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The PGA Tour's Florida swing kicks off this week with the Honda Classic at PGA National. Traditionally playing as one of the most difficult courses on a yearly basis, an abundance of double-bogeys is the only guarantee in West Palm Beach.
Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, and Justin Rose headline the 144-man field facing the daunting challenge ahead. The winning score at the Honda Classic lingers around 10-under par, a testament to how hard this course can play, especially if wind speeds pick up.
2019: Keith Mitchell (-9)
2018: Justin Thomas (-8)
2017: Rickie Fowler (-12)
2016: Adam Scott (-9)
2015: Padraig Harrington (-6)
2014: Russell Henley (-8)
|Player||Odds||Best Honda finish|
|Brooks Koepka||12-1||T2 (2019)|
|Tommy Fleetwood||12-1||4th (2018)|
|Rickie Fowler||14-1||1st (2017)|
|Gary Woodland||22-1||T2 (2017)|
|Billy Horschel||25-1||T4 (2017)|
|Justin Rose||25-1||3rd (2010)|
|Louis Oosthuizen||25-1||T21 (2017)|
Koepka shares the betting-favorite position with Tommy Fleetwood, which is somewhat shocking given the latter has yet to win on the PGA Tour.
One could argue Koepka is a fantastic value play at 12-1 in this weak field as he's priced similarly at all four of the 2020 majors. However, he admitted his knee wasn't 100% at his last start in Los Angeles and appears to be trying to regain some rhythm after spending nearly all of the offseason away from golf.
Both Koepka and Fleetwood are avoidable at 12-1, as is Fowler (14-1) even though he won at PGA National in 2017. Fowler simply doesn't win enough tournaments to warrant a price below 20-1.
The 20-1 range is where the favorites section gets interesting. Gary Woodland (22-1), Billy Horschel (25-1), and Rose (25-1) all make enticing options as all three have found success at PGA National in the past. Rose is playing the worst of the group, but that poor recent form is baked into the odds, giving him great value.
Louis Oosthuizen, much like Fleetwood, is an easy fade considering he's never won in North America.
|Player||Odds||Best Honda finish|
|Sungjae Im||28-1||T51 (2019)|
|Byeong Hun An||33-1||T5 (2018)|
|Daniel Berger||33-1||2nd (2015)|
|Shane Lowry||40-1||T49 (2018)|
|Erik Van Rooyen||50-1||N/A|
|J.T. Poston||50-1||T27 (2017)|
|Joaquin Niemann||50-1||T59 (2019)|
Viktor Hovland and Sungjae Im, two of golf's brightest young stars, are deservingly priced at 28-1. Hovland is coming off his first career win at the Puerto Rico Open and Im originally opened at 33-1. It's likely these two young guns will have great weeks at a course both Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas were victorious at before turning 25.
Daniel Berger and Byeong Hun An, both priced at 33-1, have solid history at PGA National but it's Shane Lowry at 40-1 who presents value in this range. If the wind picks up and par becomes a great score, expect the Irishman's game to hold up after a solid ball-striking week in Mexico. Plenty of Open Championship winners have also won at PGA National, including Ernie Els and fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington.
A number of long shots have won the Honda Classic and you don't have to look too hard to find examples. Keith Mitchell hoisted the trophy last year with pre-tournament odds of 225-1. Additonally, Harrington (2015), Russell Henley (2014), and Michael Thompson (2013) were all victorious at PGA National with odds over 200-1.
Before heading too far down the board, Lee Westwood and Russell Knox deserve attention at 80-1. Westwood played well last week in Mexico, and PGA National is a place where he's recorded three top-10 results. Knox came second and third at the Honda Classic in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Here are some long shots worth taking a flier on this week:
Justin Rose (25-1)
If you only look at the names listed in the field, you could argue that Rose is the second-best player in the Honda Classic behind Koepka. However, the Englishman's results haven't been great lately, so you're getting him at a discount in a field he'd typically be priced around 12-1.
Rose finished second to Matt Kuchar at the Singapore Open three weeks ago. After traveling halfway around the world, he missed the cut the following week while defending his title at the Farmers Insurance Open. Let's give him a pass for that. Then, his Genesis Open was derailed by a poor third round with his irons. So, is he really playing that badly?
Now, the former No. 1 is back on Bermuda grass - his preferred surface for putting - for a tournament where he's finished inside the top five in three of his last four appearances. He hasn't played PGA National since missing the cut in 2015 but surely will have good vibes in his return.
Russell Knox (80-1)
Knox is coming off back-to-back missed cuts on the West Coast. Not to make excuses, but those were tournament Nos. 5 and 6 of a six-week stretch of golf, so fatigue likely set in for the Scot.
With a week off to recharge, Knox heads to PGA National with a chance to record his third top-three result at the event since 2014. Before his recent struggles, the 34-year-old was striking the ball beautifully and if that form returns, in combination with difficult scoring conditions in West Palm Beach, Knox can easily contend at odds too good to pass up.
Lee Westwood (80-1)
Westwood is playing some of the best golf of his career at the age of 46. He won four starts ago in a star-studded European Tour event for his second win since November 2018. Last week in Mexico, he lingered near the top of the leaderboard and turned in four straight under-par rounds.
The Englishman is making his first start at the Honda Classic since 2015, which was a tournament he played very well before the long layoff. He's made six consecutive cuts at PGA National, three of which were top-10 showings. The tough scoring conditions play right into Westwood's hands, making him an under-the-radar pick with 80-1 odds.