17 MAR 2021 - WALK IT IN
Walking it Back:
Another breakdown is on the tee for the Honda Classic this week, but before we do let’s grade the scorecards from this past week at THE PLAYERS. The week before, at Bay Hill, we saw a little good and a little bad from the NLU guys. This past week, however, the scorecard was littered with the kind of trouble you can find at TPC Sawgrass, and it created a number of MIAs on the weekend tee sheet for a lot of the guys on the card.
TC does remain the Draft King even after his nuggies week made a quick exit stage left. The Morikawa win bet never really got going, and guys like Fleetwood and Simpson (who the Walk It In boys thought had a high floor last weekend) both missed the cut. Niemann never really sniffed Top 10 territory, but we saw zero Mav McNealy club twirls this weekend and zero time in the Top 30 with a +13 in two days.
Soly remains in green figures, and he picked up a nice win with Paul Casey’s top 10 (had 20 nuggies at +400) which helped soften the blow of Adam Scott, Hovland (damn that ball mark being moved in the wrong direction), Morikawa, and Na doing a whole lot of nothing throughout the week.
Randy is our next guy on the standings (albeit one in the red figures for the season) who had another sea of red scorecard at THE PLAYERS. DJ never figured it out all week and never flirted with the Top 20 let alone a win bet. Scottie Scheffler (much to Jeff’s win bet dismay as well) didn’t even get a chance at it with a missed cut and NeSmith followed suit. He did have a close encounter with a Keegan Bradley Top 20, but a poor round three sunk the charge on Sunday.
DJ stayed out of the cellar even with a full miss on the scorecard (thanks to Neil - more to come on that). All 5 win bets (DJ, Rahm, Morikawa, Berger, and Homa) found very little fortune over the weekend. You can argue Rahm and Berger thought about it, but neither guy had the stuff for four rounds.
Neil took a page out of DJ’s book, and went for a full on Pacific Life logo breach last week with another five win bets. He spread the nuggies equally and all five crushed him. Not only did they not win...all five failed to make the cut. You can argue that Hovland’s two-shot penalty was less about his form, but he didn’t get it together on Friday. Xander, Rory, Cantlay, and Fleetwood all cratered almost immediately in Jacksonville (image if Finau made this card - woof).
Both Mark and Jeff were slightly in the negative last week (Mark down .9 units and Jeff down 1.5 units), but are looking for some good swing thoughts in the final showdown on the Florida swing. Both guys were all over Corey Conners and Matt Fitzpatrick this past week for their Top 20 bets. While Mark eeked out the better weekend over Jeff by hitting Paul Casey as the Top former ASU player over Rahm. It was a week of what could have been with three of our top 20 picks (Reed, Zalatoris, Ancer) all finishing two shots outside the money.
If you’re going to putt for dough it helps when you’ve given yourself more putts inside the leather than double breakers so where are the guys looking this week on their approach? Jeff goes first for Honda after finishing furthest out after THE PLAYERS.
Jeff: Back to back weeks on courses with lots of history, and last week’s talk of the gambling town was find yourself a ball striker (good win, JT). It’s no different this week, but there is a bit of short game flavor here as well because the GIR % is much lower on a very tough course. This week’s card will pull together SG: Approach, GIR % leaders, and SG: Around the Green. As always, course history will be in the conversation given the difficulties of this course, but it won’t deter me from a saucy short game or pin seeking irons.
Mark: PGA National is yet another difficult Florida course with tight fairways, hazards all over the place and small, Bermuda greens! I’m definitely going to favor golfers who have played well the last few weeks on similar courses and history shows you need to have a good week hitting the greens if you want to succeed here. The field is extremely weak and there’s a bunch of value out there if you look in the right places.
Inside the Leather
Chris Kirk Top 20 (+225) - 2 units
Kirk faded on Sunday at the Players with a nasty 78, but he was in red figures Thursday-Saturday. I like his overall game right now and the numbers look good long term and short term with his around the green strokes gained and strokes gained on approach. He’s 13th in the field in the last 24 rounds on approach and 3rd in Tee to Green in the same time span. Two missed cuts here don’t scare me because he’s played this event 9 straight years.
Brendan Steele Top 20 (+225) - 1 unit
This guy’s driver is a laser and I want to avoid the rough this week off the tee. Yeah maybe he doesn’t have to pull driver as often on a shorter course, but it’s a Par 70 so I still think it’ll get plenty of action. I like that Steele is comfortable on a tough track with four of the last five appearances being top 15 or better (4th last year). He’s in the top half of the field in approach and 13th in SG: Around the Green in the last 24 rounds.
Russell Henley Top 20 (+163) - 1 unit
A missed cut last week isn’t too much to worry about with Russell because he enjoys PGA National. He’s got three straight 24th or better and win back in ‘14. He’s a ball striker, so say the stats, coming in at 11th in the field in the last 24 rounds and 3rd in the field in the last year. He’s cooled off after a torrid start to the 2021 season (which started in the fall of 2020), but I think he’ll show off with the irons.
Doug Ghim Top 20 (+225) - 1 unit
I don’t care how gut wrenching his Sunday must have been. This is a young guy who got a taste of things last week (keep an eye on Brandon Wu this week in a similar spot), and I think he comes out ready to prove something. He’s got a great all around game and is catching more than 2-1 to place Top 20. His OTT game isn’t great (and that’s where the wheels fell off at The Players), but he won’t need it that much this week and can focus on his strong iron game.
Lee Westwood (+105) over Adam Scott - 1 unit
HEAT CHECK! The way Lee Westwood is playing the last few weeks, plus money against Adam Scott seems awfully enticing. Both these guys have very good history here, but Westwood’s is just a bit better and Scott only has one top 10 and two top 30’s this year.
Shane Lowry Top 30 (+110) - 2 units
The Irishman finished 8th last week at The PLAYERS with three rounds in the 60’s and has been in good form lately. He ranks 4th in the Honda field in SG: T2G over his last 16 rounds and finished T21 here last year. He’s also known for being a good player in windy conditions if he has to battle that this week.
Brendan Steele Top 20 (+225) - 1 unit
Steele has been pretty consistent all year, making seven straight cuts and performing well in all areas. He ranks 23rd tee-to-green in his last 16 rounds, 33rd in putting and 16th total. Combine that with his record here at PGA National (8 made cuts in 9 trips, T4 last year) and he’s a good bet to play well.
Kevin Streelman Top 20 (+250) - 1 unit
My money always seems to find him on short courses that reward good iron players and this week is no different. He’s an extremely accurate golfer and ranks 9th in SG: T2G and 18th in SG: Approach in his last 16 rounds. For the entire season he is 17th in GIR%.
Richy Werenski Top 20 +450 - 1 unit
Ricky continues to dance around leaderboards this year with three top 25s since end of January at the American Express. He packs a solid approach game with a nice short game (top 30 in the field in both in the last 24 rounds. His GIR% is horrific at 187th in the PGA Tour this year, but did place 17th here last year. It’s a flier and I’m holding on tight.
Wesley Bryan Top 20 +500 - 1 unit
Another guy in the flier category is two first names, Wesley Bryan. He has been injured for two years in row, but he’s getting back into the swing of things. He’s gone 1 for 2 here with made cuts and was 4th in ‘17. He put a solid four rounds together at Genesis and he put together a really nice stretch during this run on the calendar in ‘17. He’s young at 29 so maybe he’s getting healthy and we can get some nice odds.
Werenski over Huh / Gooch over Tringale / Reavie over Vegas (+675) - 1 unit
I covered Werenski, but Gooch comes in playing very well and is on a nice little heater (he’s 5th in the field in total strokes gained in the last 24 rounds). I like Chez’s irons much more than I like Vegas’ all around game. So what if Vegas made the cut last week at the Players? I’m getting plus money into the mix with Reavie over him, and I like this matchup parlay.
Adam Scott win (+2500) - .5 unit
Russell Knox win (+7000) - .25 unit
JT last week was 20-1 and that was too high for his caliber. In a weak field like this how is Scott 30-1 (update Tuesday night to 25-1)? I know his game isn’t what it used to be but he’s positive SG in all categories in the last 24 rounds. I won’t miss another disrespectful line situation like we saw with Koepka at WM and JT at THE PLAYERS. Knox is in a similar spot with his approach and around the green game, and he’s coming into a place he’s played well. 70-1 feels like it’s just a little long for the history + form combo with Knox.
Daniel Berger to win (+1050) - 1 unit
Berger Top American (+600) - 2 units
The Vegas favorite this week is also my favorite and this nationality prop offered by Draftkings is probably my favorite play this week. Daniel Berger finished 9th last week, won at Pebble Beach last month and this is a home game for him! On top of that, the Honda competition is weak, especially his American counterparts. Russell Henley (60th), Talor Gooch (64th) and Cameron Tringale (92nd) are the next three best Americans in this field according to the odds and none of them are inside the top 60 in the OWGR.
Cameron Percy Top 30 (+200) - 1 unit
I lost to Jeff in our inaugural bourbon bet with Percy in Puerto Rico (finished T7), but he did play well that week and had a very respectable T29 last week at The PLAYERS. He’s 4th (fourth!) this season in GIR% and 29th T2G in his last 16 rounds. I’m happy to back Cameron Percy again here.
Luke Donald Top 40 (+335) - 1 unit
This is purely a “gut” play. The former #1 player in the world and champion of this event in 2006, Donald doesn’t play all that often anymore and has missed his last six cuts. That said, he does have good history here and clearly likes playing PGA National. He finished T11 last year, T27 in 2017 and T7 in 2015. Another shorter player known more for his accuracy, a top 40 yields a nice payout here.
Doug Ghim to win (+6000) - .25 unit
His last two Sunday rounds (81 at API and 79 at The PLAYERS) are concerning, but there’s no denying his talent and how well he’s playing Thursday through Saturday. In his last 16 rounds, he ranks 15 in SG: T2G, 19th in SG: Approach, 35th in putting and 10th overall. If he can keep it together on Sunday, 60/1 is crazy.
Special Bourbon Side Bet
We’re back with our bourbon side bet between our cohosts. Another bottle of Breckenridge is on the line after Jeff won the first ever bourbon bet with the outright winner of Branden Grace in Puerto Rico. This time it’s Steve Stricker vs. Jim Furyk at Honda. Mark is a gentleman and is giving Jeff 2.5 strokes with Stricker. The official card is:
Stever Stricker +2.5 vs. Jim Furyk (at least one must make cut for action) - one bottle of Breckenridge Bourbon