The Honda Classic, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
The next stop on the PGA Tour is the PGA National at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida which will be host to the Honda Classic. The PGA National is one of the toughest holes on the Tour and consistently challenges golfers every single year. The 7100 yard Par 70 was originally designed by George and Tom Fazio was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990 which is when the famous ‘Bear Trap’ came into existence.
This sequence of three holes, the 16th, 17th, and the 18th consistently plays among the toughest stretches on Tour and the golfers will be required to get through this relatively unscathed to remain in contention for the win.
The wind is always a factor here as well and average winds can range from 10-20 mph with gusts of more to factor as well. The fairways are short and hard to hit but the rough is not too deep. There is water on 16 of the holes and over a hundred bunkers littered to make life difficult for the players.
Rickie Fowler is the defending champion, Adam Scott won it in 2016, Padraig Harrington in 2015, and Russell Henley in 2014.
Players that are accurate with their driving, putt well, and can adjust the flight of their irons according to the wind will be the ones that thrive on this course. The greens are all Bermuda Grass and generally play fast but they are always pristine and true, something that the golfers like. The tee times which players get can also play a huge role in the outcome because weather conditions are such a big part of the equation.
While Driving Distance is not a very big factor this week, there are two gettable Par 5’s where distance off the tee will definitely play a part.
Stats that Matter
The Wolf is looking at the following categories to help narrow down some potential candidates for this week.
– Ball Striking
– Par 4 Scoring
– Strokes Gained: Putting
Players that play well on Bermuda Grass, current form, and experience of playing at this course should also be factored in while making your bets. Rickie Fowler won in 2017 with -12, Adam Scott had -9 in 2016, Padraig Harrington had -6 in 2015, and Russell Henley -8 in 2014. Fowler was 12th in Driving Distance, 17th in Driving Accuracy, and 2nd in Strokes Gained: Putting when he won last year.
The Wolf’s favorite to win this tournament is Sergio Garcia at $17.00. While this may be the first tournament that Sergio Garcia is playing on the PGA Tour this season, he has been doing well in Europe and therefore is not out of touch with golf. Sergio also has the perfect game to succeed in these tough conditions.
He is very accurate with his irons and plays really well in the wind. He can also get some good distance off the tee when he needs to and should be able to make full use of the driveable Par 5’s. Sergio has played this tournament 7 times in the past and made the cut every single time. His best finish was a 2nd place in 2016 and he has another three top-15 finishes at this course as well.
For the value pick, the Wolf likes Alex Noren at $26.00. Like Garcia, Noren is also another player that is very adept at playing in tough, windy conditions. His last three tournaments have yielded a top-10 and two top-30 finishes.
Alex Noren is 37th in Ball Striking, 44th in Par 4 Scoring, and 40th in Scrambling. The only thing that Noren lacks is past success at the PGA National. He played the tournament in 2013 and missed the cut but that is not something that deters the Wolf from picking him. Alex Noren is in excellent form and a completely different level from where he was a few years ago.
For the long shot, the Wolf likes Russell Knox at $41.00. Knox is very accurate and tends to hit the fairways on most occasions. He is not the longest off the tee and that could actually be an advantage on this course since he will not have to club down like some of the others.
Knox is 6th in Ball Striking, 22nd in Par 4 Scoring, and 107th in Scrambling. If Knox can get some early momentum then this could be a course where he really comes through. Past experience and success at this course also make Russell Knox a smart pick in the Wolf’s opinion. He finished 2nd here in 2014, 3rd in 2015, and 26th in 2016.
Tournament By Country
72 Hole Match Bets