Honda Classic Research, First Look
+ UFC, Cust Corner & Custys Voting
Both Niemann and Ben An win in the same week and I win on neither. I had my chance to get even lifetime on both guys and blew it. Fienberg didn’t. He won on Niemann. As did producer Paul, while I lost out on a couple grand going Na over Niemann on DraftKings. Fun times. Hope you won something, though.
This all moved me on to Honda early in the day, which means, the Honda Classic research show is already OUT (with listeners league link in it!)
2022 Honda Classic Early Look
Brooks, Berger, Louis, Niemann, and Matt Wolff lead the field at PGA National this week, with the Florida swing kicking off with a whimper, as most elite players are taking this week off after the Genesis. With API (and more importantly) the Players in back to back weeks, most elites have made the decision to get their off week here, before continuing the Florida swing.
There’s also an influx of internationals finally making their 2022 debuts: Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Nicolai Hojgaard, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Paddy Harrington, and Danny Willett.
We’re getting Cameron Tringale, Billy Horschel,, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Keith Mitchell, Gary Woodland, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Alex Noren, Lucas Herbert, and Garrick Higgo too.
Chase Koepka is also in on one of his brother exemptions.
That said, PGA National is one of the best courses on Tour, with the notoriously difficult Bear Trap (Holes 15/16/17) and the Par 5 18th being both scorable but also very water exposed, it’s a great closing stretch. Longtime viewers of the show will remember 18 here as where Geoff met Mackenzie Hughes’ Mom in 2020 as Hughes tried to, and couldn’t, win.
There have been substantial crossover leaderboards between the Honda Classic and Sony Open over the years; both are shorter Par 70s. Russell Henley, Mark Wilson, Ernie Els and Justin Thomas have all won at Waialae CC (Sony Open) and PGA National (Honda Classic).
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4s Gained
Total Driving Gained (Spilt 70% DD + 30% DA)
Model (Past 36 Rounds)
NOTE: These numbers don’t include anything outside of the PGA TOUR which can work to elevate or drop down the international players as their sample sizes will stretch much further back in time.
PGA National (Champion)
2021: Matt Jones -12
2020: Sungjae Im -6
2019: Keith Mitchell -9
2018: Justin Thomas -8
2017: Rickie Fowler -12
2016: Adam Scott -9
2015: Paddy Harrington -6
2014: Russell Henley -8
2013: Michael Thompson -9
2012: Rory McIlroy -12
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PGA National is annually one of the toughest courses on TOUR. Do you like your courses beyond difficult? Then take PGA National and add the wind, which generally rears its gusty head in Palm Beach Gardens.
Water is in play on 15 holes at PGA National which means the pro shop needs to overstock on sleeves. Over 6,200 balls have plunged into the water since 2007.
There are also 67 sand traps scattered across the grounds, and they’re not the simple up-and-down bunkers. They’re going to cause problems.
PGA National has one of the lowest driving distance averages of any course: 272 yards to the TOUR average of 283 yards. The thing is, since the deep drivers must lay up, their accuracy greatly improves, yet they still have the benefit of the short clubs onto greens
The water/sand combo makes this an extremely difficult scrambling course. The GIR rate is only 60% (against the TOUR average of 66%) and the historic scrambling percentage is just 55% for the field. Normally, you’d assume short game would be a defining trail of winners at PGA National, but you’re not thinking scrambling the proper context. Yes, being solid around the greens is important, as it turns out however, no amount of chipping wizardry can mitigate wet tee shots. A missed GIR this week doesn’t mean putting form the fringe, it means attempting to get it up and down from 163 yards after a drop. And yes, not every time, you get the pointing I’m making.
While the omnipresent aqua lurks menacingly like the mysterious, new boyfriend in every true crime series, there are ungodly difficult stretches on the scorecard. That’s plural btw. The Bear Trap, (holes 15/16/17) gets its own dedicated TV feed, so obviously everyone knows how tough that plays. However, holes 5/6/7 have played equally arduous. Like, to the number. Since 2007. both troikas come in at an identical +0.638 over par. Tied for the fourth most difficult three hole stretches on the PGA Tour. Non-Majors, of course. They just don’t have a catchy name or Insta friendly statue, but when you scan your lineups Thursday and wonder how a guy picked fired an 80, go take a quick gander at these six holes. The Bear Trap is death by a thousand paper cuts; 5-7 just beats you over the head with crooked numbers.
1,604 balls have been hit into the water in the Bear Trap since 2007. For the first time in course history, no player made it through the Bear Trap without making a bogey. It didn’t play as tough as it could have, though. Yes, the field was a combined +230 for the week, that was down from +277 in 2020 and the all time high of +516 win 2018.
Cody hit big for the second straight week on UFC, and recapped it all on the Dog or Pass for UFC Vegas 48
The Custy’s Panel is OUT!!!!!! And voting finally closes Feb 28 btw
And don’t forget to submit your vote in the best awards show of the year.
And to catch up on some CCCs (Cust Corner Classics), the video for Cust Corner 25 was released late last week
You can sub to the CC only podcast feeds too
Two More Honda Notes
After shrinking down the sample to the past 24 rounds, these eight jumped out as a potential value this week against their Odds/DK Pricing. Obviously, we’ll have to see what their numbers are when released, but the stats on their side
I also may like Michael Thompson too.
As mentioned, I do think the Sony Open can be helpful in determining longer odds players this week. These are the SG: Total over the field past 24 rounds at Sony + Honda
And just sorted by SG: Ball Striking (OTT + APP)