Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Honda Classic

The PGA Tour kicks off the Florida Swing with the Honda Classic. Find out all you need to know about the difficult Champion Course at PGA National.

The PGA Tour heads to Palm Springs, Florida this week for the Honda Classic, one of the more difficult tests golfers will face this season. The Champion Course at PGA National is the venue, and it's consistently rated among the most difficult non-major courses year in and year out.

There is a chance this year plays a bit easier than in the past, though, as Nicklaus Design recently completed a $1 million renovation that could soften one of the course's most vital defenses. Over 14,000 square feet of putting surface was added -- an average of 800 square feet per green. For a course that often boasted some of the most difficult greens to hit on Tour, an extra bit of target area should bump the greens in regulation (GIR) percentage significantly. The caveat, of course, is that golfers will have to contend with longer putts on these already challenging greens.

The 7,140-yard, par-70 track rarely yields a leaderboard devoid of world-class talent, though notably each of the last few years has featured some off-the-wall names in the top 10. A stars-and-scrubs construction is very much in play this week, opening up a significant gap between floor, median, and ceiling projections for DFS lineups.

Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.

Course and Tournament Info

Course: Champion Course at PGA National
Par: 70
Distance: 7,140
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Celebration Bermuda
Greens: TifEagle Bermudagrass

Season Par Yardage Average Score Avg O/U Par Rank
2018 70 7,140 72.303 2.303 2nd
2017 70 7,140 70.556 0.556 16th
2016 70 7,140 71.768 1.768 5th
2015 70 7,140 71.832 1.832 4th
2014 70 7,140 70.408 0.408 17th

After weeks contending with poa annua or overseeded putting surfaces, a huge contingent of the PGA Tour population is likely breathing a sigh of relief to return to the comfort of pristinely manicured Bermuda greens. Another chunk of the players will be dreading the change. Despite years and thousands of rounds on courses across the country, many golfers still prefer the surfaces they grew up playing on. Pros who cut their teeth in Florida will be much more comfortable back on Bermudagrass, though PGA National is no welcoming party.

Three times over the past five years, the Champion course has been one of the five most difficult scoring courses relative to par. Excluding majors, it's been the hardest or second-hardest course each of those years.

Length won't be as much of an advantage this week with the course at just 7,140 yards, but with only two par 5s to take advantage of and one of the toughest closing stretches in golf, contenders will need to be able to do it all if they want to conquer the Champion Course. That fearsome Bear Trap -- holes 15, 16, and 17 -- is one of the most demanding trifectas on Tour, featuring two long par 3s that can destroy a round, or even a week.

The forecast looks clear on Thursday and Friday, with some precipitation expected over the weekend. Weather concerns should impact only those golfers who get across the cut, so bully for you if your lineup gets six across and you have to deal with weather on Saturday and Sunday.

Key Stats

These stats have proven vital to success at the Honda Classic at the Champion Course at PGA National.

Key Stats for the Honda Classic at the Champion Course at PGA National
Strokes Gained: Approach
Scrambling Gained
Strokes Gained: Par 4s
Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermuda)

Approach once again rates out as the best indicator for success here, perhaps even more so than usual. Top 10 finishers gained more strokes on approach than off the tee and around the green combined (1.10 SG approach, 0.48 off the tee, and 0.31 around the green), according to Fantasy National Golf Club. Maybe more importantly, those who missed the cut did so by tanking with their irons: trunk slammers lost 0.77 strokes on approach, compared to 0.28 off the tee, 0.20 around the green, and 0.54 putting.

Scrambling has historically been important here, given the difficulty in reaching the greens in regulation. The larger greens may mitigate some of that, but betting on golfers who can get up and down is always a nice complement when making approach a priority. The goal in all formats is to get in as many well-rounded golfers as possible. Par 4s are the conservative target stat on any par-70 course, but on a difficult track, conservative might just be the way to go.

And finally, the fickle putting. It may seem hyperbolic to harp on the differences between poa annua/bentgrass/Bermuda, but rest assured that performance with the flat stick over the past few weeks can be almost entirely thrown out. These Florida greens are a different animal, and few and far between are the golfers who can handle them with consistency and still hold their own on the bumpy poa surfaces. The larger greens only accentuate the need to target golfers who know how to tame them.

Course History Studs

Justin Thomas is the defending champion and also finished tied for third here in 2016. Missed cuts in 2017 and 2015 are concerning, but the upside is there, as it is almost every week with JT.

Adam Scott was the 2016 winner and has three other finishes of T14 or better in each of his other tries.

Sergio Garcia is eight-for-eight in cuts made and has two top 10s in the last five years, including a second-place finish in 2016.

Rickie Fowler missed the cut last year but won in 2017 and was T6 in 2016. He is one of the primary benefactors of the shift to bermudagrass.

Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.