Paulie's Picks: 2017 Honda Classic

What a week at Riviera, with DJ winning, Justin Rose finishing fourth and our longshot pick of the week, Thomas Pieters, finishing second. I've heard from many of you via Twitter (@friedeggpaulie) about your successes this past week whether it be on DraftKings or in your One-and-Done leagues. I'll do my best to keep that train going.

I had a great week by picking up my second victory of the year in my One-and-Done league ( I also picked Matsuyama at Phoenix). I came eerily close to a jackpot on DraftKings as well,having five of the six players from the winning team. Simply having Kevin Na instead of Brooks Koepka would have yielded a cool $50,000 on a $33 entry.

Let's try to carry  the positive mojo into this week's Honda Classic at PGA National. This event is typically very difficult to predict as many of the top players have traditionally struggled.  We’ve had numerous longshots win this event since it moved to PGA National in 2007. The field is a bit weaker this year; none of the top studs are here (Rory, Jordan, DJ, Day, Hideki). However, we do have plenty of solid second-tier players such as Scott, Garcia, Thomas, Fowler and more.

This week, we need to focus on two items when considering who to play: Iron play and local knowledge.  PGA National is one of the most difficult courses on Tour, with an abundance of hazards, placing a premium on precise iron play. The players that have had success on this track have often excelled in this area. With so many Florida residents in the field, we have a large number of players who, in addition to sleeping in their own beds, are very familiar with the course and the Bermuda grass.

Here are the picks for the week:


Rafa Cabrera-Bello $8,000

This is Rafa's first appearance at this event, but he should be a great fit. He leads the field in GIR percentage over the past 24 months worldwide. That type of ballstriking should pay dividends at PGA National. At $8,000, he brings a rare combination of consistency and upside. He has finished in the top 35 in 13 of his last 14  worldwide starts. He’s the 26th ranked player in the world and is not afraid of playing under pressure come Sunday. You should be building your team around Bello this week.

Brooks Koepka $7,500

Yes, I am going back to the well on Koepka. You may be wondering, “How can you pick a player who may have cost you $50,000  last week?” It's simple: antasy golf decisions need to be made without emotion. . Many people were burned by Koepka's MC last week and won't roster him this week because of that. Honestly, he hasn't been playing well lately but that could change this week because he returns to familiar ground. Koepka is the first player born and raised in Palm Beach County (the same county as this week’s venue) to win on the PGA Tour. . Koepka is very familiar with Florida golf and Bermudagrass. I expect his ownership to be around 10% this week. His past results at this course aren't stellar but he is  three-for-three in making the cut here. I'm willing to roster Koepka as a high-upside play who could contend come Sunday.

Russell Knox $9,000

Knox, the Florida resident, will be selected by many people this week. He’s finished second, third and 26th here the last 3 years and is another player who provides consistency and upside. Don't overthink this decision, plug him into your lineup and enjoy the high finish.

One-and-Done

This week presents a very difficult decision for One-and-Done leagues. Without any of the true top-five studs in the field, it’s wide open. Here are some players to consider for this week:

Justin Thomas

Combining his three victories this season with his third-place finish last year, I expect Thomas to be the most-picked golfer this week. It also doesn't hurt that he spends a lot of time playing golf in the area when he’s at home.

Adam Scott

I think Scott will be the second-most-picked golfer this week. Fresh off a T11 at Riviera, Scott is ready to defend his title at PGA National. He has finished in the top 15 in nine of his last 10 events. Scott is the safest option this week. The question is: Do we want to burn Scott this early in the year?

Daniel Berger

Berger, who resides in nearby Jupiter, is another valid option this week. He finished runner-up here in 2015 and is fresh off of a seventh place finish at his last start in Phoenix.

Sleeper:

Billy Horschel 80-1

Similar to Koepka, Horschel hasn't been playing well of late but this week, he returns to familiar ground. The Florida resident excels on Bermuda grass. Yes, I know he missed the cut last week at Riviera. I'm disregarding that since he was part of the late-early draw, which played in the worst conditions. Yes, I also know he has only one top 10 in the last five months and has missed the cut in three  of five appearances at PGA National. But hear me out: This course sets up great for him with the emphasis on iron play. How often can you get a FedExCup champion in his home state at a course where he finished eighth last year at 80-1?  

 

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