This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: PGA National Champion Course (7,125 yards, par 70)
Winner: $1,260,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The Honda Classic is the first event in the PGA Tour's four week Florida Swing. It's a change up from the bumpy poa annua grasses of the West Coast to bermuda grasses where the grain will need to be accounted for. PGA National is routinely among the hardest courses on Tour year in and year out. There are two main reasons for that, wind and water. Winds always seem to kick up this time of year in Palm Beach Gardens, and PGA National is extremely well protected with water. The infamous "Bear Trap" is a collection of the par-3 15th, par-4 16th, and par-3 17th holes which are among the most brutal three hole stretches anywhere. We will see several balls find a watery grave at these three holes in particular. The Honda Classic is a home game for many of the PGA Tour players who live in the area. The field is not quite as strong as it has been in past years with the condensed schedule, but it still features now World No. 3 Brooks Koepka, Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose, former champion Rickie Fowler, and last year's U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland.
2019 – Keith Mitchell
2018 – Justin Thomas
2017 – Rickie Fowler
2016 – Adam Scott
2015 – Padraig Harrington
2014 – Russell Henley
2013 – Michael Thompson
2012 – Rory McIlroy
2011 – Rory Sabbatini
2010 – Camilo Villegas
Key Stats to Victory
Unlike a number of tournaments this season, the Honda Classic has seen the winner finish at single digits under-par in six of the last seven seasons. It is going to be less about making birdies and more about limiting bogeys and avoiding those dreaded "others" that have become so commonplace on this course. Good ball striking is the easiest way to do that. The rough won't be much of an issue, but avoiding fairways bunkers will be. The greens were increased in size prior to last season's edition, but the field still was held under 10.5 GIR per round. Short game will be extremely important here because of that. The bermuda grass will be a change up from what some of the players faced on the West Coast, so adapting quickly will be key. Putting will be a challenge for the same reasons, as players will now have to look for and take into account grain on every putt, as well as that pesky wind. It's one of those weeks where I think you are looking for the ball-striker who is performing the best around the greens.
FanDuel Value Picks
Tommy Fleetwood, ($11,800)
Fleetwood is the easiest guy for me to trust this week. He has posted five straight top-20 finishes and hasn't missed a cut since June of 2018. The Englishman also showed well in his tournament debut last year with a solo fourth. Fleetwood is a terrific driver of the golf ball, plays a nice tight draw that will not be as affected in higher winds, and has a pretty underrated short game.
Rickie Fowler, ($11,700)
PGA National has been one of Fowler's best courses in his career. He has finished inside the top-25 in six of the last eight seasons, and has a win, runner-up, and T6 in the last four years. Fowler's success here makes sense, as he has always been a solid ball-striker with a strong short game when you combine both scrambling and putting. Big numbers could be a concern with Fowler at this course, but he has always been able to overcome it in the past at PGA National.
Billy Horschel, ($10,900)
Horschel is coming home to Florida after recording a pair of T9's in his last two starts. After some struggles earlier in his career, Horschel has figured out PGA National finishing inside the top-16 in three of his last four starts. He has turned into a great putter, ranking 16th on Tour the last two seasons in SG: Putting. What excites me is his numbers from Mexico when he ranked top-three in SG: Off-the-tee, driving accuracy, and GIR percentage. If Horschel continues that kind of ball striking he should be in the mix again at the Honda Classic.
Erik van Rooyen, ($10,200)
Van Rooyen emerged on the European Tour last season, winning the Scandinavian Invitation and posting three other runner-up finishes. Last week he showed out at a WGC and held his own in the final group over the weekend. Van Rooyen ranked second in SG: Around-the-green and fifth in SG: Tee-to-green, two areas that will be critical at PGA National. The $10,200 price tag is actually cheaper than what I thought it might balloon to after a strong showing on a big stage in Mexico.
Longer Shots with Value
Harris English, ($9,800)
English has everything you want this week. He ranks 17th in SG: Tee-to-green, second in GIR percentage, and 18th in scrambling percentage. He also has a pair of top-20's at PGA National, including a T12 last year. English has four top-six finishes already this season and was T16 in his last tournament in Scottsdale. It's going to be hard to find better options under five digits this week.
Talor Gooch, ($8,600)
Gooch is becoming one of my favorite players to round out rosters with. He is a really solid ball-striker who has made 10 consecutive cuts. Gooch was top-10 just a couple weeks ago at Riviera and now faces another very tough course in PGA National. He ranked top-six in the field at the Genesis in SG: Off-the-tee, SG: Tee-to-green, driving accuracy, and GIR's. If he does that at PGA National, he is going to be among the top-10 once again.
Kyoung-Hoon Lee, ($8,500)
Another guy with solid value down here, Lee is coming in fresh off a pair of top-15's. He combines good driving with nice touch around the greens, as Lee ranks 25th in driving accuracy and 37th in scrambling on Tour this season. He was T7 a year ago in his debut at PGA National.
Tom Hoge, ($8,400)
It was just a few weeks ago that Hoge was pushing five figures on FanDuel after going T12-T6-5th-T25 before a T60 at Pebble Beach. He is now fresh after a few weeks off and is season numbers are ideal this week. Hoge currently ranks 15th in SG: Approach, 26th in SG: Putting, and fifth in scrambling on Tour. He has been the 15th best player on the PGA Tour this season by SG: Total and you can get him for just $8,400, kind of a no brainer if you ask me.
Strategy Tips for this week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
As I've indicated in some of my picks above, there is a lot of sneaky value in the mid-$8,000 range. I think that will free up some space to take a pair down there and take a pair of studs above $11,000. Fleetwood and Fowler have to be the two favorites this week, as both have good course history and fit the player profile. I'm passing on Brooks Koepka until he shows us that his knee injury is not still affecting his play and Justin Rose's recent form doesn't give me any confidence to pay $11,400. Viktor Hovland is at $11,000 this week, and while his ball striking is everything you want, his short game and putting scares me away at this course where everyone is going to miss a lot of greens. Other options that have good history here that I might look at include Gary Woodland, Lucas Glover, Russell Henley, and Stewart Cink.