This week, the Tour heads to PGA National for the Honda Classic. The course contains plenty of water hazards and will be a difficult test for players. Based on early forecasts, it looks like it will be windy for the first couple of rounds. This will cause even more carnage, especially around the Bear Trap. I am looking at players who use precision and can use a solid mental strategy to traverse the course. Players who have solid irons games, especially in the wind, tend to succeed here. If you add that to a top-notch short game, you might find your winner this week.
Tommy Fleetwood $9,400
Fleetwood is one of the best ball-strikers in the world. He has finished in the top six in four of his last five events. He put on a ball striking clinic during the windswept Abu Dhabi event. I could see a similar result for him this week.
Chesson Hadley $7,700
Hadley has been a model of both upside and consistency this year. He has completed 72 holes in all events except his WD at Mayakoba. Over those nine starts, he has recorded four top-five finishes. In that same timeframe, he has gained 34 shots over the field with his approach game.
Dylan Frittelli $7,600
Frittelli is a bit of an unknown to most American golf fans. You may remember him as Jordan Spieth’s teammate at Texas. He sunk the winning putt in the national championship match against Alabama at Riviera. He has been playing well on the European Tour and is up to number 47 in the world. He has recorded top-20 finishes in eight of his last nine starts. If he can bring his solid iron game this week, he may surprise some people.
The Honda Classic has had a large number of winners coming from outside the top tier of players. Winners include young players like Henley and Villegas and wily veterans such as Mark Wilson and Padraig Harrington. I think the strategy for this week is to try and hit a top 10 with a lower-owned player in your league. Save your better players for other events. Here are some players to consider:
The local resident, Berger, finished second here in 2015. Prior to his missed cut last week at Riviera, he had three consecutive top-15 finishes. I look for him to get back on track this week now that he has returned to his beloved bermuda greens.
Henley is similar to Berger in that he has immense upside. When he plays well, he is not afraid of slaying some giants on the leaderboard, as shown by his 2014 win here over Rory.
You may not be impressed by his two Honda Classic results (48, MC), but he did finish ninth here in the 2015 Web.com Tour Qualifying School Finals. If he brings his solid iron game and can avoid the big number, he can contend this week and provide you a low-owned option in your league.
So I’m hopping back on the GMAC train after his solid play at Riviera. He has recorded a top 15 at the Honda in five of the last seven years.
Wesley Bryan (150-1 to win, 12-1 top 10, 7-1 top 20)
Wesley Bryan enters this week on the back of two missed cuts, so his odds have dropped significantly. Bryan held the 36-hole lead last year en route to a fourth place finish. PGA National brings back good memories for him. He finished 9th at the Web.com Tour Qualifying School Finals here in 2015. PGA National is also the site of where he participated in Golf Channel’s “The Big Break”. PGA National requires precise iron play and an impeccable short game. That is exactly how you would describe Bryan’s game. I’m not worried about his well-known driver issues as many holes can be played with a lay-up shot this week for position.
Andrew Landry (250-1 to win, 20-1 top 10, 9-1 top 20)
Landry has missed five of his last seven cuts, which has caused his odds to drop. However, in the two cuts he made, he finished second and fourth. The last time Landry competed at PGA National, he finished second in the 2014 Web.com Tour Qualifying School Finals. PGA National reminds me a bit of the Dye Stadium course where he lost in a playoff to Jon Rahm earlier this year.
Dominic Bozzelli (250-1 to win, 28-1 top 10, 12-1 top 20)
Bozzelli started out strong last week at Riviera with an opening-round 67 but faded to a 26th place finish. He has a great short game that he can put to great use this week. He has had some success at this track, earning his Web.com card here in 2015 after finishing fourth.
Anirban Lahiri (125-1 to win, 10-1 top 10, 5-1 top 20)
Lahiri lives nearby so this is a bit of a home game for him this week. He finished 11th here last year and played solid at Riviera en route to a 26th finish.