After a fantastic week down in Mexico for the 2nd WGC event of the year, the PGA Tour now heads to the PGA National Resort & Spa for the annual Honda Classic! As usual, we have a full preview and betting tips for the event below.
With the WGC event wrapping up on Sunday and two big weeks of PGA Tour action coming up with the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players to follow, the field for the Honda Classic is predictably, pretty light for talent.
Most of the top players in the world will see this as a good opportunity to get a valuable rest in before major season gets underway.
The No.2 ranked player in the world, Brooks Koepka, will be in action after missing the WGC event last week. Koepka will be the only player inside the top 10 to tee it up this week, however, there are still some top tier players alongside him at the Honda Classic.
Reigning champion of the Honda Classic, Keith Mitchell, will be back to defend his title, so will former winners of the event in Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington and Russell Henley.
The rest of the top chances for the tournament will be filled out by the likes of Gary Woodland, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Si Woo Kim.
The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa is a 7,125 yard, Par 70 that is annually ranked amongst the hardest courses on the PGA Tour. It’s signature three hole run named ‘The Bear Trap’ stretches from hole 15-17 is one of the toughest tests in all of golf.
The stretch earned it’s name after Jack Nicklaus redesigned the course for the PGA Tour back in 1990. It has hosted the Honda Classic every year since 2007 with the four round record at the Champion Course being set by Columbian Camilo Villegas in his win back in 2010.
Water is in play on 16 of the 18 holes at the Champion Course, so accuracy both off the tee and on approach is absolutely paramount. We will be targeting strong players from tee-to-green and players with high GIR percentages this week.
Brooks is obviously a standout candidate this weekend, but we aren’t sure how serious he’ll be taking this tournament with such a big few weeks coming up. The World No.2 is notoriously flakey in these smaller tournaments so we will be staying away from him this week.
We have our eyes squarely focused on two players here, Harris English and Tommy Fleetwood.
Fleetwood also ranks highly on the GIR percentage category, coming in at 10th place at just over 74% of greens hit in regulation. The Englishman is still yet to record a win on the PGA Tour but hasn’t arguably gotten closer without winning one than anyone playing at the moment.
Fleetwood has played just four tournaments this season and is yet to miss a cut. While his finishes haven’t been as high as you’d expect from the 12th ranked player in the world, we think he is a great chance this weekend due to his strong play from tee-to-green. Fleetwood ranks 10th in shots gained off the tee and 26th on approach to the green.
English ranks 2nd overall on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation percentage this season, with 34 rounds played in total. In those 34 rounds, English has hit the green in regulation over 77% of the time, which has him placed behind only Jim Furyk on the rankings.
English has had a pretty strong start to the PGA Tour season, with a total of nine events including four top ten finishes at the Military Tribute, Sanderson Farms Championship, Houston Open and the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He hasn’t played since the Waste Management Open at the start of the month, but was strong in Phoenix, finishing T16.
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