2021 Honda Classic Sleeper Picks: Our Best Longshot Bets at PGA National
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyoung-hoon Lee
Every golf tournament is random. Every golf tournament has an element of chaos. But the way things are lining up for this week’s Honda Classic, hoo boy.
Not only is PGA National known as one of the toughest courses on TOUR, but Mother Nature also figures to play a pretty big role this weekend as there is some serious wind in the forecast in Palm Beach Gardens. A difficult track, gusty weather and a wide-open field should make the Honda Classic a perfect place to throw some darts on a longshot or two.
Here are our favorite sleeper picks at PGA National:
Alex Noren (+7500)
In 2013, Noren played this event for the first time, missing the cut. The third and most recent time he played it was two years ago, when he also MC’d. In between, though, he was solo third in 2018, which proves that when he’s on his game, this should be a strong course fit.
An opening 78 at THE PLAYERS put him behind the eight-ball last week, but his ball-striking numbers were all positive during a second-round 70 before he missed the cut. I like him to be in the mix on Sunday afternoon this week.
Chez Reavie (+12500)
I like Chez in this range and he’s also on the right side of the weather draw on Thursday. Reavie has gained ground off the tee and with his approach for four straight events, but been a short game issue lately with him. He lost six strokes putting in two rounds last week.
Like Kevin Streelman, Reavie is another player whose game is better suited to take on a shorter course like PGA National, so I’ll take a shot on him at a big number.
James Hahn (+11000)
James Hahn has flashed some really good form in the start to the new year, as he contended in Phoenix and finished 15th at The Genesis. He was able to make the cut at THE PLAYERS, but struggled to score on Saturday which left him further down the leaderboard at the finish. He still gained more than three strokes on that elite field with his irons, and will look to carry that ball-striking into this week at PGA National.
His consistency of late especially on approach and in bogey avoidance make him an attractive bet to be able to manage the difficult conditions this week and put himself in the conversation down the stretch this week.
Kyoung-hoon Lee (+8000)
K.H. Lee is playing well and has had some success at PGA National. Lee was in contention until late on Sunday in 2019 en route to a 7th-place finish.
With difficult conditions and wind expected to be in the forecast, it is a perfect situation for Lee to thrive. He gains strokes on the field in both difficult and extremely windy conditions further highlighting the excellent course fit.
Additionally, his game seemingly picks up when he gets to the Florida swing and he was impressive at TPC Sawgrass last week where he gained 4.6 strokes off of the tee. Keeping the ball in play is essential at PGA National and Lee is in command of his driver right now.
The combination of course history and current form make the South Korean a worthy gamble this week.
Aaron Wise (+8500)
Wise is worth backing at this high a number, as the former PGA TOUR winner has been striking the ball really well of late, ranking 16th in this field in SG: Ball-Striking over his past 16 rounds and 12th in SG: Tee-to-Green to boot. It’s his putting that’s let him down as usual.
Wise has played this tournament twice and made the cut both times, finishing 35th and 33rd respectably, so it’s clear he feels somewhat comfortable at PGA National.
There will likely be a ton of carnage this week due to the expected high winds and all the water hazards, so taking stabs at former TOUR winners at close to triple-digit odds is a sound strategy.
Brice Garnett (+25000)
He doesn’t typically contend in stand-alone events and I don’t care. At this price, he’s worth the ride. Tied for 11th last year with a solid attack. The through line of most of his success is wind and on mostly shorter courses. Check, check.
Perhaps the most underrated thing about him – other than the man himself – is that his putting is vastly improved, and he hasn’t sacrificed what always has been confident ball-striking.