The PGA Tour moves a little further South to West Palm Beach, just above Miami, for the Honda Classic. It’s not as big a tournament as we’ve seen in recent weeks but still interesting, in what looks a very open betting heat in the Sunshine State.
Honda Classic: The Tournament
The Honda Classic started out in 1972 as “Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic” and has been a regular feature on tour ever since (usually as the lead event in the “Florida Swing” before recent calendar reshuffles). The event has been played in several locations around the state during its 49-year history, but has been at the current venue, Palm Beach Gardens, since 2007. Not the most prestigious tournament in this section of the calendar, but one that always draw a great interest from the abundance of pro golfers who make Florida their home base.
Honda Classic: The Course
We’re at the PGA National Champion course located in West Palm Beach, just up the coast from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. It’s a par-70 course which measures 7,140 yards. Originally opened in 1981, the facility was later re-designed by Jack Nicklaus, whose name is checked on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes, known as “The Bear Trap”!
It’s now a tougher course with plenty of water hazards and bunkers to catch out the players. Recent winning scores have been between 6-under and 13-under-par.
264: Justin Leonard (2003).
61: Brian Harman (2012)
Honda Classic: Past Winners
2020: Sungjae Im
2019: Keith Mitchell
2018: Justin Thomas
2017: Rickie Fowler
2016: Adam Scott
2015: Padraig Harrington
Honda Classic: The Field
A standard PGA Tour line-up in Florida this week. Rory McIlroy is the $23 favourite with TopSport.
Honda Classic: The Weather
A mixed bag in terms of rain with a 20% – 50% – 10% – 40% chance of precipitation over the foursdays. Temperatures though will be high, with the mercury touching the low 80’s on the first three days. The wind will be at its worst on Thursday, gusting to 20mph, but tailing off as the tournament progresses.
Honda Classic: Outright Value Bets
These are two value bets from the Golf Insider. Members receive all of his best bets for all markets – win and each-way, Top 10, Top 20, Round 1 Leader and 3-Ball groups. He covers every tournament on the PGA and European Tours.
Adam Long – each-way (currently $65 with Betfair)
My gut feeling is this week’s tournament won’t take a lot of winning. By that I mean, after a couple of high profile tournaments, this week’s field has a very average look to it. There’s not a huge amount to fear at the top of the market, and as a result any number of players further down the lists will fancy their chances. Long is a previous winner on tour, and a player who should thrive under these less stressful conditions. A poor run of form through February and early March, where he missed four cuts on the bounce, was ended with a solid effort at the Players Championship (22nd) where Long hit the ball much better. Prior to that he’d posted Top 10’s in similar low-key events (3rd Mayakoba Classic, 5th Puntacana Corales), and Top 20’s in the Houston Open and the re-scheduled US Open. I’m not staking big on Long, or any of this week’s bets, but he’s certainly been pushed out too far by the layers and is definite value against this week’s modest field.
Matthew NeSmith – Top 20 (currently $5 with TopSport)
NeSmith continues to rank highly in my ratings and, as such, given this week’s line-up, I’m happy to back him again (to small stakes). He’s another very accomplished tee-to-green performer, and overlooking a couple of missed cuts in recent weeks, his previous finishes of 20-16-7 read very well in terms of this week’s tournament. I read somewhere that putting might not be as crucial a factor this week. If this proves the case, the pressure will be taken off NeSmith, who has had his struggles with the flatstick. But his Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green numbers overall read very well. Like all my bets this week, I see no reason why NeSmith can’t challenge in a tournament where the list of potential winners is far longer than most events we’ll see.
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