Typically one of the premier events on the PGA Tour, the Honda Classic has had the rug pulled out from underneath it this year with the new calendar.
Despite that crunch reducing the number of headliners in the field, The Bear Trap remains the main attraction. Annually heralded as one of, if not the hardest finishing stretches on Tour, PGA National’s 15th, 16 and 17th holes throw down a gauntlet built much more around precision than length. Numbers 15 and 17; two par-threes under 200 yards, are flanked by the 16th, a sub 450-yard par-4. With high winds a normality in these parts and water surrounding, avoiding destruction requires a tip-toe approach rarely executed to perfection. In 12 years at PGA National, The Bear Trap has played a combined 3571 shots over par and all three holes ranked in the PGA Tour’s top-ten hardest holes last season.
Thankfully, a brief reprieve greets the players as they finish their rounds; the par-5 18th hole. The combination of holding on for dear life and then aggressively clawing to finish with birdie or better makes for one of the most enticing finishes for fans year-in and year-out.
Despite not having the blockbuster field it has in years past, the event is still a homecoming of sorts for the dozen plus golfers who currently reside within 45 minutes of PGA National.
Those vying for the crown this year include Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and Gary Woodland.
Typically the winner of this event has not cracked double digits under par. Since 2012, only once (Adam Scott 12-under in 2017) has anyone managed to get to ten-under or better.
Last year Justin Thomas was the victor, defeating Luke List in a playoff after tying at 8-under-par.
Handicapping the Field
#5 Gary Woodland
18/1 Odds – Recent Form: 17th, 7th, 9th (Ranks 6th) — Tourney History: 49th, 2nd, 61st
Stats Rank: 16th— Sim Rank: 9th
#4 Rickie Fowler
11/1 Odds – Recent Form: 36th, 1st, 66th — Tourney History: 1st, 6th, 41st, 24th (Ranks 3rd)
Stats Rank: 32nd — Sim Rank: 2nd
#3 Sergio Garcia
16/1 Odds – Recent Form: 6th, 37th — Tourney History: 33rd, 14th, 2nd, 31st, 8th (Ranks 2nd)
Stats Rank: 13th — Sim Rank: 12th
#2 Adam Scott
14/1 Odds – Recent Form: 7th, 60th, 2nd (Ranks 2nd) — Tourney History: 13th, 14th, 1st, 12th (Ranks 1st)
Stats Rank: 21st — Sim Rank: 7th
#1 Justin Thomas
5/1 Odds – Recent Form:9th, 2nd, 3rd (Ranks 1st) — Tourney History: 1st, MC, 3rd, MC (Ranks 5th)
Stats Rank: 2nd– Sim Rank: 1st
Russell Knox – 60/1 (7th on my list)
Jim Furyk – 110/1 (16th on my list)
Trey Mullinax – 90/1 (18th on my list)
Try to Avoid (Dropped from Top-25 to Below 50th)
Fowler v Koepka (-120)
Knox v Noren (-105)
Stroud v Stanley (+100)
My-Five: 2nd, 9th, 14th, 19th, 44th
My-Five: Two wins, Three 2nd’s, Two 3rd’s – 22 of 40 picks finished top-ten