Sobel’s Favorite Honda Classic Tournament Matchups: Focus on Players Who Suit the Course

Sobel’s Favorite Honda Classic Tournament Matchups: Focus on Players Who Suit the Course article feature image

Allan Henry, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Gary Woodland

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – So, you’ve been diligently studying and researching every available statistic over the first two months of the 2019 golf campaign?

Good work.

Now forget everything you just learned.

OK, so maybe things won’t change that much, but the move from West Coast to East Coast always shifts player performance based on course preference.

I’ve factored in some of that – plus a few of my own observations from being at PGA National this week – in these matchup bets, my three favorite for the Honda Classic.

Gary Woodland over Brooks Koepka (-110)

Conspiracy theory alert: While most top players crossed this tourney off their schedules this year, Koepka was the outlier, curiously adding it during a busy stretch.

Though he might not admit it, this would count toward his requirement of competing in a new event each year – and one which is close to his home.

For a guy who isn’t often overly motivated on non-major weeks, he could be even less motivated than usual.

Woodland, meanwhile, continually spoke about how much he likes this track during a Tuesday press conference. There’s always trepidation in fading one of the world’s most talented players, but this spot seems ripe for that strategy.

Emiliano Grillo over Billy Horschel (-115)

I spoke with Horschel at length earlier this week, at one point mentioning that I should let him go since I’m sure he needed to practice.

Nope, he told me, his back was bothering him a bit and he was going to take it easy. Now, he quickly followed by insisting he’d be fine for the opening round – and he even played the pro-am on Wednesday – but if we’re looking for an edge, he provided one there.

Besides, even at full health, I’d lean Grillo in this matchup, as he returns to the site of a top-10 finish last year.

Brian Harman
A change in scenery could benefit Brian Harman this weekend. Credit: Mark Konezny, USA Today Sports

Brian Harman over Sung Kang (-105)

This one is all about the surroundings. Check the numbers so far this year and you’ll find that Kang has easily been the superior golfer.

But let’s remember: This week starts the Florida Swing, as we move from poa annua greens to Bermuda – all of which should greatly impact each of these players. Harman tends to play his best golf on short, tight, Southeast tracks; this one checks all of those boxes.

Kang, on the other hand, owns just one career top-20 finish in the state of Florida, despite being in his fourth full PGA Tour season.