Hello again PGA family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! It's been a controversial few months for Patrick Reed, but he emerged victorious at the WGC-Mexico Championship last week for his eighth-career victory on the PGA Tour. Reed outlasted a star-studded leaderboard that included Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Justin Thomas.
I've never been a huge fan of the WGC events, but I'm really coming around on the Mexico Championship. The field has consistently been strong, it draws a great crowd, and Chapultepec is proving itself to be a really fun golf course that produces quality leaderboards on Sunday. I'll be putting a star beside the event next year!
Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!Editor's Note: Golf is back! Come join the fun and win big with RotoBaller. Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off! Our exclusive DFS Lineup Optimizer, Research Station, DFS Projections and weekly DFS/betting articles! Sign Up Now!
The Honda Classic Overview
There's an almost palpable sense of golfers shifting gears as the PGA Tour heads to Florida this week. It's a "the fun and games are over and it's time to start preparing for the majors" kind of vibe. Once a lock to attract a large contingent of the game's best players, the Honda Classic's drawing power has been hurt due to being sandwiched between the WGC Mexico and the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the schedule. The tournament also isn't helped by the fact that it is annually played on one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour schedule.
The field headed to the Honda this week won't be anywhere near as strong as we've seen in previous weeks or will see next week at the API, but it isn't without some interesting storylines. Brooks Koepka is this week's headliner, but brings some question marks to PGA National as he continues to recover from a knee injury that is apparently still an issue. Koepka will be joined by Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland, as well as an influx of European pros like Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, and Shane Lowry - who are migrating to the U.S. as we head into the heart of the season. We'll also see some of golf's rising starts this week, with recent Puerto Rico Open winner Vikor Hovland, Joaquin Niemann, and Matthew Wolff all slated to tee it up. Last year's surprise Honda Classic champion Keith Mitchell will be back to defend, though "Killa Keith" has been rather quiet since his breakthrough win here last season. Overall, it's an interesting field that should make for a challenging DFS week. Let's tee it up!
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The Course: PGA National (Champion Course)
Par 70 - 7,140 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
As I mentioned in the intro, the players are facing a daunting task this week at PGA National. The Champion course routinely ranks as one of the most difficult layouts on the PGA Tour schedule with a score of 8-10-under par usually being enough to win the tournament. The infamous 'Bear Trap' is a brutal three hole stretch (Holes #15,16,& 17) that can destroy a players' scorecard at the end of a round.
Water is prevalent on the Champion layout and over 75 sand traps lay waiting around the course. As if all that weren't enough, the Florida wind can always wreak havoc when it starts gusting! The players do finally get a break from the funky Poa Annua greens they've faced over the last several weeks, as PGA National has Bermuda putting surfaces, which will present its own set of challenges and adjustment period. If you want to dial in some key stats for this tournament, golfers this week will face SEVEN Par-4s that measure between 400-450 yards and the largest number of approach shots will fall in the 150-200 yard range. I'm looking for players that have the ability to succeed on hard courses, can avoid bogeys, and are solid ball strikers with strong proximity numbers in the 150-200 yard range. We can also throw in a dash of Bermuda putting splits.
Billy Horschel (DraftKings - $9,200)
Notable Course History: T16 ('19), MC ('18), T4 ('17), T8 ('16)
As we'll touch on several times this week, PGA National is a really tough course. As a result, you won't see as many "perfect" track records in this week's HFTC. Billy Horschel is a streaky player, which makes it tough to roster him on a regular basis. That volatility is evident in his track record at the Honda, as “Billy Ho” has missed the cut twice since 2015, but hasn’t finished worse than a T16 on the three occasions he’s made the cut, while also showing some tempting upside with a T4 and a T8 over that time period.
We can hopefully catch Horschel in trending form this week, as he heads to Florida on the heels of back-to-back top-10 performances at the WMPO and WGC. He’s gained strokes both T2G and putting in those starts and will get to putt on his best surface (Bermuda) this week. Horschel is an erratic player, but I don’t mind taking a shot on his high upside when he’s in the middle of a heater.
Rickie Fowler (DraftKings - $10,800)
Notable Course History: T2 ('19), MC ('18), Win ('17), T6 ('16)
It feels like Rickie Fowler is off to a disappointing start in 2020, but it’s not been as bad as it seems. Fowler has played a limited schedule to this point, but has recorded a top-five finish at the Tournament of Champions and a top-10 outing at the American Express.
While his game log looks solid, there’s no doubt that his ballstriking hasn’t been as crisp this year. Fowler has lost strokes with his irons in half of the tournaments he’s played, but he did look better in Phoenix a few weeks ago en route to gaining almost three strokes on Approach at the WMPO. It’s a positive sign as Rickie heads to a PGA National track on which he’s been very good over the last five years...winning the Honda in 2017 and sharing runner-up honors last year.
He leads this week’s field in Strokes Gained: Total at the Honda since 2015 and it’s not particularly close. The normally-dependable Fowler hasn’t been as reliable over the past several months, but this is a tournament where he should be very comfortable.
Daniel Berger (DraftKings - $8,900)
Notable Course History: T36 ('19), T29 ('18), MC ('17), MC ('16), 2nd ('15)
I’ve been all-in on the “Daniel Berger Comeback Tour” this season and have him on my short list once again for the Honda.
Berger is a two-time PGA Tour winner that’s had his career stalled by a wrist injury over the past 18 months. He finally appears to be fully recovered and has played very well in the 2019-20 season, making the cut in seven of eight starts. Berger has noticeably stepped his game up this year, recording a top-10 and a top-five in his last two starts. His track record at the Honda isn’t blemish free, but a runner-up finish in 2015 and solid outings over the last two years at PGA National are enough to give me confidence in continuing to ride a player that’s in hot form.
Luke List (DraftKings - $8,000)
Notable Course History: MC ('19), 2nd ('18), T52 ('17), T10
It’s been a roller coaster couple of years for Luke List. He seemed on the verge of a career breakout in 2018, as he logged multiple top-10s, including a solo-second in this event when he fell to Justin Thomas in a playoff. His elite-level ballstriking made List almost a cult-like DFS figure that season, but the lovefest came to an end last year as he suffered through a shockingly-miserable 2019 in which he missed nine of 10 cuts during one especially-bad stretch.
After seemingly hitting rock bottom last year, List appears to be working his way back in 2020. He’s put together solid outings in each of his last three starts, and is averaging 1.2 SG: T2G over his last five tournaments. He missed the cut in last year’s Honda Classic, but had made the weekend at PGA National in his three previous starts with the runner-up finish in ‘18 and a T10 in 2016. His $8k price tag is a bit shocking I must say, but it will probably scare a lot of folks away, which makes in an interesting contrarian play in GPPs.
Wyndham Clark (DraftKings - $7,600)
Notable Course History: T7 ('19)
The course history isn't as extensive for Wyndham Clark as I normally require for this article, but in a week with tough pricing at a tough golf course, he stands out for me in this mid-$7k range. Clark played very well in his Honda debut last year, logging a T7 and being firmly in contention to win the tournament before a final-round 72 dropped him down the leaderboard.
Clark has a good pedigree, winning the individual Pac-12 title at Oregon in 2016. He's starting to pop up on PGA Tour leaderboards this year and heads to PGA National fresh off three straight made cuts and back-to-back top-20 finishes. Clark is a tremendous putter with a strong short game and is great at avoiding bogeys...a strong trait to have this week.