The California swing ended with a bang as we grabbed a nice winner in Joaquin Niemann at the Genesis Invitational. After what was an eventful tournament to the very end, our focus now shifts to the Sunshine State as the Florida swing is ready to take center stage, beginning with the 2022 Honda Classic at PGA National.
While the top 11 players in the official World Golf Ranking teed it up last week, this week is nearly the opposite. With none of the world’s top 10 and only six of the top 25, the Honda Classic could be the setting for yet another first-time winner on the PGA Tour.
As such, there is a new tournament favorite at Bovada with world No. 1 Jon Rahm taking the week off along with many of his counterparts. Instead, it is Sungjae Im, the PGA Tour’s version of Ironman, who holds the top spot on the oddsboard at +1400.
Making his fourth appearance in the Honda Classic, the South Korean came through in a big way in 2020, collecting his first victory on the PGA Tour and dismantling the famous stretch of closing holes at PGA National coined “The Bear Trap.” In fantastic form and having already won this season at the Shriners Children’s Open, the Olympian has a 6.67 percent chance to make his way into the winner’s circle once again, according our odds calculator.
Here’s a look at the golfers with the likeliest odds to go all the way:
Who Is Favored To Win The Honda Classic?
Odds as of February 22 at Bovada
What Happened In Last Year’s Honda Classic?
The 2021 Honda Classic was a tale of two stories as the first half of the tournament belonged to Aaron Wise. The Oregon product carded back-to-back rounds of 6-under 64 to go into the weekend with a stranglehold on the tournament.
Wise, looking for his first victory since the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson, extended his overnight lead to five strokes early into Round 3. But the former NCAA individual champion began to struggle on the greens and relinquished his advantage – playing his final 36 holes in 8 over, Wise lost control of the tournament and eventually finished in a tie for 13th.
Matt Jones was the man who answered the call, surging ahead over the weekend to finish at 12 under and cruise to a five-stroke victory through a well-rounded effort. Ranking second in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green last week at Riviera Country Club, the wily 41-year-old Australian could threaten to repeat at this year’s Honda Classic.
The Champion Course at PGA National is one of the most difficult courses the PGA Tour stops at on an annual basis. With the average winning score since 2015 coming in below 9 under, the ability to avoid bogeys will be just as important as birdie conversion.
Looking at past champions such as Jones, Im, Keith Mitchell, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott and Padraig Harrington, the one constant is their ability from tee to green. Each ranked outside the top 20 in SG: Putting the week of their victories, but all were fantastic in other areas of their games.
While ball-striking will be needed, an underrated aspect of golf is the ability to get up and down on a consistent basis. Outside of Jones – who finished second in SG: around-the-green – each winner since 2015 ranked inside the top 11 in scrambling by the end of the week.
This will be needed as this Tom Fazio design plays to a par 70 and stretches to just about 7,100 yards. While on paper it may not seem like much, the constant demand and grind of PGA National wears on these players as water hazards are extremely prevalent, forcing competitors to bail out in lieu of penalty strokes and demonstrating the importance of scrambling.
Combine this with a need to play the par 3s effectively as well as par 4s measuring from 400 to 450 yards and this will be the bones of our statistical analysis. Tee-to-green savants who have the ability to hole a few putts and understand par may be a good score will be our targets this week at the 2022 Honda Classic.
2022 Honda Classic Expert Picks
Mackenzie Hughes +5000 To Win
The runner-up in 2020, Hughes shared the penultimate group with Im that fateful Sunday. While the Canadian eventually finished one stroke shy of his potential Presidents Cup teammate this upcoming fall, he proved he can play his best golf in the most difficult conditions.
This carried over to not only this year’s U.S. Open, but also the Open Championship as Hughes collected a pair of quality results in the year’s last two major championships. A top-notch scrambler and elite par-3 scorer, we will overlook his lack of results in California as Hughes is much better suited for not only this week’s test, but courses that feature wall-to-wall Bermuda grass.
Last contending at the RSM Classic, the 31-year-old showcased he is just a hot iron performance away from competing for his second career victory on the PGA Tour.
Aaron Wise +6600 To Win
We touched on Wise previously as the 36-hole leader in last year’s tournament. Not to be deterred by his collapse, this is the perfect opportunity to buy low on the 25-year-old. Let us not forget this is a player who was going off near the top of most oddsboards during the vast majority of the swing season.
After stumbling out of the gates of 2022 with missed cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open and the WM Phoenix Open, he may have found something in his game last week at Riviera. Gaining strokes on the field both off the tee and on approach, the American appears ready to return to his fall form.
With two top-10 finishes, a top-15 finish and two additional top-26 results, this is a wager on Wise being able to do just that. Winless since 2018, he could follow in the footsteps of Niemann as a once young phenom returning to the winner’s circle.
Ryan Palmer +6600 To Win
If Wise is overdue for a victory, I am not sure what Palmer is as he has been unable to win by himself since the 2010 Sony Open. Yet this has historically been the time of year when the Texan plays his best golf and this season is no different.
After finishes of T-12 at the Sony Open and T-16 at the Farmers Insurance Open, there has been enough good in the 45-year-old’s 2022. He is coming off a pair of missed cuts at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational, but I am willing to forgive him as those have been stops where he has struggled in the past.
The same cannot be said for this week as Palmer will be playing in his 15th Honda Classic. A past runner-up and a top-five finisher in 2019, the fact that he holds the distinct honors of most water balls in “The Bear Trap” will not deter me at this price.
Michael Thompson +10000 To Win
The 2013 winner of the Honda Classic appears to be a bit undervalued this week given his recent run of results. Thompson holds the title of being the top scrambler in this field over the 24 rounds as well as a top-20 scorer on par 3s, a tremendous combination.
The lack of quality in his last two outings gives us a much more affordable price. Before his last two starts, the Alabama product was terrific from tee to green at both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Sony Open.
Posting +6.5 SG: Tee-to-Green in three rounds at Torrey Pines South and +7.2 SG: Tee-to-Green at Waialae Country Club, Thompson collected finishes of T-11 and T-5. Back on his native Bermuda grass this week, he has a chance to capture his second Honda Classic title if he is able to conjure some sort of touch with the putter in hand.
Kramer Hickok +15000 To Win
A player who is most well-known for his eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship against Harris English, Hickok has made his love for PGA National public. Calling it his favorite course on the PGA Tour, the former Longhorn likens it to golf in his home state of Texas between the numerous water hazards, flat terrain and pestering winds.
Hickok makes for an interesting play down the Honda Classic betting odds. In fact, when diving deeper into his statistics, one will find that he ranks in the top\ 20 in this field in driving accuracy, proximity from 150 to 175 yards and par-4 scoring from 400 to 450 yards.
Mark Hubbard +15000 To Win
I was a bit surprised to see how well Hubbard rated out for me this week. But looking at his numbers, it does make some sense why he is 3-for-4 making the cut at the Honda Classic, one of which included a T-11 result.
Top-15 in SG: Approach, SG: Around-the-Green, and proximity from 175 to 200 yards, there is even more to like about Hubbard’s game as he ranks third in scrambling and second in par-3 scoring in this field. Needing to find himself on the greens, if Hubbard is able to convert enough birdie opportunities and crucial par saves, he may very well enter the winner’s circle for the first time in his career.
Jason Dufner +30000 To Win
This one is the very definition of a long shot, but if Hudson Swafford came through for us at +20000 at the American Express, then why can’t Dufner do something similar? A perfect 12-for-12 on weekend appearances at PGA National, the five-time winner on the PGA Tour holds the perfect long-term statistical profile.
Great from tee to green and well below average on the greens, the Auburn product has found a comfort level on these greens specifically, posting north of +3.0 SG: Putting in half of his starts in Palm Beach Gardens. If he is able to muster such an effort this week, I see potential in this price.
Golf is unique for many reasons, but one of them is the significant number of betting props available at weekly tournaments. The Honda Classic is no different.
Sportsbooks are offering odds on things like whether there will be a hole-in-one, OVER/UNDERs on the winning score for the eventual champion and odds on which players from specific countries will have the lowest score, to name a few.
Like other sports, betting on props is a fun and unique way to enhance your golf gambling experience.
Live Betting is arguably one of the most exciting ways to bet on golf. If the player you placed a pre-tournament bet on is out of the running at any point during the Honda Classic, you can bet on another golfer as the days go by and have another stake in the game.
If there are only a few men in the hunt on the final day, the odds likely won’t be significantly high, but your chances of winning are. We’ve seen this happen multiple times in the PGA Tour’s Return to Golf, as multiple tournaments have gone to a playoff.
These helpful pages will assist you in handicapping your golf wagers:
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Odds Shark Staff Thu, Aug 18, 10:00am