PGA Hot Picks for The Honda Classic (2021)

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The PGA Tour stays in Florida this week for the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach. The PLAYERS Championship last week saw Justin Thomas surge from behind on the weekend to become the second player ever to register wins in a WGC event, a Players, a major and 10 total wins before the age of 28.

Tiger Woods was the first to do it and the so far the only other golfer to accomplish all of those feats at such a young age. With the WGC Match Play and the Masters on the horizon, the Honda Classic field is a little diluted this week, with many talented golfers taking the week off. That being said, there is a ton of betting value on the board this week.

Course Breakdown and Weather

PGA National is a par-70 layout that measures at around 7,140 yards and plays about as difficult as any non-major Tour stop. There is water on almost every hole, providing plenty of chances for chaos throughout the weekend. Golfers will likely play conservatively on Thursday and Friday, but on the weekend if they push the envelope at all it could backfire on them in a big way.

Please Note:
Wind is supposed to have gusts up to 25 mph on Thursday and Sunday, which will make this course play incredibly difficult. Wind has played a large part in why the winner of this tournament has broken 10-under just once in the past eight years. PGA National plays much like TPC Sawgrass and golfers who have had success in The PLAYERS tend to have it carry over here. There is a premium placed on precise iron play and putting well since distance off the tee box is neutralized by the course. It should be sunny throughout the tournament, with potential for rain early on Friday morning, but it should not delay play for more than a few hours at most.

The Favorites

A slightly diluted field this week still sees some big names at the top of the odds board, including , Sungjae Im (+1200), Lee Westwood (+1800), Joaquin Niemann (+2200), and Adam Scott (+2500).

Despite all those others, the first name to look at as the best bet to win this week is Shane Lowry (+3000), who finished with a 69-68 weekend finish to collect an eight-place finish at TPC Sawgrass.

The reigning Open champion has mentioned he has been experimenting with his putting grip over the past few months and it appears that he has finally found what works for him. Not to mention, he lives five minutes from PGA National so this week will be a home game for him, much like Max Homa’s win at Riviera in February.

The next name to consider among the favorites this week is the 2014 winner of this event, Russell Henley (+3500). Henley is fantastic with his irons at this course, as evidenced by the fact that he has five top-25s in eight appearances. Henley struggled last week with a missed cut, but that is his only his third MC in his last 16 events.

The Bets
Shane Lowry
+3000
Russell Henley
+3500

Best Value Plays

The middle tier this week features big names such as Rickie Fowler (+4500) and Florida native Sam Burns (+4500). But with neither of them playing particularly well at the moment, the first name to look at in this group is Doug Ghim (+5500). Ghim was right in the thick of things early on Sunday at The PLAYERS before a quadruple bogey on hole No. 7 derailed his final round.

Ghim shot a 78 to finish outside of the top 20, but as a young golfer he should be able to put that in his rear-view mirror this week. Ghim recorded a top five earlier this season at the American Express and should feel more comfortable against a weaker field this week. The next golfer worth a bet is Matt Wallace (+5500). He took last week off, but collected a top-20 finish two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Wallace ranks 12th on shots gained via approach this season according to pgatour.com, which is the most important metric at PGA National. If Wallace can get hot with his putter, there is no reason he cannot find himself in contention deep into the weekend.

The Bets
Doug Ghim
+5500
Matt Wallace
+5500

Top-10 Plays

The best top-ten play for this week is Kevin Streelman (+550). Streelman missed the cut last week at TPC Sawgrass, but that was largely due to large numbers on a few holes that he was unable to recover from.

Courses that put a premium on iron play have been where Streelman has found success in the past, including in wins at River Highlands and Innisbrook.

He also has multiple top-ten finishes at such storied courses as Pebble Beach and will not be fazed if he finds himself in contention on the weekend.

The Bets
Kevin Streelman Top-Ten Finish

The Longshots

When an event sees a lack of top players in the world, it is the perfect time to add some longshots to your wagering card. The first name to look at is former Masters champion Zach Johnson at 80-1. Johnson finished tied for 41st last week following an opening-round 75 that prevented him from getting in the mix.

Johnson is one of the shorter hitters on the Tour, meaning he will be happy to play PGA National this week. Johnson ranks 11th on the Tour this season in strokes gained via putting, according to pgatour.com. His putter should help him with par saves throughout the week to grind out the four days and very possibly pull the longshot upset. At 80-1, it’s worth risking a buck or two anyway. The next longshot worth a bet is Henrik Norlander at 90-1.

Norlander has two top-10 finishes this season, including a runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open. His approach game is his best skill, but his putting is wildly inconsistent. As is common with longshot bets, Norlander will have to get hot with his putter this week but at 90-1 it is worth taking a golfer capable of winning the tournament.

The Bets
Zach Johnson
+8000
Henrik Norlander
+9000

Matchup Play of the Week

The matchup play of the week is Brandon Wu over Aaron Wise (-115). Wu is a Korn Ferry Tour regular who earned his spot in the field this week with a T-7 at the Puerto Rico Open. He has finished 14th or better in each of his last five Korn Ferry starts, including a win and a pair of runner-ups. Wu also ranks second in greens in regulation on the Korn Ferry, which will benefit him greatly this week.

Please Note:
Wu’s matchup opponent, Aaron Wise, utilizes his length off the tee to score well and with that being neutralized at PGA National, it is likely he misses the cut.

Wise is inconsistent and has trouble limiting damage on holes that tend to gone wrong off the teebox. Wise is going to be all over the place this week and Wu is consistent enough to finish inside the top 30, which makes him a great matchup play this week.

The Bets
Brandon Wu over Aaron Wise

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.