Honda Classic - Matchup Bets
February 27, 2019
By Joe Williams
The PGA TOUR moves on to The Honda Classic at the PGA National's Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. this week.
The Par 70, 7,079-yard course tends to favor those who are long off the tee, especially with several long Par 4s and a couple of Par 5s which measure at longer than 535 yards. However, not only does the course require decent clout from the tee box, but there are plenty of water hazards on the South Florida course, so some measure of Driving Accuracy is also necessary. Looking at golfers decent in length, accuracy and Greens In Regulation Percentage is a good starting point, but it also helps to have solid Scrambling and Putting numbers to avoid all of that good work getting onto the dance floor.
Each week we'll take a look at the best round matchups to try and build up a nice bankroll.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-105) vs. Zach Johnson (-125): Johnson has made four previous appearances at The Honda Classic since 2014, but he hasn't had very good results. He was 27th in his most recent showing in 2017, and he faded on Sunday with a final-round 4-over 74 in that event. He missed the cut in two straight seasons from 2015-16, and also had an ugly showing on Sunday in the 2014 tournament after making the cut. He hasn't been good in any facet of the game this season, so Aphibarnrat is the play this weekend in the head-to-head matchup. The Thai golfer averages 300.8 yards off the tee, and he is 37th on TOUR in Scoring Average at 70.405.
Daniel Berger (+140) vs. Webb Simpson (-170): Simpson is rather heavy chalk in this head-to-head matchup, and for good reason. He has posted top-20 showings in four of his past five events, tumbling to 39th last week in the rarefied air at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Simpson isn't a heavy hitter from the tee box, but that didn't affect him last season in a sloppy, soggy event, placing fifth. He hadn't traveled to the event since 2011 before that, but he was 21st in that installment, too. Despite all of that, who knows PGA National better than Jupiter, Fla. native Daniel Berger? He made the cut in the event last season, finishing 29th, and he would have been even higher if not for a final-round 5-over 75. That can mostly be attributed to the ugly weather, however. He missed the cut in both 2017 and 2016, but he lost in a playoff in the 2015 installment. Berger is coming off a runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open last season, and he is worth a roll of the dice this weekend at a good price.
Brian Harman (Even) vs. Sung Hoon Kang (-130): Harman still holds the PGA National Resort & Spa course record with a 9-under 61 in the second round of the 2012 event. He looks to have righted the ship after three straight missed cuts, posting a 39th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and a 51st at the Genesis Open with a fairly deep field. Harman has made the cut in five of the past seven showings, including two finishes of 12th or better. Harman's familiarity with the course is a major factor here. Kang appeared in this event last season and was terrible, posting a 4-over 74 in the first round, and 13-over 83 in the second round to earn a plane ride home on Saturday morning. Experience is the reason to roll with Harman.
Kyle Stanley (-130) vs. Chris Stroud: The reason to like Stanley this week isn't as much to do about him as it is to do with Stroud. His game just isn't cut out for success at PGA National. He'll be struggling to create birdie opportunities, and he might have plenty of splash downs, too. Stroud ranks 174th in Driving Distance (284.8 yards), and he is terribly inaccurate at 199th in Driving Accuracy Percentage. He also checks in 173rd in GIR, while ranking 120th in Scoring Average (71.394). Putting is about the only highlight of Stroud's game, but he might be simply putting to save par rather than trying for birdies this week.
Top 20 Finish - Cameron Smith (-115): The Aussie has been tremendously consistent so far this season, turning in three Top 10 finishes, and he has made the cut in each of his eight events. He has decent length off the tee, he ranks 27th in Birdie Average (4.47) and he is 28th in Scoring Average (70.164). He is also a pretty strong scrambler while checking in 10th in Putts Per Round (28.19) on TOUR this season. He checks off all the boxes to have success in this event, and a Top 20 finish should be a slam-dunk play.
Top 20 Finish - Dylan Frittelli (+375): There is something about this course which agrees with Frittelli. In rather ugly weather conditions last season he fired a 3-over 143 to make the cut in just his third-career PGA TOUR start. He got stronger as the event went on, posting a 4-under 136 in the final two days to rocket up to 11th place to finish things out. Frittelli might not be the first name to come to mind for casual fans, but savvy golfers know he is a strong option this weekend.
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