The Honda Classic Tournament Analysis – Value Picks
Event: The Honda Classic
When: February 27 - March 1, 2020
Where: PGA National (Champion) - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
The PGA wrapped up its West Coast business and now heads south with The Honda Classic serving as the first stop in “The Florida Swing”. The Tour is about to hit some notable sites with Sawgrass and Arnie’s Place ahead, and we will be just two weeks shy of The Masters once play concludes in the Sunshine State. Keith Mitchell won here in a bit of an upset last season and he is back to defend against a strong field that includes Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose. Erik Van Rooyan had a close call last week and will look to improve on that result with Viktor Hovland, fresh off a win in Puerto Rico, also in the field. Big names have typically dominated this event with Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Adam Scott and Justin Thomas among recent winners.
The Champion Course at PGA National is a relative newcomer to the Tour rotation, serving as the Honda host since 2007 but the layout has seen Ryder Cup play in its past as well as PGA and Sr. PGA Championship duty. The par-70 track will measure 7,140 yards for the championship and provides a distinctly different challenge from what players saw the last few weeks. PGA National follows a familiar Florida formula with plenty of sand and water waiting to gobble up errant shots but the difficulty here is a bit more subtle than those dominant physical features. Jack Nicklaus had a hand in redesigning this course and he always favored a balance of shotmaking challenges alongside scoring opportunities. The stretch of holes from 15-to-17 is affectionately known as “The Bear Trap”, and that trio often has a way of separating the contenders in the late going. Fairways are rather wide and greens are receptive by Tour standards so absolute accuracy is not required but average drives and approaches will lead to long runs of pars, players will need to hit legitimately good shots to earn quality birdie looks. Winning scores hover in the high single digits under par, making PGA National one of the harder non-major venues each year. Camilo Villegas set the Champion Course record of 13-under on his way to a five-stroke victory in 2010.
Each week, we take a look at the golf betting sites and highlight the best values on the board. We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at just about every golf betting outlet. Odds to win and pairings for this week come courtesy of the board at Bovada. Here are our picks to win the 2020 Honda Classic.
Rickie Fowler (14 to 1 odds to win)
There are few that have a better record at The Honda in recent years as Fowler ran 6th in 2016, won in 2017 and was the runner-up last year. Rickie will be making just his fifth start of the season but he does have top-10s at the Amex and TOC to suggest he is in fine form despite a limited schedule. Fowler is always one of the better tee-to-green players in any field but his putter has powered his game in 2020 with the 32nd ranked overall putter and the 16th best putting average on greens in regulation. That flatstick work has led to a top-20 birdie average and also helped Fowler to remain one of the better scramblers on Tour. There could be a little rust to knock off the game but Rickie is in familiar and comfortable surroundings with the chance to rise to the top of a field that is missing the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory and Tiger. For those (like myself) that think picking a golfer to win is too tough of a proposition, you can bet Fowler to finish in the top 5 at +275 odds, top 10 +130 (this is my personal wager this week) and -160 to finish in the top 20. You can place these bets at Bovada Sportsbook. You’ll get a 50% bonus on your first deposit of to $250 FREE as well! Click here to sign up!
Louis Oosthuizen (25 to 1)
Oosty is getting a little long in the tooth when you look at all the young guns on Tour these days but few are better in the iron game than Louis and he is proving that again with a top-10 approach proximity stat. Being close to the hole is certainly conducive to scoring and Oosthuizen nets the 26th best scoring mark which is more impressive considering he is outside the top-50 in birdies per round. He knows how to get the most out of his day and that is a nice trait to have at tough courses like PGA National. Oosthuizen will be making just his second start here but he managed a T21 in 2017 and should be able to build on that considering he is one of the more accurate drivers in this field while also ranking in the top-35 in total putting. The approach game is nearly always a plus for Louis and he has the putter going as well. He scuffled a bit last week after a solid start but he also was T3 at the HSBC against a much stronger field than what is here. I think he benefits from what amounts to a relatively easy travel schedule for him and he turns that into a run toward the top.
Wyndham Clark (66 to 1)
This bet is admittedly a little scary considering Clark missed six of eight cuts to start the season but he has corrected that trend with three straight made cuts and top-20 finishes in each of the last two weeks. He also has a T8 at the CJ Cup against what was a strong field to build some confidence on and was T7 here in his Honda debut last year. Clark is one of the longest players on Tour, ranking 5th in driving distance for all of 2019 and he bookends that with the 4th best total putting stat. The in-between shots certainly need some consistency if Clark is going to be a regular contender on Tour but that putter is producing a top-15 birdie average so he can take advantage of his good days with the irons. Florida golf often can be categorized as “big,” and Clark fits that general concept with his modern power game. He shouldn’t find himself in too many places where he can’t fire a short iron at the green, and a good week with the approaches should have him back near the top where we saw him last time around.
Picks to win based on predicted score for all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Gary Woodland (-120) v. Justin Rose (-110) (pick to win: Woodland)
Rose has been a fantastic money-maker for head-to-head bettors for nearly two full seasons but this week has him up against a tough opponent considering Woodland has three top-10 finishes in just seven 2020 starts with a T12 last week at a tricky Chapultepec course. Woodland was a modest T36 here last season but Rose will be making his first Honda start since missing the cut here in 2015 so Rose is probably on the short end of the course experience angle. Justin is making just his fourth start this season overall so I’m looking for a bit of a slow start as well and that really starts to swing things Woodland’s way considering Gary is the better fairways and greens player in 2020 and is putting up a nearly identical scoring average despite Rose being the better putter. Woodland has also improved his tee-to-green and scrambling numbers when compared to his career averages, and I don’t think that he is a candidate for immediate regression there. I think Gary is rounding into what will be some of the best years for him on Tour, and that will make him a tough opponent in head-to-heads going forward. You can bet head to head golf matchups FOR FREE this weekend by taking advantage of a 100% REAL CASH BONUS on your first deposit of $100 to $300 at MyBookie. They take credit cards too! Must use this link to sign up and use promo code PREDICT100.
Billy Horschel (-120) v. Viktor Hovland (-110) (pick to win: Hovland)
The youngsters on Tour have been fearless in the last few seasons and Hovland fits that mold. The 22-year old Hovland has made 10-of-12 cuts as a professional and broke through for his first PGA win last week at the secondary event in Puerto Rico. He moved to 60th in the OWGR, so he will likely be in the next WGC event, which is the Match Play in Austin in a few weeks. Players like Matt Wolff and Collin Morikawa have shown that these rookies and relative newcomers can put together extended runs of top-end play, and I think Hovland could be the best of this recent crop. Horschel has been pretty remarkable with four top-10 finishes in the fall and winter portions of the season, but Hovland has the edge with a top-10 tee-to-green game and enters the week 24th in scoring with Horschel back at 64th. Billy does have the better putter and has a course experience advantage, but I think Hovland is a player to stick with until he hits a bit of wall on Tour. This guy is fearless and never looks intimidated in the moment. I think it will take a few years for Viktor to be a factor in the Majors, but he will be a handful in these head-to-heads against mid-pack opponents.
Good luck and good golf!