2023 Honda Classic Final Round Odds & Picks: Chris Kirk Set for 5th Career Win

2023 Honda Classic Final Round Odds & Picks: Chris Kirk Set for 5th Career Win article feature image

Pictured: Chris Kirk. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

This tournament started with the lack of field strength being the headline, but — as always seems to be the case on the PGA Tour — there are now many storylines going into Sunday's final round. The first is that of Chris Kirk, who overcame alcoholism earlier in his career to return to form and retain his TOUR card. He now has a chance to capture his fifth career win, but his first in more than eight years.

Kirk will go into the final round at PGA National with a two-shot lead over Eric Cole and a three-shot lead over Justin Suh, both of whom are seeking their first win on TOUR. Shane Lowry lurks just one shot further behind them and he is looking to avenge his final-hole loss at this tournament last year. It all sets up for a great finish on a course that can jump out and bite players at any time, especially down the closing stretch at the "Bear Trap."

We saw Daniel Berger lose a five-shot lead in the first several holes of his final round last year at this tournament and four of the past five champions have come from behind to win this event. While Kirk has certainly been the most steady player throughout the week, one simple mistake can get blown up around this course, leading me to likely chase him from behind going into Sunday.

Let's see how the data looks and see if anyone stands out as a potential champion.

Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer has truly played by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different. Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics:

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, SG: Ball Striking and SG: Tee-to-Green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but are just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4

I came into this article expecting to write up someone coming from behind at a nice number to beat Kirk on Sunday, but my first buy is actually going to be on the leader. I was fully expecting to have to pay juice to buy in on Kirk, but the books are giving us a nice, conservative +110, implying only about a 47% win probability, while DataGolf puts it at 53.6%.

It's not just the betting value that has me leaning toward Kirk, it's also the data. He is playing as far and away the best player in the field, having gained 1.7 shots tee-to-green more than Suh, who is the second best in that category.

Kirk has everything working and while it's been a long time since he has closed out a win, it's hard to ignore the fact that he's gotten it done four times in his career. When I add that into the betting value, he becomes my clear top pick and winner on Sunday.

If Kirk were to stumble, my next stop would be with Lowry. He's the opposite of Kirk in terms of value as he's getting boosted by name value, but I think it's merited. Lowry is certainly the most accomplished player near the top of the leaderboard and won't be intimidated by the moment. He'll start the day four shots back, but in this scenario, we are expecting Kirk to take a step back, which makes overtaking him more attainable.

Lowry has been Jekyll and Hyde with his irons this week, ranking at the top of the field on approach Thursday and losing strokes Friday. He continued that up-and-down play Saturday as he gained more than a quarter of shot on approach with four swings in Round 3, while losing that much on five more. This type of volatility is often a sign of a player close to putting it all together and if that happens tomorrow, he may avenge his painful loss in this round last year.

Sometimes books hang on to some interesting markets for the final rounds and FanDuel has one for us this week with a "Top South African" prop. There are four players in contention with Christiaan Bezuidenhout at 4-under, Garrick Higgo at 3-under, Dylan Frittelli at 2-under and M.J. Daffue at 1-under. I will happily take a shot on Higgo at +200 in this market.

We saw Higgo charge out of the gates Saturday as he was 6-under through his first nine holes, going out in just 29 strokes. He stumbled a bit on the way in, but did close with a birdie to finish with a 4-under 66.

Higgo has been the best player of this group in final rounds by a long shot. He has gained 2.6 strokes on average in Round 4 across the past six months, a span of five tournaments. None of the others in this market are gaining on the field in the final round and with a plus money position, I'll happily take my shot on Higgo to be the top South African this week.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players Through Round 3 (Average Per Round)

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