Betting news, trends, odds and predictions for from various handicappers and websites for Wednesday 2/27/19
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PGA Tour Betting Preview
PGA National Resort and Spa – Par 70 – 7,158 yards
After a loaded WGC field turned into the DJ vs Rory show for the bulk of the week last week, this week the PGA Tour heads to Florida for the Honda Classic. There aren't as many top overall guys in the field, but being an event that Jack Nicklaus is a big part of makes this stop a popular one on tour still.
With Nicklaus' most recent involvement in redesigning this course spawning the “Bear Trap” - holes 15-17 – this closing stretch of holes on the weekend makes an already tough course tougher. Only three times in the 12 years of playing this event at PGA National have we seen the eventual winner reach double-digits under par, and it only happened once since the 2014 redesign. That was back in 2017 when Rickie Fowler was able to pull away from the pack and win by 4 shots at -12, as typically this winner is decided by a stroke or two.
Having water in play on a large majority (13) of the holes here will see some big numbers get written down this week, as guys are left trying to avoid the big numbers more than going as low as they can in this event. There is just so much trouble, so much to think about, and so many visual reminders of trouble on this course that it's a daunting test both physically and mentally.
Accuracy with every club and knocking down a few putts will get guys to the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, and length with that accuracy doesn't hurt either. The last three winners of this event – Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and Adam Scott – all can hold their own in terms of length off the tee, and when you add Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy's names to that list of past winners here this decade, length, a hot putter, and maybe even some Major championship winning experience is what you should be looking for.
So here are the three guys I'm backing this week as hopefully we get all three of them in contention on the weekend and not just one of them like Patrick Cantlay last week.
Odds per - Sportsbetting.ag
Golfers to Watch
Brooks Koepka (10/1) – Tough not to like at least one guy at/near the top of the odds list and for me that's Koepka this week. Brooks has all the necessary skills to get it done at a course like this, and it's surprising his course history here is what it is.
Koepka's had a 26th, 33rd, 51st, and MC at this event since the 2014 playing of it, and maybe skipping this Tour stop last year was exactly what he needed to reset for an event like this. With this being the start of the “Florida Swing” and plenty of water-bound courses like TPC Sawgrass up ahead, the “big-game” hunter in Koepka will look to make a run at the Honda this week.
We saw last year in Koepka's best performances (Majors), he can be deadly with the irons, get scorching hot with the putter, and his length/accuracy combination off the tee is one of the best in the world right now. Since good friend Dustin Johnson was able to beat the loaded field last week, Koepka is the type of guy you know will want to respond.
The price as a favorite may not be the best out there, but Brooks is deserving of it, and if he can keep his golf ball away from all the water, he could be the next big name that adds this title to his resume.
Alex Noren (40/1) – Noren's lone appearance at this event since the 2014 changes was last year and you'd have to say he liked what he saw with his 3rd place finish.
Noren is a guy that's yet to break through with a Major win despite being ranked highly in the world for a few years now, but he's a long, accurate guy, that just needs to see his putter get hot to have a shot. Tournaments where you don't need to go ultra-low like this one is fit more of Noren's style, and last year it was just one bad round (75 in the 2nd round) that had him missing out on the playoff.
Rekindling that magic may be tough, but at these odds, he's a very consistent ball striker that should be one of the best at avoiding the big number this week. Sometimes that alone will have you in contention here, and should Noren's flatstick get hot at the right time, maybe this is the week for him.
Lucas Glover (40/1) – Glover is a guy that can get lost in the shuffle when you talk about the longest hitters on Tour, but he's been in that conversation for years now, and in half of his starts here it's paid off. Glover has a 4th, 17th, and 21st place finishes here in six starts, along with three MC's, so it's all about what Glover you get this week. If you get the one that currently ranks 45th or better on Tour this year in all Strokes Gained categories outside of putting, than Glover will be on the first few pages of the leaderboard at some point this weekend.
Glover is a guy that's improved so many aspects of his game in recent years – most specifically consistency throughout – and while his putting has improved, it's still the weak link in his game. But those 17th and 21st place finishes here came in each of the past two seasons, and coming off a 7th place finish the last time he teed it up, Glover's confidence/current form isn't something to be concerned with either.
Honda Classic - per Sportsbetting.ag
Justin Thomas 5/1
Brooks Koepka 10/1
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Gary Woodland 12/1
Adam Scott 16/1
Sergio Garcia 16/1
Webb Simpson 22/1
Cameron Smith 25/1
Byeong Hun An 33/1
Daniel Berger 33/1
Luke List 33/1
Alex Noren 40/1
Emiliano Grillo 40/1
Lucas Glover 40/1
Michael Thompson 40/1
Russell Knox 40/1
Scott Piercy 40/1
J T Poston 50/1
Jason Kokrak 50/1
Matt Wallace 50/1
Zach Johnson 50/1
Charl Schwartzel 66/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 66/1
Patton Kizzire 66/1
Russell Henley 66/1
Sung-Jae Im 66/1
Trey Mullinax 66/1
Dylan Frittelli 80/1
Graeme McDowell 80/1
Jim Furyk 80/1
Chesson Hadley 100/1
Chris Stroud 100/1
Harold Varner III 100/1
Martin Kaymer 100/1
Ryan Palmer 100/1
Scott Langley 100/1
Talor Gooch 100/1
Wyndham Clark 100/1
Austin Cook 125/1
Bill Haas 125/1
Brendan Steele 125/1
Bud Cauley 125/1
Chris Kirk 125/1
Curtis Luck 125/1
Jimmy Walker 125/1
Joaquin Niemann 125/1
Kevin Streelman 125/1
Kevin Tway 125/1
Matt Jones 125/1
Nick Watney 125/1
Ollie Schniederjans 125/1
Padraig Harrington 125/1
Patrick Rodgers 125/1
Sam Burns 125/1
Scott Brown 125/1
Stewart Cink 125/1
Joel Dahmen 150/1
Max Homa 150/1
Peter Uihlein 150/1
Robert Streb 150/1
Roberto Castro 150/1
Sepp Straka 150/1
Shawn Stefani 150/1
Tom Hoge 150/1
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The best of the best were in Mexico for the WGC-Mexico Championship. As the PGA Tour moves back stateside, the field is quite a bit weaker as we look at how things set up for the Honda Classic. This event kicks off the Florida swing at PGA National and begins a run of four straight events in the Sunshine State before the next WGC event in Texas.
While this event does have a noticeable lack of star power without Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, and last week’s winner, Dustin Johnson, this is a still a decent field at the top and there are some intriguing price grabs in the middle.
Feeling Out the Field
Justin Thomas is looking to repeat as champion and is a pretty clear favorite to do it at +510. Rickie Fowler is +945 this week, as he searches for his second win of the season. He was victorious at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and it would certainly behoove him to play well leading up to the Masters so he can get that major monkey off of his back.
Brooks Koepka is +1225, with Adam Scott at +1400, Sergio Garcia at +1600, and then Gary Woodland at +1900. Webb Simpson is +2200 and Cameron Smith is +2500. After that, there are no players at less than +4000 early in the week.
That sort of speaks to the field. Without those usual 20 to 30/1 guys in the mix, the sportsbooks are going to try and spread their risk by offering a smaller range of prices on players in the next group. The players in the next group aren’t exactly consistent. If one of the shorter prices doesn’t win here, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see somebody in the 80/1 or triple-digit range come through.
The problem with that thought process is that the last three winners have been Thomas, Fowler, and Scott. Padraig Harrington won back in 2015 for his second career win in this event. Russell Henley won in 2014 and he is +7000.
Playing PGA National
This is a par 70 that comes in around 7,150 yards on a good day. The Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens has hosted this event every year since 2007 and is one of the more unforgiving courses on the tour circuit. Thomas needed extra holes last year to best Luke List after shooting 8-under through 72 holes. Fowler won by four shots in 2017 at 12-under. The only other winners in double-digits at PGA National since 2007 are Rory in 2012 at 12-under and Camilo Villegas’s event record at 13-under in 2010.
This is a wide-open layout for the most part that looks like a traditional Florida course. Bunkers and water hazards come into play on most of the holes and wind can be a major factor, especially with The Bear Trap on holes 15 through 18. The Jack Nicklaus re-design took a course that was already a challenge and enhanced it even more.
Some of the pin locations are downright unfair at this course, especially with sloped greens and winds generally pushing the ball towards the back of the hole.
It really isn’t a surprise that a lot of top players bypass this event. It is a good chance to get a break before the Arnold Palmer and the PLAYERS and also a course that probably isn’t worth the frustration.
We’ve talked a lot about Horse for Course plays in golf this year. There aren’t many at PGA National. This is such a challenging course that playing well here year in and year out is not easy. Even reigning champ Justin Thomas, who was third in 2016, missed the cut in 2017 at 1-over.
Luke List, who lost on the first playoff hole to Thomas last season, has a similar look. He was runner-up last year, T-52 in 2017, and 10th in 2016. List doesn’t have a win here like Thomas, but he was playing pretty well until the final round in 2017 when he finished with a 76. He was 4-under heading into the weekend. The 40/1 price isn’t great on the 34-year-old, but he is third in strokes gained off the tee behind Rory and Bubba Watson. He’s 12th in strokes gained total and 10th in strokes gained tee-to-green. He’s probably my favorite play of the weekend.
Billy Horschel shot 74-74 and missed the cut last year, but he had a couple of top-10 finishes at PGA National prior to that. His recent returns at this course are baked into the price this week at +4000. This is why it’s important to handicap. There is no reason for Horschel, despite the success two years ago, to be priced the same as List. He is a University of Florida grad and a Florida native, but he’s also 107th in strokes gained total and has struggled off the tee. He has putted fairly well, so there’s that.
There is a good reason why Adam Scott is +1225. He’s got three straight top-15 finishes here, including a win back in 2016. He was 14th in 2017 and 13th last year. Scott also has three top-10 finishes this season already, including a runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open and a seventh at the Genesis Open.
Luke List certainly stands out this week at 40/1 as the best bet on the board. It is hard to ignore Justin Thomas, even at the short price, with the weakness of this field. Another player worth considering this week is Scott Langley at 150/1. Langley leads the tour in strokes gained putting. He’s not a long hitter, but he’s played very well around the greens and on the putting surface. That goes a long way at PGA National because everybody is dealing with tough wind conditions and pin placements. Langley played very well at Pebble Beach, so wind may not bother him.
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