Tournament: The Honda Classic
Dates: March 3rd 6th, 2011
Course: PGA National Championship Course Palm Beach, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spring is a few weeks away yet, but Spring Training for the MLB has begun and the PGA marks a changing season with a change in venue as the Tour heads to Florida for the 2011 Honda Classic. This event has a long history with the PGA but the Championship Course at PGA National is hosting just its fifth Tour stop and has proved to be a formidable foe in that short time. Camilo Villegas was the only player in the field last year to card four rounds under par on the way to victory and he is back to defend his title against a strong field that includes some of the best international players as well as past champions such as Ernie Els. The Golf Channel will carry the early rounds with NBC picking up the weekend broadcasts.
The Tour tends to go easy on the players in the early part of the schedule with rather tame layouts that provide for good scoring but that all changes this week as the host course is among the tougher tests in the entire rotation. PGA National finished as the second hardest in terms of scoring average in 2010 play and tests the players ability to navigate 26 water hazards and nearly 80 bunkers. Players will need control over the entire tee to green game to even gain birdie chances on the 7,158 yard, par-70 layout and will likely need a strong recovery game to save critical pars. Look for the scoring pace to be moderate at best with the winner in the 7 to 10-under par range.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that we think have the best chance to win it all. Well give you a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a few head to head matches that you can find at any golf sportsbook. Here are our pick to win for the 2011 Honda Classic. Odds to win courtesy of the board at Bodog.
Short Favorite: Matt Kuchar (16 to 1 odds to win)
The 2002 Honda Classic champ is likely the hottest player in golf over the last year or so with four top-10 finishes in five starts this year including a 3rd in last weeks Accenture. Kuchar ranks 23rd in fairways, 20th in greens hit and adds a top-20 rank in putting average to make him an almost slam dunk to contend on any tough course. Additionally, Matt is 7th in scrambling this year which always helps when par is a good score.
Middle of the Road: Robert Allenby (33 to 1 odds to win)
Allenby has a nice history at the Honda, especially at PGA National, with three top-5 finishes from 2007 to 2009. That streak was broken by a trunk slam last year but you can dismiss one bad year when the others were so good. Allenby remains one of the best iron players on Tour and is in the top-25 in GIR percentage as usual heading into the week. He is also in his usual spot when it comes to putting average, which is outside the top-150. There is little doubt that Robert will give himself birdie looks and if they go down, hell be on the front page all week, if not, well, you know. Given the history at the course, its a good week and a good value to call for a hot week with the putter.
Longshot: Jeff Overton (66 to 1 odds to win)
Jeff is an equally easy and hard player to call. Its easy to say hell make the cut as he hasnt missed one in five starts so far but its hard to get excited about betting him with his average finish of 38th. Now, he did manage a T9 here in 2009 and his 27th rank in total driving should play well at PGA National as should his 22nd best putting average. Despite a pretty lackluster stat sheet overall, he does manage a top-30 scoring average by not having a glaring weakness in his game and he does well in limiting damage. A wire to wire win would be unlikely with Overton, but if he can hang around all week, this is the type of player that can card a 66 on Sunday and win having finished an hour ahead of the final groups.
As of Tuesday mid afternoon, there was a lack of info out there with head to heads and prop bets for this weeks event. Best guess is that with all the Euro players in town for the match play, the final field wasnt official until later than usual and the books were busy sorting it out. By the time you read this, they will probably have everything you could ever want to bet on when it comes to golf and then some. Check out sites like 5Dimes or one of the above listed Bookmakers for golf action every week as all the online bookies seem to be constantly expanding their offers on the PGA and EPGA events. Good Luck!