The Sunshine State beckons for the PGA Tour this week, as players, caddies and fans alike head to South Florida, where the Honda Classic will take place at its usual home of PGA National. Australian Matt Jones will bid to retain his title at the first tournament on the Florida swing of the schedule.
Honda Classic General Information:
- Date: February 24th – February 27th, 2021
- TV-Time: Golf Channel, 3:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: PGA National
- Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
- Prize Money: $6,000,000 ($1,125,000 1st Place)
- Winner last year: Matt Jones
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
A regular stop on golf’s most elite tour, PGA National has long been the host of the Honda Classic, a tournament won by golfing royalty such as Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, and in more recent years, big-name players such as Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Justin Thomas.
Unlike last week, there are some holes in the field, with many of the top players not in action. After his outstanding wire-to-wire victory at the Genesis last week, rising star Joaquin Niemann features, as does 2021 winner Matt Jones. 2020 winner Sungjae Im is back to try and regain his crown too, while other notable names on the list include Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Billy Horschel and Daniel Berger, who alongside Im and Niemann, are the only players from the world’s top 25 to be involved this week. Such players will undoubtedly see this as a huge opportunity to add to their trophy cabinets, while this tournament also represents a chance for one of those players further down the rankings to increase their stock.
The Tom Fazio designed course at PGA National features a layout that isn’t exactly simplistic, that’s for sure. Something of a ball-striker’s course, this track demands accuracy, much like Riviera did last week, so those who can get it on the fairway with regularity will be at an advantage. Again, like last week, GIR is an important stat too. Interestingly, the average finishing position of the last six winners was 10th for greens in regulation at the end of the week.
Expert Pick #1 – Billy Horschel to Win @+2000
Coming off the back of a T6 at TPC Scottsdale, where his game looked as good as it’s been this campaign, Billy Horschel is my idea of the winner this week. The six-time PGA Tour victor has been steadily building for a while, which bodes well as all his previous wins have come off the back of similar periods of improvement, whilst he’s back in his home state, where we know can dazzle.
The 35-year-old ticks a lot of boxes this week, both with the driver and on approach, as he’s one of the most accurate off the tee and one of the best at hitting greens in regulation in this field. In fact, only five players in this field have hit more greens in regulation on average this season. What’s more,
In addition, nobody in this field has more victories on Bermudagrass, which is in use at PGA National, to their name than Billy Horschel, who also has lots of form on courses that share similarities with this week’s track. Throw in that nobody in this field has gained more strokes with the putter over the last eight weeks and the Florida native stands out as a likely winner, one who is well worth taking a chance on at +2000, especially in an event where there’s a real lack of top-end talent.
Fedex Cup Rank: 62 | Fedex Cup Points: 232 | OWGR: 22
Expert Pick #2 – Billy Horschel Top Ten Finish @+275
I adopted a similar double-down approach last week and it didn’t quite work as Xander Schauffele failed to bring the magic expected, eventually finishing in a tie for 13th, but Horschel can get us back on track.
I really, really like Billy this week. The Floridian not only has two previous top-ten finishes here, but he is a man in form right now, and when he’s in form he tends to stay in form for a while. On top of everything else mentioned above, Horschel improved on a T11 finish at the Farmer’s to secure his second top-ten finish of the campaign last time out when finishing T6 at the Phoenix Open, and if he turns up in a similar mood here, the man who is the fifth highest ranked player in this field simply won’t be outside the top ten.
Fedex Cup Rank: 62 | Fedex Cup Points: 232 | OWGR: 22
Expert Pick #3 – Tommy Fleetwood Top Ten Finish @+300
It’s been a quiet few months for Tommy Fleetwood, who hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since October, when he finished T7 at the ZOZO Championship, but in recent years, the Englishman has thrived at the Honda Classic.
In two appearances here, Fleetwood has posted finishes of fourth and third in 2018 and 2020 respectively. In doing so, the man with eight professional victories to his name has delivered some excellent strokes gained numbers, so much so that he ranks as the number one player in this field when it comes to strokes gained: total at this venue (last five seasons). In a less than top class field, it won’t take much more than a repeat of his 2018/2020 form to go very close, and bettors can take advantage by siding with the 31-year-old to finish inside the top ten at juicy odds of +300.
Fedex Cup Rank: 144 | Fedex Cup Points: 88 | OWGR: 44
2022 Honda Classic Odds
*Odds as of Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. ET
2022 Honda Classic Additional Picks
One player to finish top-five.
Sungjae Im (+333)
If you’re searching for a player with a cast-iron chance of being right there come SUnday, then Sungjae Im might just be your man. The South Korean has been in steady form of late, which bodes well ahead of a return to a venue that he likes. The man who oozes consistency won here in 2020, and was far from disgraced when finishing T8 upon attempting to defend his crown last year.
One player to finish top-10.
Another player who likes it here is Lucas Glover. The American already has three top-ten finishes at this venue to his name, while of those in the field, over the last five years, he’s the sixth-best in terms of strokes gained: total. Given his odds, such a stat is hard to ignore.
One player to finish top-20.
C.T. Pan (+275)
A bronze medallist at the Olympics last year, C.T. Pan is often overlooked, but the man from Taiwan has hit some solid form of late, finishing ninth at the Genesis Invitational last time out. On top of this, he tends to wel at PGA National, finishing third here last season, posting an additional top-20 back in 2018.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Matt Jones (+5000)
Matt Jones will be eager to get off to a good start as he bids to defend his title, and good starts at PGA National are something that he’s capable of. The man who finished 15th last week has held the lead after round one at this tournament one before, while he’s also been inside the top five on two other occasions at the close of play on the first day, so don’t be surprised if you see the Aussie’s name lurking around at the top on Thursday.
The Big Hero
Underdog with chances to win.
Rickie Fowler (+7000)
It seems strange to be filing Rickie Fowler under this category, but such is the game of golf. It’s been a while since Fowler seriously contended, though there have been signs of life in recent times, while this is a tournament that the Californian has done well in previously. The number four player in the field in terms of strokes gained: total at PGA National over the last five seasons, Fowler has a win and three top-ten finishes to his name here.
As was the case at Riviera last week, it’s going to be tough this week. PGA National isn’t a course that’s easily tamed, and players probably won’t be able to simply go out there and rip it. Accuracy off the tee will be very helpful, while those who want to thrive must hit lots of greens in regulation. With lots of top players out, this is an opportunity for someone like Billy Horschel to show his class, and the man from Florida, in his home state, is fancied to do just that.