In one of the best fields of 2022, we witnessed a dominating performances as Joaquin Niemann went wire-to-wire at Riviera to win the Genesis Invitational. It never really felt like he was going to do anything other than win over the weekend in Pacific Palisades, and now he has firmly established himself as one of the top young players in the world.
This week, the TOUR heads East for the Florida Swing, and we lose most of the top names for the Honda Classic at PGA National. The reset of the schedule has really put a squeeze on this field the past two years, but we will still love it just the same from a DFS perspective.
Sungjae Im leads the top of the board after grabbing his first win on this course in 2020. Louis Oosthuizen follows him along with recent winner Niemann. The wildcard this week is Daniel Berger, who is a great fit for this track but has back issues hanging over him, causing a drop in odds and DraftKings price. Brooks Koepka will also tee it up along with Tommy Fleetwood in his 2022 PGA TOUR debut.
While the field overall may lack star-power, it will not be short on excitement. The famed “Bear Trap” across holes 15, 16, and 17 at PGA National creates a cut sweat to the very end, regardless of a player’s position on the board. It will also wreak havoc on the leaderboard on Sunday, making no lead safe down the stretch.
The volatility and big numbers that can happen around PGA National make this tournament a week where I rate course history lower down the list than most. It is also one where I will put a lot of weight into Bogey Avoidance and even Double Bogey Avoidance. We are likely to see a winner this week at or near single digits under par, and being able to save shots with par will be a bigger factor than most weeks where we are seeking Birdie or Better.
Lastly, any six out of six will be a good result into the weekend for the Honda Classic. It will make taking a lot of leverage in ownership even more vital than in most weeks. There are no real safe plays this week, and that makes it fun for GPPs especially when it comes to MME.
Louis Oosthuizen ($10,800 DraftKings)
It looks like the majority of the field is going to pay all the way up to Sungjae Im this week, and I certainly understand that strategy. It just gets to a point where it’s hard for me to eat the chalk over 20% when there are players with similar upside in the range. The first player who sticks out to me is Louis Oosthuizen. He ranks in the top two of this field in both Bogey and Double Bogey Avoidance, which gives him a level of safety through some of the most difficulty holes around PGA National.
Louis usually stands out in tougher playing environments, and this event should be right up his alley. I love that we are getting him around mid-teens ownership this week as I think he has tremendous upside at this event, maybe even for that illusive first win in the states.
Alex Noren ($9,300 DraftKings)
Speaking of first wins in the states, I’ve been beating the drum on Alex Noren all week, and I will do so in DFS this week too. He’s my pick to win, and I love seeing the leverage we can get on him on DraftKings. Much of the ownership in this range is going to Keith Mitchell, whom I also like, and Billy Horschel – both of whom are likely to be two of the top three owned players on the slate.
I will happily take Noren at half of the ownership of both of those guys this week as he is a perfect fit for this course. He has been showing solid form with a sixth place finish at the WM and a solid week Tee to Green at the Genesis. He’s a player I expect to be in the mix over the weekend, and, with the ownership, edge he makes for a great play in GPPs this week.
Brian Harman ($8,700 DraftKings)
My love for Mito Pereira is well documented, so I’ll pivot to another top play in this range with Brian Harman. He rates out as the better play of the two in the Bailey Model this week, and they are coming in at very similar ownership.
Harman is always a guy I prefer to wait to play until we get back on the bermuda of the southeast, but he flashed a little of that around the WM where he finished T14. It’s good to see him carrying that form into a week where he has had mixed results at the Honda Classic, in many cases as a result of poor approach play. If he carries the irons that gained 3.2 strokes on the field at the WM, he could be a contender throughout the weekend.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,000 DraftKings)
The first spot where I see a potentially mispriced player is with South African Chistiaan Bezuidenhout right at the middle range. It seems his missed cut at the Genesis has offered us a discount after he was several hundred dollars more expensive both at Pebble Beach and the Farmers. This, to me, is the course that is best suited for his game as the three-time DP World Tour winner has found a couple of those wins in tougher scoring environments.
Bezuidenhout will make his first appearance at PGA National this week, but he is also one with a hefty preference for bermudagrass greens, and his putter is always the best club in his bag. If he can bounce back from a lackluster week tee to green at Riviera, he is a great value at decent ownership this week for the Honda Classic.
Chris Kirk ($7,500 DraftKings)
Chris Kirk will be one of my more chalky plays this week, but I’ll be careful not to go too wild with ownership on him this week. He’s a great fit for this course and showing solid form even with a couple of missed cuts in two of the quirky three-course Pro-Ams earlier this year. He bounced back recently in Phoenix as he gained 5.6 shots tee to green and gained strokes on a strong field at that event throughout his bag.
Kirk rates well in all of the metrics I am looking for this week, and the only concern is ownership. If he continues to gain steam as we get closer to lock, I won’t hesitate to transition some of my ownership to Michael Thompson at the same price.
Hudson Swafford ($7,100 DraftKings)
One of the winners early this year on TOUR feels quite underpriced in a weak field at PGA National as Hudson Swafford is priced near the bottom tier. He understandably missed the cut at the Farmers after his AmEx win but actually played much better than the 60th place finish he posted in Phoenix. Swafford gained 4.3 shots tee to green, including 4.0 on approach during that event, but lost a shocking 7.4 strokes on the greens.
He is someone who certainly can be up-and-down with the putter, but his history on the greens at the Honda has been strong. He’s gained strokes putting in each of the last five tournaments he has played on this course, and, at this price, there aren’t too many others in better overall form than Swafford.
Kramer Hickok ($6,800 DraftKings)
One of the sources of information for players considering the Saudi Golf League in recent weeks was Kramer Hickok, who noted many details in a podcast as things were heating up on the front. While that was interesting, it wasn’t my biggest takeaway; instead it was his commentary around his love for PGA National. He mentioned that he doesn’t play some of the courses in the West Coast swing because they don’t fit his game, but that he just seems to play well at the Honda Classic. It always interests me when players are that openly self-aware and has to give them a feeling of confidence coming into the week. In this price range and with a field that gets pretty thin down low, I’ll take a flyer on Hickok as he is ready to embrace the challenge.
Ryan Armour ($6,600 DraftKings)
Ryan Armour is a player who doesn’t hit it long but is accurate when he’s on his game. He is someone whom I trust in this price range not to get in too much trouble off the tee or on approach. Armour has put that method in play across multiple events with difficult scoring, including his appearance at this same event in 2021. He was three under through three rounds at this tournament last year and within the Top 20 of this event. Armour’s seven-over 77 on Sunday overshadowed that, but it shows me that he is a fit for this course and a solid play for the safety to make the weekend.