2023 Honda Classic Odds, Expert Picks: Vegas, Buckley Fit PGA National

2023 Honda Classic Odds, Expert Picks: Vegas, Buckley Fit PGA National article feature image

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
Player NameOdds
Sungjae Im+1000
Shane Lowry+1600
Aaron Wise+2200
Billy Horschel+2500
Matt Kuchar+2800
Adam Svensson+2800
Denny Mccarthy+3000
Min Woo Lee+3000
Chris Kirk+3300
J.T. Poston+3500
Taylor Pendrith+3500
Jhonattan Vegas+3500
Harris English+3500
Thomas Detry+3500
Adrian Meronk+4000
Byeong Hun An+4500
Cam Davis+4500
Robby Shelton+4500
Christiaan Bezuidenhout+4500
Hayden Buckley+4500
Stephan Jaeger+4500
Will Gordon+4500
Lee Hodges+5000
Sepp Straka+5000
S.H. Kim+5000
Joseph Bramlett+5000
Ben Griffin+5000
Aaron Rai+6000
Brandon Wu+6000
Danny Willett+6000
Davis Riley+6600
Ryan Palmer+6600
Padraig Harrington+6600
Nick Hardy+6600
Garrick Higgo+7500
Justin Suh+7500
Adam Schenk+8000
Dylan Frittelli+9000
Sam Stevens+9000
Charley Hoffman+9000
Webb Simpson+9000
Erik Van Rooyen+9000
Mark Hubbard+9000
Callum Tarren+10000
Carl Yuan+10000
Harry Hall+10000
Peter Malnati+10000
Eric Cole+10000
Russell Knox+11000
Matt Wallace+11000
Ben Taylor+11000
Michael Kim+12500
Matti Schmid+12500
Mj Daffue+12500
Adam Long+12500
Ben Martin+12500
Aaron Baddeley+12500
Kevin Tway+12500
Tyler Duncan+12500
Greyson Sigg+12500
Erik Barnes+12500
Harry Higgs+15000
Andrew Novak+15000
Austin Eckroat+15000
Matthias Schwab+15000
Vincent Norrman+17500
Chesson Hadley+17500
Kramer Hickok+17500
Zecheng Dou+17500
Dylan Wu+17500
Satoshi Kodaira+17500
Luke Donald+17500
Akshay Bhatia+20000
Zach Johnson+20000
Hank Lebioda+20000
Austin Cook+20000
Henrik Norlander+20000
Augusto Núñez+20000
Brent Grant+25000
Kyle Westmoreland+25000
Chris Stroud+25000
Ryan Moore+25000
Doc Redman+25000
Tyson Alexander+25000
Ryan Armour+25000
Pierceson Coody+25000
David Lingmerth+25000
Sean O'hair+25000
Harrison Endycott+30000
S.Y. Noh+30000
Martin Trainer+30000
Nico Echavarria+30000
Tano Goya+30000
Robert Streb+30000
Jonas Blixt+30000
Sung Kang+30000
Jason Dufner+35000
Paul Haley Ii+35000
Rory Sabbatini+35000
Brice Garnett+35000
Zac Blair+35000
Richy Werenski+35000
Ben Silverman+35000
Cameron Percy+40000
Jimmy Walker+40000
Jonathan Byrd+40000
Brian Stuard+40000
Fabián Gómez+40000
Kevin Roy+40000
Michael Gligic+40000
Curtis Thompson+40000
Kevin Chappell+40000
Grayson Murray+40000
Andrew Kozan+50000
Trevor Cone+50000
Chad Ramey+50000
Andrew Landry+50000
Cody Gribble+50000
Trevor Werbylo+50000
Scott Harrington+50000
Camilo Villegas+50000
Kelly Kraft+50000
Scott Brown+50000
Trace Crowe+50000
William Mcgirt+60000
Jim Herman+60000
Bill Haas+60000
Anders Albertson+60000
Carson Young+60000
J.B. Holmes+60000
Brandon Matthews+60000
Brian Gay+60000
Brett Drewitt+60000
Ryan Gerard+60000
Max Mcgreevy+70000
Kyle Stanley+70000
Parker Coody+70000
Tyler Collet+100000
Marcus Byrd+100000
Ryan Brehm+100000
Ben Crane+100000
Arjun Atwal+100000
Geoff Ogilvy+100000

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

  1. Russell Knox (+22.5) (+9000)
  2. Nick Hardy (+18.6) (+5500)
  3. Robby Shelton (+16.8) (+5500)
  4. Erik Van Rooyen (+16.0) (+2200)
  5. 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

  1. Aaron Rai (+28.2) (+6500)
  2. Justin Suh (+24.0) (+6000)
  3. Cameron Percy (+23.5) (+25000)
  4. Dylan Wu (+21.2) (+18000)
  5. 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:

  1. Thomas Detry (+23.8) (+3500)
  2. Ben Griffin (+22.8) (+5500)
  3. Hayden Buckley (+19.5) (+6500)
  4. Aaron Baddeley (+19.3) (+11000)
  5. 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

  1. Nick Hardy (+21.1) (+5500)
  2. Joseph Bramlett (+19.5) (+6500)
  3. Will Gordon (+19.3) (+5500)
  4. Jhonattan Vegas (+18.6) (+4500)
  5. 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

  1. Shane Lowry (+47.7) (+1400)
  2. Aaron Wise (+45.1) (+2200)
  3. Sungjae Im (+39.8) (+850)
  4. Denny McCarthy (+31.1) (+2800)
  5. 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%).

  1. Ben Griffin (+5500)
  2. Sungjae Im (+850)
  3. Joseph Bramlett (+6500)
  4. Will Gordon (+5500)
  5. Sotoshi Kodaira (+20000)
  6. Davis Riley (+7500)
  7. Lee Hodges (+5000)
  8. Nick Hardy (+5500)
  9. Jhonattan Vegas (+4500)
  10. 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

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