Honda Classic Preview

I think in order to better gauge the success of my selections that I’ll go with a little different formula this week. I’ll pick one player in the top 5 of OWGR because there will be tournaments where I could just pick the top 3 players in the world and call it a day. The rest will be in the top 20 in OWGR and then the other group is made up of players outside the top 20. The “Florida Swing” has just started and I’m looking forward to seeing which players will rise up during the next few weeks.

The Course: PGA National (Champion) Course

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The Honda Classic will be held at PGA National (Champion) course. It’s designed by Jack Nicklaus and is a par-70 course that measures 7,158 yards in length. The 3rd and 18th holes are the only par-5’s and the scores here have been fairly consistent. The Honda Classic has been played here since 2007. The geography is typical of a Florida course and it will play fairly slowly depending on the weather. The greens here are Bermuda grass (typical of most courses in the South and Southeast U.S.) and you’ll be able to see the grain of the green by watching at home. If a player’s ball has come to rest on the green and the path to the hole looks lighter (almost shiny) in shade then the putt will be a little faster. The putt will go “with the grain” and when the path is a darker green then it’ll move a little slower because it’s got to roll “against the grain.”

The Picks

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I’m taking Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Daniel Berger, and Camilo Villegas. I was pondering taking Rickie Fowler over McIlroy and I opted to go with Rory based on his prior performance at the course. McIlroy (#3 in OWGR) has won the event and lost in a playoff in the last three years. Scott (#13 in OWGR) played very well at the Northern Trust Open and is adjusted to his new putter. Scott has a wonderful blend of power and precision due to his tremendous golf swing. He’s got one of the best swings in the world and is often used as an example by teaching professionals throughout the U.S. Mickelson is a little bit of a risk because he’s got the potential to win or to miss the cut. I think he’s got a good thing going on right now and he’s trying to win a few more tournaments before his career comes to a close in a few years. He’s still got power and creativity so I’ll roll the dice this week on Phil.

I really like Shane Lowry (#23 in OWGR) due to a strong beard and good feel with the putter. He’s solid on the tee and on the green so I think he’s a pretty decent choice. He’s been playing well and his scores haven’t quite represented that so far this year. He didn’t play in this tournament last year, however, I feel like his game will hold up well. Daniel Berger was a player I thought highly of last season and he finished 2nd. Berger (#57 in OWGR) is still young and I think that a good performance last year will have him feeling confident this year. Villegas (#227 in OWGR) is pretty much a Hail Mary kind of pick. He’s got a good record at the Honda Classic and he played well at the Northern Trust Open. I think he’s a strong candidate to set a course record and I think he’s equally likely to shoot a 78.

The Winner: Adam Scott

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Scott had an excellent showing at the Northern Trust and has a game that is built for what he’ll face at PGA National. I think he’s going to be able to putt well since the greens here will be a little more consistent than the greens at Riviera. I think his ability to drive the golf ball and hit greens will make the difference if he’s able to come out on top. McIlroy is also an appealing pick and I could have talked myself into Shane Lowry. I don’t think PGA National has a particular type of player that really excels. I think it’s a course that can be a little unpredictable. It’s going to be a challenge for the players and because of that the winners have been diverse.

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