After the major-style quality of the last two weeks, the PGA Tour comes back down to Earth with what might kindly be called a competitive event, the Honda Classic.
Find all of our Bet Boosts around Jason Daniels’ selections here.
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Shane Lowry - WIN14/1
Alex Noren - EACH-WAY25/1
Adam Svensson - EACH-WAY30/1
Danny Willett - EACH-WAY60/1
Danny Willett - TOP-2013/5
From 2007, the PGA National course at Palm Beach Gardens has held this established well-established tournament, although it has suffered over the last few years with a down-turn in overall field strength. Moved up the calendar last year to avoid sitting between The Players and Matchplay, it has now suffered by being scheduled just after the Phoenix Open and Genesis Invitational, and three elevated events in March.
The sponsors are moving away from the event. Players see this as a chance for a rest after seeking the best share of $20 million purses, and all that’s resulted in two of the world’s top-20 leading the market.
Best bet – Alex Noren
Danger – Shane Lowry
Very few can argue that Sungjae Im deserves to head the market. Officially the best player on show, he has finished in the top-20 in four of his six starts in 2023, has a ranking of fourth, fifth and sixth for tee-to-green since the turn of the year and has form here of a win and 8th in four starts.
Given four of the last seven Honda winners have led the tee-to-green stats (mainly thanks to their efforts off the tee) the 24-year-old looks sure to be thereabouts. The issue is that whilst he has three runner-up finishes since The Open, he has failed to progress his position in eight outings from inside the top-10 going into payday. He may have looked helpless against a rampant Tom Kim at Sedgefield, but a final-hole bogey showed a vulnerability I don’t want to see in a single-figure shot. He is far more appealing for a future at Augusta where, at five times the price, he looks to continue his run of two top eight finishes in three lifetime starts.
Shane Lowry holds the most obvious claims, particularly if the Florida breeze arrives and I’m not unhappy taking a win-only saver in support of the unluckiest loser of 2022.
The Irishman was overall the best player on the park last year, ranking in the top three for tee, approaches and tee-to-green and bounced back to form last week after an uncharacteristic pair of weekends off in Dubai and at the Phoenix Open.
At the tough Riviera, a place with no previous positive connotation for him, Lowry produced top-15 efforts for tee, tee-to-green and around-the-green, something he did when winning at Wentworth in November. Now he is ‘home’, expect this to continue.
The 2019 Open champion has deceptively better form here than his figures show, being top five after round one of his debut in 2016 and in the top-10 at the halfway mark in 2020 and 2021. Last year’s Augusta bronze medalist looks to be rounding into shape for the Sawgrass (8th and 13th last two years) and again for the first major.
I’m struggling to see why Denny McCarthy is so short given his tee-to-green stats show a minus figure in four of his last five starts, whilst Aaron Wise never convinces at a shortish price and has regressive numbers for the important factors this week.
Instead, row in with Alex Noren, a player that in the last six months has recorded a runner-up at the Dunhill Links and behind Jon Rahm at the DP World Championship, and top-five in Houston and Abu Dhabi.
With wind of no concern to the 40-year-old, that leaning towards a links pedigree fits in nicely with previous winners and main challengers here. Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and the man that pipped him to the Open championship at Carnoustie, Padraig Harrington, have all played top-class golf here whatever the conditions. If the style required needs more evidence, Pod’s first win followed on from victories by Todd Hamilton and Justin Leonard, admittedly at Mirasol but just four miles from the current course.
Winless thus far on the PGA Tour, the Swede has won 10 times on the DP/European Tour, recording scores of 15-under or lower in in events that are far from putting contests, fitting in nicely with winning scores at PGA National where only three champions have recorded scores in double figures, the best being 12-under twice.
Five outings here have resulted in a third place in 2018 (his second effort here, five years after his debut) and a top five here last year, when closing in from 12th at halfway. At both those events, Noren ranked top-10 for tee-to-green off a solid tee and iron game.
Missing the cut last twice looks worse than it is – on the number at Pheonix and by a couple last time – and whilst we need to take a much lower price than usual, there is enough dead wood here to believe a return to the form of just a month ago, sees him right there.
Next best – Adam Svennson
Adam Svensson hits a 𝓱𝓸𝓵𝓮-𝓲𝓷-𝓸𝓷𝓮 at the Sony Open! ⛳ pic.twitter.com/zwz3vx8i7J
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) January 14, 2023
This is a tough event in which to look too far down, but I had to take a second glance at the prices of Taylor Pendrith and Adam Svensson before opting for the latter.
Both have shortened up since the market opened, with Svensson proving strong from a much bigger price. However, he was the first cab off the rank when looking through the field on Sunday, would have been the main selection had he not shortened so, and thus there still looks juice at anything 30/1 and above.
Naturally a highly regarded college golfer, the Canadian was too good for his two visits to the Korn Ferry Tour, winning all three events far from the Western side of The States, in the Bahamas (beat Sungjae Im) Georgia and Ohio and has now settled into his second spell on the PGA Tour, making his way to 58th in the world rankings.
2022 saw the 29-year-old finish in ninth place at the comparable Sony Open (in fourth and sixth place over the middle rounds), always in the top six at the Barbasol and 12th at the Fortinet (fifth going into Sunday) before he was rewarded with a two-shot victory at the chilly RSM Classic, when a final round 64 backed up a Saturday 62 to astonish those who thought he was done after an opening 71 (108th place).
Let down by a very cold putter at Waialae after ranking in seventh for tee-to-green, a top-grade effort at Riviera negated his back-to-back missed-cuts at Torrey and Scottsdale.
Always prominent in a major-class field, Svensson ranked 25th for tee-to-green and better for his short game than his long one, something he knows he can improve on coming here.
In just two outings here, the Canadian has shown progressive form, with a 59th on debut disguising a position in the top five at halfway, whilst last year’s top-10 came courtesy of holding his position on the front page throughout the last three rounds.
In finishing in ninth, Svensson led the tee-to-green stats, was in the top-five in around-the-green numbers and only succumbed due to a poor putting display.
We know he likes the East coast, enjoys conditions and can putt well on Bermuda. There is very little not to like.
Danny Willett may be less of a punt than first appears.
After ranking 15th for tee-to-green at Riviera, he is of interest down in grade and just eight events after an unfortunate ending to the Fortinet Championship.
Since then, Willett ended 2022 with a shoulder niggle, and his form when returning since the turn of the year is progressive.
Neither awful nor spectacular at the American Express, the 35-year-old Masters winner ended his stint at Pebble Beach with a best-of-the-week 69 before last week’s top-20 at the Genesis Invitational.
As with these crocks, there is always a danger that something ‘goes’, but he’ll come here remembering last season’s opening 67 (good enough for fifth place) and has spoken positively on social media recently.
Lest we forget, this is a player that has won eight times, including at Augusta, Wentworth, Dubai and the Dunhill Links at St. Andrews. In the context of this event, anything approaching that form sees him right there.
Feel like things are moving in the right direction. Soooo many chances out there @thegenesisinv this week but the greens were so tricky. Onto @TheHondaClassic next week #golf #genesisopen #rivieracountryclub #pgatour pic.twitter.com/HeQrQq7prT
— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) February 20, 2023