AFTER a couple of bad weeks it’s time I got back on a winning streak. Therefore I’m sticking with the Honda Classic as I never do well Down Under so will give the ISPS Honda in Perth, Australia a miss.
The Florida Swing starts at the Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach. With the last two outings there going down to a play-off (Russell Henley and Padraig Harrison prevailing this could also go down to the wire.
The Champion Course is well known for the Bear Trap (holes 15, 16 and 17) and if you manage even par (3-4-3) through them it feels like you’ve gained a half stroke on the field.
This season Patrick Reed has had 26 consecutive GIR (9th on Tour) and is the Tour leader in bogey avoidance which shows real consistency. Returning from an injured ankle at the Farmers. Reed finished a creditable T6 in the AT&T Peeble Beach Pro-Am. His GIR stats for that tourney were 73.61%, driving accuracy of nearly 71% and strokes gained putting of .523 so looks like he’s getting back in the groove.
Hideki Matsuyama is having a good season on the PGA Tour with one win (Waste Management Phoenix) and three top 20s from six outings. He came back after his win and was T11 at the Northern Trust Open at the weekend. His stats for that tournament were 73.6% GIR, driving accuracy 60.71% and although his putting wasn’t that great last week if he can get the short stick working the way it was when he won in Arizona he’ll be right in the thick of it at the weekend.
Making his first start on US soil as a Tour member, Branden Grace arrives in good form, Four weeks ago he won in Qatar and has been no worse than T8 in his last six outings worldwide. On the European Tour his driving accuracy stats are below 50% but makes us with it with GIR of 72.8% and putts per round of 28.7. Last year on the PGA Tour his driving accuracy was over 60% and that’s what he’ll need to attain if he wants to challenge here.
Local boy Brooks Koepka hasn’t had a great start to the season but hasn’t had a bad one either. A T3 in the Tournament of Champions is the highlight and last week a T8 at Pebble Beach showed he is returning to form after a T41 at the Waste Management in Pheonix. His stats last week were driving accuracy 65.45, GIR 68.06% and strokes gained putting was a superb 2.161. Also being local he is definitely worth a flutter.
A win, a second and two other top-10 finishes in his last five outings has pushed Kevin Kisner to second in the FedEx list. This guy has talent and with his first win on the Tour in November has grown in confidence. I’m going to ignore his stats for the missed cut in the Waste Management and instead look at the tournament before where he had driving accuracy of 83.93%, GIR of 73.61% and strokes gained putting of .751.
Honda Classic Tips
1.5pts ew Patrick Reed (20-1, Bet365)
1.5pts ew Hideki Matsuyama (20-1, 888sport)
1.5pts ew Brooks Koepka (33-1, Ladbrokes)
1.5pts ew Branden Grace (33-1, Betfred)
1.5pts ew Kevin Kisner (40-1, Bet365)