The Honda Classic Golf Preview
From the West Coast to the East Coast, the PGA Tour moves to the ‘Florida Swing’ with the Honda Classic at PGA National as the first stop.
One of the tour’s mainstays, the tournament began in 1972 as Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic. Honda has sponsored the tournament since 1982. The field of 144 players tee off on Thursday, and the top 65 and ties play on the weekend, with the winner crowned on Sunday evening.
Nearly seven years since his first PGA Tour victory, Australian golfer Matt Jones torched the field and picked up his second win at last year’s Honda Classic. Jones bested the competition by five strokes, shooting a 12-under and tying the lowest four-day score since Rickie Fowler finished at 12-under in 2017.
The winner of the tournament receives 500 FedEx Cup points and $1.44 million of the 8 million dollar purse. The purse total jumped $1 million from last year’s 2021 total.
The Champions Course - PGA National
If you are a fan of challenging courses and scores near par, then this week’s tournament venue is for you. Known as one of the most demanding courses on tour, The Champions Course at PGA National is a par-72 that stretches 7,045 yards with water in play on almost every hole. A Tom Fazio design, the course opened in 1981 and underwent updates from Jack Nicklaus in 1990 and 2014.
PGA National has hosted the Honda Classic since 2007 and features one of the toughest three-hole stretches on tour. The ‘Bear Trap’ runs through holes 15-17 and played at 230 over par last year.
Honda Classic Playing Field
With a star-studded field last week at the Genesis Invitational, many of the top players in the game are taking the week off to prepare for some significant upcoming tournaments. Twelve of the top-50 players in the world are in the field, led by world no. 13 Louis Oosthuizen. Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, Daniel Berger, and Billy Horschel round out the players ranked inside the top-25.
Five past winners of the tournament are in the field. Joining Jones are Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell, Padraig Harrington, and Rickie Fowler. Harrington is a two-time winner of the tournament, and his 2015 victory was his last on tour.
Chase Koepka, Brook’s brother, tees it up this week on a sponsor exemption. Also receiving a sponsor exemption and making his PGA Tour debut is Nicolai Hojgaard, a 20-year-old two-time winner on the DP World Tour.
Honda Classic Betting Preview
The weaker field provides bettors with ample opportunity to target some players. Past tournament winners and players with historical success at PGA National are at the top of the odds board.
Sungjae Im (+1000) is the pre-tournament favorite. The 23-year old picked up his first PGA Tour victory here in 2020 and followed up that performance with an eighth place tie last year. Im has five finishes of tied for eleventh or better this year, picking up a win at the Shriners last fall.
Tommy Fleetwood (+1400) sits behind Im. The 31-year old is still looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour but finished fourth (2018) and third (2020) in two previous starts here. Fleetwood has a great chance to join the expanding list of first-time winners on tour this year.
Louis Oosthuizen (+1600) can gra b his first victory on American soil this week. The 2010 Open Championship winner has just a pair of top-25 finishes here in six tries. Koepka (+2000) is down the list with not much historical success at this tournament to give a bettor confidence.
Past winners Mitchell (+3500) and Jones (+5000) provide good value if they can recreate the magic this week. Mitchell won here in 2019, his first and only PGA Tour victory.
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