The Honda Classic | Thursday 26 February - Sunday 01 March | PGA National
The Honda Classic tees off at the tough PGA National this week and it comes as little surprise that an in-form Rory McIlroy once again dominates the betting. This time around bookies have seen fit to price him up at 7/2 and as good as the young Northern Irishman is, I’m going to be looking for value elsewhere on a course that will prove difficult to score low on. The 7,158 yard layout is known as one of the toughest on the Tour and in order to have a successful four days every facet of the winner’s game is going to have to be in tune. Not only does the course play long, thick rough lines the fairways waiting to punish wayward drives and even once players find themselves within striking distance, accurate iron play is key. Wayward approaches have been the undoing of many talented players over the years and this year promises to be no different as the course is littered with bunkers. With the quality of players assembled this week it seems unlikely that we’ll have a maiden winner so keep a close eye on those who have a history of performing in tough events as it doesn’t get much more taxing than this.
To Win Outright
Rory McIlroy 7/2
Dustin Johnson 16/1
Justin Rose 22/1
Sergio Garcia 28/1
Keegan Bradley 28/1
Billy Horschel (55/1 a win, 12/1 a place)
Time and time again last season Billy Horschel proved that he is one of the best in the game and although he’s gone off the boil a bit since winning the FedEx Cup, he looks like he may be ready to start challenging again. He’s intensely competitive and seems to thrive in the face of tough competition which is something there will be no shortage of here. When he’s on form he’s one of the best all round players in the game and despite the fact that he doesn’t have much course form to speak of, over the years his game has improved considerably and he’ll now realise he has a very real chance of winning one of the most prestigious titles in golf. 55/1 looks a great price so get on each way.
Keegan Bradley (28/1 a win, 62/10 a place)
Keegan Bradley is going to be one to keep a close eye on this season and after pulling off an impressive fourth-place finish last week in the face of some stiff competition, he looks like he could well go one better this time around and walk away with a win. He has a best finish here of T4, that coming in 2013, and he has a fair amount of course experience which should stand him in good stead this week. Overall at 28/1 Bradley looks an exciting prospect, if he can edge out the seemingly indestructible Rory McIlroy. Even if he can't, 62/10 a place is great value so each way is the bet for me.
Ryan Palmer (33/1 a win, 73/10 a place)
Ryan Palmer will arrive here with his missed cut at Pebble Beach still fresh in his memory but prior to that he looked to be in decent form. He hit his irons better than anyone at the Waste Management Open, a facet of the game that is going to be hugely important this week. He also seems to have finally got to grips with this course as we saw last year where he was edged out in a playoff by Russell Henley. A superb striker of the ball on his day, if he comes out firing he’ll go close.
Graeme McDowell (30/1 a win, 66/10 a place)
Graeme McDowell has had an up-and-down start to the season and some brilliant rounds have been frustrated by shockers later on, a fact that I’m hoping comes down to rustiness and early season jitters. Apart from last year, where he finished outside the Top 45, he has brilliant course form and has shown time and time again that he has what it takes to systematically dismantle this course. An each way bet looks the way to go here but honourable mention must be made of the First Round Leader Market as G-Mac often comes out firing in the early stages.