The PGA Tour heads south on Thursday (AEDT) as the 47th annual Honda Classic tees off from the famed Champion Golf Course in Palm Beach Florida. This year there’s a casual $6.8 million up for grabs, while players not only hope to claim one of golf’s top accolades, but also join the likes of past winners Jack Nicklaus and Mark Calcavecchia.
Australians have won this tournament twice – Adam Scott being the most recent to do so in 2016. The 38-year-old enters as one of the favourites for this weekends event, but he’ll have his work cut out for him against a talented field comprising of six of the world’s Top 30 players.
You know the drill, we’ve previewed everything you need to know about this year’s top hopefuls, and our complete 2019 Honda Classic Preview can be found below.
Adam Scott – $17.00
All-in on Adam this weekend. Not only has he won this tournament once before, he’s also finished inside the Top 15 in his last four visits to Palm Beach. Scott’s performance at last fortnight’s Genesis Open was superb, and if it weren’t for a disappointing final round 76, he probably would have won. That’s not to discount his opening round efforts, though. Scott combined for 12 birdies between Rounds 1 and 2, while he ranked sixth in distance with the driver. The week break in between tournaments seems to be doing some good, and with the 18th best putting rank on Tour, he’s worth backing at this price as he looks more than due for a win.
Top 10 Finish:
Gary Woodland – $2.38
You wouldn’t know it, but Woodland has enjoyed a strong start to 2019. He’s finished inside the Top 1o in three of five tournaments, while there were plenty of encouraging signs following last week’s 17th placing at the WGC in Mexico. The Honda Classic has always been a favourite of Woodland’s – he’s finished runner-up in this event twice and holds six Top 10 finishes. The 34-year-old should be hungry to improve on last year after finishing 49th, and we already know he has the power from the tee, which should come in handy on the infamous three-hole stretch dubbed “The Bear Trap.”
Sergio Garcia – $2.38
Garcia bounced-back strongly from a disappointing performance at the Genesis Open to finish tied for sixth in last week’s WGC in Mexico. Now preparing for his third event on Tour in 2019, Garcia can feel confident knowing he’s familiar with the quirks of The Champion course. The 39-year-old Spaniard has made the cut in eight appearances at The Honda Classic, finishing runner-up in 2016 behind Adam Scott.
Justin Thomas – $6.00
The defending champ returns to Palm Beach following last year’s thrilling playoff win over Luke List. Not surprisingly, Americans have won this tournament three of the last five years, but there’s other reasons to expect big things from Thomas yet again. The 25-year-old finished ninth last week during the World Golf Championships in Mexico, carding a brilliant final round 62. That was the lowest score of the day, largely thanks to nailing 10 birdie putts. That’s not all, Thomas also leads the Tour in strokes gained from tee-to-green, highlighting just how resilient he’s been over the course of the season. Thomas now aims to join Jack Nicklaus as the only other player to earn back-to-back Honda Classic victories, and for no reason other than “he’s due”, looks as good a chance as any to do so.
Brooks Koepka – $13.00
Koepka looks way over the odds at this price. He’s finished no better than 26th in five appearances at The Honda Classic, while his recent form suggests there’s something off with his swing. Koepka returned from a brief stint in Europe last week to finish tied for 27th in Mexico, leaving him without a Top 10 finish in his last three events on Tour. From the tee Koepka looks solid, about what you’d expect from someone with such a strong build. You can’t trust his putting game, however. Koepka finished with 11 total bogey’s last week at Chapultepec.
Cameron Smith – $26.00
Don’t be surprised if the 25-year-old Brisbanite snags his second win on Tour sometime soon. Smith, who is now ranked 24th in the World, played three outstanding Rounds in Mexico last week to finish tied for sixth at -10 under. The Aussie makes his Honda Classic debut this weekend, but don’t be surprised if he figures somewhere towards the Top 20. After finishing with 18 birdies last week, Smith currently ranks 12th in the PGA’s around-the-green rating.
Webb Simpson – $26.00
Things have progressively gotten worse for the 33-year-old Tour veteran. Simpson finished tied for eighth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions back in January, only to back it up with a less encouraging performance at the Phoenix Open. Things got off to an ugly start in Mexico last week where Simpson carded back-to-back opening Rounds of 73 and 72 to finish tied for 39th at even par. The only saving grace is his fifth-place finish at last year’s Honda Classic, but keep in mind, Simpson has missed the cut twice.
Luke List – $41.00
Last year’s runner-up is worth a mention after finishing 15th at the Genesis Open a fortnight ago. The 34-year-old List is still without a victory on the PGA Tour, while his best result at a Major was 33rd in the 2005 Masters. Even so, List closed out 2018 with two Top 5 finishes, and since we’ve seen guys like Adam Long claim the Desert Classic this year, there’s something to be said about underdogs in 2019.
Zach Johnson – $67.00
Johnson, a 12-time Tour winner, is still attempting to snap his three-year winless streak. The 43-year-old has endured mixed results of late finishing seventh in last year’s RSM Classic and 39th in the Phoenix Open earlier this month, while his best result at The Honda Classic was 13th way back in 2004. It’ll take some luck, but at least Johnson has familiarity with this event.