The Florida swing officially kicks off this week at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, host of the Honda Classic since 2007. Since a 1990 redesign by Jack Nicklaus, the course has been home to the infamous ‘Bear Trap,’ a treacherous three-hole stretch beginning on No. 15 that can often decide the tournament.
This is typically one of the hardest non-major events on tour with hard-to-hit fairways, extremely hard-to-hit greens, and windy conditions that often wreak havoc on the field, which has historically averaged over par.
Against All Odds
“How can I just let you walk away, / just let you leave without a trace?”
— Phil Collins
For the first time in recent memory — and my recent memory is pretty sh*tty — we have a PGA Tour event with no player in the field with odds to win of at least 10 percent. The following four golfers all currently have odds to win between 5.3 and 7.7 percent.
To Be the Man You Gotta Beat the Man
The reigning and defending champion, Adam Scott ($12,200) is currently this week’s favorite with 7.7 percent odds to win. Scott survived a quadruple-bogey seven on the opening hole of the Bear Trap in last year’s third round and went on to win by one stroke.
Scott’s 68.5 Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) is tied for first, his 71.2 percent LT Greens in Regulation (GIR) ranks 14th, and his 15.5 LT Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg) is third overall.
Adam didn’t show any signs of rust last week, finishing T11 at 9 under par in his first tourney of 2017. Even with his massive salary, Scott is shaping up to be nice and chalky if early week Twitter is any indication of ownership. We currently have Scott projected at 17 to 20 percent ownership in large mid-stakes tournaments.
Once contests lock, be sure to compare your ownership of Scott to the rest of the field’s at various buy-in levels with our amazing new DFS Ownership Dashboard. It’s the GOAT.
Currently the No. 1 player in the CSURAM88 Player Model, Sergio Garcia ($10,900) has two top-10 finishes here in the past three years, including his solo second-place finish last season. Garcia has never missed a cut at this event and has three top-15 finishes in his six trips to PGA National. His 68.0 Course Adj Rd Score is tied atop the field with this week’s Levitanimal. (More on him later.) Garcia kicked off February with a win at the Dubai Desert Classic so he’s in fine form.
Garcia’s 68.5 LT Adj Rd Score and 72.7 percent LT GIR both rank second, and his 16.1 LT Adj Bird Avg is the best in the field. Garcia has been locked in on approach shots: His 74.8 Recent GIR percentage is sixth.
Rickie Fowler ($11,900) is intriguingly the second-highest priced golfer in the field this week. Per our Trends tool, when Fowler has been comparably priced he has yielded a -4.17 Plus/Minus with just 42.9 percent Consistency, albeit at a relatively low 10.8 percent average ownership.
Fowler’s 68.6 LT Adj Rd Score and his 63.9 percent LT Scrambling (SC) mark are both third and his 69.3 LT GIR percentage is 32nd. Fowler has three top-15 finishes and no missed cuts at PGA National since 2012, and he finished fourth at the Phoenix Open his last time out, accumulating 103.5 DraftKings points.
Just in Case
Justin Thomas ($11,800) has two wins — both in Hawaii — in his four starts this year. He finished T3 at this track last year when he was the only golfer to fire all four rounds under 70. Considering the difficulty of PGA National, that’s no small feat.
Thomas’ 69.0 LT Adj Rd Score ranks fourth and his 15.1 LT Adj Bird Avg is sixth. Impressively, Thomas has hit 72.2 percent of GIR in his last three tournaments on his way to a 15th-best 16.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,500): Hatton’s 69.6 LT Adj Rd Score is 10th, his 70.6 LT GIR percentage is tied for 17th, and his 14.2 LT Adj Bird Avg is tied for 19th in the field. His recent metrics look even better: His 18.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg and 81.7 Recent GIR percentage both lead the field this week. Hatton is making his debut in this event but has ripped off eight straight top-25 finishes, including a win and four additional top-10 performances during that streak. Most recently, he finished third at the Dubai Desert Classic, where he accumulated 105.5 DK points.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello ($8,000): RCB is also making his debut at PGA National, but he has eight top-20 finishes in his last 12 starts. Rafa’s 75.5 LT GIR percentage leads the field, and his 69.4 LT Adj Rd Score ranks 19th. He has accumulated a 16.8 Recent Adj Bird Avg in his last four tournaments — the sixth-highest average among golfers with more than two starts in the past six weeks.
Charles Howell III ($7,800): CH3 has been fantastic this year: He has not finished worse than 15th in a tournament in 2017. Howell’s 67.7 Recent Adj Rd Score is tied for second, his 71.1 Recent SC percentage is seventh, and his 16.8 Recent Adj Bird Avg is tied for eighth. This year Howell has exceeded his salary-based expectations with 100 percent Consistency while averaging 90.75 DK points per tournament and producing a massive +34.80 Plus/Minus.
Luke Donald ($7,600): Donald has historically been a beast at PGA National: He had a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes snapped here when he placed 61st last year. Even with his lackluster finish here in 2016, Donald has posted an +18.56 Plus/Minus at this track in his last three appearances. Donald has two top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour over the past two weeks, and his 69.2 Recent Adj Rd Score ranks 22nd overall.
Martin Flores ($7,100): Flores’ 72.5 percent LT GIR is fourth, his 61.8 LT SC percentage is 13th, and his 14.3 LT Adj Bird Avg is 17th. Flores has finished 12th and 17th at PGA National over the past two years and 28th and 14th in his most recent tournaments. He currently has a FantasyLabs projected ownership of just two to four percent in tournaments.
John Huh ($6,800): Huh’s 69.7 Course Adj Rd Score ranks 19th among golfers with more than two starts at PGA National, where he has 14th- and 17th-place finishes over the past two years. He enters the event averaging 70.0 DK points per tournament in his two most recent events.
Adam Levitan created a course history model, which I’ve adjusted slightly. Russell Knox ($9,000) is the model’s top golfer and this week’s Levitanimal. Knox’s 68.0 Course Adj Rd Score is tied with Garcia’s atop this week’s field. Knox placed 26th at PGA National last year but prior to that he reeled off second- and third-place finishes in 2014 and 2015.
Knox’s 69.0 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for seventh in the field, his 68.2 LT Driving Accuracy ranks third, his 62.3 LT SC percentage is eighth, and he has the 18th-highest LT Adj Bird Avg (14.3) this week. Knox’s 76.67 DK points per tournament at PGA National since 2014 is the third-highest mark in the field and the highest among golfers who have made more than two starts here in that time frame.
Last week’s Levitanimal, K.J. Choi, made his first cut in his last seven tournaments, finishing T17 at 7 under par. The #LevitanimalNarrative is real.
If you’re one of the 387 people who follow me on Twitter (but who’s counting), you already know I’m all in on Thomas this week. That said, another guy I’d be willing to put some frosty Coors Lites on is Sean O‘Hair ($7,500), who has pelted 72.2 percent of Recent GIR in his last four tournaments while accumulating a Recent Adj Bird Avg of 16.5 during that stretch. He finished 14th at PGA National last year and has placed 25th or better in three of his last four trips here.
Be sure to visit our suite of Tools to research all of the golfers. Good luck this week!