Honda Classic Betting, DFS Picks: Loading Up on Longshots

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Jan 11, 2018; Honolulu, HI, USA; PGA golfer Kevin Kisner hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The conditions at this week’s Honda Classic promise to be a challenge for players, as the combination of a tough course and windy conditions looms.

But this is good news for bettors and DFS players: Golfers who haven’t found success on easier courses in better conditions — and who are accordingly priced as longshots — may have the skill set to pay off big.

The tough conditions present a bigger-than-usual edge for sharps, which means there are value opportunities aplenty for you, The Action Network reader.

Add in a talented field that includes the likes of Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, and Rickie Fowler, and this event has all the ingredients of compelling viewing, betting, and DFS play.

Let’s get to it and break down a field stacked with some great longshot values.

The Course

Measuring 7,110 yards for a par 70, PGA National places a premium on positioning the drive rather than just bombing it. Many of the fairways are cut off by water, and those hazards are in play on 13 holes.

Consequently, the long drivers rarely come out on top. The past two winners, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott, fit the mold of a successful player on this course. Fowler and Scott have enough distance with the driver to compete anywhere, but they’re more all-around players who do a lot of their damage in the approach game. — Joshua Perry

Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, we can back-test a variety of metrics to see what types of players do well at PGA National. This is indeed one of the toughest courses on the PGA Tour, as evidenced by the baseline golfer posting an average Plus/Minus of -11.39. From there, I looked at how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each metric have historically fared at this course. Here’s the data:

Bogey avoidance has proven important over the years, and ball-strikers have done better than the average golfer. As Josh mentioned, performance off the tee doesn’t seem to be that important, be it for distance or accuracy guys. I — well, me and the PGA Flex podcast guys — have a theory on that, which I’ll touch on below. — Bryan Mears

We Don’t Mean to Be Long-Winded, But…

The wind could definitely be a factor this week. It’s supposed to consistently stay between 15-20 miles per hour throughout the weekend, which will certainly affect the performance of certain golfers. I won’t give too much away from the podcast, but you might want to fade Patrick Reed. In all seriousness, though: This is a big storyline for this week, and we went very in-depth on how the wind could impact the field, betting, and DFS. — Bryan Mears

The Field

From an odds standpoint, Rickie Fowler (+800), Justin Thomas (+1000) and Rory McIlroy (+1100) headline the first stop on the PGA Tour’s Florida swing.

Just below them, we have the influx of Europeans, with Sergio Garcia (+1600) and Tyrell Hatton (+2500) making their first starts in the States this year. Tommy Fleetwood is also on the board at +2500.

And then there’s Tiger Woods, who will make his third start of the season. Woods hasn’t had a lot of success on PGA National (his best finish was second in 2012) and is available at +5000. — Joshua Perry

The Favorites

Betting angle: I’ll be steering clear of the Fowler, Thomas and McIlroy trio. Because of the wind and water, PGA National is a very volatile course and leads to a lot of random winners. On this type of course, the favorites can win, but from a value standpoint we’re better served looking down the board. McIlroy and Fowler both have won here, but Rory has missed his past two cuts on the course and Fowler has finished outside the top 10 in five of his eight career starts. Thomas, meanwhile, had a third-place finish a couple years ago, but that’s coupled with a pair of missed cuts.

If you do want to back a favorite, I’d look at that next wave with Fleetwood and Alexander Noren (who’s available at +3300). We were on them last week at the Genesis Open, and they had solid performances. (Noren tied for 16th place, and Fleetwood tied for 37th.) Each has a skill set that’s well suited for the course, and both have been prolific winners in Europe. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: Unlike last week, when Dustin Johnson was an overwhelming favorite at Riviera, this week there isn’t a strong favorite. But the three studs at the top — Fowler, McIlroy and Thomas — stand out with the highest Vegas Bargain Rating scores. They’re all expensive, but the point of this data is that they’re still underpriced despite their high price tags on DraftKings. According to the regression formula, for example, Fowler “should” be priced at about $14,700 given his 11.1% implied odds to win. He’s the most expensive guy at $11,700, but his $3,000 “price discrepancy” is still the largest of the week. — Bryan Mears

Sergio Garcia has made every cut at PGA National since 2008 and has three top-15 finishes in the past four years here. He also has the fourth-best Long Term GIR (72.4%) and 10th-best Recent GIR (72.2%). Looking at FantasyLabs’ PGA Correlations Matrix, a player’s Long Term Missed Cut Score has the strongest correlation (0.16) with fantasy points scored on this course; Garcia ranks in the 96th percentile in Missed Cut Score over the past 75 weeks. For the discount, Sergio may be the stud to own given his recent form and how his metrics line up for this course. He is tied for a slate-high 11 Pro Trends. — Justin Bailey

The Mid-Tier

Betting angle: This  where we start seeing guys pop up with some value. I’m targeting Russell Knox (+4500), Daniel Berger (+5000) and Ollie Schniederjans (+5500) in this range. All three of these guys have had some good results on the course in the past, including runner-up finishes from Knox and Berger in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The trio fits the mold of a golfer who gets the driver in play with some distance and accuracy, but relies more on his iron game to get his scoring done. I think the the shift from poa greens to bermuda will help this group, especially Knox and Berger, who reside in Florida. We see the West Coast players fade back to the pack and the Southern players rise up the boards as we get on a more comfortable green surface at this point every year. — Joshua Perry

FantasyLabs has a propriety metric called Adjusted Round Score, which is the average adjusted strokes per round; adjustments are made to account for the difficulty of the course and the strength of the field. Perhaps more than any metric in golf analytics, Adjusted Round Score is the best indicator of a golfer’s talent level. As such, we can measure a player’s Long Term Adj Rd Score versus his odds to win and spot some discrepancies. The two guys who stand out the most in that regard this week are Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, although they likely lack the upside needed to win. The more intriguing range is with guys like Kevin Kisner, Jason Dufner, and Russell Henley. If I “predicted” what Kisner’s odds should be based on his LT Adj Rd Score, he should be around +2100. Given that he’s anywhere from +5000 to +6600 around the betting market, that seems like nice value. — Bryan Mears

DFS spin: Two players who stand out in the $7,000 range are Charles Howell and Russell Henley. Howell is the perfect cash-game play: Of golfers with at least 25 tournaments over the past year, he ranks third with an 83% Consistency Rating. He’s averaged a +8.54 Plus/Minus with a 70% Consistency Rating over his past 10 tournaments, and he seemingly fits the type of golfer you want at this course as a grind-it-out ball-striker. Henley has also been solid over the past year, and he bounced back at Pebble Beach two weeks ago after missing back-to-back cuts. His 69.2 Long-Term Adj Rd Score is tied for eighth in the field; he has a superior mark to Noren, who is $10,100. Henley, a former winner here (2014), has been striking the ball well of late. At just $7,700, he’s in play in all contest formats. — Bryan Mears

Bernd Wiesberger boasts the fourth-best LT GIR and ranks inside the top five in both LT and Recent Adj Bird Avg. He has the ninth-best LT average adjusted strokes on par 4s. Wiesberger ranks in the 95th percentile in LT Missed Cut Score, missing the cut in just 8% of his tournaments. European players may have an edge given this course can be quite windy. (Again, the PGA Flex guys discussed this extensively on this week’s podcast.) — Justin Bailey

Longshots

Betting angle: This is a course where the longshots have a real chance of getting home. From 2013-15, we had three straight winners who went off at +20000 or higher. Again, it comes down to the course’s volatility and the need for accuracy. When there’s a pond 290 yards off the tee cutting a fairway in half, everybody has to hit their irons from the same spot short of the hazard. This allows some short hitters to hang around, and that’s usually where there’s value in the longshots.

I’ll be targeting Florida native Billy Horschel here at +10000.  He’s fared well at this tournament in the past two years, taking fourth and eighth. I’m also going way down the list for Harold Varner III at +20000. Varner struggled putting and chipping on the poa during the West Coast swing, but he gained strokes tee to green in his past three events. The shift to a bermuda surface could do wonders for his short game. I’ll be looking at him for a top-10 bet once the odds are available. — Joshua Perry

DFS spin: The two guys who look like great values on both DraftKings and FanDuel are Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover. Cink is just $6,700, and yet his Long-Term Adj Rd Score of 69.4 is tied for 17th in the field. For reference, he has a superior Long-Term score to, say, Russell Knox, who is priced much higher at $9,000. Glover has an even better score of 69.3, and he’s only $7,200. Cink has missed two cuts in a row and is 44, and Glover has poor history at PGA National, but they’re definitely underpriced relative to their talent. — Bryan Mears

 


All odds via Bovada on Feb. 20.

Top photo: Kevin Kisner

Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports