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Honda Classic Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 02/28/2012
The PGA Tour ended its west coast swing last week with Hunter Mahan capturing the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship over Rory McIlroy. They head east for the Florida swing as it is time to start gearing up for the Masters which is coming up quick, just five weeks away. This week it is The Honda Classic from the Champion Course at PGA National which is a Jack Nicklaus re-design and this will mark the sixth year it has hosted the event.
Three years ago, PGA National ranked as the second hardest par-70 course on tour of the non-Major layouts as players averaged 1.4 shots over par. For the last two years, it has been ranked as the hardest par-70 course on tour of the non-Major layouts as players averaged 2.54 shots over par last year. National is known for the "Bear Trap" which consists of holes 15, 16 and 17 and is one of the toughest three-hole stretches on tour. The first and last of that trio are par threes and they were the toughest par threes on tour.
This is true test of golf and a lot of the players who have won here have gone on to bigger and better things. Since 1990, five different winners of the tournament have gone on to later win a major championship in their careers and twice, the winner has gone on to win a major in the same year. Three years ago, it was Y.E. Yang who brought home the over $1 million prize and he went on to win the PGA Championship as he held off Tiger Woods in a classic duel on Sunday.
The field is not as strong as in recent years but there are three big names playing this week that draw a lot of fan interest. Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, second and third in the world respectively, both had opportunities to take over the world top ranking with a win last week but both came up just short in Arizona. While they are the lone top ten players teeing it up, the real big name is Tiger Woods as he will be making his first ever start at the Honda Classic.
Both Woods and McIlroy share the favorite role this week (+800). As good as McIlroy has played over the last few months going back to last year, there is not a lot of value with him in place as the grind of the Accenture could pose a letdown issue. As for Woods, this is not an ideal course to be making a debut on and he is still overvalued despite not having done much the last few years.
Lee Westwood (+1,000) played his best ever at the Accenture despite losing his final two matches. His loss to Wilson can be attributed to a letdown because of his earlier loss to McIlroy. He has played the Honda Classic twice and has played well both times highlighted by his T9 two years ago.
Mark Wilson (+3,000) is extremely undervalued for some reason. He has a win in his pocket this year already and is coming off an impressive third place showing last week. He is a five-time winner on tour with his inaugural victory coming right here in Palm Beach Gardens back in 2007 in a playoff.
Charl Schwartzel (+2,500) is one of the four reigning Majors champions in the field this week and he comes in with course knowledge after his T14 last year in his only start at National. He has finished in the top 20 in nine of his last 10 starts following a disappointing second round exit last week.
Charles Howell (+4,000) was not in the field at the Accenture but did play at the Mayakoba where he finished T16. He has missed only one cut this season with his best finish being a T2 at his 2012 debut at the Sony. He finished T10 at the Honda last year after his T29 finish in 2009.
For a longshot we will go with Spencer Levin (+5,000) who is coming off another solid start last week in Mayakoba as a strong weekend propelled him to a T34. He has held it together quite well after his Sunday collapse in Phoenix and he played well at PGA National last year with a T14 after a solid 68 on Sunday.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Honda Classic (all for One Unit)
Lee Westwood (+1,000)
Mark Wilson (+3,000)
Charl Schwartzel (+2,500)
Charles Howell (+4,000)
Spencer Levin (+5,000)
Record to date after seven events: +3.11 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units