The Honda Classic was last played in February 2020 prior to the pandemic and the stoppage of the PGA Tour.
The field has fallen off in recent editions despite a great golf course and event. This year’s field draws just six players from the top-50 in the world and last year there was only 12. The schedule situation for many players makes the Honda Classic less attractive following the WGC Championships, Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship.
The Honda Classic odds
Daniel Berger was the favorite to be the outright winner of the tournament Monday morning at William Hill, owning +1100 odds. But a lingering rib issue has forced Berger to withdraw. Defending champ Sungjae Im will now be the favorite at +1200 (FanDuel).
Notable players in the field
Last year’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and Honda Classic winner Sungjae Im returns to defend his title. He’s currently No. 17 in the world. Adam Scott rounds out the three players in the field that rank top-25 in the world.
Top Golfers in The Honda Classic
- Sungjae Im (17)
- Adam Scott (24)
- Joaquin Niemann (29)
- Lee Westwood (31)
- Shane Lowry (40)
- Gary Woodland (48)
- Mackenzie Hughes (53)
- Russell Henley (58)
- Ian Poulter (62)
- Erik van Rooyen (63)
- Adam Long (64)
- Chez Reavie (67)
- Dylan Frittelli (68)
- Rickie Fowler (70)
The highest ranked player in the field from the current FedExCup Standings is No. 12 Joaquin Niemann. He’s shooting for his second PGA Tour win and was part of the International President’s Cup team in 2019. Other notable players include 2017 Honda Classic winner Rickie Fowler, and former major champions on sponsors exemptions Martin Kaymer and Padraig Harrington – who won the Honda Classic in 2015 and 2005. Also, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson plays back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour. He’s fallen to No. 101 in the world golf rankings. Talor Gooch plays in the Honda Classic following his top-5 finish at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Recent Honda Classic winners and runner-ups:
- 2020 – Sungjae Im (-6), Mackenzie Hughes
- 2019 – Keith Mitchell (-9), Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler
- 2018 – Justin Thomas (-8), Luke List
- 2017 – Rickie Fowler (-12), Gary Woodland, Morgan Hoffman
- 2016 – Adam Scott (-9), Sergio Garcia
Top finishers last year returning in 2021:
- Sungjae Im (Win)
- MacKenzie Hughes (2)
- Lee Westwood (T4)
- Byeong Hun An (T4)
- Russell Henley (T8)
- Gary Woodland (T8)
- Cameron Davis (T8)
Golfers to watch
A lighter field of top ranked players leaves Sungjae Im and Joaquin Niemann as favorites to win the Honda Classic.
Those two also top the field in Strokes Gained: Total stats over their last 24 rounds.
Looking down the odds board you’ll see some players at attractive prices that could cash in with proven profiles.
Here are four players outside of the leading favorites to consider for your Fairway Foursome to win or for a top finishing position at PGA National.
Brendan Steele (+4500 DraftKings): Steele is ranked No. 78 in the world. He’s made seven straight cuts this year and finished T4 at the Sony Open on a bermuda course at windy Waialae – a good comp course. He was also T18 on a tougher course and strong field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s 3rd in SG: Off-the-Tee in this field over his last 24 rounds, and has gained strokes off the tee in all seven starts this year. He’s also top-15 in SG: Tee-to-Green and Ball Striking. Since 2015, Steele has finished top-15 in this event in 4-of-5 starts including T4 last year.
Matt Wallace (+6600 DraftKings and BetMGM): Wallace doesn’t pop as consistently on the PGA Tour strokes gained stats because he plays on the European Tour. But the 30-year-old is ranked No. 55 in the world and comes stateside for select events and those prior to majors or next week’s WGC Championships Match Play. Wallace finished T18 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and his strengths are Ball Striking and Approach play – which he’s gained 1.4 strokes on Approach in his last five events. His real weakness is Scrambling, and his Around the Green game needs to improve this week on a course that demands it. Wallace finished T7 earlier this year in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy in front of him. In 2019, Wallace finished T20 in this event, and he’s playing better now and the field is weaker.
Patton Kizzire (+8500 FanDuel): Kizzire enters off his best SG: Total performance of the year at last week’s PLAYERS Championship. He gained 3.5 SG: Total on the field and even better 4.1 strokes gained on Approach. In his last three events, he’s gained strokes Tee-to-Green, and he’s made the cut in 12 straight events. He’s played his best in coastal conditions, and it’s time for improved results like his T7 at the Sony Open on a correlated course in windy conditions.
Roger Sloan (+25000 FanDuel): Sloan is a 33-year-old Canadian who played college golf at Texas El Paso. Windy conditions and Scrambling are a strength, as is Ball Striking. Sloan has gained strokes in Ball Striking in 11 straight events. His Tee-to-Green game has been good, and Sloan T22 in his recent tournament at the Puerto Rico Open. Against this field and at a Big Bertha bomb price, Sloan’s strokes gained stats are consistent across the board and he ranks 31 in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds. His two starts in this event have produced a best of T30, which would pay out +400. He can do better than that this week with improved play and better putting.
Course and tournament information
- Course: PGA National (Champions Course)
- Location: Palm Beach Gardens, FL
- Date: March 18-21, 2021
- Par: 70 / Yardage 7,125
- Purse: $7 Million / Winner $1.26 M
- Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass and rough overseed with ryegrass
- Greens: : Bermudagrass
- TV/Online: Golf Channel, NBC (Sat/Sun), PGA Tour Live
- Twitter & Hashtag: @TheHondaClassic
- Defending Champion: Sungjae Im
The Champions Course was designed by George and Tom Fazio in 1981 and has been renovated multiple times by Jack Nicklaus – most recently in 2018. The Golden Bear’s tracks are on the course with the signature holes known as the ‘Bear Trap’ from 15-17. It starts with a short-iron par 3 with water up front on the right. No. 16 is a par 4 dogleg over water while No. 17 is another short par 3 with water right. A long par 5 on the closing hole makes for a great birdie opportunity to finish. There is water in play on 13 holes on the Champions course.
Accuracy from the tee is rewarded at PGA National, where a straight forward fairways-and-greens approach is rewarded. The course often plays in windy conditions and is among the hardest on tour. That was the case in 2020, as PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Sungae Im won by 1-shot with a 6-under par total. Just 16 players finished under par. The scoring average of the field at PGA National in 2019 was 71.02, making it the 5th hardest course to score on in 2019. In 2018 it played to a 72.30 average and was ranked second hardest. Those two par 3s played as two of the five toughest holes in 2020 with both yielding between 15-19% bogeys. The par 4s at holes 6, 10 and 11 were the three hardest stroke average holes in the 2020 event.
It’s difficult to play from the rough at PGA National, and Greens hit, Rough Proximity to hole and Scrambling are essential and part of your model and consideration when researching strokes gained stats. There are lots of undulations on the greens, which are near tour average at approximately 6,500 square feet.
Following the Honda Classic, the top players will play in the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club in Texas.