  As for Steele, he was 4th in the FedEx Cup race after the Genesis thanks to his Safeway finish.  But after his T-3rd at Phoenix, he was in the top ten one more time, a T-10th at the Zurich Classic playing with Jamie Lovemark.  In looking at his individual record his best finish was T-17th at the Match Play as he finished the year 56th in the FedEx Cup race.

Now the Florida swing has been seriously altered with the Players moving to March, so players have had to change their scheduling and the first casualty is Honda which has a terrible field compared to what they had last year.  I also see Valspar having a tough time and losing a lot of the marquee names that use to play that course.

Things you need to know about the Honda Classic

This will be the 47th Honda Classic.  The tournament got started in 1972 as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic and was played at Inverrary Golf & C.C. in Lauderhill, Florida.  A bit strange and nobody will bother to care, but next Monday Gleason would have been the 102 years old.  Most of the players don’t even know who he was and how great the old Honeymooner shows were. Maybe I am old and remember him, he was a hilarious guy and loved golf.  In 1981 Jackie Gleason was dropped from the tournament, and the following year Honda came aboard as the tournament sponsor, today they are the longest running sponsor on the PGA Tour. After playing at several courses for 15 years, the tournament switched courses again in 2007. This time to the Champion Course at PGA National, site of the 1983 Ryder Cup and 1987 PGA Championship.  It became an instant success and had upgraded the tournament with more marquee and higher ranked players attending. In 1976 the Players Championship, which back then moved around to different courses, chose Inverrary Golf & C.C., and the Inverrary Classic wasn’t played that year.  The event is the first event in the Florida swing.

Course information:
  • PGA National (Champion Course)
  • Palm Beach Gardens, Fl.
  • 7,140 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • The course has a 75.3 rating and slope rating of 147 from the championship tees. The course is part of a resort and is open to those that stay at the course.  It also sells local memberships.
  • Last year PGA National Champions Course played to a 72.30 average and was ranked 2nd hardest.  In 2018 the course had a 70.58 average and was ranked 16th hardest, in 2016 it played to a 71,77 average and was ranked the 5th hardest.  The year before it had a 71.83 average, ranking 4th. In 2014 the Champion Course was the 17th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 70.408 average.  Because of the lack of wind and perfect weather all four days, it played the easiest it ever had since joining the tour in 2007.
  • The course has 78 bunkers and 26 water hazards in which 13 holes have water in play for the professionals.
  • Originally designed by George and Tom Fazio and opened in 1981, Jack Nicklaus redesigned the Champion in 1990, adding the feared “Bear Trap” grouping of holes 15, 16 and 17. In the summer of 2013, The Champion underwent an entire bunker renovation with Nicklaus Design.
  • The average size of the greens is 6,400 square feet.  The most famous part of the course is the “Bear Trap,” holes 15, 16 and 17, two par 3s and a par 4 that will bring a lot of drama and excitement to the finish of the tournament.  The 18th hole also creates a lot of drama; it’s a long par 5 that is close to impossible to hit in two, it’s a true par 5.
  • PGA National has a lot of experience holding golf tournaments.  Along with the last eleven Honda Classic’s, it’s held the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship and was home to 18 Senior PGA Championships.  It has also been the site of the 1982 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the PGA Junior Championships from 1980-1987, 1989-1992, and 1994-2000 and the PGA Club Professional Championships in 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1993.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing on the PGA National:

This is based on the most important stats for PGA National Champion Course, based on data from last years Honda Classic, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2019. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
The scoring average of the field at PGA National in 2018 was 72.30, making it the 2nd hardest course to score on in 2018. In 2017 it played at a 70.56 average, almost two shots a round easier and that is because of the wind, Thursday through Saturday had gusts up to 30 mph with gusts up to 25 mph on Sunday. This makes sense compared to other years of high winds, in 2016 the course played to a 71.77 average, fifth hardest and in 2015 it played to a 71.83 average, 4th hardest. In looking at PGA National, the wind is what protects the course to low scores. This year players will get a break from the wind as it won’t get over 10 mph on any of the days as the course will be playing fast and dry all week. So look for lower scores this year.

In looking at the stats for PGA National last year Greens hit, Rough Proximity to hole and Scrambling are essential. Last year the course ranked 4th in greens hit with a 57.05 average. Winner Justin Thomas was T-14th in greens hit, but in 2016, winner Adam Scott was 1st in greens hit. Now hitting fairways isn’t that important, the course ranked 23rd last year while Thomas was T-60th in fairways hit (Thomas led in driving distance and was 1st in Strokes Gained – Tee-to-Green). But the importance comes when you miss the fairways, the course has very tough Bermuda rough with perennial ryegrass is some of the hardest to get out of, last year the course ranked 9th in getting it close to the hole from the rough, while Thomas had a tough time ranking 46th. Our third stat is scrambling last year PGA National was the 8th hardest on tour while Thomas shined on this stat as he was the best of anyone in the field in scrambling.
Last we pick Par Breakers because in the past it’s hard to make a lot of birdies and eagles. Last year PGA National had 1,102 birdies and eagles for the week and averaged 14.07. Only one course had a worst birdie/eagle average, Shinnecock Hills with a 10.92 average. In comparison, Keene Trace which holds the Barbasol was the easiest course in making birdies/eagles with a 25.21 average. As for Thomas last year he was T-4th in par breakers making 15 birdies for the week. So in looking at why Justin Thomas won last year you can see why and that is some of the traits in looking for a winner this year.

Now in looking at our chart of all the players, remember that this week they are moving from the west coast to the east coast (via Mexico which the course had the characteristics of the West Coast swing ) with entirely different conditions and grasses, so even though some players didn’t do well in the last eight weeks, things will be entirely different the next four weeks.

SO HERE ARE OUR FOUR CHOICES FOR THE MOST CRITICAL STATS FROM PLAYERS TO DO WELL AT PGA NATIONAL:

*Greens in Regulation: Since the greens average 6,400 square feet normally they would be easy to hit. But since there is a lot of undulation, hitting it to the perfect place is important. Last year on the PGA Tour, the greens of PGA National were the 4th hardest to hit, while in 2017 they were the 15th hardest and in 2016 they were the 12th hardest to hit. This has been the norm for PGA National, in 2015 it ranked 6th, in 2014 it ranked 18th, but in 2013 5th, in 2012 11th and 6th in 2011. So a player that hits lots of greens will have an advantage.

*Rough Proximity: How close you can get the ball on the green when you’re in the rough off the tee, last year PGA National finished 9th while the year before it was 8th and in 2016 it was 3rd in this stat.

*Scrambling: No matter how good your game is, missing greens always happen so it’s important to salvage par. Last year PGA National ranked 8th hardest while last year it was the 15th hardest. In 2016 it was 5th hardest in scrambling while in 2015 it was 7th hardest so it’s a hard stat for players on this course.

*Par Breakers: The course is so demanding that making a lot of birdies and eagles aren’t possible. So players that are able to make a lot will do well on this course which ranked 2nd last year. In 2017 it ranked T-18th, it was 8th in 2016 and 5th in this stat on tour in 2015.

132 of the 144 players from this year’s field with stats from this year:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is a link to the other 122 players in the Honda Open

DraftKings tips

Of the 144 in the field, 112 have played at least once in the Honda.  Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Honda since 2010:

  • Alex Noren is 7 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Justin Thomas is 5 under in 12 rounds playing 4 years
  • Byeong Hun An is 4 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Sergio Garcia is 4 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years
  • Brandon Hagy is 3 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Graeme McDowell is 3 under in 32 rounds playing 9 years
  • Luke List is 3 under in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • J.T. Poston is 2 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Rickie Fowler is 2 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Sam Burns is 2 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Dylan Frittelli is 1 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Kelly Kraft is 1 under in 6 rounds playing 2 years
  • C.T. Pan is 1 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Nick Watney is 2 over in 16 rounds playing 4 years
  • Adam Scott is 3 over in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Jim Herman is 3 over in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • Russell Knox is 3 over in 16 rounds playing 5 years
  • Trey Mullinax is 3 over in 2 rounds playing 1 year
  • Tyler Duncan is 3 over in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Adam Schenk is 4 over in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Joey Garber is 4 over in 2 rounds playing 1 year
  • Webb Simpson is 4 over in 10 rounds playing 3 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Justin Thomas is 5 under playing 4 years (-0.42)
  • Luke List is 3 under playing 4 years (-0.21)
  • Sergio Garcia is 4 under playing 6 years (-0.17)
  • Kelly Kraft is 1 under playing 2 years (-0.17)
  • Graeme McDowell is 3 under playing 9 years (-0.09)
  • Rickie Fowler is 2 under playing 9 years (-0.07)
  • C.T. Pan is 1 over playing 2 years (0.13)
  • Nick Watney is 2 over playing 4 years (0.13)
  • Adam Scott is 3 over playing 5 years (0.17)
  • Russell Knox is 3 over playing 5 years (0.19)
  • Russell Henley is 5 over playing 6 years (0.23)
  • Jim Herman is 3 over playing 3 years (0.30)
  • Webb Simpson is 4 over playing 3 years (0.40)
  • Freddie Jacobson is 13 over playing 8 years (0.46)
  • Daniel Berger is 6 over playing 4 years (0.50)
  • Rory Sabbatini is 13 over playing 8 years (0.50)
  • Zach Johnson is 7 over playing 4 years (0.58)
  • John Huh is 12 over playing 6 years (0.60)
  • Lucas Glover is 11 over playing 6 years (0.61)
  • Stewart Cink is 18 over playing 7 years (0.64)
  • Charl Schwartzel is 11 over playing 5 years (0.69)
Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

 

DraftKings tips

It’s back to a regular tournament and I will say this.  With the field the way it is, the course playing tough one of the biggest items you should think about is picking six guys that will make the cut.  This will be the hardest event so far in 2019 to pick players that will participate in four rounds.  So make extra sure about your picks and remember the tour in now in Florida and players that have done poorly out west may all of a sudden find there game on Bermuda greens and humidity.

*Here are the guys that are very costly:

  • Justin Thomas – $11,900
  • Rickie Fowler – $11,200
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,700
  • Adam Scott – $10,300
  • Sergio Garcia – $10,000
  • Gary Woodland – $9,800
  • Webb Simpson – $9,600
  • Cameron Smith – $9,500
  • Daniel Berger – $9,400
  • Billy Horschel – $9,300
  • Luke List – $9,200
  • Byeong Hun An – $9,100
  • Alex Noren – $9,000

We are now in a tournament that frankly nobody has dominated on a course that is hard to dominate.  Yes, Justin Thomas won last year and Rickie Fowler won the year before, but that doesn’t mean he will win again.  Remember this, in past years this course has played tough due to the wind.  But forecasts predict calm days with no day getting over 10 mph.  So that means you will have a lot of birdies and lot’s of low scores this week.

So Justin Thomas at $11,900 is a good pick, yes he is the defending champion and it’s tough to win back to back.  Still, like him especially after he shot a final round 62 in Mexico on Sunday. Rickie Fowler at $11,200 is also a past champion and won last month in Phoenix.  But he didn’t play well in Mexico and did miss the cut last year, so this is a toss-up pick.  I will not pay for him this week, but it’s your choice.  Brooks Koepka at $10,700 is another tough pick.  He has been very inconsistent in this event and hasn’t played that great this year, I am taking a pass on him.  As for Adam Scott at $10,300 he is one of my top picks for the week.  His game has come around, he almost won in San Diego and was in the running in L.A. before a final round 76.  What I like the most is his record in this event, he won it in 2016 and has done well the last four starts.  So he could be your top choice this week.  Another great choice is Sergio Garcia at $10,000.  He has played well at PGA National including a runner-up to Adam Scott in 2016.  Plus his game looked good in Mexico and he has played well of late so yes he is a great choice.  I also like Gary Woodland at $9,800, he has been runner-up twice in this year on the PGA Tour, played great on the weekend in Mexico and was runner-up in 2017 at PGA Nationals.  Webb Simpson at $9,600 is also a good choice, he was T-5th in this event last year and has played ok this year. Cameron Smith at $9,500 is a good choice, his game has gotten better of late and despite never playing at PGA National I think he will be good this week.  Daniel Berger is a sleeper pick at $9,400, yes he is a lot of money and that is because he was runner-up last week in Puerto Rico and was runner-up at the Honda in 2015 losing to Padraig Harrington in a playoff.  Still, he is from the area and I see him doing well.  Billy Horschel is a coin toss pick at $9,300.  Yes, he was T-8th at the Honda in 2016 and T-4th in 2017 but he missed the cut last year.  Other than his 8th place finish at the Farmers, he has made every cut this year but nothing of substance.  Luke List at $9,200 is another toss-up pick.  Has been very inconsistent in 2019, was T-15th in his last start at Genesis, but his price is based on his runner-up finish at the Honda last year.  I don’t see lightning hitting twice so I am thanking a pass on him.  Byeong Hun An at $9,100 is based on his 5th place finish last year at the Honda, he has been ok on the PGA Tour making every cut this year but nothing to want us to pick him this week.  So I am taking a pass on him.  Last we have Alex Noren at $9,000.  He was great at Honda finishing T-3rd but for 2019 has been a bust, so take a pass on him.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Emiliano Grillo at $8,900 is an interesting choice, he makes lot’s of cuts but other than a runner-up finishes in Malaysia in October, he has been ok.  Was good last year at the Honda with a T-8th finish, so it’s your choice.  Lucas Glover at $8,800 is an interesting choice because his year has been good because he is the best player in 2019 from tee to green.  Still, his putting is not very good, but he isn’t a bad pick.  Matt Wallace at $8,500 is a good pick because he has played good in 2019, he is a rookie at the Honda which is his only black mark.  Charl Schwartzel at $8,300 is an intriguing pick mostly because of his good finishes at the Honda in 2012 and ’13.  But he missed the cut in 2014 and ’15, but he played well in Puerto Rico that makes me think he could play well this week.  Scott Piercy at $8,100 is a good pick basically because he has been very well in 2019.  Remember this, he did play well at PGA National in 2009 so he is worth the price.  Graeme McDowell at $7,600 is a good price considering he has four top-tens at the Honda and has played ok in 2019.

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

Very slim pickings for this week, Dylan Frittelli at $7,400 is ok due to him finishing T-11th last year at the Honda.  Lightning hit Martin Trainer at Puerto Rico with his win but at $7,000 he could be a good pick this week.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Honda Classic:

Key stat for the winner:

The tour moves from the west coast to Florida and in the next four weeks will hold three events. Look for a lot of different things as the difference between playing in California/Mexico/Arizona/Hawaii is like night and day compared to playing in Florida. There is a particular breed of player that does better on Bermuda than bent or poa annua.

At the Honda and PGA National, historically all of the winners have some connection to playing well on Bermuda by either being born in Florida, South Africa or Australia or have moved to the Southeast like defending champion Justin Thomas and 2017 winner Rickie Fowler.  There are players like Michael Thompson, who lives in Birmingham, Alabama or Y.E. Yang who lives in Dallas.  There is also a connection with those like past champions Ernie Els, Camilo Villegas, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy who have homes Jupiter, Florida.  Even Adam Scott has a home in the Bahamas, which has the same conditions as Florida courses. Even guys like 2007 winner Mark Wilson, who was born in Wisconsin and lives in Illinois has a connection.  His went to school in North Carolina, so you can see why his five PGA Tour has been on Bermuda courses in Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, Phoenix and Palm Springs.  2004 winner Russell Henley grew up in Macon, Georgia and lives on Kiawah Island which could understand why his two PGA Tour and three Web.Com tour wins are on courses with Bermuda grass.  So look for players with that Bermuda connections.

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:

Unbelievable and bizarre stat:

  • PGA National is a typical Florida course with lots of water and sand, look for scores to be a bit high especially if the wind blows.  This will be the first time players see Bermuda fairways, rough and greens on the year that haven’t been overseeded with rye so that it will take some getting used to.
  • Accuracy is going to play the key over distance.  The Champions course is lined with tight undulating fairways that are surrounded by water and sand not only along the fairways but in the middle of several of the fairways. Hitting greens is very important, since moving to PGA National in 2007 seven of the ten winners and ten of the fifteen runner-ups at Champions were ranked in the top-ten in greens hit.
  • Very tough par 4s at PGA National, Mark Wilson, was 4 under in ’07, Ernie Els was 2 under in ’08, Y.E. Yang was 6 under in ’09 while Camilo Villegas was 9 under par in ’10. Keeping the trend going was Rory Sabbatini in 2011 playing them in 7 under, but showing that they are tough was Rory McIlroy who was only 3 under in 2012, Michael Thompson who was only 2 under on them in 2013 and Russell Henley who was 6 under in 2014.  In 2015 Padraig Harrington played them in 5 under while Adam Scott was 4 under in 2016.  In 2017 Rickie Fowler was 5 under on the par 4s while last year’s winner Justin Thomas was 1 under.
  • Good putting and scrambling.  The greens are massive and have lots of contours so the winner will be a very good lag putter.
  • Interesting to note that 14 of the last 25 winners of the Honda are those that are either born Floridians or now live in Florida (including 2012 winner Rory McIlroy, who bought a house down the road in Jupiter).  A perfect example is the 2006 champion, Luke Donald.  Even though he was born in Great Britain and spent a good part of his time in Chicago, he had a house just a couple of miles away.  Look for that kind of a connection in the winner.  We don’t count 2013 winner Michael Thompson on our list, but he lives in Birmingham, Alabama, so he has to deal all the time with Bermuda when he is home.  The same with 2014 winner Russell Henley who lives in Kiawah Island, South Carolina and again with have a Bermuda connection.  Now we can’t consider Padraig Harrington as a “Floridan” even though he has had a place in Florida and has spent time there, while Adam Scott grew up playing not only on Bermuda grass but also playing in winds that will be around this week.  Oh and last year’s winner Justin Thomas and 2017 winner Rickie Fowler lives just up the road in Jupiter and plays into the scenario on picking a player with local roots.
  • Good bunker player since there are a lot of strategically placed bunkers on the course.
  • Look for those that play good in wind, just look at 2015 & ’05 champion Padraig Harrington along with defending champion Justin Thomas and 2017 winner Rickie Fowler and 2016 winner Adam Scott.  All are from areas that have winds in Ireland, Kentucky, California, and Australia so don’t think there is anybody better qualified after learning to play golf in these areas.  It could be quite windy this time of year, and the course is susceptible to winds so look for a good wind player.  The excellent news wind shouldn’t be a problem for the week and better yet the week seems to be perfect in no rain and perfect temperatures.

Who to watch for at the Honda Classic

Best Bets:

Justin Thomas

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Win CUT T3 CUT

He is not only the defender but the best choice to win based on his play in 2019.

Adam Scott

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T13 T14 Win T12 CUT

Likes this course, has done well on it and is playing good right now.

Sergio Garcia

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T33 T14 2 T31 T8 T50 T13 T43

Has had a great year and came close at PGA National in 2017.

Best of the rest:

Rickie Fowler

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT Win T6 T41 T24 T13 T7 CUT CUT

You don’t know which Rickie Fowler will show up, find it hard to think of him missing the cut again, believe he will contend this year.

Gary Woodland

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T49 T2 T61 T68 T6 T73

Watch him, he plays well in this event and has done well in 2019.

Cameron Smith

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

He may not have ever played in this event, but he is good in the wind, on Bermuda and is playing well.

Daniel Berger

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T29 CUT CUT 2

Played well last week in Puerto Rico, almost won this even in 2015.

Solid contenders

Webb Simpson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T5 T24 CUT CUT

Was T-5th last year, his game will get better when he is in Florida.

Emiliano Grillo

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T8 T43 T74

Played well in 2019 and was T-8th at Honda last year.

Charl Schwartzel

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT CUT T9 T5 T14

Has played well at Honda and was good last week in Puerto Rico.

Scott Piercy

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 CUT T31 CUT T56 T5

Has had a great 2019.

Long shots that could come through:

Graeme McDowell

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT T14 5 CUT T46 T9 T9 T6 T31

Always plays well in this event, has played ok in 2019.

Lucas Glover

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 T21 CUT CUT CUT T4 T39 CUT T62

Guy has great stats from tee to green, if he could putt half-decently he could contend this week.

Matt Wallace

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Trying to make his mark on the PGA Tour, he will surprise a lot of folks this week.

 

Comments

  1. So onsite intel says Zach Johnson grinding there this week in preparation. Going with him in one and done league.

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