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Honda Classic Betting Odds and DFS Preview

Sungjae Im at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open

After back-to-back wild weekends at the Waste Management Open and the return of Tiger last week in Los Angeles, things will be a little quieter on the PGA Tour this week. Sungjae Im has opened as the favorite for this week’s Honda Classic from PGA National in Florida. WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s field and some potential betting opportunities.

Honda Classic Field

I’ll cut right to the chase on this weeks tournament: It’s a brutally tough course, and it’s not a good field of golfers. There are always ways to profit on a golf tournament, but this is a week to tread lightly. The PGA added “Elevated Tournaments” this year which are tournaments with bigger prize money, but one of the downsides of those tournaments is that it looks like those fields will be full of the best golfers, and then the next week if the prize money isn’t as much and if the course is tough…the big names take the week off.

PGA National is one of the toughest non-major courses on the tour and has been for a while. It features tons of water hazards that punish wayward shots, difficult putting surfaces, challenging bunkers, one of the toughest three hole stretches in all of golf, and a lot of times…wind. The Bear Trap is the stretch of 15, 16 and 17 where players would LOVE to play it at even par over the course of the tournament, but that is always easier said than done. The winner of this tournament will be the one that avoids the water, scrambles, and hits a ton of greens in regulation.

We’ve seen big favorites win this tournament as well as incredible long shots who come out of nowhere to play four rounds of clean golf, so trying to predict the style of winner here is difficult. Recent form is always important, so here are the top-10 in this field in Total Strokes Gained in 2023:
1. Chris Kirk
2. Min Woo Lee
3. Sungjae Im
4. Matt Kuchar
5. Joseph Bramlett
6. Denny McCarthy
7. JT Poston
8. Garrick High
9. Thomas Detry
10. Hayden Buckley

It’s really hard to pinpoint one stat that we should focus on this week, so I’ll try and look at course history to find some players that should be on our radar. Here are the golfers playing this week that have made the cut in three out of the last four times they’ve played here:
1. Sungjae Im
2. Shane Lowry
3. Billy Horshel
4. Alex Noren
5. Aaron Wise
6. JT Poston
7. Jonathan Vegas
8. Sepp Straka
9. Harris English
10. Cameron Davis
11. Patrick Rodgers
12. Byeong Hun An
13. Ryan Palmer
14. Mark Hubbard
15. Brian Stuard
16. Rory Sabbatini
17. William McGirt
18. Brian Gay
19. Vaughn Taylor

Honda Classic Players to Avoid

Last week I went with Rory Mcilroy and Patrick Cantlay as my “players to trip you up,” and while Cantlay performed very well and proved me wrong, Rory fell apart on the weekend and came up short of expectations and helped cash my best bet, which was Scottie Scheffler over Rory Mcilroy. This weeks selections are:

Aaron Wise (25-1, $9,200 DK) – It’s just not happening for Wise so far this season as he finished 18th out of 37 players at the Tournament of Champions and missed the cut the next two tournament he played in. He’s outside the top 30 in Total Strokes Gained, and just doesn’t excel anywhere. He’s not driving the ball accurately, and with as many water hazards that are on this course that could spell trouble. There is no way I’m getting involved with Aaron Wise at this price.

Denny McCarthy (25-1, $9,100 DK) – McCarthy has incredible putting numbers and he’s been a Draftkings Darling favorite of mine, but there’s no way I’m laying this kind of price on him. He’s finished 30th and third here the last two years, but this year his tee-to-green, driving, and approach strokes gained are not good. His Total Strokes Gained comes out to +1.23, and +1.18 of that is putting. There are too may ways this course can bite you if you’re not accurate with tee-to-green play, and he’s +0.00 strokes gained tee to green this year so I’m staying away from McCarthy.

Honda Classic DFS Darlings

I’m going stars and scrubs here as I don’t see much difference between the guys around $8,000 and the guys around $6,500. Twice this year, I’ve lost head-to-heads where I had more golfers make the cut than my opponent, and what happened was my opponent had guys getting bonus points for finishing near the top, and I had a guy or two who blew up on the weekend and got negative points. I just wonder if on these hard courses, it’s better to have a guy miss the cut than have a guy make the cut and puke all over himself on the weekend. So on hard courses I’m going to spend more for the guys who have a chance to get bonus points for good finishes.

Augusto Nunez ($6,400) – I’ll take Nunez who has made the cut in three out of four tournaments this year at this price. This is his first year on tour, and he was bad in the fall, but seems to be playing much better this calendar year. He’ll need to putt better than normal to make any noise, but he’s finished 48th and 31st the last two events in much tougher fields.

Dylan Wu ($6,600) – He’s made the cut in two out of his last three tournaments and finished 29th and 32nd, and he played here last year and finished 30th. He’s very accurate off the tee, and doesn’t have the blowup holes, and that may be a great recipe to make the cut and get a decent finish.

Matthias Schwab ($7,000) – Schwab can’t go super low, but he doesn’t make the huge mistakes and last year he finished seventh here by staying out of trouble and letting everyone else get themselves into trouble. He made the cut last week at a tough course and finished 50th in a loaded field, maybe he can get a repeat of last years finish.

Final Lineup: Austo Nunez ($6,400), Dylan Wu ($6,600), Matthias Schwab ($7,000), Sepp Straka ($8,500), Shane Lowry *$10,400) and Sungjae Im ($10,700).

Honda Classic Free Play

Matt Kuchar Top-20 Finish – Kuchar still keeps popping up on leaderboards, and this is such a perfect event for him. It’s a watered down field, it rewards players who don’t make big mistakes, you don’t need to be a long player to succeed, it just checks all the boxes for him. He’s fourth-best in this field in Total Strokes Gained in 2023, and last week was a tough course in a loaded field and Kuchar finished eighth. He’s never played here, which is a surprise to me, but don’t be surprised if he’s in one of the final groups on Sunday. He should hit a ton of fairways, stay away from the trouble areas, and use his reliable short game to avoid big numbers, and he’ll make less mistakes than the others as he will be steady, and others will make mistakes and fall past him on the leaderboard.