2023 Honda Classic Odds, Expert Picks: Vegas, Buckley Fit PGA National
Via Meg Oliphant/Getty Images. Pictured: Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela plays his shot from the ninth tee during the first round of The American Express at PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course on January 19, 2023 in La Quinta, California.
Click arrow to expand The Honda Classic odds via PointsBet
|Min Woo Lee||+3000|
|Byeong Hun An||+4500|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+9000|
|Paul Haley Ii||+35000|
After back-to-back elevated events won by elite players, the PGA TOUR heads to PGA National to begin its Florida swing and play The Honda Classic.
The event will be a major challenge for golfers, as PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA TOUR.
PGA National is a 7,125-yard par 70 and features Bermudagrass greens. Originally a Tom Fazio design, it was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. The course features the infamous “Bear Trap” on holes 15-17, three of the toughest holes on TOUR. Wind tends to play a factor, which makes the scoring even more challenging.
The field is weak, which is no surprise given how strong the recent schedule has been and that two other elevated events (Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship) loom right around the corner. However, there are still some solid players in the field, including Sungjae Im, Shane Lowry, Billy Horschel, Sepp Straka, Aaron Wise, Taylor Pendrith and Min Woo Lee.
Past Winners at PGA National
- 2022: Sepp Straka (-10)
- 2021: Matt Jones (-12)
- 2020: Sungjae Im (-6)
- 2019: Keith Mitchell (-9)
- 2018: Justin Thomas (-8)
- 2017: Rickie Fowler (-12)
- 2016: Adam Scott (-9)
- 2015: Padraig Harrington (-6)
5 Key Stats for PGA National
Let’s take a look at five key metrics for PGA National to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
1. Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Approach has been far and away the biggest indicator of the winner at PGA National. Hitting the target is especially important with all of the water at the course.
Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds
- Russell Knox (+22.5) (+9000)
- Nick Hardy (+18.6) (+5500)
- Robby Shelton (+16.8) (+5500)
- Erik Van Rooyen (+16.0) (+2200)
- Ben Martin (+15.7) (+8000)
2. Good Drives Gained
Good drives will be very important this week.
Golfers who patiently make their way around the course and stay disciplined will be rewarded. Spraying it off of the tee will be a major issue around PGA National, and the strokes will add up in a hurry.
Good Drives Gained Over Past 24 Rounds
- Aaron Rai (+28.2) (+6500)
- Justin Suh (+24.0) (+6000)
- Cameron Percy (+23.5) (+25000)
- Dylan Wu (+21.2) (+18000)
- Hayden Buckley (+21.1) (+6500)
3. Strokes Gained: Par 4
Par-4 scoring is especially important at PGA National with only two par 5s on the course. Golfers will need to find a way to score on the par 4s if they want to win the tournament.
Holes 1, 4, 8 and 13 are the par 4s that generate the most birdies.
SG: Par 4 Over Past 24 Rounds:
- Thomas Detry (+23.8) (+3500)
- Ben Griffin (+22.8) (+5500)
- Hayden Buckley (+19.5) (+6500)
- Aaron Baddeley (+19.3) (+11000)
- Chris Kirk (+17.4) (+2500)
4. Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Historically, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking has been much more indicative of success at PGA National than Strokes Gained: Short Game. The difficult track rewards a solid tee-to-green game, which is the key to avoiding trouble.
The winning score will likely stay in the single digits, so an extremely hot putter isn’t all that predictive.
SG: BS Over Past 24 Rounds
- Nick Hardy (+21.1) (+5500)
- Joseph Bramlett (+19.5) (+6500)
- Will Gordon (+19.3) (+5500)
- Jhonattan Vegas (+18.6) (+4500)
- Sotoshi Kodaira (+18.3) (+20000)
5. Strokes Gained: Difficult Conditions
PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on the PGA TOUR. Including this stat will highlight some players who thrive when scoring is difficult.
Strokes Gained: Difficult Conditions Over Past 24 Rounds
- Shane Lowry (+47.7) (+1400)
- Aaron Wise (+45.1) (+2200)
- Sungjae Im (+39.8) (+850)
- Denny McCarthy (+31.1) (+2800)
- Webb Simpson (+29.3) (+7000)
The Honda Classic Model Rankings
Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (28%), Good Drives Gained (20%), SG: Par 4 (16 %), SG: Ball Striking (20%) and SG: Difficult Conditions (16%).
- Ben Griffin (+5500)
- Sungjae Im (+850)
- Joseph Bramlett (+6500)
- Will Gordon (+5500)
- Sotoshi Kodaira (+20000)
- Davis Riley (+7500)
- Lee Hodges (+5000)
- Nick Hardy (+5500)
- Jhonattan Vegas (+4500)
- Thomas Detry (+3500)
2023 Honda Classic Picks
Taylor Pendrith +4000 (BetMGM)
Taylor Pendrith has been relatively average for the most part during the 2023 season, but I believe the Honda Classic is a good time to take a gamble on the Canadian’s overall talent.
Pendrith played the event last year and finished 25th, gaining 4.7 strokes on approach. He went on to finish 13th at THE PLAYERS Championship two weeks later, so he’s been successful throughout the early part of his career in the TOUR’s Florida swing.
Pendrith participated in the 2022 Presidents Cup and is a cut above most of the players in this field. Despite not being in peak form, he will have an excellent opportunity to win his first PGA TOUR event this week.
Pick: Taylor Pendrith Outright +4000
Jhonattan Vegas +4500 (DraftKings)
Jhonattan Vegas returned in January from a five-month hiatus and has been playing solid golf since. In his four starts, Vegas has two top-25 finishes and has been really impressive with his ball striking.
He’s gained an average of 3.3 strokes off the tee and 1.6 strokes on approach in the four outings. Last week at Riviera in a loaded field, Vegas gained 5.9 strokes ball striking. In his past 24 rounds in this field, he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, fourth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
The Venezuelan has struggled with the putter a bit this year. Last week was especially horrific, as he lost 6.9 strokes putting. Going to Florida should help as PGA National features Bermudagrass greens, where he’s been much more consistent over the course of his career. He’s also played the Honda Classic really well, with finishes of fourth (2017), 12th (2014), 27th (2019) and 16th (2019). With the field even weaker than usual this week, Vegas should be able to contend for a victory.
Hayden Buckley +6500 (BetRivers)
Hayden Buckley struggled last week, but a bigger picture view says that he is a young player who’s ready to break through on the PGA TOUR.
Buckley won a KFT event in Florida against a relatively strong field. He also beat out Taylor Montgomery in a playoff at the LECOM Suncoast Classic in a field that also featured Mito Pereira, Taylor Pendrith, Brandon Wu and Callum Tarren. The event was played at Lakewood National Golf Club, which is a Jack Nicklaus design. PGA National was redesigned by Palmer as well, so there may be a correlation.
Buckley finished second at the Sony Open last month and seems on the precipice of achieving his first victory on the PGA TOUR.
Danny Willett +7000 (BetRivers)
Danny Willett is a golfer whom I feel confident can contend in difficult tests. His only PGA TOUR win came at The Masters with a winning score of -5. The 35-year-old has a great short game, which can keep him in the mix when things get tough.
Back in September, Willett missed two short putts on 18 at the Fortinet Championship to hand a victory to Max Homa. Despite the disappointing finish, it gave me a bit more assuredness that he is capable of getting in the mix in a lower-level PGA TOUR event. Willett played well at last week’s Genesis Invitational, gaining 5.8 strokes from tee to green and finishing 18th in one of the strongest fields of the year.
With eight professional wins in his career, the Englishman offers the winning upside that not many others do in this field.
Pick: Danny Willett Outright +6500
How would you rate this article?
This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.