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BlogThe Honda Classic Preview and Picks

The Honda Classic

March 18th – 21st, 2021

PGA National Champion Course

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,125

Purse: $7 million

with $1,260,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Sungjae Im

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 5 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with no players from the top-ten.  Here is the list of those in the top-50:  #18 Sungjae Im, #19 Lee Westwood, #25 Adam Scott, #29 Joaquin Niemann, and #40 Shane Lowry. #15 Daniel Berger withdrew due to rib injury.

In 2018 there were 46 of the top 100, in 2019 33 top 100 players while last year it went down to 29.  In 2018 there were 21 top 50 players, in 2019 13 top-50 in the field while last year there were 12.  So you can see the difference that changing the date between the Honda on the Florida swing, along with moving the Players Championship to March has done to this event.

The field includes only 5 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for this year.  Those players are #12 Joaquin Niemann, #14 Daniel Berger, #19 Sungjae Im, #21 Stewart Cink, and #22 Lee Westwood.

The field includes 11 past champions: Sungjae Im (2020), Keith Mitchell (2019), Rickie Fowler (2017), Adam Scott (2016), 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 The Honda Classic

Player Players Champ. Arnold Palmer WGC-Workday Concession Puerto Rico Genesis Invitational Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Inter. Farmers Insurance American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C.
Lee Westwood
(250.67 pts)
2
(150)
2
(100)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP
Daniel Berger  WD
(203 pts)
T9
(67.5)
DNP T35
(22.5)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
10
(13.33)
Sungjae Im
(175.5 pts)
T17
(49.5)
T21
(29)
T28
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP T32
(6)
T12
(12.67)
DNP T56
(0)
T5
(23.33)
Talor Gooch
(137.67 pts)
T5
(105)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T48
(0.67)
T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Joaquin Niemann
(135.83 pts)
T29
(31.5)
DNP T28
(33)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
2
(33.33)
Chris Kirk
(113.67 pts)
T48
(3)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP
Brendan Steele
(110.5 pts)
T41
(13.5)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
T34
(10.67)
T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(103.33 pts)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T41
(6)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Richy Werenski
(98.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T60
(0)
T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T24
(8.67)
Cameron Percy
(93.17 pts)
T29
(31.5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Cameron Tringale
(89.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP T26
(16)
T7
(36.67)
T17
(22)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Keegan Bradley
(83.5 pts)
T29
(31.5)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
(83.17 pts)
T41
(13.5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 66
(0)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T32
(6)
DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP
Doug Ghim
(82.5 pts)
T29
(31.5)
T36
(14)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
T5
(23.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Grayson Murray
(82 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T42
(5.33)
DNP 79
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Shane Lowry
(78.67 pts)
8
(75)
CUT
(-10)
T48
(3)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Rafael Campos
(73.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Matt Jones
(70.67 pts)
T55
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
T34
(10.67)
T30
(13.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
T21
(9.67)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP
J.T. Poston
(66.67 pts)
T22
(42)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP T18
(10.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
James Hahn
(62.5 pts)
T41
(13.5)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
10
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T32
(6)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP
Nate Lashley
(62 pts)
71
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
T5
(46.67)
T17
(22)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Rob Oppenheim
(56.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Henrik Norlander
(55.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
71
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T26
(16)
T22
(18.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brandon Wu
(55 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adam Hadwin
(54.83 pts)
T29
(31.5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T32
(6)
DNP DNP DNP
Ted Potter, Jr.
(52.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
64
(0)
DNP T18
(10.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Patton Kizzire
(48.83 pts)
T35
(22.5)
T57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
T50
(0.67)
DNP DNP 53
(0)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Matthew NeSmith
(48.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
T16
(22.67)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T48
(0.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Cameron Davis
(46 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
T14
(24)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
3
(30)
DNP 31
(6.33)
DNP
Brice Garnett
(44.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Harold Varner III
(43.67 pts)
T61
(0)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
T13
(24.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Maverick McNealy
(42.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T49
(1)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
2
(66.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
71
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Bo Hoag
(42.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T32
(12)
CUT
(-6.67)
T36
(9.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T16
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Ian Poulter
(42 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T26
(24)
DNP T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Michael Thompson
(41.67 pts)
T48
(3)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T34
(10.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T25
(8.33)
T21
(9.67)
Tom Hoge
(40.67 pts)
T22
(42)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
12
(25.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Chase Seiffert
(37.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Adam Scott
(37 pts)
T48
(3)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP T41
(3)
T21
(9.67)
Jim Furyk
(36.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(1)
DNP
Will Gordon
(36 pts)
DNP T49
(1)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP T21
(19.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T42
(2.67)
T64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Steve Stricker
(35 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T60
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Bo Van Pelt
(35 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Russell Knox
(34.67 pts)
T67
(0)
70
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T7
(36.67)
T53
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Nick Taylor
(34.67 pts)
T48
(3)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
T39
(7.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T47
(1)
DNP T11
(13)
T29
(7)
Matt Wallace
(33.67 pts)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Players Champ. Arnold Palmer WGC-Workday Concession Puerto Rico Genesis Invitational Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Inter. Farmers Insurance American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C.
Jimmy Walker
(-41.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sung Kang
(-38.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 67
(0)
T63
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Austin Cook
(-38 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP
Robert Streb
(-37.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T67
(0)
T38
(4)
Beau Hossler
(-36.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T47
(2)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jim Herman
(-35.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Hunter Mahan
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Henrik Stenson
(-30.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP DNP
Camilo Villegas
(-28.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Graeme McDowell
(-28.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Before we tackle the Honda Classic, we need to spend a moment on what is happening in golf.  Since the tour returned from the break last June, it’s been hard to gauge from week to week the elite players’ status in the game.  In past years it’s always been easy to estimate how the top players do. Since they pick the tournaments in which they like, they usually will be in contention, but at least they will make the cut and make a check.  But over the last nine months, the elite players have not been very consistent, making it hard to pick our favorites.  Just look at the number one golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson.  When golf returned in June, Johnson missed the cut at the Charles Schwab, then finished T-17th before winning at the Travelers Championship.  Once he won, we all thought that he was back, but in Johnson’s next start at the Memorial, Johnson shot 80-80, his highest 2 round scores of his career to miss the cut.  Johnson played the following week at the 3M Open and, after a first-round 78, withdrew.  So the thought was that maybe Johnson was struggling with an injury, he did withdraw, citing a sore back, but we all didn’t know what was up. But as mysteriously that Johnson’s game went south, he fought back to finish T-12th at the WGC-FedEx, was runner-up at the PGA Championship, and then won three events in his next seven starts.  When he won the Masters and then the Saudi International, we were looking for some great things out of Johnson, but after finishing T-8th at Genesis, he was T-54th at the WGC-Workday and T-48th at the Players.

Johnson wasn’t the only top player to struggle. Rory McIlroy was the number one player globally when golf resumed in June but has not been himself. Yes, he has had a couple of top-ten finishes but isn’t the same as he missed the Players’ cut.  Sad, but after missing the cut at the Players, McIlroy being his true self, told the media he was placing too much faith in what Bryson DeChambeau was doing in achieving longer distance and now realizes he has to play his own game.  We will see how much Rory changes in the coming weeks and wonder if he could change fast enough to contend and win at Augusta National.

Brooks Koepka came back from the break-in June and struggled, then deciding not to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs as he needed to nurse his leg and back.  He came back and finished T-7th at the Masters, and we thought that he was back, but when he missed three cuts in a row, we didn’t know what was up.  As Koepka told the media a few weeks ago, after missing the cut in San Diego, he was in a dark place in his life. The frustration was so incredible that he broke two sets of irons and didn’t know what the future would bring.  So everyone was shocked when he teed off at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and played well. The thought among to that gamble in golf was to avoid him for a bit.  Guess what happened?  Of course, he won at Phoenix, and he was scratching his head, not able to explain how he did it.  But as soon as he got back, Koepka struggled in his following two events and has said his leg has become problematic to the point that we don’t know when he will return, things are so bad he is questioning playing in the Masters.

If you look at the top-13 of the World Rankings, it’s hard to find any real consistency in any one player as Xander Schauffele, Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, and Webb Simpson also missed the cut at the Players.  So for many, there was not much support for Justin Thomas, who was experiencing some problems.  Thomas’s problem was more mental, at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, he was playing great.  That is until Saturday when T.V. picked up Thomas using a homophobic slur.  That slip created problems that affected his game during the final round and, despite taking responsibility for the mistake, lost one of his sponsors and went into a tailspin.  It also didn’t help when Thomas’s grandfather passed away the weekend of Phoenix, but he still tried to work it out.  Things hit a low when he missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational, then he suffered another mental blow when his good friend Tiger Woods got into a car accident.  But Thomas fought back. His game started coming around when he finished T-15th at the WGC-Workday Championship.  Unfortunately for people like myself, I noticed and figured the comeback was on the way but didn’t figure that he would win in his next start at the Players. Thomas struggled his first 27 holes at TPC Sawgrass and, when he went to the back nine on Friday, was one over par and in danger of missing the cut.  But he played well on his back nine, shooting 33, and made the cut.  His excellent play continued to Saturday as he shot 64 and with a final round 68, which help him win.  So now the big question, is this a sign of good things to come? Probably since his game sets up perfectly for The Masters, I have to think the influx of confidence will help him work better on his game.

Thomas isn’t playing this week at the Honda Classic, a hard pill for the sponsor since Thomas lives about 20 minutes from PGA National.  He isn’t the only local not playing as Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka, who all live near PGA National, won’t play.  Lots of reasons why primarily because it’s the week after the Players and the week before the WGC-Dell Match Play.  With the Masters four weeks from now, many players need some time off.  The biggest problem, and one not talked about, is it’s always windy at the Honda. Playing four days in the wind creates problems for players to swing afterward.

Things you need to know about the Honda Classic

This will be the 49th 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.  It is a bit strange, and nobody will bother to care, but last month, Jackie Gleason would have been 105 years old.  Most 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, the 1983 Ryder Cup, and the 1987 PGA Championship site.  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.
  • Originally designed by George and Tom Fazio in 1981, Jack Nicklaus redesigned the course in 1990, adding the feared “Bear Trap” holes 15, 16, and 17. PGA National has a lot of experience holding golf tournaments. The 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship, and 18 Senior PGA Championships have been held on the course.  Since 2007 it’s been the home of the Honda Classic.  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.  The course has 78 bunkers and 26 water hazards in which 13 holes have water in play for the professionals.  The last four holes create a lot of drama in which water on par three 15th and 17th holes have broken many winning dreams.  The 18th hole also makes a lot of drama; it’s a long par five that is nearly impossible to hit in two. It’s a true par 5.
  • Accuracy is going to play the key over distance.  The Champions course is lined with tight undulating fairways surrounded by water and sand along the fairways but in the middle of several of the fairways. Hitting greens is very important, since moving to PGA National in 2007, 8 of the 14 winners and 13 of the 21 runner-ups at Champions were ranked in the top-ten in greens hit.
  • The par 4s are some of the toughest on tour, last year, they ranked 4th hardest on tour, but winner Sungjae I’m played them in one over.  The year before, Keith Mitchell played them in even par, and 2018 winner Justin Thomas was just one under on the par 4s.  So you can see, if all the winners have problems on the par 4s, they have to be tough.
  • One last item that has to be discussed is the “Bear Trap,” holes 15, 16, and 17.  These three holes, surrounded by water and danger, are among the most challenging stretches on the PGA Tour.  Thanks to Shotlink stats, we can see that since 2007 there have been 6,059 total rounds played in the Honda Classic.  Throughout those rounds, the field is 3,906 over par as 1,515 balls have found water in the three-hole stretch of the “Bear Trap,”  Even more impressive, of the 570 players that have played in the Honda Classic since 2007, 446 (78%) have hit at least one ball in the water.  That shows how challenging these holes are.

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 last year was 71.90, making it the 3rd hardest course to score on in 2020.

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 2019 it was the 5th hardest course with a 71.02 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 8 to 16 mph and on Sunday it blew 10 to 20 mph. 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 bad news is that the area has had very little rain in the last two weeks so the course will be fast and dry.

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 4th in greens hit with a 57.10 average. Winner Sungjae Im was T-2nd in greens hit, while in 2016, winner Adam Scott was 1st in greens hit. Now hitting fairways isn’t that important, the course ranked 21st last year while Im was T-10th in fairways hit (Im was 40th 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 and in some of the hardest to get out of. Last year the course ranked 7th in getting it close to the hole from the rough, while Im had a tough time ranking 64th. Our third stat is scrambling, last year PGA National was the 3rd hardest on tour while Im shined on this stat as he was T-5th 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 1,197 birdies and eagles for the week and averaged 15.65, the 3rd hardest on tour. As for Im last year he was T-1st in par breakers making 19 birdies for the week. So in looking at why Sungjae Im won last year, he was 1st in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, 5th in Strokes Gained Around the Green, and was 1st in Strokes Gained Total of all the categories.

it’s really too bad that they are playing a great course, but the field is terrible, only 6, top-50 players in the field which makes it the worst field since the start of January (Yes Puerto Rico was worst, but it wasn’t the main tournament)

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 4th hardest to hit while in 2019 it was the 7th hardest to hit, 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 7th, while the year before it was 6th, and in 2018 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 happen so it’s important to salvage par. Last year PGA National ranked 3rd while last year it was 20th while in 2018 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 the 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 3rd last year while in 2018 it ranked 5th and 2nd in 2017. In 2016 it ranked 8th 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 all 125 player stats for the Honda Classic.

DraftKings tips

Of the 144 in the field, 134 have played at least once in the Honda.  Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Honda since 2015:

  • Adam Scott is 9 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Rickie Fowler is 8 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Wyndham Clark is 6 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Byeong Hun An is 6 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Sungjae Im is 4 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Robby Shelton is 1 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Lee Westwood is 1 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Maverick McNealy is 1 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Kyoung-Hoon Lee is 1 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Nick Taylor is 0 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Kramer Hickok is 1 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Cameron Davis is 1 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • J.T. Poston is 2 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Wesley Bryan is 2 under in 6 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Alex Noren is 2 under in 6 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Brendan Steele is 3 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Matt Wallace is 3 under in 6 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Luke List is 3 under in 16 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Phil Mickelson is 3 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is 3 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Sebastian Cappelen is 4 under in 2 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Daniel Berger is 4 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Beau Hossler is 4 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Matthew NeSmith is 4 under 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)

  • Wyndham Clark is 6 under, playing 2 years (-3.0)
  • Adam Scott is 9 under, playing 4 years (-2.3)
  • Byeong Hun An is 6 under, playing 3 years (-2.0)
  • Sungjae Im is 4 under, playing 2 years (-2.0)
  • Rickie Fowler is 8 under, playing 6 years (-1.3)
  • Lee Westwood is 1 under, playing 2 years (-0.5)
  • Kyoung-Hoon Lee is 1 under, playing 2 years (-0.5)
  • Kramer Hickok is 1 under, playing 2 years (0.5)
  • Cameron Davis is 1 under, playing 2 years (0.5)
  • Brendan Steele is 3 under, playing 5 years (0.6)
  • Luke List is 3 under, playing 5 years (0.6)
  • J.T. Poston is 2 under, playing 3 years (0.7)
  • Wesley Bryan is 2 under, playing 2 years (1.0)
  • Alex Noren is 2 under, playing 2 years (1.0)
  • William McGirt is 5 under, playing 4 years (1.3)
  • Matt Wallace is 3 under, playing 2 years (1.5)
  • Phil Mickelson is 3 under, playing 2 years (1.5)
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is 3 under, playing 2 years (1.5)
  • Ian Poulter is 8 under, playing 5 years (1.6)
  • Lucas Glover is 10 under, playing 6 years (1.7)
  • Martin Kaymer is 7 under, playing 4 years (1.8)
  • Sean O’Hair is 9 under, playing 5 years (1.8)
  • Russell Henley is 11 under, playing 6 years (1.8)
  • Jim Herman is 10 under, playing 5 years (2.0)
  • Jason Dufner is 12 under, playing 6 years (2.0)
  • Luke Donald is 11 under, playing 5 years (2.2)
  • Keith Mitchell is 7 under, playing 3 years (2.3)

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

*Here are the guys that are very costly:

  • Sungjae Im – $11,000
  • Daniel Berger – $10,800 (He withdrew on Wednesday)
  • Lee Westwood – $10,600
  • Joaquin Niemann – $10,400
  • Adam Scott – $10,100
  • Russell Henley – $9,800
  • Talor Gooch – $9,300
  • Shane Lowry – $9,200
  • Cameron Tringale – $9,100
  • Chris Kirk – $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 be patient in poor weather. But again try your hardest to pick six guys to make the cut.  Off the bat, our top pick is the defending champion Sungjae Im at $11,000.  He isn’t playing as well as he played last week so it’s best to pass on him.  Probably will make the cut and probably finish in the top-20, but the price is way too high.  Daniel Berger at $10,800 withdrew on Wednesday due to rib injury.  Lee Westwood at $10,600 looks great after finishing runner-up back-to-back weeks.  Making him look even better was the fact that he finished T-4th last year in this event and does play well on the course.  Have to remember he is 47 years old, last week he complained on Sunday that his legs were tired, maybe three weeks in a row is a press.  I say he is a toss-up pick.  Joaquin Niemann at $10,400 is a bit high for a player who in two starts at the Honda has struggled and he hasn’t played well since his runner-up finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.  He still hasn’t shown us he can play in Florida so I would pass on him.  Adam Scott at $10,100 is a bit high, yes he won the Honda in 2017 but hasn’t played well on the course since.  He makes a lot of cuts but in seven 2021 starts only has one top-20 finish.  Can we say Scott will play good enough to be worth the price, no.  Russell Henley at $9,800 is a good choice, his record on Florida courses is spotty except he has played well at PGA National so he is probably a good choice.  Talor Gooch at $9,300 is a gamble, yes he finishing T-5th at the Players but will he be able to carry his good play forward to this week is questionable.  I say no because he is too high of a price.  Shane Lowry at $9,200 is my finish yes vote, think his game is getting better, he had three good rounds at The Players to finish 8th.  Only a matter of time before he puts it together could be this week.  Cameron Tringale at $9,100 is one that hasn’t shown a great record at Honda but has made seven of ten cuts.  He missed the cut at the Players, but in his previous events played ok.  Could be a dark horse that breaks out of the field, so think about him.  Chris Kirk at $9,000 has struggled in the Honda but has played good golf of late.  Again like so many of these top-tier players they are toss-up picks.

Here is our new feature in which we help you decide which guys make the cut the most in a tournament.  The importance of picking six players that play 72 holes is vital in playing well in Draftkings, and this list will help.  It’s a look going back to the 2010 Honda Classics on who has made the most cuts.  Of course, those who make a lot of cuts and are priced low are very helpful.  To get on this list, you have to make at least three Honda Classics starts:

  • Jason Dufner made 9 cuts in 9 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,700.
  • Stewart Cink made 9 cuts in 9 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,500.
  • Lee Westwood made 7 cuts in 7 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 10,600.
  • Byeong Hun An made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,000.
  • J.T. Poston made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,900.
  • Shane Lowry made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 9,200.
  • Brendan Steele made 8 cuts in 9 starts for a 88.9%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,700.
  • Jhonattan Vegas made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,300.
  • Jimmy Walker made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,000.
  • Russell Henley made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%.  His DraftKings cost is 9,800.
  • Vaughn Taylor made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,500.
  • Luke Donald made 6 cuts in 7 starts for a 85.7%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,000.
  • Ian Poulter made 5 cuts in 6 starts for a 83.3%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,100.
  • Scott Stallings made 5 cuts in 6 starts for a 83.3%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,500.
  • Graeme McDowell made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,400.
  • Harold Varner III made 4 cuts in 5 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,600.
  • Michael Thompson made 7 cuts in 9 starts for a 77.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,500.
  • William McGirt made 6 cuts in 8 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,100.
  • Anirban Lahiri made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Mackenzie Hughes made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,800.
  • Sung Kang made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Charl Schwartzel made 5 cuts in 7 starts for a 71.4%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • Hudson Swafford made 5 cuts in 7 starts for a 71.4%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,400.
  • Scott Brown made 5 cuts in 7 starts for a 71.4%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,500.
  • Cameron Tringale made 7 cuts in 10 starts for a 70.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 9,100.
  • Rory Sabbatini made 7 cuts in 10 starts for a 70.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,200.

(Those that I like are in bold)

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

On paper, Doug Ghim at $8,800 doesn’t look very impressive.  At The Players, struggled to a T-29th finish by shooting a final round 78.  The previous week at the Palmer he was close to the lead after the third round but shot 81 to finish T-36th.  Ghim has played well this year, but he is still young and his inexperience has shown, but he has also shown that he could be close to contending coming down the stretch.  Brendan Steele at $8,700 is a player who finished T-4th last year but the question mark is if he could do it again this week?  Has the game, he been consistent this year and does make cuts, make money.  But at $8,700 Steele may not be good enough.  Matt Wallace at $8,500 is one to watch, he is hit or miss and his game seem ready for PGA National.  Byeong Hun An at $8,000 is a very good pick, was T-5th in this event in 2018 and T-4th last year.  Also, like that he has played ok this year, yes he missed the cut at the Players but that’s because he finished 11-6 in his final two holes.  Look for him to have broken out of that funk.  Wyndham Clark at $8,000 is a great choice, has played well finishing T-7th in 2019 and T-11th last year at the Honda.  Has been good in 2021 until missing the cut at the Palmer and The Players.

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

Have a couple of guys worth the price, first Patton Kizzire at $7,500 he is a toss-up but you never know when he will get his stuff in clear.  The same with Jhonattan Vegas at $7,300 who is finding a way to keep quiet and play ok in 2021.  Maverick McNealy at $7,200 is good, was T-11th last year, and think he can come here and win.

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

The key stat for the winner:

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 2019 champion Keith Mitchell who 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.  Even defending champion Sungjae Im bought a house in Atlanta and likes to stay a lot with relatives in the Tampa Bay area. There is also a connection with those like past champions Ernie Els, Camilo Villegas, Padraig Harrington, and Rory McIlroy who have homes in 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 have 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 connection.

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, 8 of the 14 winners and 13 of the 21 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.  In 2019 Keith Mitchell proved how tough the par 4s played as he was even par for the week and last year’s champion Sungjae Im was one over par on the par 4s.
  • 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 17 winners of the Honda are those that are either born Floridians or now live in Florida (unfortunately defending champion Sungjae Im and 2019 winner Keith Mitchell doesn’t qualify even though Mitchell’s St. Simon’s Island home is in Georgia next to the Florida border).  A perfect example is 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 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 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 the 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 The Honda Classic

Best Bets:

Russell Henley

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T8 T20 T24 T43 CUT T44 Win T13

It’s his time to shine, plays well on this course, and has all the stats to show how good he is including 14th in greens hit in 2021 and 6th in scrambling.

Jhonattan Vegas

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T27 T16 T72 T4 CUT T12 T67 T70

Has a good record at PGA National, came close to winning in Puerto Rico two weeks ago.

Lee Westwood

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 T25 T46 T9 4 T29 T9

Has been runner-up the last two weeks was T-4th last year at the Honda. His only problem could be fatigue, he was complaining that he had tired legs last week. Still think he will do well.

Best of the rest:

Shane Lowry

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T21 T49 T53

It’s been 20 months since he last was really in contention at the British Open. He is long overdue, his game has been shaping up and the course is good for him.

Chris Kirk

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT CUT T33 CUT CUT T12 T51 T56 T29

Has knocked on the door of victory a few times of late, think this is a perfect place for him to bust out with a win.

Wyndham Clark

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T11 T7

Has played well in his two Honda starts, yes he has missed his last two cuts but think he will be sharp this week.

Cameron Tringale

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T27 T36 CUT 65 CUT T44 T41 CUT T47 T43

Was sidetracked at the Players missing the cut, but has played great in 2021 and showing signs that he could content real soon.

Patton Kizzire

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
68 CUT CUT T66 T26

Watch him has made 12 straight cuts playing some consistent golf

Solid contenders

Sungjae Im

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win T51

Defending champion who plays well in Florida and his game has been coming together the last few months.

Adam Scott

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T13 T14 Win T12 CUT

You never know when he is going to bust out like he did in 2017 to win at Honda.

Byeong Hun An

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 T36 T5

Plays well at the Honda including a T-4th last year, was terrible at the Players so he will be looking to get back on track.

Joaquin Niemann

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T59

His game is coming together and feel this could be his week.

Brendan Steele

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 CUT T14 T14 T11 T33 T51 75 T63

Like that he has three top-14 finishes in his last four Honda starts including a T-4th last year.

Matt Wallace

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T20

Played well at the Arnold Palmer.

Long shots that could come through:

Maverick McNealy

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T11

Fact that he was T-11th in his first Honda visit last year caught my eye along with how he has played of late.

Doug Ghim

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT

Has done well of late on the PGA Tour but has struggled in the final rounds. This week could be different as he hits lots of greens and makes a lot of birdies.

Talor Gooch

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T38 T20 CUT

Has the momentum on his side after finishing T-5th at the Players.

He is the favorite, but…

Daniel Berger  (He withdrew on Wednesday due to rib injury)

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 T36 T29 CUT CUT 2

Has been playing well of late, won at Pebble last month. Comes to a course that he loves and has played well on. His only problem is those nagging ribs, yes he was able to play with the pain at The Players finishing T-9th, but he may not want to cope or maybe the pain will be overburdening for him.

Comments

  1. Matt Jones! He’s got the round of the year going. He’s absolutely tearing up a very tough track. I never even considered him in DK’s because there was nothing that really said he would do well, other than his stats fit the profile of someone who could possibly do well. Was he on your radar at all this week?

  2. You are right Jones 61 under the conditions and course is one of the best rounds not only of the year but the last few years. To be honest, Jones was never on by radar screen. Other than finishing T-4th in his first Honda back in 2008, he has never done well at the Honda. I know he was in my radar screen for some of the west coast stuff but didn’t feel he was a good Florida player. Maybe that was my fault, he learned his golf playing in the winds and Bermuda of Australia, but yes he wasn’t that high up.
    But let’s look at the round and applaud it, but come on do we feel that Jones will be around on Sunday? Historically Jones seems to contend in one event a year, so even though he was T-4th in Bermuda, maybe he will contend twice in 2021.

  3. Well, Jones somehow put it all together this week. That was a well played out victory. He actually looked very comfortable Sunday, especially down the stretch. I’m starting to see things this way: there are 12-15 guys, if they play, will always be near the top. After those guys, everyone is not that different and anyone could win on a given week. I had one guy miss the cut in DK’s and still won all of my games. It was that kind of tournament…….

  4. Clayton,
    There is a core of about 50 guys, Jones included that can win when they are hot. Yes, Jones kept it together, but since nobody pressed him that made things easier. Still, at the end of the day, he has to do the right things which he did to win the Honda. This is what makes golf so hard to predict, Jones is a winner today but who knows how long it will be before he wins again.

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