2022 Honda Classic Picks & Preview: Billy Horschel Among 3 to Watch at PGA National
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Billy Horschel.
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The Joaquin Niemann show took over Hollywood this week as he went wire-to-wire to take down the best field of players so far this year. He set a bunch of records along the way, and even though he didn’t have his best game on Sunday at Riviera, he was still in control and never seemed to be in doubt of holding the lead.
Niemann captured his second TOUR win at the Genesis Invitational and put himself firmly among the group of young stars that have been making waves in this game the past few years. We saw what his “A” game entails and even saw some improvement in the weaker areas of his play, which could be a springboard to bigger and better things in 2022.
The TOUR now leaves the West Coast to come east for the “Florida Swing.” It will start this week at the Honda Classic, in a lesser field due to a tough spot on the schedule. Despite the lack of high-ranked talent teeing it up, we know the depth of the PGA will present a great week and a chance for another name to stand out. Let’s take a look at who is coming in hot to the week ahead at PGA National.
The first name I will be looking for when odds open on Monday is Keith Mitchell. This tournament is the site of his maiden TOUR win and where he really put his name on the map as he took down Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler at this event in 2019.
Mitchell is coming into the week in great form off of consecutive top-12 finishes in his prior two tournaments before a week off during the Genesis. He also posted a T7 earlier in the year at the Sony Open, all of which bodes well as he comes to some more comfortable territory on the bermuda of the Southeast. The only real question on Mitchell this week is whether this field is strong enough to open his odds with some value or if we are going to really have to pay a short price to get in on the former champion.
There aren’t many players that are streakier than Billy Horschel. He has a tendency to run hot — both with his play and under the collar — or cold. He’s certainly been the former as of late as we last saw him charging up the leaderboard in the final round of the WM Phoenix Open.
Horschel would close out that week with a T6, which made it consecutive top-10 finishes for the Florida Gator. He will look to carry that momentum into another solid week as he tees it up for another Honda Classic. Horschel has had up-and-down results in his appearances at PGA National with two top-eight finishes, but each of those were more than five years ago now. Still, it’s impossible to ignore him with his current form on a course that should suit his game.
When Alex Noren finished third at the Honda Classic back in 2018, he left that event as the 14th-ranked player in the world. His game fell off not long after and he drifted from being one of the best players not to have won on TOUR to a bit of an afterthought. The Swede has had a bit of a resurgence dating back to last summer when he posted three top-10 finishes, including back-to-backs in the first two events of the 2021 playoffs.
Noren has made his last three cuts on TOUR, highlighted by his T6 two weeks ago at the WM Phoenix Open. He will come into the week with some confidence, and we know the skillset is in there for him to compete at the highest level. Everything may be aligning just right for Noren this week as he comes into a course that fits his game and is going against a lesser-quality field that may put him in position to snag his first win stateside.