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Cognizant Classic betting preview: To Rory, or not to Rory?

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After several close calls to begin the year, we finally got an outright winner over the finish line with Jake Knapp cashing a +4000 ticket. Let's keep the momentum heading into the PGA TOUR's Florida swing.

The Cognizant Classic - formerly named the Honda Classic - is on deck this week from PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. Rory McIlroy headlines the field, but it drops off rather significantly after that in terms of star power. Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Young, and Tom Kim help bolster the remainder of the notables.

The course

  • 7,147 yards, par 71
  • Bermuda grass greens
  • Four par 4s over 450 yards
  • Holes 15-17 are known as the "Bear Trap"
  • Hole 10 was extended 22 yards and converted into a par 5 for 2024

Previous winners

2023: Chris Kirk (-14)
2022: Sepp Straka (-10)
2021: Matt Jones (-12)
2020: Sungjae Im (-6)
2019: Keith Mitchell (-9)
2018: Justin Thomas (-8)
2017: Rickie Fowler (-12)
2016: Adam Scott (-9)

The favorites

Golfer Odds
Rory McIlroy +800
Cameron Young +2000
Russell Henley +2200
Byeong Hun An +2500
Eric Cole +2500
Matt Fitzpatrick +2500

Odds via theScore Bet

The decision in the outright market comes down to one question: To Rory, or not to Rory?

No one would scoff at a decision to back McIlroy at +800, especially at a course where he's a previous winner (2012) and runner-up (2014). To compare prices, he's currently +900 to win the Masters.

With that said, PGA National - like TPC Sawgrass, to a degree - can create variability due to the abundance of water. One mishit can knock a player out of contention. Because of that, it's tough to feel super comfortable with McIlroy at the short price.

Russell Henley is a former winner of this event, but +2200 feels short. The same can be said about Byeong Hun An and Eric Cole, who aren't winners but have solid course history.

If forced to choose from the top, Fitzpatrick would be the selection at +2500. However, that's as short of a price you should be backing based on what's available in the market.

The next tier

Golfer Odds
J.T. Poston +3000
Tom Kim +3000
Daniel Berger +3300
Min Woo Lee +3300
Adam Svensson +3500
Corey Conners +3500
Keith Mitchell +3500
Shane Lowry +3500
Sungjae Im +3500
Chris Kirk +4000
Luke List +4000
Sepp Straka +4000
Stephan Jaeger +4000
Beau Hossler +4500
Jake Knapp +4500

Shane Lowry is the first name that pops out in this section. While his recent form won't blow you away, he did come T25 at the Farmers and gained 1.4 strokes tee to green at the Phoenix Open in his last start. Lowry was a runner-up at this tournament in 2022 and came T5 last year.

Chris Kirk is the defending champion and already has a win this season. His odds being +4000 seems disrespectful, especially compared to Henley's and Cole's.

Keith Mitchell is a former winner at PGA National who should benefit from returning to Bermuda grass. He's rattled off back-to-back top-20 finishes and displayed elite strokes gained: approach numbers in Mexico last week.

Stephan Jaeger has two third-place results in his past three starts. He's missed only one cut in the past year and appears primed to break through with a PGA TOUR victory soon.


Shane Lowry: To win (+3500), top 10 (+345)

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

There's something about Florida golf that Lowry loves, and it's reflected in his previous two years of results in the Sunshine State. He ranks first in strokes gained: total over the past two years in Florida tournaments. He also tends to play better in tougher scoring conditions.

Lowry's competed at PGA National six times and gained over 10 strokes tee to green in his two most recent starts at this event. Expect the Irishman to be comfortable again at a course where many players are very uncomfortable.

Chris Kirk: To win (+4000), top 10 (+400)

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

This is a play on Kirk's price compared to others with a similar profile. Kirk also won a signature event recently in a field with far more talent than the one taking on PGA National this week.

Defending a title is never easy, but it helps when you're defending at a course that suits your game. Kirk's played this tournament 12 times in his career and finished T7 and T25 before his victory. While the odds of defending are small, they're certainly better than his +4000 price tag indicates.

Stephan Jaeger: Top 20 (+190)

Even though Jaeger appears to be heading toward his first PGA TOUR victory, his outright price is still a tad short. Instead, target him in the top-20 market, where he's paying nearly 2-1. Jaeger finished T14 at PGA National last year despite being in far worse form than he is now.

Keith Mitchell: Top 20 (+210)

Alex Goodlett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Mitchell is another player whose outright price of +3500 is a bit shorter than you'd like to see, so pivoting to the top-20 market is a viable alternative.

Mitchell is one of the field's best players on Bermuda grass, ranking eighth in the field in strokes gained: total on Bermuda over the past 100 rounds. He has three top-20 finishes already this season and was third in strokes gained: tee to green last week in Mexico.

Adam Svensson: Top 20 (+215)

Svensson would be an outright bet if his odds were +5000 or above, where he opened this week. But at +3500, we're once again forced into the top-20 market.

The Canadian has been fairly consistent this year, outside of one poor start at Torrey Pines. He's recently placed T10 at the Genesis Invitational - which boasted a loaded field - thanks to gaining 6.9 strokes tee to green.

Svensson has teed it up at PGA National three times, made all three cuts, and came T9 in 2022 despite losing 4.6 strokes on the greens.

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