I loved last week at Riviera. The leaderboard was stacked, the course was in awesome shape, the design is beautiful and the weather from California was eye-candy for golfers sitting at home (esp. in the Midwest, here). Now the coverage by CBS has been a bit of a controversy.
As Doug Ferguson said via Twitter, it’s always sad to leave California, there’s still plenty to look forward to come the next few months heading into Augusta. After all, that’s the storyline, is it not?
Let’s get into some Honda pickings…
Last Year’s Honda Top-10
Look at that leaderboard diversity! Four Americans, three Englishmen, a Scot, a Welsch and an Irish winner.
Full 2016 Field at the Honda
And a great find here by Timothy Frank:
Really good hole by hole tour/yardage book for PGA National if you want to get a better look at this week's course:https://t.co/HN4WwvUd3w
— Timothy Frank (@FantasyGolfMan) February 22, 2016
Last Week’s 2016 Northern Trust Picks
KJ Choi (Contender) T5
Bill Haas (Contender) MC
Harris English (Contender) T39
Bryce Molder (Sleeper) MC--barely
Luke Donald (Winner) T45
I liked my picks and I hated my picks. I enjoyed rooting for Choi all weekend and as my number 1 contender. I was also quite optimistic on both Harris English with solid, consistent play and Luke Donald’s good start into the week.
Haas was a surprise, surprise MC for me and I missed on my sleeper pick with Molder.
Overall, a half success in picks.
Past 5 Winners at the Honda
- 2015: Padraig Harrington
- 2014: Russell Henley
- 2013: Michael Thompson
- 2012: Rory McIlroy
- 2011: Rory Sabbatini
Course Overview: PGA National
Host of the Honda Classic since 2007, PGA National has been the home to changes, change, changes. There were some bunkers that were reshaped and the course was lengthened. I say, unless the change adds interest, leave it alone PGA National. It’s already a tough course and when the conditions pick up, it features one of the toughest finishing stretches in the game.
The routing is a back-and-forth, north-south-east-west design, where holes run in all different directions, especially considering the doglegs. Of the 18 holes, he are the directions each face:
- North: 4 holes
- South: 4 holes
- East: 5 holes
- West: 5 holes
No matter where the wind blows, which it will, it will give the golfers troubles. Given the scoring average at PGA National over the past few years, players will be challenged.
Hell, Dustin Johnson shot 12-over par for two rounds here last year and missed the cut.
Nice thoughts by the Golden Bear himself on this design.
— FantasyGolfMetrics (@FGMetrics) February 22, 2016
This Week’s Picks
Three from the Fairway (Contenders)
1. Rory McIlroy
I’ll go with Rory here in the one spot, despite his finish on Sunday at Riviera. Still appalled that after starting with an eagle 3 on one, he floundered like a fish down the stretch (and by stretch, I mean the last 17 holes of his round). It was an embarrassing effort by a player with his clout on Tour.
Rory has a track record at this course, with a runner-up a few years ago after his win in 2012. Those are framed in with a WD (the toothache) and the MC last year, with rounds of 73 & 74.
But if anything about last week should teach us something it’s this.
- Rory is playing well (evidenced by rounds 1 through 3)
- Rory is going to be mad (evidenced by a horrible finish)
With his past performances here, I really like Rory this week as a lock.
2. Freddie “The Junkman” Jacobson
We missed that ugly gaffe of a golf swing and the “Feherty-esque” facial hair last week on the weekend at Riviera. Again though, in the same spirit as Rory, we’ve got a bounce back!
Before last week’s MC, he was one of the hottest players on Tour, with two top-5s in a row at the Farmers and at Pebble. He wasn’t even that far off last week, with round of 72-71. So that gives me even more of a liking for him this week. Decent play and a MC means this: more rest for the 41-year old.
Dude is a putting and short game savant. He WILL get the ball in the hole.
Top-30s in his previous 6 events at the Honda before last year’s MC. Given his form again, I like Jacobson for some good play this week in Florida.
3. Jeff Overton
Overton is going to be my guy to highlight in this third contender spot, even though I really like Adam Scott to play well this week at the Honda. You can find Scott’s name below.
On to Overton. When looking for guys who are “horse for the courses” at particular venues, Overton fits the mold pretty well here at the Honda and PGA National. Last year’s top-10 was his third since 2009 and he’s thrown in a 18th in there as well. Something about this test of golf appeals to the Indianan (Indianite? Indianogan?).
Growing up in the blustery Midwest, Overton built his game around getting the ball in the hole, no matter the difficulty of conditions or venue. It’s probably that mindset that has lead to great play here over the years.
Dating back to last fall’s Sanderson Farms, Overton has made every cut (aside from a WD at Torrey). His play of late has been enough to keep him around and his track record at the Honda bodes well for another strong week, IMO.
Overton, an off the radar top-20 finisher this week.
More Contenders to Consider
- Adam Scott
- Russell Knox
- Rickie Fowler
- Jim Herman
One from the Rough (Sleepers)
Going with the goofy swing, eccentric, hip-hop listening, driving range rat, Will Wilcox in the sleeper hole this week at the Honda.
Aside from last week’s 75-71 missed cut at Riviera, Wilcox had been playing quite okay. A top-10 in Phoenix was followed by a T35 at Pebble highlighted by a clean 68 on Saturday. But I think it’s the statistics this week that point to Wilcox.
Statistically, Wilcox was beaten out in Sand Save % by one player on the PGA Tour in 2015, Kevin Na. He was 24th on the Tour in 2015 in Scrambling, as well. Last year he was 4th in GIR (important this week) and a top-10 guy in strokes gained: total. He’s overlooked often.
Lack of experience could be used as a deterrent here, but I like Wilcox to come out and see the challenge before him and be up to it. A top-25 for Wilcox.
Also, it may be important to note his affinity for the DFS community.
Alright DFS.. Told yall not to send last week an i yuell'd.. My bad. Im a superstitious guy. So dont send 😝
— Willy Wilcox (@willwilcoxgolf) February 9, 2016
The Man With the Trophy
It’s been too long, Patty. Come back to us. More of that “ssshhhh” and “top-5” talk, please. Come on, we want you on the leaderboard with that flair, drama, cockiness, and unlikability. Give us the TV time!
Patrick Reed is going to win this week and you’re fooling yourself if you bet against him this week.
Last time we saw Patrick Reed, he was locking up a top-10 at Pebble before skipping Riviera. Before that, he was again, stirring up the controversy with his WD at the Farmers with the ugly weather and a Saturday 81. Didn’t effect him in his week back at Pebble.
He already has a few top-10s on the PGA Tour this year, also playing great golf at the Hyundai along with the HERO last year. Reed’s sharp short game, prowess on the greens and track record at this venue make him the guy this week. THE GUY!
In three starts here at the Honda, Reed has never missed the cut. In fact, he’s been better each year, finally working his way into the top-10 last year.
The progression continues this week for Reed. A win.
— Patrick Reed (@PReedGolf) January 6, 2016