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The PGA Tour starts the Florida Swing Thursday when the 2023 Honda Classic tees off at the PGA National Champion course in Palm Beach.
New No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) — Jon Rahm — won last week’s 2023 Genesis Invitational by strokes over Max Homa (No. 8 in the OWGR).
Last week’s Genesis Invitational was terrible for yours truly, losing -5.98 units (u). I needed Collin Morikawa to go 4-under in the final three holes of the event to minimize the damage.
My 2022-23 PGA Tour betting balance fell to +22.76 units out of 15 events handicapped this season. The grading of my 2023 Genesis Invitational bet slip is at the bottom of this post.
Before we diving into the Honda Classic card, we’ll go over tourney details, do a brief course breakdown and I’ll give me key performance indicators (KPIs).
Heads Up: DraftKings Sportsbook is offering a cool promotion where you can get a +300 odds boost onto any golfer to win the 2023 Honda Classic ($50 maximum bet).
Honda Classic Intel and KPIs
The PGA National Champion Course is a Par 70 that plays to 7,125 yards. It has four Par 3s, two Par 5s, 12 Par 4s. PGA National is famous for The Bear Trap, a notoriously difficult three-hole stretch from 15-17.
This is perhaps the most difficult course on the PGA Tour outside of the majors. The average winning score of the last five Hondas is 9-under, the average cut line is 3-over par and the average winning odds are +9900.
Only eight of the top 50 players in the OWGR will tee it up this week. Sungjae Im is the highest-ranked golfer in the field (18th in the OWGR) and the favorite to win the Honda Classic at +900 odds.
Im is the 2020 Honda Classic champion, the 1st of Sungjae’s two career PGA Tour victories. Reigning Honda Classic champion Sepp Straka returns to defend his title and ranks 31st in the OWGR.
Previous Honda Classic winners
- 2022: Sepp Straka -10 (+12500)
- 2021: Matt Jones -12 (+8000)
- 2020: Sungjae Im -6 (+3000)
- 2019: Keith Mitchell -9 (+25000)
- 2018: Justin Thomas -8 (+1000)
- Other Florida Swing courses.
- Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando: Arnold Palmer Invitational.
- TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach: THE PLAYERS Championship.
- Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor: Valspar Championship.
- Harbour Town Golf Links: RBC Heritage.
- TPC Southwind: FedEx St. Jude Championship.
- Muirfield Village Golf Club: the Memorial Tournament.
- Riviera Country Club: Genesis Invitational.
KPIs pulled (over the last 50 rounds aside from putting)
- Driving accuracy.
- Strokes Gained (SG): Approach (APP).
- SG: Ball-Striking (BS).
- Par 4 scoring.
- Par 3 scoring.
- Bogey Avoidance.
- Greens-in-Regulation (GIRs) Gained.
- SG: Putting on Bermuda greens (over the last 24 rounds).
Honda Classic ‘horses for the course’
- All stats are provided by FantasyNational.com unless noted.
I almost never bet this guy and I passed on Will Zalatoris at the same odds last week (+3500). Zalatoris is 7th in the OWGR. Vegas is 136th.
That gives you an idea how weak this Honda Classic field is. Vegas opened at +4500 and is down to +3500. This is encouraging because I doubt square money is betting Vegas.
Jhonattan has gained strokes off-the-tee (OTT) in 11 straight events and has an above-average driving accuracy in four of his last five events, per DataGolf.com. Three of those four courses had difficult fairways to hit.
One of those venues was TPC Southwind for the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship, which is the only course with more balls hit into water hazards than PGA National since 2003.
Also, Vegas is 1st in this field for SG: OTT over his last 50 rounds at the four Florida Swing golf courses and 5th in total SG. He finished T3 in the 2019 PLAYERS and 7th in 2012 and 4th in the 2013 Honda Classic.
Putting is Vegas’s biggest weakness but Bermuda grass is his best putting surface and he’s gained strokes on the greens in three of the last four Honda Classics.
Vegas is +4.5 SG: T2G over his last five events. He ranks 3rd in this field for SG: BS over the last 50 rounds and 4th in SG: APP.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Jhonattan Vegas odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +3500)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +750)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +360)
- Top-20: (0.75u: +170)
My model shows value on Horschel. He’s 6th in both my Honda Classic power rankings and KPI-model and Horschel (+3000) has the 9th-best odds.
Horschel was +2200 at last year’s Honda Classic. Granted, he was playing much better entering that event. But, this year’s field is much stronger.
Last year’s Honda Classic was pre-LIV Tour defections so Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, and Patrick Reed played in that event.
Currently, Horschel is tied with three golfers in odds in to win this year’s Honda. Three of the golfers with better odds than Horschel have never even won on the PGA Tour.
Horschel won the 2022 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club, which is a comp course to PGA National. Muirfield is top-4 in courses with balls hit into water hazards since 2003, behind PGA National.
In fact, Horschel is 3rd in this field for total SG at comp courses pulled behind two golfers who’ve won majors in Shane Lowry and Webb Simpson.
Billy Ho plays well in the Florida Swing because he’s a Florida Man who graduated from the University of Florida. Horschel is 2nd in SG: Putting over his last 50 rounds at the Florida Swing courses.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Billy Horschel odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +3000)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +650)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +320)
- Top-20: (0.75u: +150)
There are 15 holes with water hazards in play at PGA National so you have to be accurate OTT and approaching the greens. Buckley is 5th in this field for driving accuracy and 2nd in GIRs Gained.
Furthermore, Buckley is 5th in both SG: BS and SG: Par 4 over the past 50 rounds and 5th in total SG over the last 24 rounds. He has four T20’s or better in 10 PGA Tour events this season.
Buckley finished a respectable T29 at the Waste Management (WM) Phoenix Open earlier this month. The WM is an “elevated event” with a stacked field that World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler won.
Last month, Buckley finished 2nd at the 2023 Sony Open when event winner Si Woo Kim fired a final round 64 to beat Buckley by 1 stroke. The Sony Open is played at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Waialae is also a par 70 less than 7,200 yards with Bermuda greens and water hazards. Now that I think about it, I should’ve included Waialae in my comp courses.
This is Buckley’s 2nd year on Tour and he had a solid rookie season. He was overshadowed last year by Sahith Theegala, Mito Pereira, and PGA Tour 2021-23 Rookie of the Year, Cameron Young.
I’m betting Buckley will contend in this weaker field because his game fits the PGA National course and Buckley has the 2nd-best scoring average in this field on the PGA Tour this season.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Hayden Buckley odds:
- Win: (0.25u: +6000)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +1200)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +550)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +240)
He is one of the longest golfers OTT on the PGA Tour. Pendrith gained 18.4 yards OTT vs. the field average at the 2022 Honda Classic and was 5% more accurate OTT, per DataGolf.com.
Three of Pendrith’s four rounds at the 2022 Honda Classic were under par. Pendrith finished T25 because he struggled putting and lost 1.1 strokes on the greens in last year’s Honda Classic.
But, he has picked up 2.6 strokes on the greens per tourney in his last five events. Pendrith is +SG: Putting in eight PGA Tour events since last season and has finished T15 or better in five of them.
Pendrith is 10th in my Honda Classic power rankings and has the 13th-best odds. He is 6th in this field for SG: BS, 9th in PROX: 175-200, 8th in GIRs Gained, and 6th in Par 4 Efficiency 450-500.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Taylor Pendrith odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +3500)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +750)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +360)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +175)
Honda Classic Final Bet Slip
- Jhonattan Vegas: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (2u)
- Billy Horschel: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1.75u)
- Hayden Buckley: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1.25u)
- Taylor Pendrith: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1.5u)
2023 Genesis Invitational Recap (-5.98 units)
- Collin Morikawa, finished T6: (+0.55u) 💰
- Wins: Top-10
- Losses: Outright & Top-5
- Xander Schauffele, finished T33: Win, Top-5, & Top-10 (-2u) ❌
- Sungjae Im, finished T56: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (-2u) ❌
- Si Woo Kim, MC: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (-1u) ❌
- Tiger Woods, finished T45: (+0.25u)💰
- Win: “Make the Cut”
- Loss: Outright
- Adam Hadwin > Taylor Montgomery (+1u) 💰
- Tom Kim > Tyrrell Hatton (-1.1u) ❌
- Shane Lowry, finshed T14: Win & Top-10 (-0.625u) ❌
- Viktor Hovland > Justin Thomas in R3 (-1.05u) ❌
Check out the Hot Links golf gambling show hosted by Geoff Clark on the OutKick Bets podcast feed. New episodes drop Tuesdays for all full-field PGA Tour events in the 2022-23 season.
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
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