2019 Honda Classic Betting Guide: The Longshots Who Can Conquer One of Golf’s Toughest Tracks

2019 Honda Classic Betting Guide: The Longshots Who Can Conquer One of Golf’s Toughest Tracks article feature image
Credit:

Mark Konezny, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Russell Knox

  • Justin Thomas (+500), Rickie Fowler (+1000) and Brooks Koepka (+1200) are the betting favorites for the 2019 Honda Classic.
  • PGA National is one of golf's toughest courses and could provide an opportunity for a few longshots to contend.

Dustin Johnson left no doubt last week in Mexico.

None of our bets were ever in contention to win, but at least Sergio Garcia finished in the top 20 to keep us treading water for another week as the search for a winner continues.

The Tour heads to the treacherous PGA National this week. It’s a course where minimizing mistakes and hitting good approaches are the keys to success.

The Course

PGA National is one of the more difficult stops on Tour. Last year, it played as the second-toughest course behind only the U.S Open at Shinnecock Hills.

This par 70 measures 7,110 yards and presents danger at basically every turn.

Water is in play on 13 holes, forcing a more conservative style. It also marks the start of the Florida swing and as shift to Bermuda greens, which will come as a welcome change to players struggled on the bumpy Poa Annua prevalent on the west coast and Mexico.

The Field

With the changes to the PGA Tour schedule, which included moving the Players Championship to March, some tournaments were going to take a bit of a hit with players needing to find a week or two off in the build up to the Masters.

The Honda Classic is the first tournament we’ve seen suffer from the new tour pattern.

Last year, we had Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Louis Oosthuizen all take part in the event. None of them will return this year and only Brooks Koepka added it to his schedule among the big names.

The Favorites

Last year’s champ, Justin Thomas, is the clear favorite at +500 with Rickie Fowler next in line at +1000. Brooks Koepka is right behind Fowler at +1200, while Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott come in at +1600.

Of the elite guys, Thomas carries the most intrigue. He won last year and caught fire on Sunday in Mexico, so he should come in to this week with a lot of confidence.

I also like Garcia a lot this week, but after backing him in the +5000 range the last two weeks, the number has dropped too far for me.

The last guy at the top I like is Webb Simpson, but I need more than the +2500 out there. His approach game is a perfect fit for PGA National and if the number dips into the +3000 range, I’ll take a hard look at adding him.

Mid-Tier

We’re gonna steer clear of the top part of the board and start out this week with Kiradech Aphibarnrat at +6800.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Kiradech Aphibarnrat is coming off a third-place finish at the WGC-Mexico last weekend. Credit: Brad Penner. USA TODAY Sports

Aphibarnrat is coming off a third-place finish in Mexico where he was exceptional from tee to green, finishing sixth in strokes gained. The only players in the field who had a better week at Chapultepec in this field were Koepka and Thomas.

The next name on my card is Russell Knox at +7500. Knox has a pair of top-three finishes here and has finished inside the top 20 three times in his last six events. Knox is at his best on shorter courses where the emphasis is on the approach game.

I also like Sung Jae Im at +8000. He’s off to a strong start in his rookie year. He’s finished in the top 15 four times and has gained strokes with the approach in seven of the last 10 events.

Longshots

Longshots have had success here in the recent past as three players at 100-1 or longer raised this trophy from 2013-15.

With the driver limited a bit, more players are able to pick up a victory, so we’ll target a few guys in this range as well.

First up is Chesson Hadley at 150-1. Hadley’s best aspect is his approach game, so if he can putt well, he’ll have a chance to contend.

Another longshot I like is Denny McCarthy at 200-1. McCarthy has been hit and miss from tee to green this year, but the shift to Bermuda greens from Poa may help him out a bit. He lost strokes at Riviera and Torrey Pines, but had some of his best putting performances in the Southeast at Sanderson Farms and the RSM Classic. The shift may do wonders for his short game.

Last up, we’ll go with Jim Furyk to finish in the top 20 at +325. He’s another player with approach as his strong suit. He’s finished inside the top 20 in three of his last six events and since the Ryder Cup has passed, he’s been able to put a little more focus into his own golf game.

The Card

  • Kiradech Aphibarnrat +6800/+1200 Top 5 (.49/.49 units)
  • Russell Knox +7500/+1200 Top 5 (.44/.44 units)
  • Sung Jae Im +8000/+1400 Top 5 (.41/.41 units)
  • Chesson Hadley +15000/+2500 Top 5 (.22/.22 units)
  • Denny McCarthy +20000/+3300 Top 5 (.165/.165 units)
  • Jim Furyk +325 Top 20 (1 unit)

Total Stakes: 4.45 units

Season: -1.6 units

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