Following a week where we had the pleasure of seeing the world’s best battle it out in the Accenture Match Play Championship, we head to sunny Palm Beach Gardens, Florida for The Honda Classic. We had Martin Kaymer last week lose in the finals to Luke Donald, and also had Matt Kuchar who beat Bubba Watson for 3rd. Let’s continue the solid picks to this week and grab a winner.
The top players in the world will work their games around PGA National Resort and Spa (Champions Course) redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2001. The course only plays as a Par 70 and is a total of 7158 yards in length. Last year this ranked as the 2nd hardest out of the 52 courses played by the PGA Tour, mainly due to water hazards. There are 26 water hazards spread out across this course, forcing the player to manage their golf game properly.
The course record at PGA National is a blistering 6 under 64 and is held by Luke Donald (2008) and Greg Chalmers (2009). To go low like Luke and Greg did you will need to be accurate on Par 3s and 4s as there is only two par 5s on the course. Some of the difficult Par 4s you will enjoy watching the players battle on include Holes 6 and 10.
Hole 6 – Ranked the hardest hole on the course last year playing at an average of 4.837 the 6th is an absolute beast. This Par 4 will be playing 479 Yards for the players this week and will challenge them off the tee and on their approach. Water lines the entire left hand side of the 6th forcing many players to bail out right, thus resulting in difficult shots from the rough.
Hole 10 – Another Par 4 that takes two excellent shots to hit the Green in Regulation, the 10th played as the 3rd hardest hole on the course at an average of 4.313 last year. Will be played anywhere from 508 to 525 yards by the Pro’s this week forcing many players to hit mid to long irons into the green. Trees line the right side of the hole while a pot bunker at the front of the green will eat plenty of balls up this week.
5 of the Top 10 in the world will be teeing it up for a second week in a row at The Honda Classic. Even more impressive is that 12 past winners of this event will be playing this week. Jhonattan Vegas, D.A. Points and Luke Donald are the only players who have won on the PGA tour this year.
Unfortunately players such as Stewart Cink, Justin Rose, J.B. Holmes and Ben Crane have all withdrawn following The Accenture Match Play Champion for various reasons. We will still be treated with the like of Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell. They will be joined by young Guns such as Rickie Fowler, Jeff Overton, Chris Kirk and Gary Woodland.
Steves Six Pack Picks
Like previously stated we want players who are accurate, good on Par4’s, good putters and have been playing well. This may seem like a lengthy list but I feel the players we have selected sum up most of these strong golf qualities in their game. Without further ado, our six pack for The Honda Classic.
Robert Allenby (28/1) – Robert loves this course. He has 3 Top 5 finishes at this event and will continue his strong play as of late this week. 71.30% Greens in Regulation and 15th on Tour on Par 3 birdies will help Robert work his way around PGA National. Of note as well is his T4 at Riviera a couple weeks ago. I feel 28/1 is solid value for Mr. Allenby this week.
Rickie Fowler (30/1) – We are going with the bight clothes wearing, long ball hitting, go for everything Rickie Fowler this week. I feel Rickie will build off the confidence of dominating Phil Mickelson 6&5 last week. Rickie is not great at making birdies on Par 5’s but instead waits for Par 4’s and especially Par 3s. I found this very surprising but it shows the accuracy he has with his irons. He will need that at PGA National and I’ll be excited to cheer for this young gun on Sunday.
Ian Poulter (33/1) – I would have thought he may have been 40/1, but 33/1 for a player who left last week very mad at his performance is fair. Poulter played extremely well in his first round matchup with Stewart Cink but succumbed to the American on extra holes. Look for Poulter, who is one of the best iron players on Tour to be great this week.
Charl Schwartzel (40/1) – Somewhat of an unknown on the PGA Tour but an excellent player. In his past 5 stroke play events he has been within the Top 10 every single time. Though he lost to a 17 year old Italian up and comer in the 2nd round of the Accenture Match Play, look for him to continue his excellent play this week. He is sixth on the European Tour in putting.
Anthony Kim (45/1) – Got blown out by a solid playing Nick Watney in the first round last week but it gave Anthony some time to rest/practice for a tournament he loves. Anthony finished 2nd here last year and would have competed with Camilo Villegas had it not been for a 3rd round 73. Kim is one of my early Master picks and I look for him to start building momentum with an excellent start to March this week.
Gary Woodland (150/1) – Gary has had a terrific start to his 2011 season. We go with him this week because of his awesome play on Par 4’s. He is 4th on Tour in Par 4 Birdie conversion making a birdie on slightly more than 1 in every 5 Par4’s. The only thing with Gary that worries me a bit is his 57.43% Fairways hit. He does find a way to rebound from poor drives, as shown by his 73.46% Greens in Regulation. At 150/1 he is worth a shot.
Head to Head Matchup Picks (72 Hole)
Brendon De Jonge over Marc Leishman (-110)
Charl Schwartzel over Robert Karlsson (-110)
Jeff Overton over Louis Oosthuizen (+100)
GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF OUR PICKS AND FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW