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  • Writer's pictureTom Ford

The Honda Classic preview and betting tips 2023


Patrick Cantlay
McCarthy comes into the Honda with great form

The Honda Classic Golf Tips

Min Woo Lee – 2pts win 36/1

Denny McCarthy– 2pts win 36/1

Hayden Buckley – 1pt E/W 50/1 - 8 places

Will Gordon– 1pt win 55/1 - 8 places


Has Jon Rahm made it all a bit stale?

Just when Jon Rahm found himself wobbling on the 10th on a Sunday, you thought the gripping finale was upon us, turns out nothing is new under the sun, and with tradition, Rahm nailed all of his opponents to the coffin.


Even I was crying with Max Homa in the end, maybe that’s what a battle with Jon Rahm makes you feel like doing, I would of definitely been throwing toys out the pram, fairplay to Max and Keith Mitchell, both just lost energy out there but such great golf played by both of them.


In behind that last group, there was a slight charge from Cantlay and Zalatoris, more of the latter I was impressed with, Zalatoris, after all of his torrid last 6 months with a back issue seemingly looks like he is not far away from winning again, surely a man destined for the top.


Well moving on as quick as we can, the Homa 2nd place hasn’t left myself with any empathy, but I do hold out hope as my models and research is really starting to show signs of life every week and that’s all we can ask for really.

Calm before the storm

The Honda Classic, a great event sandwiched between two huge events has lost its magic, for what could have been maybe an even better week than last week, we have a really weak field compared to what we have seen in the last two. That’s not without great excitement though as these are the type of events you can win really big and I’ll be hoping for that this week. It’s a real shame because this course at PGA National really is a great course. We are looking at the top 3 in the market being Sungjae Im, Shane Lowry and Aaron Wise, says it all but it could have been something special, maybe they will make it designated event next year or otherwise we could lose it altogether.


What makes this Champions Course at PGA National so great is that it’s never held a US Open, however, it definitely could. There are 26 individual water hazards, long Bermudagrass rough, and it’s exposed to the wind even though it’s a resort style. You have to be accurate and you have to recover well from your lows. If that is not enough then the notorious ‘Bear Trap’ will eat you up and spit you back out again before you reach the 18th, good luck haha.


Typical Fazio design with Nicklaus re-designs; the length is 7,125 yards, Par 70 and the greens are TifEagle Bermudagrass. If I haven’t made it clear enough already how hard of a test this is, then listen to this, PGA National is the 5th hardest course on tour, sounds pretty simple really doesn’t it.

Honda Classic Winners: 2022: Sepp Straka (-10); 2021: Matt Jones (-12); 2020: Sungjae Im (-6); 2019: Keith Mitchell (-9); 2018: Justin Thomas (-8); 2017: Rickie Fowler (-12); 2016: Adam Scott (-9); 2015: Padraig Harrington (-6); 2014: Russell Henley (-8); 2013: Michael Thompson (-9); 2012: Rory McIlroy (-12); 2011: Rory Sabbatini (-9); 2010: Camilo Villegas (-13).


This week’s model make up;

This week, I’m going to keep it short, and unless something miraculously changes during the time of writing this, then I’m also going to keep my tips and plays quite short. As always, have a little mix of things this week when choosing, I want to integrate some recent form, some course form but generally keeping the model simple and not thinking into it too much as I would normally would week to week.


The great thing about this week, is this tournament has seen lots of golfers winning with their current ranking in the OWGR being quite high. So we can find some great value on players that are playing well but their ranking is high and therefore the correlation with the odds will also be high. Last year we seen a massive 125/1 on Straka which maybe won’t be as high this year but I think we can break the trend of an average winning odds being 15/1 this year. I also believe a lot of these golfers are fighting for their tour cards for next year and also of course with the upcoming Masters, fighting for their place to make the beloved Augusta, we will see guys upping their game for this reason.


I’m expecting a winning score this week to be around -12, I would normally go much lower at the Honda but looking at the weather which seems pretty calm all being considered, I think someone if not a few will reach double digits.


Let’s start with the big metal this week, driving accuracy is going to be fairly important just purely down to the amount of water hazards but I do like that correlation to come with driving distance. I expect my model will be weighted with the longer hitters, I just feel like the further you are hitting it this week the less trouble you will find. Also on that note, I think the longer drivers will therefore have a much better chance of scoring on the two par 5’s, which is vital, the winners here in the past, birdie more than half of the par 5’s the eight times they play them across the week.

Putting, I will have some Bermuda positive trends and also some strong SG Putting stats in the last few rounds in my model, this will tie in with some good putting in the last few months and also those that putt a lot better on Bermuda Grass of recent past.


This leads me onto scrambling. Scrambling here at PGA National, definitely goes under the radar in my opinion. I think there will be plenty of occasions like we’ve seen in the past where players are taking drops out of hazards, water, tree issues and not to forget the rough is even longer than before, tie all this in and if you are not scrambling well, you are going to lose ground very very quickly. I think this is evident in being one of the hardest courses on tour and why wouldn’t you on a tough test like this have scrambling as a heavy weighted option in your model.


Surprisingly I am talking about irons and approach last, types of stats which I always seem to rely on. This is week apart from a strong thought around Tee to Green stats; which once we get going should be in every model for that matter. But then after, I’m not too worried about players in this lesser field having lost strokes in approach more recently. I would like to see in my model, golfers who are stronger between 150-175 yards on approach because I believe this will be where most second shots will be played from but apart from that, I can hope my winner this week is the type of player who turns it all around, enjoys the test of this course, has an upturn in form and maybe wins for the first time. The least we can ask for is a nice big meaty 50/1 shot winning for us down the stretch on Sunday, only that will make up for the anti climax of last week, LFG!

How I’ve made up the model this week;

SG Tee to green

Par 5 Performance

Driving Distance

Driving Accuracy

Bermuda Positive

SG Putting

Scrambling

SG OTT

Recent Form

Honda Classic Form

150-175 on Approach

Top 25 players based on that model;

1 Sungjae Im 8/1

2 Shane Lowry 14/1

3 Padraig Harrington 75/1

4 Denny McCarthy 25/1

5 Matt Kuchar 22/1

6 Joseph Bramlett 66/1

7 William Gordon 70/1

8 Sepp Straka 40/1

9 Taylor Pendrith 33/1

10 Peter Malnati 110/1

11 Alexander Noren 25/1

12 Adam Svensson 33/1

13 Harris English 33/1

14 Aaron Baddeley 140/1

15 Jhonattan Vegas 35/1

16 Lee Hodges 50/1

17 Aaron Wise 25/1

18 Adam Schenk 90/1

19 Adrian Meronk 40/1

20 An Byeong-Hun 60/1

21 Cameron Davis 40/1

22 Kyle Westmoreland 500/1

23 Hayden Buckley 60/1

24 Minwoo Lee 22/1

25 Brent Grant 250/1

There are so many different ways I could of gone this week but I don’t believe my model is far away from finding a winner again. Obviously at the top we have some very short-priced favourites, as expected to be honest but I’m ok, like most weeks, with fading those short prices, especially when the name is not Jon Rahm. I wish you all the best of luck and I hope that this week we can find that slightly higher price and my model brings out some different golfers you wouldn’t usually look at, it certainly has for me anyway. Let’s get it.


If you want to play my new weekly fantasy competition, look out for my updates on my twitter @tomford9931 and my site www.drawshankgolf.com .

Min Woo Lee – 2pts win (36/1)

Min Woo, for some of you hardcore PGA Tour type may not be as familiar with him as your regular tour player and that’s not odd because this guy hasn’t played in a regular PGA tour event since June last year. However, when he turns up on the DP World, he is a monster finisher. A second place in Abu Dhabi in a good field, a 3rd and 4th back in his home country before the turn of the year and this course will set up really well but a wiry long straight hitter of the golf ball. Scrambles as good as anyone and will keep himself out of trouble.


Denny McCarthy – 2pts win (36/1)

You may know Denny McCarthy as a quality putter and that is true, he ranks first for putting inside 5 feet which also makes his bogey avoidance very high and also his scrambling stats which is good for PGA national. McCarthy also drives it an average of 296 yards which is not short and he will have no problem navigating the Par 5’s and difficult par 4’s, he is a banker for making the cut this week and as long as he puts the ball in the right places, he could go really low, come on Denny.


Hayden Buckley – 1pts ew 50/1 (8 Places)

Hayden Buckley is prime for these lesser fields, looking back to since he came on the PGA tour, any of these events where there are less high ranked players he makes the cut and 90% of the time he makes the Top 20. Buckley hits a huge ball and is Ranked 4th for eagles on the PGA Tour a stat which will be vital on a test like this. A second at the Sony Open this year was really impressive and he can go one better here.


Will Gordon – 1pts ew 55/1 (8 Places)

You would of seen me put up Will Gordon a few week’s ago, and he was leading for most of the first round before dropping off, and I’m on him again here this week. Will Gordon is the type of player that keeps popping up on Leaderboards but doesn’t seem to hold out across all 4 days. The reason I can’t avoid him for this is he just comes up on all the models I ran and as you can see above comes in at no7 on my model and for 55/1 he is a steal in my eyes. 14th for driving distance, doesn’t miss many putts and scrambles very well, this could at last be Will’s week.


(Finishes/Props)

Aaron Rai (Top 10) 7/1

Webb Simpson (Top 10) 9/1

Harry Hall (Top 10) 12/1

Kyle Westmoreland (Top 20) 11/1

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