Tides’ Takes – PGA Tournament Matchup Picks, Props & Outrights: 2023 Honda Classic
ScoresAndOdds analyst Timothy Buell gives free expert advice and betting picks for every PGA event.
Welcome back, everyone! Each week I’ll be focusing mostly on H2H matchups, outright tournament winners, and live bets!
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Congratulations to Jon Rahm, who continued his amazing stretch of golf last week. He got a little lucky hitting his ball into the grandstands and having it end up right next to the hole, but on Sunday, he certainly outplayed the field.
Rahm’s run is pretty incredible and fun to watch, while he’s regained the number-one spot in the OWGR. The PGA Tour definitely seems to be very top-heavy right now. Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and Rory McIlroy are the players to beat every week. That being said, none of them are playing this week.
Coming off a stretch of elevated events, the Honda Classic field will be very weak – comparatively speaking. That isn’t to say we won’t have great golf to be played, and hopefully, we can have some long-overdue success on the betting card.
2023 Honda Classic: Information and Course Breakdown
The Tour leaves the west coast and heads to The Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. PGA National is a par-70 that plays at 7,125 yards.
Just like most Florida layouts, there is bermuda grass in the fairway, rough, and of course, the greens. The course’s method of protection is water hazards, as 15 holes have water in play. There is danger everywhere on this very difficult track. Then, of course, is the infamous “Bear Trap” (holes 15-17), which many consider being the toughest three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour.
The last five winners are Sepp Straka (-10), Matt Jones (-12), Sungjae Im (-6), Keith Mitchell (-9), and Justin Thomas (-8). As you can see, this is by no means a birdie fest that we so often see at these weaker-field events. The cut line is usually over par and there is no shortage of penalty shots that will be taken by the field this week.
Accuracy is very important this week. However, distance is always a factor to consider. Many irons will be used off the tee, which is rare in the modern PGA. That will inevitably lead to longer to second shots. I want to target strong long-iron players. I also want to find golfers that have had success on difficult courses. Bogey avoidance is another very important stat this week. Par is a really good score on a majority of these holes, while avoiding the big number will be crucial to success this week.
Looking at the field, there should be no surprise that Sungjae Im is the current betting favorite (10-1). It wouldn’t shock me to see another favorite win, but given the variance of golf, I want to get bigger odds when putting my money down.
Honda Classic Free Expert Picks
Matt Kuchar Tournament Winner
- Odds: 28-1 on Caesars
I had originally wanted to bet Alex Noren this week, but he has since withdrawn from the tournament. While I was breaking down this tournament, I couldn’t help noticing how well Kuchar has been playing this season. This story this week will mostly entail golfers hitting their targets and avoiding the big number. That fits into Kuchar’s game perfectly.
I am also using the Sony Open as a comp course for success, due to the windy conditions and bermuda grass greens. Kuchar finished T7 there, while last week, he finished T8 in a world-class field. Form and course fit makes me believe that Kuchar has a very real chance to contend this week.
Sepp Straka Tournament Winner
- Odds: 60-1 on PointsBet
There isn’t really much recent form to speak of, but there wasn’t much last season going into this event he ended up winning last year. He had missed his last two cuts heading into the Genesis last week. He was able to manage a T45 last week and perhaps was able to find his putter a bit. Last year (when he won here), it was because of a stout overall game and a strong off-the-tee performance.
Straka’s game is not very consistent, but he has massive spike weeks. That is what we want when betting outright, and given the strength of the field, I think he shows a lot of promise in being able to contend once again on a course that he has already owns a victory at.
Hayden Buckley Tournament Winner
- Odds: 60-1 on PointsBet
Looking back at his last 21 measured starts, Buckley hasn’t lost strokes off the tee. Yes, 21 starts! That is an impressive stretch. It makes sense, given how long and accurate he is. This is a perfect golf course and field to bet on a golfer who is truly great off the tee. There is trouble lurking everywhere and those that can avoid it will be rewarded.
Coming off a missed cut at the Genesis is a little worrisome, but I really like his skill set for this course. Buckley rates first in strokes gained off the tee and fifth in good drives gained (in the field) across the last 36 rounds played. He has won before in Florida on the Korn Ferry Tour and finished second at the Sony in Hawaii, which was also a bermuda filled course.
Official Betting Card
- .5 units: Matt Kuchar, 28-1 on Caesars
- .5 units: Sepp Straka, 60-1 on PointsBet
- .5 units: Hayden Buckley, 60-1 on PointsBet
- Total units in play this week: 1.5u
- Season Total Results: -12.15u