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Since 2007, The Honda Classic has called the PGA National Champions course home. A Nicklaus-designed Par 70 for the pros, PGA National measures 7,140 yards with two par 5s, 12 par 4s, four par 3s, and TifEagle Bermuda greens. Off-the-tee golfers will find water on 13 of the 18 holes and plenty of well-placed bunkers. It’s more of the same when approaching the greens this week with lots of trouble surrounding these elevated greens. They are guarded with numerous false fronts and runoff collection areas. The greens, while average for the tour (6,400 square feet), are unusually narrow and long front to back. This will change the dynamic of each hole each day. With four pin placements, we can expect to see holes vary in length by 20-40 yards each day.
This course is tough in terms of greens in regulation. Golfers hit them in regulation on 59.7% of attempts. To give some perspective, the tour average is 65.5%. Rough is generally not an issue here, but finding the fairway is: just a shade under 60% success. Annually this course plays as one of the most difficult on tour. The average winning score is a scant 9 under in recent years.
As you can see, the course has averaged 1.61 strokes over par since its renovation in 2014. Compared to the courses we have had so far this season, PGA National is significantly tougher. Only two holes deliver a birdie rate greater than 20 percent, both par 5s.
Holes 6, 10, 11, and 14 are the toughest on the course and annually rank in the Top 100 most difficult on tour. Holes 6, 10, and 14 will cause one-fourth of the field to drop a stroke, with 11 causing real heartburn for players should they find themselves in the five percent of players who make a double here. Another 21 percent only bogey it. These four holes are no joke and will account for a lot of scorecard carnage this week and inevitable tilt for DFS players.
From a strategy standpoint, players need to start out hot. No. 1 is a fair hole and very scoreable. The front nine is the place to make hay if players can avoid a big number on No. 6. Making the turn, the back nine yields to no man and provides only minimal scoring opportunity at the 13th. The only other real chance is the 18th.
- Strokes Gained Approach
- Par 4 Scoring
- Short Par 5 scoring
- Bermuda Putting Splits
PGA DFS Picks
Top tier: $11.4k-$9.6k
Rickie Fowler ($11.2k)
Rickie coming off a very mediocre performance in Mexico in his first appearance since his WMPO win. That could dampen his ownership a bit this week. But after shaking the rust off, Rickie should be ready to put another strong performance at an annual favorite of his. Fowler is well suited here due to his slightly conservative but efficient driver and great iron play. And it’s backed up by some of the most clutch scrambling on tour. Rickie has bested this track and field before, so look for him to continue his strong 2019 campaign by contending down the stretch Sunday. Model Rank: 1
Adam Scott ($10.3k)
Since his return to the lengthier putter, Scott has put together two top 10s in 2019. Owning four top 15s in his last four appearances at PGA National, including a win in 2016, Scott boasts exceptional ball striking. It seems Adam likes the tougher tracks, and his usually weak putter seems to be quite a bit stronger this year after the change. Look for Scott to keep his good play going with another top 15 and likely find himself in contention on Sunday. Model Rank: 6
Webb Simpson ($9.6k)
Much like Scott above, Webb is having a great early season largely due to his change back to a longer putter and the ball-striking demonstration he puts on every time he tees it up. Webb’s long irons are exceptional, and his tidy game should play nicely this week at PGA National. Being a Bermuda putting specialist, Webb should be primed to repeat his fifth-place performance of last year. He’ll be as excited as anyone in the field to get back on Bermuda. Model Rank: 2
Others to consider: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Gary Woodland
Middle tier: $9.5k-$7.9k
Daniel Berger ($9.4k)
Berger got things rolling on Sunday last week. That is exactly the kind of sign I am looking for to make Berger a key piece of lineups this week in GPPs. Having previously posted a second-place finish at PGA National, Berger has a game well suited for the difficult and often windy par 4s on tap. Berger is looking to get his season jump-started after an injury impacted 2018. His strong close to the PR Open last week is enough for me to get back on board the Berger train this week. Keep an eye on Fanshare tags as we get closer to lock. Model Rank: 17
Luke List ($9.3k)
Look out for Luke to be one of the higher-owed golfers of the week based on Fanshare tags so far. List has a great game for this track, evidenced by his multiple top 10 performances at PGA National. A weak putter who prefers Bermuda and a superb long-iron ball striker, List seems to have elevated his game a bit in the off-season. This is the perfect field for him to show off his improved consistency and potentially compete for that elusive tour win. Model Rank: 14
Emiliano Grillo ($8.9k)
Grillo had one of the most interesting times in Mexico of anyone in the WGC field last week. Ranking really well in ball strking but very poor in his putting, Grillo struggled to find his groove once on the greens. Expect that to change this week as he gets back on Bermuda. Grillo has already posted increasingly improved results year over year at PGA National, and I expect him to continue this trend. The top-notch ball striking should continue this week as well, and the putting will certainly get a bump. Keep an eye on Grillo for a potentially big event win. Model Rank: 42
Others to consider: Zach Johnson, Russell Henley, Alexander Noren, Byeong Hun An
Value tier: $7.8k and lower
C.T. Pan ($7.6k)
Pan is a par-70 specialist and really seems to excel on the shorter and more technical tracks. Having made the cut in both his appearances here, Pan succeeds on the tough course through his conservative and consistent long-iron play. Not being a big Bermuda fan, Pan will have to get it done through ball striking this week as per usual. Ultimately, he’s a proven competitor who can make deep runs into Sunday for less than $8K. He’s a good bargain. Model Rank: 12
Sungjae Im ($7.3k)
Sungjae Im’s mediocre ranking in my model this week is likely due to his smaller sample size here. Im went on a seven-week stretch of solid golf and is making his first showing post-rest and following his torrid start to the season. That period saw him strut his stuff with the best in the world on the West Coast. Given that his strong showings were on his worst putting surface in Poa, look for Im to excel on Bermuda the grass he grew up playing on Jeju island. Im is a proven competitor who should be ready to contend in this field and make a run at a Sunday leaderboard. Model Rank: 51
Jim Furyk ($7k)
Furyk seems to fit this course very well despite his 46th-place finish in his only appearance in the last five years. Jim is extremely consistent with regard to positioning both off the tee and into the greens. His unconventional, but consistent swing is perfect for strategic play around this tough track. Furyk has the efficient kind of game that should be good for a made cut with some upside due to his Bermuda putting preference and being a Florida native. Comfortable Model Rank: 6
Others to consider: Harold Varner III, Trey Mullinax, Brendan Steele, Martin Kaymer, Ollie Schniederjans