Fed Ex Cup: Honda Classic, Florida
Good afternoon and welcome to the Sunshine state – Florida’s PGA Tour home and the home from home for many of the European Tour and PGA Tours global superstars including Tiger Woods (12/1 with StanJames).
However, it’s not all about the Sunshine, Florida is also famous for Disney world, NASA, alligators, oranges, Spring Break, its “snow birds”, fishing (just ask Greg Norman) and of course golf. The Honda Classic is the first of four big tour events on the Florida Swing so unpack your bags, fill the fridge and sit back and watch – we will be here for a while.
Date: 1st – 4th March 2012
Venue: PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Our hardy overworked players will this week be tackling a course consistently ranked among the toughest in tournament conditions.
In 2011, PGA National ranked as the second toughest on TOUR at 2.5 strokes over par — just a tick easier than Royal St. George’s Golf Club in the British Open.
To give you a flavor of just how difficult, let me put it into perspective; there were 206 par 3s played on the PGA TOUR in 2011 including the four majors. Sitting 1-2 in terms of difficulty were the 17th and 15th holes, respectively, at PGA National’s Champion Course.
This is a seriously tough course with a distinguished history of tournament play – including appropriately the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship, and nearly two decades of PGA Seniors’ Championships.
Yards: 7,158 yards
Par: Par 70
Woods will join a field that also includes reigning U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy and his ever decreasing odds (this week 9/1 with PaddyPower), reigning British Open champ Darren Clarke (446/1 with Bet Fair) and English World number 2, Lee Westwood (10/1 with Blue Sq). Given its ‘home from home’ locality for many of the players, why not consider the tenuously house themed Cink (251/1), Couch (489/1), Wi (117/1) and Claxton (494/1) not to mention Kokrak (271/1 all with Betfair) (everyone has a kokrak at home don’t they?).
However look at these three big performers from the last 3 months of PGA Tour competition including Mr Consistent – John Rollins (75/1 with Bodog), Johnson Wagner (100/1 with Coral) and Jimmy Walker (80/1 with Stan James).
Consider the “Bear Trap” – the legendary 15th, 16th, and 17th holes on tour, let alone over The Champion course – considered by many as the toughest three hole stretch in golf. Also add the added excitement of the fact that even at the Riviera, the Winner yet again came from behind, so clearly no lead is safe this year…
Mark Wilson (63/1 with Betdaq) claimed his first of what is now five PGA Tour victories at the first edition of the Honda at PGA National in 2007. Has played better than most of the Tour since January and won the Humana Challenge last month.
Wilson placed third at the WGC-Match Play beating the on form Westwood to the $600,000 podium pay check and with it currently sits fourth on PGA Tour in greens hit and 11th in the all-around stats form.
Kyle Stanley sticks out towards the top of the form guide with a win and a second to his name in the last six weeks. Unfortunately though the cat is out of the bag now in terms of his ability but he is still worth following and his relatively low 38/1 (Betdaq) odds demonstrate the growing confidence in his ability to perform at the top level is on the up.
This is his first appearance since a solo third in 2009 but its Ben Crane (36/1 with Betdaq) and his three top 10s this season including a solo second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open that make him a leader board king this weekend. Crane ranks 13th on the PGA Tour for greens hit, leads the strokes Gained-Putting and second in the all-around stats so will more than likely be the one towering above everybody else on Sunday evening.
Charl Schwartzel (26/1 with Betfair) tied for 14th in his debut here last year on the start of a 5 tournament run that culminated in his triumph at the Masters last April. Ranked fifth in putting and T5 in birdies for the week last year and has been a solid performer having had nine top 20s in 10 starts dating back to the Dunhill Links five months ago. Your money is welcome here at the Bank of Charl!!
Camillo Villegas on a handicap bet to win (-4.5) at 12/1 with StanJames.
Graeme MacDowell is 12/5 to miss the cut with SkyBet – it’s a fairly negative punt but there are only winners in this game that we play….and that’s what you could be!
Thank me later!