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The Honda Classic: Odds, Players to Watch and Course Overview

David Caraviello for Bookies.com

David Caraviello  | 8 mins

The Honda Classic: Odds, Players to Watch and Course Overview

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The Honda Classic Picks

Chris Kirk To Win Outright +2200 (22/1)
Sunjae Im Top 5 Finish +225 (9/4)
Matt Kuchar Top 10 Finish +250 (5/2)

After a fantastic West Coast swing that ended with an epic duel between Jon Rahm and Max Homa at Riviera, the PGA Tour sets up shop in Florida for a month, beginning with this week’s Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. And with just six of the world’s top 40 players in the field at PGA National, the Sunshine State kick-off appears wide open.

World No. 18 Sungjae Im is the highest-ranked player in the field, and the favorite to win at +800 (8/1) on golf betting sites. The odds jump from there to Shane Lowry at +1300 (13/1), then to Alex Noren, Chris Kirk and Matt Kuchar all at +2200 (22/1), further evidence of how this tournament field is rather bereft of star power (not surprising, since it falls between two bigger-money “designated” events). Last year’s winner, Sepp Straka, is a +4500 (45/1) choice with betting sites to become the first back-to-back champion of the Honda since Jack Nicklaus in 1977 and 1978.

The lack of big names, though, clearly makes this event intriguing to those wagering on golf betting apps, given the preponderance of high-value candidates—the past two champions, Straka and Matt Jones, entered with odds of +10000 (100/1) and +7000 (70/1), respectively. Don’t be at all surprised if we see a similar result unfold at PGA National on Sunday afternoon.

The Honda Classic Odds

The Honda Classic Course Overview

Playing for the pros as a par-70, 7,125-yard layout, the Champions Course at PGA National was designed by Tom and George Fazio in 1981 and modified by Jack Nicklaus as recently as 2018. The latest tweak removed some of the bunkers on finishing holes, but the course’s infamous water hazards remain intact. Water comes into play on 15 of the 18 holes on the course, and the “Bear Trap” stretch of Nos. 15 through 17—two par-3s and a par-4—all require long carries over water.

After a West Coast swing loaded with compact, classic layouts like Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines, big hitters will feel more at home at PGA National, given that the par-70 configuration demands length off the tee. That’s particularly true of the Bear Trap, where The Honda Classic is often determined. No. 16 is a par-4 that demands a long approach over water to an elevated green, while No. 17 is a 190-yard par-3 that forces a long carry over water onto a small putting surface. And that’s all before you get to No. 18, a par-5 with water down the right side that’s been lengthened to 604 yards.

Founded in 1972 as a tournament hosted by Jackie Gleason, The Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007. The course record is 61, recorded twice, most recently by Jones in 2021. But the course is renowned for its difficulty, and no champion has finished with four rounds in the 60s since Rory McIlroy in 2012. 

The Honda Classic Previous Winners

2022: Sepp Straka

2021: Matt Jones

2020: Sungjae Im

2019: Keith Mitchell

2018: Justin Thomas

2017: Rickie Fowler

2016: Adam Scott

2015: Padraig Harrington

2014: Russell Henley

2013: Michael Thompson

The Honda Classic Betting Angles

Odds favorite Im won this tournament in 2020 and finished T8 the following season, though he missed the cut last year. He’s played well for most of 2023, although he hit a speed bump with a T56 at the Genesis Invitational after a T6 and T4 his previous two weeks. Lowry has the best average finish of any player with more than one start at The Honda Classic (though still a relatively high 32.2), largely on the strength of a runner-up finish behind Straka last year. The Irishman has missed the cut in two of his past three starts, though.

Noren, ranked 40th in the world, has finished third and fifth at PGA National, though the Swede has missed the cut in his first two U.S. starts this year. World No. 19 Billy Horschel, the second highest-ranked player in the field, is priced at +2500 (25/1) on USA sports betting sites after missing the cut in two of his last three outings. Defending champ Straka has missed the cut in two of his last three, and world No. 39 Aaron Wise, also a +2500 (25/1) wager, has MC’d in two straight. Noticing a trend here? With most of the elite players taking the week off, bettors are forced to parse a field of guys not exactly in top form.

There are, though, some exceptions. Kuchar isn’t the biggest hitter and hasn’t won since 2019, but he has top-10s in two of his last four starts, including a solo eighth at Riviera. Kirk has finished third in two of his last three starts, and was T7 at The Honda Classic last season. Denny McCarthy, available at +2500 (25/1) on US betting apps, has a T14 at Riviera and a T4 at Pebble Beach with a missed cut in between, and has finished as high as T3 at PGA National. And +3300 (33/1) wager Adam Svensson finished T9 in both The Honda last year and the Genesis last week.

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The Honda Classic Predictions

Chris Kirk to Win, +2200 (22/1)

Kirk reeled off nine straight rounds in the 60s earlier this season en route to back-to-back third-place finishes at the Sony Open in Hawaii and The American Express, the latter a bear of a course that could be a desert cousin to PGA National. Even in his two most recent MCs, Kirk hasn’t played badly—he missed the cut in Phoenix by a shot, and his worst round of the year is a 72. He’s a phenomenal ball-striker with a great track record at The Honda, enough to make him stand apart from the crowd this week.

Sungjae Im Top 5, +225 (9/4)

Im has finished 18th or better in five of his last seven starts. That is why the South Korean always seems to be in the running on the weekend. He’s the best player in the field at PGA National in strokes gained, and he clearly has a confidence factor stemming from his 2020 victory. But the knock on Im is his inconsistency; five of his last 12 rounds have been in the 70s, and he missed the cut at The Honda last year when he entered as odds favorite as well.   

Matt Kuchar Top 10, +250 (5/2)

The 44-year-old Kuchar still has some game, as he showed at the Genesis where he opened with a 66 and closed with a 67. In the three tournaments this year where he’s made the cut, his scoring average has been a 68. No, he isn’t the biggest hitter on tour (he’s 150th in driving distance), but Kuchar maintains an excellent short game, and he contended on a Riviera layout that played longer than PGA National will this week.

How to Watch The Honda Classic

Thursday and Friday, Golf Channel from 2-6 p.m. EST; Saturday and Sunday, Golf Channel from 1-3 p.m. and NBC from 3-6 p.m.

About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.