2023 Honda Classic Early Picks: Kuchar, Willett & Lee Fit PGA National
Pictured: Matt Kuchar. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
Jon Rahm closed out another really impressive week as he captured his third PGA Tour win of 2023 and his fifth win worldwide in his past nine starts. It has been an incredible run of golf that has also resulted in him taking over the number one spot in the world rankings. He defeated possibly the second hottest golfer in the world in Max Homa as the Spaniard was just too tough down the stretch on Sunday at Riviera.
The TOUR now heads east for the start of the Florida swing at the Honda Classic. This tournament is jammed between four elevated events, positioned as almost certainly the worst spot on the schedule in terms of being able to draw a top-flight field. The field set to tee it up at PGA National confirms those issues as World No. 18 Sungjae Im is the top-ranked player set to play. Shane Lowry is the only other top-20 player as all of the biggest names are looking to rest up before the Arnold Palmer and Players Championship.
The good news about a weaker field, from a betting perspective, is that we don’t have to worry about beating the Rahm’s of the world. In fact, we may find some more viable long-shot opportunities. I’ll still be looking first for players carrying form from the past two weeks and seeing if a weaker field can elevate them to the top.
I can’t say I expected to lead any betting article in 2023 with Matt Kuchar, but here we are. Kuchar took a solid finish at the Waste Management and carried it into even better golf last week at the Genesis Invitational, where he posted a solo 8th-place finish.
The most encouraging part of the week was seeing that Kuchar gained strokes on that elite field in all aspects of his game tee-to-green. That kind of form will play well at PGA National, where we want all around golfers as every aspect of their game will be tested on a difficult course. I’ll be interested to see where Kuchar’s odds open Monday, but I am admittedly worried he may be a bit overpriced due to the weak nature of this field.
Another player who had an impressive week at the Genesis Invitational was Danny Willett. He finished T18 and really played well, gaining nearly six strokes on the field tee-to-green across the four rounds. He was also able to gain in every metric, showing great form throughout his bag, including some solid putting.
The former Masters champion will make his second trip to the Honda Classic this week and while I don’t really value course history this week much at all, I do like that he has some experience on this track. I am hopeful Willett may get lost in the shuffle and get a solid number posted on him.
Min Woo Lee
Getting away from the players who took their shot at the past two elevated events, I will look to take a chance on Min Woo Lee coming over from the DP World Tour.
He has been rolling overseas with top-13 finishes in each of his past five starts, including three in the top five. The Australian hasn’t had much success coming over to the PGA Tour, but he certainly has the talent to compete and this is a nice field for him to make a splash.
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