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Mar 17, 2021

Honda Classic Picks, Odds and Predictions

Mar. 16, 2021

Golf Expert
VegasInsider.com

Without question it was nice to connect with Justin Thomas last week at TPC Sawgrass, but considering how the beats went to begin Sunday, it was hard to be hopeful.

Jordan Spieth lost his 72-hole matchup as a big underdog to Collin Morikawa by a -2 to -1 score, despite the two starting Sunday with Morikawa sitting at +4 for the tournament and Spieth at -4.

Coughing up an eight-shot lead in a single afternoon might be the epitome of Spieth's issues these past few years, and it came during a time when he had been playing his best golf in a long time. That's going to be a hard one to forget about for a while Jordan.

Hitting with Thomas on the outright more than made up for the Spieth 72-hole matchup play in the bankroll, and that's a few solid Sunday sweats in a row finally getting there with Justin Thomas' victory.

He kept the ball dry until his putter got hot on Saturday, and the ball striking round from start to finish on Sunday is what won him that title.

Can't expect to connect on a winner every week though, but all we can do is try as the PGA Tour stays in Florida this week for The Honda Classic.

Golf Betting Resources
2021 The Honda Classic

The week following the PLAYERS is typically one you see plenty of the biggest names take off and it's no different this year. PGA National is a course that can provide similar type headaches with all the water around, and any length advantages that the world's best usually have are negated at the shorter, Par 70 track.

It's about precision ball striking once again this week, as keeping the ball dry and making sure those scrambling statistics are in order are what will likely win the day this week.

PGA National is a course where it won't just be about greens in regulation though, as guys better have their proximity to the pin numbers on point as well.

There are going to be enough bogeys as there is on a course where the winning score has only been double digits under par once in the past eight years, so three-putting on these fast tracks to add even more strokes to a scorecard isn't ideal.

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.

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 either. It's not unreasonable to think there will be more volatility with far fewer of the game's best names in the field to begin with.


Sungjae Im of South Korea will be looking to repeat this weekend after winning the 2020 Honda Classic in late February. (AP)

The Honda Classic
Betting Odds

The weaker field means that Daniel Berger (+1050) comes into the week as the overall favorite, with Joaquin Niemann (+1300), and defending champion Sungjae Im (+1400) as the only others below 20/1 odds.

The bad news is that nobody's done it more than twice (Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Mark Calcavecchia, Padraig Harrington), although Nicklaus did manage to defend his title to get his 2nd win.

I guess that also means it's bad news for Padraig Harrington (+25000) as well this week.

The Honda Classic Contenders

  • Daniel Berger +1100
  • Sungjae Im +1300
  • Joaquin Niemann +2000
  • Lee Westwood +2200
  • Adam Scott +2400
  • Shane Lowry +2400
  • Russell Henley +2900
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

It's Englishman Lee Westwood (+2250) priced next at the top of the board, and there is no denying that his play has been phenomenal these past two weeks.

But to not come away with a win in those outings has to be a little disheartening, and him maintaining this level of play on a weekly basis is probably something that Westwood even understands likely isn't sustainable.

But he did finish 4th here last year, and had a run of three Top 10's in four years here from 2010-13. If he's got it in him for another week, it could make for another exciting finish on Sunday with Westwood involved.

Adam Scott (+2500), Shane Lowry (+2800), Russell Henley (+3000), and Taylor Gooch (+3500) are the only other names priced at better than 40/1.

This week is starting right at the top for me, as I'll look to avoid the bulk of that top tier range with some longer shots on the back end.

Golfers to Watch - The Honda Classic
Top Picks and Predictions

Contender to Back
The Honda Classic

Daniel Berger +1050

This tournament does have a history of a few longer shots coming in during the past decade, but there have been a few guys from the top of the board as well, and Daniel Berger continues to play some of the best golf on Tour right now. He grabbed another Top 10 finish last week with a 67 earlier on Sunday to post a number and finish T9, making it four Top 10's in his last five starts.

Berger's game is suited to a hit-your-spot venue like PGA National can be at times, and with him easily in the top third of this field in all the Strokes Gained categories outside of around-the-green, he's a deserving favorite that could end up with his second win in about six weeks.

Berger has been striping it in the approach game with three straight starts of +1.50, +0.41, and +1.03 for the weeks, and he was able to put everything together during that +1.50 SG: Approach week as he won at Pebble Beach. He finished 4th here last year and has a 2nd on his resume from 2015 as well. Keeping the putter going (along with everything else) shouldn't be a huge concern.

Price is probably a touch steep in the end, but the recent form is too good to ignore, and should he be within striking distance on Sunday, this could be a nice price to hedge off him if need be.

Mid-Range Value
The Honda Classic

JT Poston +7000

JT Poston is a guy where you are going to have to cross your fingers on some of his approach shots, but hopefully bigger targets with these large greens help with that. Three starts at PGA National and three Top 40 finishes in his career can be taken as a good sign in that regard, as you'll never have to worry about putting with this guy, as he continues to be one of the best with the flatstick in the game.

It's all about giving himself chances on the greens to make a few birdies in a row, as it can be an adventure to get to a green with Poston at times. Having more water to deal with may actually help in that regard as he's forced to go the “safer” route at times, and a 22nd last week at TPC Sawgrass is some decent evidence there.

Poston's last five starts have seen one missed cut and finishes of 22, 43, 11, and 18th, and he's gained nearly a 1.5 strokes on the greens in his last two starts (+1.22, +1.49 – and got cut at Arnold Palmer). Putting can be a fickle thing to handicap at times, but in a field that's lacking depth and is extremely wide open in the mid-range, relying on a guy who can putt is a decent way to go.

Poston fits that bill and when the winning score isn't likely to be that low, a guy like Poston who can hang around with par putts and the like can end up being the last one standing in an event like that.

Long Shot Pick
The Honda Classic

Adam Hadwin +9000

This Adam Hadwin selection follows a similar thought pattern to the Poston pick, as he's another guy who's short game will save him plenty of strokes relative to his peers, and getting out of PGA National with pars on many holes isn't a bad thing.

It can be an adventure getting to the green for Hadwin, as his approach game and proximity to hole numbers aren't the greatest looking. Again seeing plenty of water can help with that issue in that it can force shot selection at times, and a 29th last week at TPC Sawgrass is a good sign for Hadwin too.

Hadwin's approach game has been starting to get a little better relative to how poor they were before, but +1.27 SG: Around the Green and a +0.76 SG: Putting last week has me sold on Hadwin this week. He posted similar positive numbers at the Genesis in what ended up being a Top 30 finish as well, and without the field being anywhere near as top heavy as those two fields were, who knows what a Top 30 finish there can transfer into at PGA National where around-the-green and putting tend to matter quite a bit? Definitely worth a flyer of a shot on the Canadian.

72 Hole Matchup to Take
The Honda Classic

Adam Scott (-137) over Lee Westwood (+105)

While I do like to use the idea of fading players/teams quite a bit in my handicapping, it's never fun to write about fading a guy like Lee Westwood after the great golf we've seen from him these past two weeks.

But I will always have a hard time getting behind the idea that even if a guy is physically stroking it again, it's just too hard to mentally grind through each of the 72 holes you've got to win on Tour after consecutive runner-up finishes. It's similar to the idea of fading a younger guy off his first win as it's hard to believe the same type of mental acuity will be there time after time.

Adam Scott's game hasn't nearly been as sharp, but he's never minded playing at PGA National with a win and three other Top 15's in six starts here the past decade. From his perspective, he seems like he's waiting for something to click to really start finishing high heading into Major season, and being a pure ball striker and one of the bigger names in this type of event should only help Scott.

Against a guy who's got to have question marks about his gas tank this week? It's an easy bet to make.

Winner to play in Final 1st Tee Grouping in Round 4
The Honda Classic

No (+180)

Stepping out and taking a shot here that we see someone come from behind on Sunday to win this tournament.

With so many finishes by a single stroke or in a playoff in recent years here, and water lurking everywhere, seeing somebody post a score at some point on Sunday and them hoping for a little bit of carnage afterwards isn't unrealistic.

Last year it was a 66 on Sunday that vaulted Sungjae Im to the victory, and he's far from the first one to do it, and definitely won't be the last one at PGA National.

Price is worth the risk this week.

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.

2021 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.


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