GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for the Honda Classic

A tough course and windy conditions opens up lots of options this week. We eye up which golfers further down the board are in play for a wager this week at the Honda Classic.

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for the Honda Classic based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

After consecutive winners from our top tier, we've made some dough so far in Florida and will hopefully keep it rolling this week. In two strong fields, the cream rose to the top and one of the top 10 golfers in the world hoisted the trophy. So naturally, this week we'll look to the top...except there aren't any. The top of the market features just three golfers in the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none is particularly enticing at his price.

[Editor's note: Daniel Berger has withdrawn.] With apologies to Daniel Berger (+1100), defending champ Sungjae Im (+1300), and Joaquin Niemann (+2000), the entire top tier is a pass at a wildly variant course that looks to play as tough as ever. A couple strokes here or there and we could have seen Sungjae, Brooks Koepka, and Thomas as our last three winners, or we could have had Mackenzie Hughes (+8000 this year), Keith Mitchell (+13000), and Luke List (+8000). As it stands, Mitchell outlasted Koepka and Rickie Fowler (+4900) and we only have one oddball winner.

At the offered numbers, we'd have to allocate a significant chunk of our bankroll to get our desired return, and for all that we loved Berger and Im at four times the odds last week, we'll sleep just fine if any of the favorites win. For our card, we will look for value further down the board and try to find grinders who can score even in tough, windy conditions. Let's get weird.

For more info on PGA National, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.

At the Top

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Value Spots

Russell Henley (+2900) - Henley is a former winner at PGA National and one of the best iron players on Tour. Once upon a time, he was a reliable putter as well, and while that magic touch from 2017 may not come back in full force, he has gained modestly in five straight events this year. He lost strokes on approach last week, specifically in a disastrous Friday that was his worst round since 2017. The last time he lost strokes on approaches was the RBC Heritage in his first event after last year's layoff. The following week he gained 8.2 strokes with his approaches, and we could see some fireworks this week bouncing back from a bad round that is just a blip on an otherwise long track record of quality iron play in this week's most important statistic.

Brendan Steele (+4000) - Steele popped up on a windy bermuda course in Waialae earlier this year thanks to his penchant for repeating strong finishes at the same courses. His T4 finish here last year was his fourth top 15 at PGA National in five appearances since 2015, with the exception of that group a missed cut in 2019 courtesy of one of the worst putting weeks of his career. Steele hasn't been too sharp with his iron play of late but has gained off the tee in every one of his starts since the calendar turned to 2021, and he's made the cut in all seven of those events. Given his history here and, frankly, his demonstrated inconsistency over the course of a full week, he's attractive in a couple props this week, both for a Top 20 Finish (+170) and First Round Leader (+4500).

Long Shots

Russell Knox (+8000) - Knox hasn't been on the radar much over the past year, though he notably popped up when the ballstriking pieces fell into place with a T16 at the American Express and a T7 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. The approach game was always a strength until about this time last year. From swing season 2019 through the beginning of 2020 he made 9 straight cuts before missing an astonishing 10 cuts in a row prior to a T72 at the Wyndham to finish off a completely lost season. Knox missed the cut last year at the Honda during that stretch, but some signs of life recently give us hope. Long term he is a good fit here, as he ranks 10th in total strokes gained in rounds classified as "Difficult" scoring relative to par and 16th in total strokes gained in rounds classified as "Windy AF" by Fantasy National Golf Club.

Henrik Norlander (+9500) - Norlander made a good showing at Torrey Pines and at the brutally difficult Muirfield Village GC, another Jack Nicklaus design. Norlander is 14th on the entire Tour in greens in regulation percentage in this field, and according to Fantasy National Golf Club, he ranks 8th in strokes gained: approach and 14th in strokes gained: off the tee over his last 50 rounds.

Matthew NeSmith (+11000) - We made most of the case for NeSmith in our DraftKings article so we'll keep it short here -- he's the top player in greens in regulation percentage this season and has some major upside off of a couple of poor efforts. Just since yesterday, his price is down from 130/1.

Denny McCarthy (+14000) - McCarthy does one thing better than just about anyone else on Tour, and the fact that he's not yet truly threatened on the PGA Tour speaks to just how much putting performance can be wiped out by lackluster ballstriking. Still, in a light field at a course that will confound many, we can do worse than roll with the best roller. McCarthy found the top-five in two weak fields with bermuda greens at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the Bermuda Championship, and while PGA National is a different beast altogether, McCarthy can lap the field with the putter this week. He is 23rd in total strokes gained on Difficult rounds.