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After a stop in Mexico last week, the PGA Tour kicks off its Florida swing this week in Palm Beach Gardens for The Honda Classic.
Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Gary Woodland and last week’s Puerto Rico Open winner Viktor Hovland headline the field.
We’ll see 144 players tee it up this week, six of which rank inside the Top 20 in the world, with the Top 65 and ties making the cut to play the weekend.
Keith Mitchell won last year’s event in dramatic fashion making a birdie on the 72nd hole to move to 9-under besting Fowler and Koepka by a shot.
The Champions Course at PGA National is a Par 70 track that will play just over 7,100 yards. While the course isn’t necessarily long on the scorecard, the real defenses here are the windy conditions and the number of water hazards. Water is legitimately in-play on 15 of the holes at PGA National.
The course was renovated back in 2018 when the greens were actually expanded to an average size of 7,000 square feet, so last year was the first time players had seen the new putting surfaces. After a couple of weeks on poa annua grass, players will see Bermuda grass fairways and green down in Florida this week.
You’ll hear plenty about The Bear Trap this week which is the stretch of 15-16-17 that has played as the third-hardest three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour since 2007. Another treacherous stretch here is 5-6-7.
Last year this course averaged as the hardest par 70 in non-majors all season with a scoring average of 71.016.
Last week’s picks for WGC-Mexico: Patrick Reed (1st), Bryson DeChambeau (2nd) and Brandt Snedeker (T-22)
Key Stats This Week: Strokes gained: approach, strokes gained:off the tee and approach from 150-175 yards
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The former Florida Gator enters the week fresh off of back-to-back T-9 finishes after a strong showing in Mexico last week. He’s also earned three Top 16 finishes at the Honda over the last four years after finishing T-16 last year.
Both the driver and putter have been kind to Horschel so far this season. He currently ranks 32nd on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee after finishing second in the field in Mexico last week, and 16th in strokes gained: putting. As for his approach game from 150-175 yards, a key stat to look at this week, he’s 38th on Tour.
After missing three straight cuts on Tour, Grillo grabbed an under-the-radar T-3 finish at last week’s Puerto Rico Open. He may have missed the cut here last year, but he finished T-8 in the event back in 2018.
Most aspects of his game have been clicking so far this year outside of the putter. Grillo ranks 44th in strokes gained: off the tee and ninth in greens in regulation percentage, but he’s been dreadful on the greens ranking 226th on the Tour in strokes gained: putting.
At some point or another, the putter is going to catch some kind of heat and there’s no better time to do it than this week after a confidence-boosting finish last week.
Vegas is another player that played well down in Puerto Rico with a T-9 finish and finished T-16 here last year.
He ranks sixth on the Tour in strokes gained: off the tee, but that’s about the only thing that’s been working for Vegas this season as he ranks outside of the Top 118th in every other strokes gained category.
With that being said, he ranks inside the Top 10 in the interesting stat of proximity to the hole from the rough, which certainly never hurts anything.
Vegas is a guy that’s found a bit of success here over the years, is entering the week off of a reasonably strong finish and should keep the ball in play off the tee.