For the last four weeks on the PGA TOUR, FedEx points have been elevated, and the fields were filled with players in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). With the WGC-Dell Match Play coming up next week in Austin, most of the leading players chose this week to take a breather.
While the Honda Classic will suffer a bit in the depth of its field, it provides a great opportunity for players farther down in the rankings to grab a coveted PGA TOUR victory.
THE PLAYERS Finish
Last week at THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Justin Thomas came from seven shots behind after the first two rounds to capture the tournament title, $2.7 million, 600 FedEx Cup points, and a five-year PGA TOUR exemption.
His closing 4-under-par 68 was a thing of beauty, enabling him to overtake the final group of Lee Westwood and Bryson DeChambeau.
Honda Classic Notes
This week the TOUR heads down Interstate 95 to PGA National’s Champion course in Palm Beach Gardens to complete the Florida Swing. The course that was redesigned by the legendary Jack Nicklaus has hosted the tournament since 2007, and the stretch of holes from 15 to 17 is named the Bear Trap after his Golden Bear nickname.
The tournament was moved from its traditional early March date this year, contributing to the weaker yet very competitive field. The par-70 layout is usually one of the toughest on TOUR, with last year’s winner, Sungjae Im, shooting a 6-under-par 274 total, including a 4-under-par 66 on Sunday, on his way to victory, his first on TOUR.
The defending champion Im is second in the futures odds at +1300.
Daniel Berger, at number 15 in the OWGR, is the highest-ranked player in the field. Berger already has a win at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am this season and is the betting favorite at +1100.
It was the 27-year-old’s fourth TOUR victory and one of five top 10 finishes this season, including a tie for ninth last week at THE PLAYERS. Berger tied for fourth at last year’s Honda Classic and also finished second in the event in 2015.
The defending champion Im is second in the futures odds at +1300. The 22-year-old from South Korea is the workhorse of the PGA TOUR, with 16 events already under his belt in the 2021 season, with only one missed cut.
The 2019 Rookie of the Year finished in a tie for second place at the Masters behind Dustin Johnson and fired a final-round 66 last week at THE PLAYERS to jump into a tie for 17th.
Chilean professional Joaquin Niemann is third in the betting odds at +2000. The 22-year-old has two runner-up finishes and a tie for sixth in 11 events where he’s made it to the weekend every time.
Just behind Niemann is Lee Westwood, who is seeing a resurgence in his game at the age of 47. The Englishman has held the 54-hole lead the last two weeks but fell just short of Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Justin Thomas at THE PLAYERS.
Adam Scott, the 2016 Honda Classic champion, is at +2400, 2017 champion Rickie Fowler is at +4900, along with 2019 winner Keith Mitchell, and two-time Honda victor Padraig Harrington is at +16000 to capture a third title.