PGA Tour Odds and Free Golf Picks: The Honda Classic
by Alan Matthews - 3/3/2011
The PGA Tour’s West Coast swing is a thing of the past, and the best part of the pros heading across country to start the Florida Swing is that you know the Masters and all those azalea shots on CBS are just a month or so away. This week the Tour visits PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens for the Honda Classic.
In the wake of last week’s high-pressure Match Play and the fact that this tournament is across the country, many of the top Americans are sitting out this week as they rest up for next week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral’s Blue Monster. Thus, you won’t see Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson this week.
But you will see most of the top Europeans because they obviously don’t want to travel back across the pond only to return for next week’s big-money WGC event. But the best golfer on the planet, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, is sitting out this week after claiming the No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career by finishing runner-up at last week’s Match Play to Luke Donald. Kaymer is the second-youngest No. 1 of all time, the second German ever at the top and only the sixth European. However, the guy he replaced, England’s Lee Westwood, is in the field and can steal that ranking back if he finishes third or higher. A win for Rory McIlroy this week would vault him to third and give Europe the top five spots in the world for the first time in 19 years. The only American in the Top 5 right now is Woods at No. 5.
Westwood has opened as the 12/1 favorite, according to Honda Classic odds, this week on Bodog. My PGA Tour predictions say that is terrible value because Westwood hasn’t looked right since late last year. He was bounced out in the second round yet again at the Match Play. He has failed to record a Top-10 finish yet this year. This is just the Englishman’s third start at this tournament; he finished ninth last year.
Donald (14/1) is the second favorite off last week’s win, and he plays this tournament for the first time since a runner-up finish 2008, when he established the course record (64). Donald won this tournament in 2006. I don’t really believe golfers can get tired, but he did play a lot of holes last week.
How about Vijay Singh at 20/1? Of players with multiple starts in this tournament, the Fijian leads with an average finish of 17.3. He has five Top-5 finishes, which is also tied for the most. He won the tournament in 1999, has finished runner-up twice and, perhaps more relevant (due to the course changes), was tied for fourth last year. Singh didn’t play last week but is back in the world Top 50 and finished runner-up in his last start at the Northern Trust Open. He seems to have rediscovered his game.
I’m quite surprised that Ernie Els has such long odds at 28/1. This is practically his home course since he lives just down the road, and he won here in 2008. He did struggle to a tie for 67th at 8 over last year.
But I think the best value might belong to Anthony Kim at 33/1, and it’s just a hunch. He finished runner-up to Camilo Villegas last year – albeit by five shots. Kim had a course record-tying, 6-under 64 in the second round, one of five players to tie the Champion Course mark during the week. He was playing well before missing the cut in Phoenix and then withdrawing at Torrey Pines. Kim also was no competition for Nick Watney at the Match Play, but Kim has been dealing with an illness and should be 100 percent this week.
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