Honda Classic Picks, Odds and Predictions

Stop me if you've heard this one already: Jon Rahm walks onto a golf course to compete in a tournament in 2023. Yup, you got it. He won again.

Rahm continued his torrid start to the 2022-23 season with his third win so far this year at last week's Genesis Invitational, where we also saw hometown favorite Max Homa fall just short after battling the entire tournament back and forth with Rahm as well as others like Keith Mitchell and Patrick Cantlay.

We also saw Tiger Woods make his long-awaited return to non-major competitive golf, as he teed it up, proceeded to make the cut on the number, then have a brilliant Saturday round followed by a listless Sunday round. It was great to see the familiar Sunday Red outfit, as well.

None of these players are playing this week, as the lone member of the top 18 players in the world to attend this week's Honda Classic is Sungjae Im. Between Im, fellow top-20 member Shane Lowry, and players like Matt Kuchar and Denny McCarthy, the top of the Honda board isn't as pretty as the fields of the previous two events, but there are enough players to keep you interested in the intro event to the Florida Swing.

The 2023 Honda Classic

Despite the relatively new situation where the fields are weaker due to the following of this tournament with both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS and coming directly after the Genesis and WM Phoenix Open, PGA National remains one of the toughest tests that the PGA Tour offers, despite being on the shorter side in terms of course length.

Located in Palm Beach Gardens, this course is no stranger to water, as 15 of its 18 holes have water hazards sprinkled into play on the hole. This ranks as the most on the Tour and creates an incredibly difficult atmosphere that is not helped by the difficult conditions that tend to come into play.

Being such a flat area, the course is very susceptible to heavy wind gusts being close to the ocean. add this to the heavy Bermuda greens rolling quick as lightning, and this makes for a challenging week. It's shown in the difficulty of this course that past winners include Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Justin Thomas, and Sungjae Im

Winning scores like that also suggest that this event will be close until the very end, and six of the past seven years have seen either a playoff or a single stroke decide the champion.

This means that waiting until Saturday/Sunday to really fire on a name you're interested in now isn't the worst idea in the world. It's not unreasonable to think there will be more volatility with far fewer of the game's best names in the field.

Sungjae Im of South Korea will be looking to win again this weekend after winning the 2020 Honda Classic.

The Honda Classic
Betting Odds

The weak field means that Im (+900) comes into the week as the overall favorite, with Shane Lowry (+1600), Denny McCarthy (+2500), and Aaron Wise (+2500) as the only others below 26/1 odds.

The Honda Classic Contenders

  • Sungjae Im +900
  • Shane Lowry +1600
  • Denny McCarthy +2500
  • Aaron Wise +2500
  • Billy Horschel +2800
  • Min Woo Lee +2800
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Contender to Back

Matt Kuchar +3000

Kuchar started playing this tournament before a couple of the players in this field were even born (looking directly at you, Akshay Bhatia), and had his first career win at this tournament (despite it not being at PGA National), so this tournament obviously holds some sentimental value to him.

Despite that fact though, he hasn't played the Honda Classic in 12 years, and thus doesn't have much to draw on in terms of recent course history. However, Kuchar comes in front of a few categories, the most notable being his Strokes Gained: Total across the last 36 rounds on the Florida Swing. He also has a good course comp history when looking at a course like Waialae Country Club, where he has a win recently.

In this extremely weak field, Kuchar, who has been playing inspired golf recently with a T4 last week and a T7 at the Sony Open in January, can rise above and show with his scrambling around the green expertise that he can tame PGA National.

Mid-Range Value

Ben Griffin +5500

It's hard not to like Griffin's chances this week, which have already dropped from an opening number of 65/1, to now their current 55/1 number. Prior to Pebble Beach where he missed the cut, Griffin had not missed the weekend in any of his previous 9 events, while amassing 5 top-30 or better finishes.

It's extremely important to be very good at your approach game here with how much of a second-shot course this track is, so it's a good thing that Griffin ranks 7th in this field in approaches in difficult conditions. It isn't only that though for Griffin, as he ranks 5th in this field in Bogey Avoidance, which on these treacherous greens will definitely be a premium.

Long Shot Pick

Davis Riley +8000

Riley came into prominence last season with a string of impressive performances in some tough fields, but he fizzled down the stretch and hasn't gotten off to the best start in 2023 either, with missed cuts in each of his last three starts and only one top-20 finish so far this season. Why are we on him this week, then?

Riley makes his living on his approach game, which is consistently one of the best on the Tour and ranks 8th in this field. That is no doubt the strongest part of his game and he'll have to have a terrific weeks with the irons to compete, as is normal.

What I'm also interested in though, is Riley's Florida Swing history. He made the weekend at last year's Honda Classic and finished T42, but then went on to almost win the Valspar Championship in Tampa, losing to Sam Burns in a playoff. He also has solid course history with strong results at both Colonial GC and Waialae, both shorter courses that require you to maneuver around wind and other conditions.

Top-20 Placement

Aaron Wise +145

Wise has been a player I am pretty reluctant on putting on my outright cards due to struggling with his driver down the stretch of tournaments, but a player I believe can score just as well as anyone due to his touch around the greens as well as his much-improved putting.

Wise has a bit of a soft spot for this tournament, with 3 finishes of T35 or better in his 4 appearances here. He has also shown, as mentioned above, that he can be lights-out on the green when need be, as the flat stick nearly carried him to a win at the Memorial Tournament last season.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2022-23 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.