Dustin Johnson dominated a very strong field last week in Mexico City where he gained eight strokes over the field with his irons along with another 8 strokes on the greens en route to his 20th PGA Tour victory. Although there was not much drama down the stretch as DJ won by a comfortable margin, it was encouraging to see a solid performance turned in by Rory as well as some excellent iron play from Tiger that will be something to keep an eye on as we approach the Players Championship in a couple weeks. This week the PGA Tour makes its way back to the U.S. for Honda Classic that will serve as the first leg of the four-week long Florida Swing. The Champion course at PGA National located just outside of Jupiter will play host this week, here is our course breakdown:
PGA National (Champion): Par 70, 7,145 yards. We will go from 7,500 feet and Poa to sea level and Bermuda this week. Among other changes from Mexico City we will see are very few trees lining the fairways as PGA National is a fairly wide open and exposed layout. The course is not without defenses as water hazards will play a significant factor, coming into play on 13 holes. PGA National typically plays as one of the most difficult venues on Tour and is widely known for the dangerous three hole stretch called the Bear Trap that is comprised of a par three to a peninsula green, a long par four that forces players to choose between challenging water off of tee or playing away from the hazard and leaving themselves with a 200+ yard approach over the same hazard to a small green, and one of the most difficult par three’s in golf, a hole that requires a carry of 180 over water to a shallow green with no bail out areas that typically plays into a strong wind. Given the exposure of the course, wind often plays a factor here, however, the early forecast calls for a somewhat calm week in the Palm Beach area. This is a course where you do not necessarily need to be long off the tee to compete as the average driving distance is about 12 yards shorter than the PGA Tour average. Scrambling is also a bit more of a factor this week as the greens are about 10% more difficult than average to hit.
In terms of stats, I’ll be focusing on proximity from 175-225 yards as that distance has comprised the majority of approaches here at the Honda. As this is one of the more difficult courses and water is a factor on so many holes we will also want to look at bogey and double bogey avoidance along with scrambling and putting on Bermuda.
Here are our top stats to consider this week:
• Strokes Gained Approach
• Proximity from 175-225 yards
• Opportunities Gained
• Bogey Avoidance
• Strokes Gained Putting (Bermuda)
We’ve seen the Honda’s field strength see quite a hit this year with the new PGA Tour schedule as it has the unfortunate circumstance of being wedged right in the middle of four marque events. Many of the best in the game played in LA two weeks ago and the WCG event last week and are choosing to take this week off prior to the Arnold Palmer invitational and the Players Championship. Headlining this week will be local residents Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and Brooks Koepka. There are a few other notables in the field this week as Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, and Gary Woodland will tee it up, however, after that there is a sharp drop off in average OWGR. With the weaker field it makes sense to reduce cash game volume a bit here in favor of GPPs where we can leverage some of the volatility of the weaker field and difficult track this week. That being said, we will still stick to our process here in pursuit of our weekly optimal build. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament lineups on DraftKings:
High-End – Webb Simpson – $9,600
A return to a Bermuda course that does not require length of the tee to be successful means it’s time to fire up Webb Simpson. His form has been strong as of late with his approach game seeing him gain strokes in his last three events against very strong fields. He made his debut at PGA National last year and came away with a fifth-place finish and a similar result this year will more than pay off his reasonable salary.
Value – Sungjae Im – $7,300
We were on the Sungjae bandwagon for a while earlier in the season before jumping off as he began to fade near the end of the West Coast Swing as playing six weeks in a row began to take its toll on the PGA Tour rookie. But after an early exit at the Genesis and a week off he should be well rested and ready to go at the Honda. Last year on the Web.com Sungjae had a great track record in events after a missed cut and his all around strong game is a good fit for PGA National as other parts of his game should be able to pick him up in the event he struggles in a certain aspect.
Value – Jason Kokrak – $7,300
While Kokrak does not have a very impressive track record at PGA National, his ball striking has been outstanding as of late as he has gained strokes off the tee in every event he’s played this year and gained at least three strokes on approaches in four out of his last five events played. At $7,300 in a weak field event he seems just mispriced and a great place to round out your cash game lineups.
How we did last week:
Cash/Single Entry Article Plays:
Paul Casey – T3
Tommy Fleetwood – T19
Sergio Garcia – T6
Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:
Tiger Woods – T10
Rafa Cabrera Bello – T19
Gary Woodland – T17
Paul Casey – T3
Tommy Fleetwood – T19
Sergio Garcia – T6
Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Win
2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 12-4
Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 37-14
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