After a thrilling first World Golf Championship of the season, the PGA Tour heads back over the border from Mexico to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The PGA National is our setting for the Honda Classic 2020 which started in 1972 and is therefore one of the more established tournaments on the circuit.
The event tends to draw a strong field but last year, the Honda Classic provided a shock as Keith Mitchell narrowly held off Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler to win his first, and only professional title to date.
Our tip last week, Justin Thomas, was leading into the last day before blowing up badly late on. The plan is to make amends this time in Florida with our Honda Classic predictions.
While we have a powerful field of golfers this week, there are some notable absentees and that has allowed Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka to head the outright betting market at +1200 (12/1) with Bovada offshore sportsbook. Fleetwood is Mr Consistency on the circuit with a string of weekend appearances and he enjoyed a solo fourth on debut here last year.
Rickie Fowler (14/1) and Koepka will be well-supported this week. Fowler won the Honda Classic in 2017 while both men were one stroke behind Keith Mitchell a year ago.
The gap really starts to move out behind the top three and there should be some excellent value behind those players that head the market. These include Gary Woodland (22/1) and he is closely followed by Justin Rose (25/1), Viktor Hovland (28/1) and Louis Oosthuizen (25/1). While we were all focusing on Mexico last week, Hovland was quietly making a significant breakthrough in the Puerto Rico Open. The Norwegian is a huge talent at just 22 years of age and he is one to watch this week.
Next up, we have an interesting conundrum in the shape of Billy Horschel (25/1). He’s on the fringes of the fancied players in terms of Honda Classic betting odds, yet the 33-year-old heads the Power Rankings. Horschel’s record at the PGA National is solid and while we are not sure he should be right at the summit of those rankings, he is another live contender.
Also coming into the reckoning this week are Daniel Berger and Sungjae Im (both 33/1). Berger was a Honda runner-up behind Padraig Harrington in 2015 and is another golfer featuring highly in the Power Rankings.
Looking to the outsiders, there is no huge support for defending champion Keith Mitchell (66/1) and that isn’t a great surprise. His win last year came from nowhere and his odds for a successful defense across all the most important USA bookies average out around +8000. More plausible contenders include Shane Lowry (40/1) and Erik van Rooyen (50/1) who head the outside picks for the PGA National. Van Rooyen will enjoy some support after his second round 62 in Mexico led to an eventual tie for third and he is another player to watch as the season develops.
Look out too for Ryan Palmer, Joaquinn Niemann, Wyndham Clark, and Lee Westwood. Clark held the third-round lead in the Honda Classic last year and while he drifted, an eventual tie for seventh place indicates he could be another contender for the Top Ten markets.
Honda Classic Preview’s Course & Betting Trends with Picks & Predictions Advice
The Championship Course at the PGA National has been home to the Honda Classic since 2007. As host to a Major Championship and a Ryder Cup, it is clearly more testing than its par 70 at a modest 7140 yards would initially suggest.
In terms of external conditions, wind can often play a part in this tournament but breezes are expected to be gentle, if sustained, across the four days. Milder conditions and bright sunshine could lead to lower scoring than we have seen in the past.
We have been a bit harsh on Keith Mitchell and while his win in 2019 was something of a freak, his stats showed that it was fully deserved. Also, there are key indicators for this year as the defending champion led the field in strokes gained: tee to green and Par 3 Scoring. Mitchell also tied for second in scrambling and ranked fifth in driving distance.
The Honda Classic is one golf event on Tour where multiple winners are rare. Since 1972, only four have won twice and only one – Padraig Harrington in 2005 and 2015 – has completed the double in this century.
Mitchell’s stats suggest we should be looking for a good all-rounder and perhaps this is a week where the shorter prices will prevail. It is a tough call but this preview will give one more chance to Gary Woodland, who also faded on Sunday after looking set to give us a return in the top 10 markets. Woodland has the game, he was runner up to Fowler in 2017 and at some point, his form will return.
Turning to the Honda Classic predictions for this preview, let’s hope the reigning US Open Champion finds his touch this week and delivers an overall profit alongside these other top 10 betting picks: