The Honda Classic: Course Notes, Daily Fantasy Golf Picks, Win Simulations, and Best Bets

The PGA Tour's west coast swing comes to an end with a transition to Palm Beach, Florida for The Honda Classic.

Four straight events will take place in Florida starting this week, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, THE PLAYERS, and the Valspar Championship.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves: what do we need to know about The Honda Classic?

Let's break it all down.

You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.

Course Information and Key Stats
Golfers With Great Course History
Win Simulations
Best Bets
Daily Fantasy Picks

PGA National (Champion) Course Info & Key Stats

Par: 70
Distance: 7,125 (around 80 yards shorter than the average par 70)
Average Green Size: 7,000 square feet (large: around 117% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Bermuda
Stimpmeter: N/A
Past 5 Winning Scores: -12, -6, -9, -8, -12,
Past 5 Cut Lines: +1, +3, +2, +5, E
Key Stats: Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Around the Green, Strokes Gained: Putting, Bogey Avoidance

We're getting a short par 70 this week at PGA National, which has hosted this event since 2007. However, that doesn't mean easy scores. In fact, the past five cutlines have been even-at-best; with the tighter cut lines the past two years, we saw the same.

Before we get ahead of ourselves and note the -12 winning score by Matt Jones a year ago is indicative of anything, runner-up Brandon Hagy was -7, so we should be anticipating something close to 10-under as the winning score.

It's also notable that last year's Honda Classic kicked off about a month later than it will this year (March 18th), and work was done to keep the bermudagrass greens consistent.

Difficult par 3s are a factor in the modest scoring, making it hard to gain strokes with approach shots.

Overall, few stats really jump out as more integral than usual, though we can likely downplay driving accuracy. These fairways rank as some of the widest on Tour and aren't very penal to miss.

The greens, however, are some of the hardest to get to in regulation, so this will test golfers to stick greens, putt well, and get up-and-down when missing.

Golfers With Great Course/Event History

Past winners in the field include Matt Jones (2021), Sungjae Im (2020), Keith Mitchell (2019), Rickie Fowler (2017), Padraig Harrington (2015), Michael Thompson (2013), Rory Sabbatini (2011), and Camilo Villegas (2010).

The following golfers have at least 8 rounds at PGA National with an adjusted strokes gained average of at least 1.0, via DataGolf: Tommy Fleetwood (3.2), Sungjae Im (2.0), Lee Westwood (1.6), Brandon Hagy (1.6), Rickie Fowler (1.5), Luke Donald (1.4), Daniel Berger (1.4), Aaron Wise (1.3), Kramer Hickok (1.3), Matt Jones (1.2), Sam Ryder (1.1), Nick Watney (1.1), and Cheng-Tsung Pan (1.1).

Win Simulations

Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuelSalary Win% Top-10% MadeCut% FanDuelSportsbookWinOdds

Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets

At the top, the betting favorites -- Sungjae Im (+1300), Daniel Berger, (+1600), and Joaquin Niemann (+1600) -- are a bit overrated, with Berger the least so of the three. I like Berger plenty this week, but his withdrawals recently have me hesitant. Im dominates at PGA National, and I'd like him just at longer odds.

Niemann will have to go from an elevated win at Riviera across the country to a weak field and do it all again, so I'm out there from a betting standpoint.

Louis Oosthuizen (+2000), though, is rating out as a betting value. His T14 at the WM Phoenix Open has me feeling good here, too, after his lengthy layoff since November prior.

My model isn't identifying any other outright value until Taylor Moore (+5000), Mackenzie Hughes (+5000), and Kyoung-Hoon Lee (+7000).

With the historical trend of winners -- either favorites or long-shots -- I'm fine skipping over the 30s, and 40s anyway.

The most valuable top-10 bets: Oosthuizen (+290), Berger (+190), Ian Poulter (+850), Patrick Reed (+800), Taylor Moore (+600), Shane Lowry (+320), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+650), and Hughes (+550).

Daily fantasy gamers can note the low cut odds for even the best this week. It's an event to avoid the chalk whenever possible, provided we have viable alternatives.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for The Honda Classic

All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.

Best of the Best

Louis Oosthuizen (FanDuel Salary: $11,600 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +2000) - Oosthuizen returned to golf from his withdrawal at The RSM Classic in November with a T14 at the WM Phoenix Open two weeks ago, which he did by gaining strokes in all four facets. Oosthuizen, then, is ostensibly healthy and good to go. He is a positive bermuda putter and leads the field in strokes gained: fairway through green, which should put him in a position to play well this week.

Keith Mitchell ($10,400 | +3300) - Mitchell is a former winner at The Honda Classic, but he wouldn't exactly qualify with great course history overall (he also has two missed cuts and a 53rd here to his name). However, the current form is there for him. Mitchell has made seven of eight cuts and ranks in the 92nd percentile in adjusted tee to green play in my model.

Others to Consider:
Sungjae Im ($12,000 | +1300) - The chalk this week but great bermuda putter and former champ.
Shane Lowry ($11,300 | +2200) - Three straight top-25s overseas; four straight made cuts at Honda.
Jhonattan Vegas ($10,200 | +4100) - Not an ideal course fit but a better golfer than the salary suggests right now.

Mid-Range Picks

Ian Poulter ($9,600 | +5500) - If we're downplaying driving, then Poulter always gets a bump. In this field this week, that's even truer. Poulter has mixed results both at PGA National and recently but overall sets up as a strong mid-range option, given his skill set. He's tops in combined strokes gained: around the green and putting, and if you throw in iron play into that equation, he's still in the 97th percentile.

Mackenzie Hughes ($9,600 | +6000) - A lot of the reasoning for Poulter applies to Hughes. He's a stellar short-gamer with good bermuda splits. Hughes has four top-25 finishes in eight starts this season. He did miss the cut at the Genesis last week, but this is about as different as it gets in terms of field strength. Hughes has a runner-up and a T36 at PGA National the past two years.

Others to Consider:
Mito Pereira ($9,900 | +4100) - Debutant at PGA National; top-30 in 4 of past 6 starts with missed cuts in the others.
Denny McCarthy ($9,400 | +6000) - God-tier bermuda putter with two top-12s in past three events.
Chris Kirk ($9,600 | +6500) - 95th-percentile tee-to-green game for Kirk; risk/reward type of play right now.

Low-Salaried Picks

Charles Howell ($8,900 | +8000) - Howell is, by far, the best play in the sub-$9,000 range. He rates out in the 86th percentile in tee-to-green play and is more of a bogey-avoider than a birdie-maker. Overall, Howell has some of the best form at PGA National in the field despite not having played here the past three years. Howell's weakness off the tee should matter less this week than usual.

Zach Johnson ($8,800 | +9000) - The leader in strokes gained: fairway through green among those below $9,000, Johnson gets a bump at a course like this (he finished T8 here a year ago). His past two starts have led to a T14 and a T43. Johnson rates in the 95th-percentile in bermuda putting, as well.

Others to Consider:
Brendon Todd ($9,000 | +8000) - Consecutive top-26 finishes; back on bermuda, and driving isn't vital: a Tood-friendly setup.
Patrick Rodgers ($8,300 | +12000) - Three straight missed cuts with poor short game; a bet on a course fit to give us another top-35 here.
Stewart Cink ($8,300 | +12000) - Tons of form at PGA National; has been totally neutral tee-to-green in 2022, though.