The nasty weather of the California stretch is finally over, and we’re now onto the potentially nasty weather of the Florida stretch starting with the Honda Classic. PGA National is a true test of a golf course. Whereas the tournament directors last week clearly wanted to make Riviera play a bit easier than it has in the past, there’s not a whole lot they can do to set up PGA National to play any easier no matter what they do. It’s not “long” in the strictest sense of the word, but the combination of coastal winds, water on 16/18 holes, huge Par 4s, and only two Par 5s for scoring opportunities ultimately led to there being only 14 players under par by the end of the event last year – and that was a reasonably “tame” year for the event’s weather.
Expect more of the same this year. There is some reasonable chance of rainfall on Wednesday night/Thursday morning which could soften up conditions a bit more, but Bermuda doesn’t tend to stay soft for long, and nothing is going to stop those winds from generating mayhem out there. The cut line last year was +3, and if the winds pick up, it could easily play even tougher than that.
You need to target true grinders for this event. Seven of the nine holes of the back nine of this golf course played over par, so finding your guys who can power through the wind to make par however they can get it is going to be crucial. It’s a great event to watch, and one of the better non-major tests of golf on the PGA Tour.
Course: PGA National Champions Course
Yardage/Par: Par 70, 7,140 Yards
Scoring Expectation: Low. The winner of Honda has been in the single digits each of the last four years, and given how tricky this golf course can be, I’m not surprised.
Weather: There’s a 100% chance of rain Wednesday night, so expect the golf course to be a bit softer than normal. Keep an eye on it, but we’ve got some pretty strong winds (10-20 mph) forecast for Thursday, so there may be some potential equity gained in stacking AM/PM depending on when the winds are expected to kick up.
Russell Knox ($17,400, Cash or GPP): Knox didn’t dazzle us with his normal tee-to-green dominance at Phoenix, but outside of that blip on the radar, he’s made a great case to be considered among the best in the world. Couple his excellent tee-to-green skills with a clear comfort level on this golf course and you’ve got one of the safest options on the board.
Sergio Garcia ($22,300, GPP): Believe me, I’d love to get Sergio into cash here this week, but at this price, it’s just not going to happen. Either way, Sergio has the entire toolkit necessary to grind it out on this track with some of the best ball-striking ability in the entire game. The putter may never be perfect, but if he can outpace the field on fairways and greens, he should be a pretty strong bet to contend.
Paul Casey ($16,900, Cash or GPP): It wasn’t the greatest performance Casey has ever put together last week, but he’s just way too good tee-to-green to not put himself in contention. He’s got a great track record at this course and boasts the full skillset required to perform here at a bargain price.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($14,500, Cash or GPP): Wow, FantasyDraft must really want us to buy RCB! At a huge discount, we get a guy who has proven himself as worthy of consideration for at least the upper-tier of golfers, if not the true elites. He’s versatile, has had success on a multitude of different tracks, and can grind out pars as needed on this track.
Good luck in your contests this week, stay disciplined, and trust your process!