Starts: 18th March 2021
Course: PGA National (Champion), Florida
Length: 7,125 yards
2020 Champion: Sungjae Im
Overall Profit/Loss: -14.45pts
Pre-Event Bets: -8.95pts
1pt Each Way Talor Gooch 40/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1-8)
0.75pts Each Way JT Poston 60/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1-8)
0.5pts Each Way Nick Taylor 110/1 @ Betfred (1/5 1-8)
0.25pts Each Way Camillo Villegas 300/1 @ Ladbrokes (1/5 1-8)
0.25pts Each Way Kelly Kraft 400/1 @ Betfair (1/5 1-8)
0.75pts Each Way Shane Lowry FRL 40/1 @ Betfred (1/4 1-5)
0.75pts Each Way Dylan Frittelli FRL 70/1 @ Betfred (1/4 1-5)
0.75pts Each Way Adam Long FRL 70/1 @ Betfred (1/4 1-5)
0.5pts Each Way Wes Bryan FRL 100/1 @ Betfair (1/5 1-6)
0.25pts Each Way Kelly Kraft FRL 200/1 @ Ladbrokes (1/4 1-5)
0.25pts Each Way Camillo Villegas FRL 200/1 @ Ladbrokes (1/4 1-5)
In-Play Bets: -5.5pts
19 March 2021(-2.5pts)
0.75pts EW Adam Scott (1/5 1-5) - 40/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts EW Kevin Chappell (1/5 1-5) - 80/1 @ Skybet
20 March 2021 (-2pts)
0.5pts EW Harry Higgs (1/4 1-4) - 66/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts EW Stewart Cink (1/5 1-4) - 70/1 @ Skybet
21 March 2021 (-1pts)
1pt Win ONLY JB Holmes - 12/1 @ Boylesports
Designer: Fazio (Nicklaus re-design in 1990 & 2014)
Used Since: 2007
Rough: Bermuda (2 inch)
Greens: TifEagle Bermuda (12 stimp)
Water Hazards: On 13 holes
Par 5's: 3rd and 18th
Premium on: Ability to deal with wind
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals. Three players have withdrawn already this week.
There is a potential for draw bias with the wind forecast to be stronger on Thursday.
The forecast is mixed this week with the threat of showers and thunderstorms on Friday and Sunday.
Max 18mph winds forecast
Max 12mph winds forecast
Max 13mph winds forecast
Max 15mph winds forecast
The last ten editions have had winning scores ranging from -6 to -12.
Each of the past ten champions have played this event at least once before winning. Avoid debutants. The last two winners had failed to record a top 50 finish at PGA National prior to winning but the five champions before them had all recorded a top 13 finish in this event.
Neither of the last two champions had recorded a top 25 in their previous two starts. However, the three winners before them all recorded a top 10 in their last start prior to Honda.
The world ranking of the past five champions has been 34-161-4-14-13. Keith Mitchell's win in 2019 was a definite outlier.
Five of the last ten winners have been American.
SG: Off The Tee
The last five winners have ranked 15-21-23.
The last five winners have ranked 74-12-2-7-11. In general, distance is a definite advantage.
The last five winners have ranked 21-89-103-24-14.
The last three winners have ranked 5-7-2. Accurate approach play is essential.
SG: Around The Green
The last five winners have ranked 9-8-29.
The last five winners ahve ranked 58-57-39-28-31. A hot putter isn't essential
Although The Bear Trap is infamous, the 6th, 10th and 11th have played the three hardest holes the past two years.
The par 5's (3rd and 18th) play as the easiest holes. The easiest hole outside of those is the 13th.
Holes 15-17, collectively known as The Bear Trap, are a tough stretch of holes. The 18th offers a birdie opportunity.
Fast or Slow Start
In each of the last two years, the first round leaders have failed to finish inside the top 15 at the end of the tournament. A fast start is not essential here.
Honda Classic In-Play Blog
21 March 2021, 10.45am
Matt Jones finds himself back on top of the leaderboard with 18 holes left to play at The Honda Classic. A stellar back nine, coupled with Aaron Wise frittering away shots, means that Jones will take a commanding three shot lead into the final round.
In a remarkable turn of events, Wise had a six shot lead after five holes and traded odds on (as low as 1.75 on Betfair). A double bogey on the 6th saw that lead cut to four and he went on to make five further bogeys on his remaining thirteen holes.
Jones can be backed at a best price of 11/10 and that's more than fair given his excellent record when front running. As we mentioned in Friday's blog, he led from the front for his two most recent wins. He held off quality opposition in both and it's unlikely he'll be overawed by the chasers today. At a shade of just over evens, he's a reasonable price.
Of the others, Wise (8/1) will need to shake off yesterday's disappointment. He admitted he struggled with putting in the wind and there were several short missed putts. That has to be a worry again. The other player at -7, JB Holmes (12/1), will fancy his chances after a 67 took him 14 places up the leaderboard. Holmes spoke of "not missing a shot" and that sort of confidence will likely serve him well today.
A small mention for the group at six under, who all have potential to nick this should Jones falter. Cameron Tringale and Sam Ryder have yet to win on the PGA Tour but both have runner up finishes and could well take that next step sooner rather than later. Neither has convinced when leading in the past, so an event like this where they could post a score may suit them. CT Pan won the 2019 RBC Heritage, coming from behind to do so. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him shoot a low final round.
With conditions forecast to be similar to day three, we may yet see someone from come from behind to win. Sungjae Im won last year when 5th after 54 holes. However, in the four previous years the winner has been either first or second with 18 holes remaining.
- 1pt Win Only JB Holmes 12/1 @ Boylesports
JB has suffered injuries in recent years and was restricted to 9 starts in 2020. He ranks 2nd SG: Tee To Green and if he is able to replicate anything like yesterday's performance with his irons (he gained 4 strokes on the field for SG: Approach), then he'll go close. He's a five time winner on tour, his win at the 2019 Genesis Open being his most recent. Given the winner has come from the front two in four of the past five years, we think 12/1 is more than fair.
20 March 2021, 8.30am
Two eagles helped Aaron Wise card a second consecutive 64 and he now takes a three shot lead into the weekend at The Honda Classic. With relatively benign conditions, scoring was much improved on day two. The 64 was bettered by Brandon Hagy (62) and Sam Ryder (63).
Wise is now 9/4 favourite to convert and there's precedent to suggest that's a fair price. His only win (2018 AT&T Byron Nelson) came when leading at halfway. A combination of confidence in his long game and a new putter has ensured all aspects of his game are in solid shape and he's going to be difficult to shift.
The challengers will be encouraged by recent halfway leaders not going on to win here. Only once in the last five years has the 36 hole leader managed to convert (Keith Mitchell in 2019).
Matt Jones (6/1) and Shane Lowry (7/1) are the other two players offered at single figure odds. Jones recovered from a horror start yesterday (+3 through 7) to keep himself in contention while Lowry eagled the last to force himself into the mix. Both players are capable of mounting a challenge.
We tipped Camilo Villegas pre-event at 300/1 and remain hopeful he can make further moves up the leaderboard after an excellent back nine.
The wind direction will change today but is not forecast to exceed 11mph. There will be opportunities to make a score.
- 0.5pts EW (1/4 1-4) Harry Higgs 66/1 @ Skybet
Harry finds himself in 10th place, seven shots behind Wise. He'll probably need a bit of help from the leader but he is capable of shooting low numbers. He's played nicely so far, ranking 17th SG: Tee To Green and his iron play has been particularly impressive (he ranks 6th SG: Approach).
- 0.5pts EW (1/4 1-4) Stewart Cink 70/1 @ Skybet
Stewart is also joint 10th and needs to go low over the weekend. He did that when winning the Safeway Open in September last year, shooting a pair of 65s. He's also played nicely this week, ranking 11th for SG: Tee To Green. He putted poorly on day one but if he continues like he did yesterday (over 2 strokes gained on the greens), he'll be in the mix come Sunday.
- 0.5pts EW (1/4 1-4) Brice Garnett 100/1 @ Skybet
Brice completes our Saturday trio and is another in the group at -5. He's a past winner on Tour and also has two Korn Ferry Tour wins. Both came when shooting low closing scores so he's a player of interest when the putter is hot. He ranks 8th in SG: Putting this week so we'd like to get him onside.
19 March 2021, 10am
Matt Jones carded a course record-equalling 61 on day one to take a three shot lead into the second round. The morning starters had a significant advantage with conditions calmer for the first couple of hours. Only 42 players broke par on what was a difficult first day for many.
Jones finds himself 3/1 favourite with the bookmakers but he'll have to defy history to win. None of the first round leaders in the last ten years have won this event.
Working in his favour is the fact he's a comfortable front runner, having led after the second round for his last two wins (2019 Australian Open and 2015 Australian Open). It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see him go on and win, but odds of 3/1 with 54 holes remaining make no appeal.
Of the players chasing, Russell Henley is a 6/1 shot - with everyone else 12/1 and above. In a turnaround from recent times, Henley gained over six shots on the greens. If he can continue to putt well and improve his iron play he'll be a definite threat.
There may be a slight delay to the start of play today as thunderstorms are forecast around the time of the first groups teeing off. Aside from that early disruption, the conditions should be the same for all the players as the wind is expected to be around 11mph throughout the day.
Three of the last five winners have been 20th or worse after the first round (Sungjae Im was 63rd last year) so we're backing a couple of players a larger odds today.
- 0.75pts EW (1/5 1-5) Adam Scott 40/1 @ Skybet
Adam got off to a shaky start but recovered well and ended up shooting one under par. He's a past champion and has only finished out of the top 14 once in his last five starts at PGA National. He has a lot of ground to make up but if his game clicks over the remaining 54 holes he could very well challenge.
- 0.5pts EW (1/5 1-5) Kevin Chappell 80/1 @ Skybet
Kevin has struggled since having back surgery late in 2018. He hasn't recorded a top 10 since then but his stats were solid enough yesterday. He has excellent Florida form, including a 2nd at the 2016 Players Championship. He's also a very good wind player and given he's off to a good start he's worth a small bet.