It has been a while since I have done a DraftKings post for multiple reasons but I won’t bore you with them. What I will do is jump straight back in and take a look at this week’s Honda Classic with you.
You may or may not have seen my betting preview of the event posted Monday but if you didn’t, check it out here as I go into more detail about what it takes to win the event.
PGA National (Champion Course)
PGA National ranked the 5th toughest course on the PGA Tour in 2016 and 4th toughest in 2015. Since the inaugural staging of this event here in 2007, the course has only ranked outside the top-10 in difficulty twice (11th in 2012 and 17th in 2014).
Water is in play on 13/18 holes which could cause havoc should the wind pick up. The change to Bermudagrass surface on the putting greens will be also be key. Lots of courses in Florida use this surface so Florida natives and residents should welcome the change this week.
Key Stats & Trends:
Greens in Regulation – Seven of the ten winners here since 2007 have ranked inside the top-10 for Greens in Regulation on the week. Russell Henley only ranked 26th in 2014 but Russell Knox and Ryan Palmer, two of the players he beat in the play-off that year tied for 1st for greens hit that week.
Putting on Bermudagrass – As alluded to above, the change to BermudaGrass greens will be welcomed by many, not just the Florida guys. For a better idea of who likes putting on this surface check out futureoffantasy.com, which is updated by the ever helpful, Josh Culp (@futureoffantasy on Twitter).
International winners – Adam Scott became the 7th International winner of this event since 2007 last year, whilst Sergio Garcia pushed him all the way. The wind that is present here gets a lot of credit for bringing a more International feel to the leaderboard each year.
Close affair – Since 2007, only Camilo Villegas (5 strokes) has won by more than 2 strokes here. In the same time frame there have been three play-offs as well as four other winners who have got the job done by a solitary stroke.
With these factors as well as the usual course and current form in mind, here are my picks in each price range for the 2017 Honda Classic.
NOTE: I will be using Russell Knox ($9,000) , Daniel Berger ($8,900), Ollie Schniederjans ($7,600) and Mackenzie Hughes ($6,800) in my lineups, for the reasons detailed in my betting preview and will not be writing them up again.
High-end plays ($10,000 and above):
Adam Scott ($12,200) – Adam Scott has played here three times and got progressively better each time (MC-11-1) and after his win here last year, will be full of confidence. With him being the most expensive player this week, his ownership should be low given the talent available at a discounted price.
Whilst I like Sergio Garcia a lot, with Scott in my lineups I am going to have to look a bit further down and will therefore leave him out.
Mid-range plays ($7,000-$9,900):
Already mentioned – Russell Knox ($9,000), Daniel Berger ($8,900) & Ollie Schniederjans ($7,600)
Brendan Steele ($8,100) – Steele is playing as consistently as anyone right now and already has a win to his name this season. More recently he is 5/5 for cuts made in 2017 with two top-6’s, a further two top-20’s and a 39th last week at the Genesis Open.
In six starts here, Steele has also posted two top-14 finishes (both in the last two years) and he looks to have got to grips with the course. His form figures here (most recent first) read: 14-11-33-51-76-63. As you can see Steele has never missed the cut here and is now threatening the top-10.
I really like his chances of a top-10 but would also be in no way surprised if he contended or even won given his recent play.
In addition to these positives, he is ranked inside the Top-25 (24th) for Performance on Bermudagrass Greens since 2013/14 on futureoffantasy.com.
Russell Henley ($7,900) – I like Henley’s chances of playing well here this week and I think he is fairly priced. Henley a former winner of this event in 2014 has made four starts at PGA National, missing just one cut.
In 2013 (his Rookie year), Henley finished 13th here and backed that up a year later with the win. He has been less convincing since, finishing 44th in 2015 and missing the cut last year.
What gives hope for Henley is his current form. In three starts in 2017, Henley has finished 16-MC-13, with the 16th coming on his most recent start in Phoenix. He finished 13th at the Sony Open, an event he won on his first ever PGA Tour start in 2013. This is a correlating course, and as such a good performance there this season bodes well again for this week.
Luke Donald ($7,600) – Donald may be one of the most obvious picks this week and as such I expect he will be highly owned. Donald has four top-10’s at the course since 2007 and back-to-back top-25’s in his last two starts on Tour, reminding us he still has an abundance of talent.
I like his chances to post a top-10 this week, as mentioned in my betting preview, but I do not think he is in winning form as of yet. At $7,600 a top-10 would be enough but if the former World No.1 was to surprise me and go on to win, he would highlight just how fairly priced he was.
Donald has always been known as an elite putter, which is how he got to the pinnacle of the World Rankings and he ranks well inside the Top 25 Bermuda specialists (Bermuda performance vs. Expected Strokes Gained) category on futureoffantasy.com.
Others I like and will use: Branden Grace ($7,900), Scott Brown ($7,400) and Martin Flores ($7,100)
Bargain basement ($7,000 and below):
Already mentioned – Mackenzie Hughes ($6,800)
Michael Thompson ($7,000) – A former winner of this event in 2013, Thompson has missed just one cut at PGA National. He only finished 53rd here last year but opened with a round of 65, to share the lead with Sergio Garcia after round 1.
Thompson has made 2/4 cuts this season and when making the weekend has finished 14th at the Sony Open and 20th at the CareerBuilder. The Sony Open is another wind affected event, whilst the CareerBuilder features Bermudagrass greens so signs suggest this course will suit once again.
He had three missed cuts and a 78th in his four starts prior to his win here in 2013, so coming into the event off the back of two top-20’s in his last four should lead to another good week. He did have two 19th place finishes before missing the cut here in 2014, but I am hoping that was just the pressure of being defending champion. To me this is the best form Thompson has been in during the run-in to this event and that could bode well for him this week.
Jeff Overton ($7,000) – Overton is making his last start on his Minor Medical Exemption and needs to earn 165.503 FedEX Cup points or $307,644. To guarantee the points or prize money required he would have to finish solo 3rd or better which seems unlikely. Solo 4th would be enough for $307,200 which would be agonizingly short of what is required. The good news for Overton, and those who do decide to roster him is his good form here at PGA National.
Overton has played here every year since 2008, missing the cut on debut and in 2010, but also posting three top-9’s in 2009 (9th), 2011 (6th) and 2015 (7th). He finished 21st here last year and he will be hoping for another good week here. Overton withdrew from the Candian Open last July and only returned to action for the first time last month. He played in the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic on the Web.com Tour, finishing T21. Whilst this was is a different strength of field altogether this was a promising return all the same. Having made 7/9 cuts here, with three top-10’s, Overton looks a good option at $7,000.
His performances in the Open Championship (4/4 cuts made with two finishes inside the top-13) are also a strong indicator that he can cope with windy conditions. Overton also has a top-10 (7th in 2014) at the Sony Open, another correlating course.
Due to his extended absence and the other options available in his price range, I am expecting Overton to be fairly low owned, another reason to roll the dice with him this week.
Wesley Bryan ($6,600) – For me, of those below $7,000, Bryan may just have the most upside. After missing four straights cuts, Bryan has now gone -17 through his last 8 rounds, finishing T42 in Phoenix and T4 last week at Riviera. That T4 was by far and away his best finish this season, as his previous best this season was T41 at the Shriners.
After winning battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour last year, following his 3 wins on the Web.com Tour, there was a lot of intrigue around the former trick-shot artist. He didn’t disappoint making three straight cuts and getting progressively better each week T58-T29-T8. He missed the cut at his last event of the season, the Wyndham Championship and failed to impress early on in the 2016/17 season.
After his performances in the last two weeks though, he looks to have got back into his groove.
Interestingly, Bryan played at the Web.com Q-School final here, alongside Ollie Schniederjans and Mackenzie Hughes amongst others and tied with the former in 9th place. The Par was 72 that week, so it will play differently this week, but it’s a good memory to have all the same.
Others I like and will use: Seamus Power ($6,400), Michael Kim ($6,500), Anirban Lahiri ($6,600), Brett Stegmaier ($6,800)