DRAFT PGA Recommended Plays: Honda Classic
The Honda Classic marks the first east-coast trip of the 2018 PGA Tour season, with 144 golfers making the trek to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida for Thursday’s tournament.
PGA National Resort is a par 70, mid-length course that ranks as one of the toughest non-major tracks these pros will face all year. One of the windiest challenges in all of golf, The Honda Classic hasn’t played a single round in the last five years with average winds less than 10 MPH. Based on early weather forecasts, that trend will likely continue as the first two rounds could play around 20 MPH.
Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, and Tiger Woods are among at least 14 Honda Classic entrants that live within 45 minutes of PGA National, so they are likely more familiar with the conditions of Florida golf than others. Fowler returns to The Honda Classic as the reigning champion, where he won by four strokes last season over 2018 Phoenix Open champion Gary Woodland.
So, who should you be targeting this week? Here is a list of the golfers that should find success.
Fowler is a no-brainer option for anyone drafting in the first round. If he’s available, you take him. He has too much experience, and success, playing in high-wind events and at this tournament. Not only did he win at The Honda Classic last season, but he also won The Players’ Championship at TPC Sawgrass in 2015 under similar weather conditions to what this tournament typically features. He is also 8/1 to win this week according to most sport books, which makes him the favorite.
If Fowler goes number one in your snake draft, McIlroy will likely go next. And rightfully so. McIlroy won this event in 2012, finished in 2nd in 2014 and typically plays well on Bermuda-grass surfaces. When he’s on top of his game, he’s probably the most talented golfer in the world. He’s coming off a T20 last week at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles.
A tremendous wind player that comes into The Honda Classic in great form. He’s won twice overseas since mid-October.
Woodland checks a lot of boxes this week. He’s coming off a win in Phoenix a few weeks back and came in 2nd at this tournament last season. He’s never missed the cut in five appearances at The Honda Classic and should serve as a reliable mid-tier option.
Berger grew up right down the road and played collegiate golf at Florida State, so he should be comfortable here. He finished 2nd at this tournament in 2015 before missing the cut in the last two seasons. I like him to bounce back this year, as he comes into this tournament in excellent form. He’s finished in the top 15 in five of his last six events dating back to early December.
McDowell simply loves playing this event and has held tremendous success in his last seven visits here. He’s finished in the top 15 in five of the last seven Honda Classics.
Stallings is in great form heading into this week, with a 21st place finish at the Waste Management Open, a 7th place finish at Pebble Beach, and a 4th place finish at Riviera. Plus, he’s made three of four cut attempts at this tournament.
If you’re looking for a real long shot, this might be your guy. An excellent putter, Aphibarnrat enters this tournament coming off a win on the European Tour last week.