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BlogHonda Classic Preview and Picks

Honda Classic

February 27th – March 1st, 2020

PGA National Champion Course

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Par: 70 / Yardage:

Purse: $7 million

with $1,260,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Keith Mitchell

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 29 of the top 100 and 12 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with just one player from the top-ten: #3 Brooks Koepka. The other top 50 players are #12 Tommy Fleetwood, #13 Justin Rose, #17 Gary Woodland, #18 Louis Oosthuizen, #19 Shane Lowry, #25 Rickie Fowler, #30 Lee Westwood, #34 Sungjae Im, #35 Billy Horschel, #40 Erik Van Rooyen and #42 Matt Wallace.

In 2018 there were 46 of the top 100, last year 33 top 100 players.  In 2018 there were 21 top 50 players, last year 13 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 4 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for this year.  Those players are, #12 Sungjae Im, #15 Joaquin Niemann, #21 Tom Hoge and #23 Tyler Duncan.

The field includes 9 past champions: Keith Mitchell (2019), Rickie Fowler (2017), Padraig Harrington (2015 & ’05), Russell Henley (2014), Michael Thompson (2013), Rory Sabbatini (2011), Camilo Villegas (2010), Luke Donald (2006) 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 Champ. Puerto Rico Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Intern. Farmers Insurance Dubai Desert Classic The American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry Tof C Australian PGA
Erik Van Rooyen
(152.33 pts)
T3
(135)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Viktor Hovland
(148.67 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T38
(12)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(140.67 pts)
T18
(48)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Matthew NeSmith
(140.33 pts)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP
Maverick McNealy
(125 pts)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP 15
(23.33)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(124 pts)
T22
(42)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(118 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(14)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP
Tom Hoge
(116 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
T25
(16.67)
DNP 5
(46.67)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Cameron Davis
(103.33 pts)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T3
(30)
Sam Ryder
(94.67 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP DNP
Billy Horschel
(90.83 pts)
T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Streelman
(90 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Josh Teater
(83.33 pts)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kurt Kitayama
(82.67 pts)
T53
(0)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Rodgers
(81.67 pts)
DNP T35
(15)
T30
(20)
CUT
(-10)
T16
(22.67)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(77.83 pts)
T29
(31.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP
Emiliano Grillo
(76.33 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
(75.67 pts)
DNP T14
(36)
T13
(37)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Shane Lowry
(75.5 pts)
T29
(31.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Joseph Bramlett
(75.33 pts)
DNP T9
(45)
T51
(0)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(75.33 pts)
T12
(57)
DNP DNP DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Tim Wilkinson
(73.67 pts)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP
Scott Brown
(73.33 pts)
DNP T67
(0)
T2
(100)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Harry Higgs
(72 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
T25
(16.67)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP
Talor Gooch
(71.33 pts)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(70.33 pts)
DNP T9
(45)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T17
(22)
T30
(13.33)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kyle Stanley
(66.67 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
T64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(64.67 pts)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP 5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Tyler McCumber
(64 pts)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Ted Potter, Jr.
(63.67 pts)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP
Wyndham Clark
(62.33 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
T18
(32)
T34
(10.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Vincent Whaley
(61 pts)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Bud Cauley
(60 pts)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Sam Burns
(57.67 pts)
DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Matt Jones
(57.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T5
(70)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T73
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player WGC Mexico Champ. Puerto Rico Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Intern. Farmers Insurance Dubai Desert Classic The American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry Tof C Australian PGA
Chris Stroud
(-40 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Armour
(-36.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Martin Trainer
(-35 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T47
(3)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
34
(5.33)
DNP
Roger Sloan
(-33.33 pts)
DNP T60
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Satoshi Kodaira
(-33.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP 66
(0)
DNP DNP
Mackenzie Hughes
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Scott Harrington
(-30 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP
Lucas Bjerregaard
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Michael Thompson
(-29.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP
Bo Van Pelt
(-26.67 pts)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The west coast swing is done with and has to say it wasn’t as satisfying as last year that saw Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler win.  Yes, Justin Thomas, Marc Leishman, Webb Simpson, and Adam Scott found their ways to the winner’s circle, but this year just didn’t have the same excitement as last year.

Another thing that came out of the west coast swing is how poorly Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose are playing.  Yes, Johnson and Koepka are making comebacks from injuries while we don’t know what’s up with Rose.  We also don’t know what’s up with Tiger Woods, he played twice on the west coast swing and played indifferently, using the excuse that he is older and not able to turn it on all the time.  As for Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy they had moments of glory, Thomas won in Maui but then missed the cut at the Sony and Genesis, he had a share of the lead in Mexico but shot a final round 73 to drop into a T-6th.  As for McIlroy he found himself in contention in the Farmers, Genesis, and WGC-Mexico but wasn’t able to play well enough on the final day to do the deed.  Webb Simpson was able to win for the first time on the west coast beating Tony Finau in a playoff at Phoenix and was 3rd at the Sony so he did his part.  Another player that reentered the winners circle was Adam Scott, he will be one of the greatest ball strikers in golf that probably won’t make it into Golf’s Hall of Fame, he played great to win the Genesis Open taking care of an injustice of winning the 2005 Genesis but since it was just 36 holes because of rain it’s not considered an official win.  So now he has officially won the Genesis.

Still, we wouldn’t call this year’s west coast swing very memorable, Xander Schauffele lost in the Sentry TofC playoff, Jon Rahm was one short at the Farmers and Phil Mickelson didn’t play well in the final round of the AT&T when he was looking to win his sixth title at Pebble Beach.

But what could of put the capper on the outcome of the west coast swing was Patrick Reed winning in Mexico.  Reed is not what you would call a fan favorite and for me personally, I try to avoid him because I can’t ever seem to get him right.  But I have finally come to a conclusion for those that bet a dollar or two in golf and think I have an answer on when to bet with Reed.  He entered last week still under the cloud from when cameras caught him brushing sand away from his ball in a bunker before a shot at the Hero World Challenge in December.  Before play began in Mexico, former CBS analyst Peter Kostis accused him in a podcast of improving his lie four times in competition.  Normally when something like this happens, it puts a player into a terrible tailspin but for Reed, it seems to stoke something inside of him and makes him even tougher mentally and he plays better.  During the Ryder Cup and last December at the President Cup when the crowd was terribly unkind to him, he channeled the negativity into positivity and played great.  The same at the Masters, when he was leading after the 2nd and 3rd rounds and the press was negative, he channeled that into a great final round winning the Masters by a shot.  In January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, his first event since his problems at the Hero, he was a controversial figure at Kapalua but played great only to lose a playoff to Justin Thomas.  Last week in Mexico it was more of the same when Brooks Koepka criticized him after the Kostis revaluation and the noise got louder, Reed found a way to quiet the critics by playing his best golf and win the tournament.  So this is a lesson for all of us in the future, if there is some negativity pointed toward Patrick Reed it may be time to put a dollar or two on him because he will play well, it’s just in his DNA.

Charles Howell III

We don’t usually talk about Charles Howell III but with his T-53rd in Mexico, he hit a remarkable milestone.  He joined Phil Mickelson as the only player to win a million dollars for 20 consecutive years.  Phil has done it every year since 1996 and with him at $686,094 for 2020, we figure he should go over the million-dollar mark for the 25th straight year.  But many may find it amazing that the only other to accomplish 20 years is Howell, who has only won three times on the PGA Tour.  Howell may not win a lot, he may not be big in the majors as he only has one top-ten in 48 starts, but he does make a lot of cuts and lot’s of paychecks, he has won $39.7 million in his 20 years on the PGA Tour, so yes if you’re just looking for that guy to make a cut and a check, Howell is your guy.

Viktor Hovland and can he break to “jinx?”

Viktor Hovland won in Puerto Rico, not a big surprise as many have said that Hovland will be a star in the future.  But for Hovland to become that star he will have to break the Puerto Rico “jinx”.  Since the tournament was first played in 2008, only one champion has returned to the winner’s circle and that was Michael Bradley, who won the Puerto Rico Open again in 2011, two years after he won it in 2009.  So Hovland needs to break the jinx of being the first to win again outside of Puerto Rico. Also looking to break that jinx is Tony Finau who has been runner-up six times, twice losing in playoffs.

A poor field for the Honda

Lastly, we talked last week about the difficulties of tournaments this time of year getting good fields.  The Honda Classic is having that problem, with the schedule being so loaded players have to pick and chose when they play.  This week at the Honda, only one top-ten player, Brooks Koepka is in the field.  In 2018 there were 46 of the top-100 players in the field, this year only 29 of the top-100 in the field will attend.  Players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Dustin Johnson won’t be playing.  The hard part on this is that all four live just minutes from PGA National, Thomas won the Honda Classic just two years ago.  To be fair, Johnson has only played in the Honda three times, the last in 2015.  Of course, there are lot’s of reasons, players are trying to fit it in their schedule and with the Arnold Palmer next week, the Players the week after that presents a problem.  Then you have the Match Play in four weeks and the Masters in six weeks, that is the biggest problem.  I also have to think that wind could be a factor, it’s always windy this week at the Honda and playing four days in the wind for these guys create problems down the road.  Still, it’s a problem for the PGA Tour to see a great event on a great course only having one top-ten player in the field and just 12 top-50 players.

Florida’s “dirty little secret”

The dirty little secret about this week’s move from the west coast 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 to Bermuda greens and robust Rye rough.  The weather in Pebble and L.A.sunny and cool with the rest of the weeks showing 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 compared to PGA National, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass and Innisbrook.

For players like Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Nick Taylor, Webb Simpson, Andrew Landry, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer, Jon Rahm, Kevin Streelman, Bryson DeChambeau and Matt Kuchar 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.

In the history of the west coast swing, we have seen our share of players that have done great on the west coast and struggle the rest of the year and it all starts this week at the Honda.  Going from courses in California to courses in Florida is like going from night to day, it’s totally different and in the coming weeks, we will see players that have played terribly over the last two months shine, while we will see players that have had a good run all of a sudden starting to struggle.

Things you need to know about the Honda Classic

This will be the 48th 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 on Wednesday the 26th Jackie Gleason would have been the 104 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.
  • 7,125 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.
  • The scoring average of the field at PGA National in last year was 71.02, making it the 5th hardest course to score on in 2019.  In 2018 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 year’s Honda Classic, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2020. 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 last year was 71.02, making it the 5th hardest course to score on in 2019.

This has been the norm for this course since it first held the event in 2007, it’s been one hardest course on the PGA Tour and has been in the top-ten hardest course list every year except for 2012 when it was the 11th hardest at 71.19 and in 2014 when it was the 17th hardest with a 70.41 scoring average. In 2018 it was the 2nd hardest course on tour with a 72.30 scoring average. One of the reasons the course plays so hard is the wind. Last year between Thursday and Saturday the winds blew between 5 to 12 mph and on Sunday it blew 12 to 20 mph. But in 2018 it blew each day up to 25 mph which played havoc for the players and protects the course to low scores. This year the winds will blow each day between 12 to 16 mph. The good news is it will rain on Wednesday so the course won’t be fast and dry on Thursday and Friday, but by the weekend and Sunday look for really tough conditions as the course gets firm and fast, scores will climb.

In looking at the stats for PGA National last year Greens hit, Rough Proximity to hole and Scambling are essential. Last year the course ranked 7th in greens hit with a 55.26 average. Winner Keith Mitchell was T-22nd in greens hit, but in 2016, winner Adam Scott was 1st in greens hit. Now hitting fairways isn’t that important, the course ranked 24th last year while Mitchell was T-54th in fairways hit (Mitchell was 8th in driving distance and was 12th 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 and is some of the hardest to get out of. Last year the course ranked 6th in getting it close to the hole from the rough, while Mitchell had a tough time ranking 67th. Our third stat is scrambling last year PGA National was the 20th hardest on tour while Mitchell shined on this stat as he was T-2nd 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 1,329 birdies and eagles for the week and averaged 16.86, the 5th hardest on tour. As for Mitchell last year he was T-12th in par breakers making 16 birdies for the week. So in looking at why Keith Mitchell won last year, he was 1st in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, 6th in Strokes Gained Around the Green and was 1st in Strokes Gained Total of all the categories.

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 in the next four weeks as players transition to Bermuda grass and more windy, with hotter temperatures.

So here are our four choices for the most critical stats for 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 7th hardest to hit while in 2018 it was 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 6th while the year before it was 9th. In 2017 it was 8th and in 2016 it was 3rd in this stat.

*Scrambling: No matter how good your game is, missing greens always happens so it’s important to salvage par. Last year PGA National ranked 20th while last year it was the 8th hardest. In 2017 it was the 15th hardest while 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 5th last year and 2nd the year before. In 2017 it ranked T-18th, it was 8th in 2016 and 5th in this stat on tour in 2015.

125 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 115 player stats for the Honda Classic

DraftKings tips

We are trying a new database.  Since the Sentry Tournament of Champions, we have achieved every event that Draftkings has had a game and recorded the points each player has received for their performance for the week.

We have totaled each players total and come out with a list, based on the total point total via his average on his number of rounds.  So for the week, if he played four rounds and made 100 points, his point average is 25.  If his point total is 100 for eight rounds, his point average is 12.5.

Now Draftkings has had games for every PGA Tour and European Tour event since the first of January and we have totaled all of them up.

So the list below is the top 35 players in the Honda field that have the best DraftKings Point average, per round.

Hope you enjoy it, please give us some feedback:

Historical totals

Of the 144 in the field, 113 have played at least once in the Honda.  Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Honda since 2015:
  • Rickie Fowler is 12 under in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 6 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Kyoung-Hoon Lee is 5 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Wyndham Clark is 5 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Byeong Hun An is 3 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Lucas Bjerregaard is 3 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • J.T. Poston is 1 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Luke List is 1 under in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Matt Wallace is 1 under in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Brandon Hagy is even par in 6 rounds playing 2 years
  • Keith Mitchell is even par in 6 rounds playing 2 years
  • Kramer Hickok is even par in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Louis Oosthuizen is even par in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Roger Sloan is even par in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Ryo Ishikawa is 1 over in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Vijay Singh is 1 over in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • Jim Furyk is 2 over in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Lee Westwood is 2 over in 4 rounds playing 1 year
  • Sam Burns is 2 over in 7 rounds playing 2 years
  • Sungjae Im is 2 over in 4 rounds playing 1 year
*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)
  • Rickie Fowler is 12 under, playing 5 years (-2.4)
  • Byeong Hun An is 3 under, playing 2 years (-1.5)
  • J.T. Poston is 1 under, playing 2 years (-0.5)
  • Luke List is 1 under, playing 4 years (-0.3)
  • Brandon Hagy is even par, playing 2 years (0.0)
  • Keith Mitchell is even par, playing 2 years (0.0)
  • Louis Oosthuizen is even par, playing 2 years (0.0)
  • Vijay Singh is 1 over, playing 3 years (0.3)
  • Ryo Ishikawa is 1 over, playing 2 years (0.5)
  • Billy Horschel is 3 over, playing 5 years (0.6)
  • Ryan Palmer is 3 over, playing 5 years (0.6)
  • Jim Furyk is 2 over, playing 2 years (1.0)
  • Sam Burns is 2 over, playing 2 years (1.0)
  • Lucas Glover is 5 over, playing 5 years (1.0)
  • Sean O’Hair is 5 over, playing 4 years (1.3)
  • Daniel Berger is 7 over, playing 5 years (1.4)
  • Brendan Steele is 6 over, playing 4 years (1.5)
  • Ian Poulter is 6 over, playing 4 years (1.5)
  • Jim Herman is 6 over, playing 4 years (1.5)
  • Bud Cauley is 5 over, playing 3 years (1.7)
  • Gary Woodland is 7 over, playing 4 years (1.8)
  • Nick Watney is 7 over, playing 4 years (1.8)

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 2020 to pick players that will participate in four rounds.  So make extra sure about your picks and remember the tour is now in Florida and players that have done poorly out west may all of a sudden find there game on Bermuda greens heat, humidity and wind.

*Here are the guys that are very costly:
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $11,600
  • Brooks Koepka – $11,200
  • Rickie Fowler – $10,800
  • Gary Woodland – $10,300
  • Justin Rose – $9,900
  • Louis Oosthuizen – $9,700
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,500
  • Sungjae Im – $9,300
  • Billy Horschel – $9,200
  • Shane Lowry – $9,100
  • Erik Van Rooyen – $9,000

We are now in a tournament that frankly nobody has dominated on a course that is hard to dominate.    Remember this, in past years this course has played tough due to wind.  Forecasts predict rough conditions, especially over the weekend so be sure to keep that in mind, have to pick players that have patient in poor weather. But again try your hardest to pick six guys to make the cut.  Tommy Fleetwood is $11,600 and played great in his only Honda appearance in 2017 finishing 4th.  He also plays well in Florida so I say he is a solid pick, but he is a lot of money.  Brooks Koepka at $11,200 looks good with his T-2nd last year but he has struggled this year and has said he isn’t 100%.  With bad weather, I would say it’s best to take a pass on him.  Rickie Fowler is always a Jekyll and Hyde proposition and at $10,800 it’s a gamble.  I say yes, he has played well on this course and I think since he didn’t have a good west coast swing he has worked hard on his game and will play well.  Gary Woodland is $9,900 and I think is worth the price, yes he will play well.  Remember he was T-2nd at PGA National in 2017 so I expect good things.  Justin Rose at $9,900 I expect the opposite, not much.  I would pass on him as fast as I would buy a plane ticket to China.  Louis Oosthuizen is $9,700 which is a lot for a guy that doesn’t have much of a record at PGA National.  He has never impressed me as being a great player in Florida and he doesn’t have the stats to play well this week.  He does lead our new Draftings point list but of those four starts, three of them are on the European Tour so I say take a pass on him.  Viktor Hovland is $9,500 and I say he is a star of the future but it’s best if you save the $9,500 even though he won last week.  SungJae Im is $9,300 and worth the money.  He plays great on Bermuda and seems to do well on Florida courses so take him.  Billy Horschel is $9,200 and I like him, he was T-4th at the Honda in 2017, T-8th in 2016 and has played well his last two starts.  Shane Lowry is $9,100 and I say no, he has struggled to make cuts in Florida, do I need to say more.  Erik Van Rooyen is $9,000 and has no experience in Florida.  But he is from South Africa and plays on courses that are similar to Florida courses.  He played great last week and has a lot at stake because he is close to getting his PGA Tour card, think he will make the cut and play well this week so take a chance on him.

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

Daniel Berger at $8,900 I like a lot.  Was runner-up at the Honda in 2015 and despite not playing well at the Honda and think it’s time for him to start playing well again.  Has played well his last two starts, was T-9th at Phoenix and T-5th at Pebble, his game is good right now.  Also like Byeong Hun An at $8,800 he was T-5th at Honda in 2018, T-36th last year.  Was T-29th in Mexico shot 65 in the final round, T-9th in Phoenix?  Charl Schwartzel is $8,100 and has some good numbers at the Honda.  He was T-5th in 2012 and T-9th in 2013 but since it’s been a bit of a struggle.  He was T-16th last year but I like the fact that the last start he was T-5th at Pebble, so he may be worth the gamble.  Now Luke List is $8,000 and a bit of a gamble.  He finished 2nd at the Honda in 2018 but missed the cut last year, he hasn’t played great on the west coast but again that may be ok. He is good in Florida so maybe that will play in his favor, worth the gamble on this guy.  Another guy to gamble on is Emiliano Grillo at $8,000 he played terrible on the west coast, he missed his last three cuts at Farmers, Phoenix, and Genesis.  But he gets on a plane and finishes T-3rd at Puerto Rico.  He missed the cut last year at the Honda but was T-8th in 2018 so yes take a gamble on him.  Looking for another gamble, how about Lee Westwood at $7,800.  He has played well at the Honda, but a long time ago when he was 4th in 2012.  He won at Abu Dhabi in January, can play good in wind and was T-22nd in Mexico so yes he is worth the price.

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

Have a couple of guys worth the price, first Matthew NeSmith at $7,200.  He is playing the Honda for the first time but has been very consistent since the first of November, in seven starts hasn’t missed the cut.  Was T-17th at American Express, T-30th Farmers, T-11th at Pebble and T-6th at Puerto, is 42 under in that stretch.  Looking for a cheap guy to make a cut, try Jim Furyk at $7,100.  He plays well at the Honda, he was T-9th last year and in three starts has made 8 cuts with five top-tens.  Kyoung-Hoon Lee at $7,000 is an unknown sleeper, was terrific in his first Honda Classic shooting rounds of 67-69-68-71 to finish T-7th.  After a slow start to his year was T-13th at Genesis and T-14th at Puerto Rico and is 18 under par.  Another guy I like is Tyler McCumber who is $6,600.  I am biased, I played a couple of holes with him and his father when he was like 8 years old so I would like to see him do well.  He grew up in Jacksonville and learn to play on Bermuda.  Will be playing for the first time in the Honda, has made the cut in his last four starts, was T-20th in Puerto Rico his 2nd best finish on the PGA Tour.

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

The 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 Keith Mitchell who now lives in St. Simons Island, Georgia.  2018 winner Justin Thomas now lives just down the road from PGA National and with 2017 winner Rickie Fowler.  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.  He 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 when 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 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, 7 of the 13 winners and 13 of the 20 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 2018 winner Justin Thomas was 1 under.  Last year Keith Mitchell proved how tough the par 4s played as he was even par for the week
  • 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 11 of the last 16 winners of the Honda are those that are either born Floridians or now live in Florida (unfortunately 2019 winner Keith Mitchell doesn’t qualify even though his St. Simon’s Island home is in Georgia next to the Florida border).  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 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 on playing in winds that will be around this week.  Oh, and 2018 winner Justin Thomas and 2017 winner Rickie Fowler live 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 2018 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.

 

Who to watch for at the Honda Classic

Best Bets:

Tommy Fleetwood

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
4

He is ready to win on the PGA Tour, plays well on Florida courses and he played well last week in Mexico.

Rickie Fowler

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T2 CUT Win T6 T41 T24 T13 T7 CUT CUT

You never know what you’ll get from Rickie but I think this will be a great week for him. He didn’t play well on the west coast swing and will be ready to go with the tour in Florida.

Gary Woodland

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T36 T49 T2 T61 T68 T6 T73

Another player that has held back on the west coast swing, matter of fact we haven’t seen much from him since his win at the U.S. Open. Has played well at PGA National, he was T-2nd in 2017 he is ready to go this week.

Best of the rest:

Sungjae Im

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T51

After a great year, last year has been dormant this year. That’s because he is best in Florida and on Bermuda and I think he will be great this week as he shows us his real game.

Daniel Berger

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T36 T29 CUT CUT 2

Was runner-up at Honda in 2015, has struggled since but was T-29th in 2018 and T-36th last year. The last two starts, was T-9th at Phoenix, T-5th at AT&T Pebble, in his last 16 rounds on the PGA Tour going back to Sony Open has not shot a round over par and is 36 under par.

Billy Horschel

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T16 CUT T4 T8 CUT CUT T46 CUT

Was T-4th in 2017, T-8th in 2016 and T-16th in 2019 at the Honda.

Kyoung-Hoon Lee

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T7

Was terrific in his first Honda Classic shooting rounds of 67-69-68-71 to finish T-7th. After a slow start to his year was T-13th at Genesis and T-14th at Puerto Rico and is 18 under par.

Ryan Palmer

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T4 CUT T37 T26 T25 T2 T41 T26 CUT T52

Was T-4th last year at the Honda, he is ready to play well he makes a lot of birdies and can play in the wind.

Solid contenders

Byeong Hun An

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T36 T5

Was T-5th at Honda in 2018, T-36th in 2019, has played well in Florida last three years. Was T-29th in Mexico shot 65 in the final round.

Wyndham Clark

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T7

Was T-7th last year at the Honda, had some good rounds in the west coast opening up with a 61 at Phoenix, his game is close and he can prove it when the tour moves to Florida.

Jhonattan Vegas

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T16 T72 T4 CUT T12 T67 T70

Was T-4th at Honda in 2017, was T-16th last year. Played well in Puerto Rico last week shooting 62 in the final round to finish T-9th.

Lee Westwood

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T25 T46 T9 4 T29 T9

Has played well at the Honda, won two months ago on the European Tour, could have a surprise on the PGA Tour left in his game.

Jim Furyk

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T9 T46 CUT

He still is strong and can play great golf, was T-9th at Honda last year.

Long shots that could come through:

Viktor Hovland

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Never played in the Honda, has played well in windy conditions. Was a star at Oklahoma State, he helped the team win the NCAA title and won the U.S. Amateur.

Matthew NeSmith

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Another Honda rookie, has been very consistent since the first of November, in seven starts hasn’t missed the cut.

Vijay Singh

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
6 T6 CUT T63 CUT T4

Don’t laugh, was 6th last year and from tee to green his game is still very strong.

Sorry there games are really out of sort right now:

Brooks Koepka

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T2 CUT T26 T51 T33

In L.A. says he is not close to being 100%, he is basically working his way with the Masters in mind. Good news, he played well at the Honda last year finishing T-2nd but with the wind this week could be tough for him this week.

Justin Rose

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T4 T5 3 CUT T15

Has struggled with his game since the BMW PGA Championship back in September. Hasn’t been able to put together more than two good rounds, every part of his game is now effected.

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