After four weeks of elevated FedEx Cup points and elite fields, many of the top names in golf are taking a week off prior to next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas. The PGA TOUR completes its abbreviated Florida swing with the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. The TOUR will return to the Sunshine State for the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor on April 29.
The Champion Course at PGA National was originally designed by Tom and George Fazio, but Jack Nicklaus performed significant work on the property over the last 30 years. Holes 15 through 17 of one of the toughest tracks on Tour are named the Bear Trap after the legendary golfer and course designer.
Last Year at the Honda
The defending champion is Sungjae Im, who won with a 6-under total of 274 for his first TOUR victory. The 2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year shot a final-round 66 to defeat McKenzie Hughes by a stroke. Tommy Fleetwood was the third-round leader but was passed by both Im and Hughes to finish third.
A veteran player that could take advantage of the lack of star power in the field is former PGA Champion Keegan Bradley.
At 15th in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), Daniel Berger is the highest-ranked player in the field. He has odds of +1100 to win the Honda Classic after posting a victory earlier this season at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The defending champion, ranked 18th in the OWGR, is next in the odds at +1300.
Joaquin Niemann is next at +2000, followed by Lee Westwood at +2200, who is coming off two consecutive runner-up finishes at the age of 47. Westwood birdied the 18th hole at last week’s PLAYERS Championship to grab the runner-up position by himself, following up a one-stroke loss to Bryson DeChambeau in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Underdog Picks at PGA National
A veteran player that could take advantage of the lack of star power in the field is former PGA Champion Keegan Bradley. The 34-year-old and owner of four TOUR victories last won at the 2018 BMW Championship.
Bradley, at +4900 in the odds, finished in a tie for 10th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and followed it up with a tie for 29th last week at THE PLAYERS, closing with a 3-under-par 69.
We’ve seen players bounce back from adversity in the past, and Doug Ghim will be trying to shake off a disastrous final round in THE PLAYERS. The 24-year-old out of the University of Texas was tied for third following last week’s third round but missed a short par putt on the sixth hole of his final round and never recovered. He ended up with a 7-over-par 79 to finish tied for 29th and is at +4800 odds in the Honda.
Two-time major champion and 12-time PGA TOUR winner Zach Johnson is almost six years removed from his last victory at the 2015 Open Championship. He has a couple of top 10 finishes in the 2021 season and has yet to miss a cut in 11 events.
At +9500 odds, he might be a longshot worth taking a flyer on. He’s not generally a player that goes low, but that’s not necessary at PGA National.