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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Course History - 2022 Honda Classic

Hello PGA DFS family and welcome back to Horse For The Course! Normally one of the best events of the year, the only drama that was produced by this year's Genesis Invitational was off the course. While rumors and innuendo surrounding the possibility of a new Saudi-backed golf league provided plenty of excitement for golf fans, Joaquin Niemann zapped any juice from the actual tournament at Riviera with his stunning wire-to-wire dominance over a star-studded field. We've known that the 23-year-old Niemann has big-time talent, but if his play of 2022 is any indicator, the Chilean appears determined to raise his profile to the level of golf's other world-class young guns, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. His impressive victory against a field of this caliber at legendary Riviera is a performance that we won't soon forget.

With the Genesis signifying the end of the PGA Tour's stay on the West Coast, we now head cross country to Palm Beach Gardens for the start of the Florida Swing!

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

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2022 Honda Classic

At the outset of each calendar year, the PGA Tour schedule presents us with some very distinct stages. We always kick things off in Hawaii before settling on the West Coast for multiple events. With those chapters of the 2022 story now closed, we head to the Southeastern U.S. for a month-long stay that's known as the Florida Swing.

The Honda Classic is a staple of the Florida Swing. Once one of the most star-studded events of the year, the quality of the fields at Honda have noticeably declined in recent years, which can be attributed to multiple factors, including the shifting of the Players Championship from May to March, as well as several other logistical challenges caused by shifts in the PGA Tour's schedule, while the difficulty of this week's course, PGA National, doesn't exactly make it a destination event for many of the world's top players. Speaking of that difficulty in reference to this specific article, we'll find that even those with great course history in the Honda will often have some missed cuts mixed into their track record, due to the toughness of this PGA National layout.

After some jostling on the schedule over the last few years, the Honda has resumed its traditional spot as the opening event of the Florida Swing this year. Despite the PGA Tour's efforts to revitalize one of its staple events, this year's turnout is once again noticeably lacking, as ZERO of the world's top-10 players will be teeing it up in the Honda this week. The field set to tee it up at PGA National isn't completely devoid of star power, as Honda regulars such as Sungjae Im, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, and Rickie Fowler will try to prevent 2021 winner Matt Jones from defending his title this week.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!


The Course: PGA National (Champion Course)

Par 70 - 7,125 Yards, Greens: Bermuda, Designed By: Tom and George Fazio (Renovations by Jack Nicklaus)

The Champion course routinely ranks as one of the most difficult layouts on the PGA Tour schedule. The Honda is an "anti-birdie fest" event, with winning scores that often end in the single digits in relation to par. The infamous 'Bear Trap' is a brutal three-hole stretch (Holes #15,16,& 17) that can destroy a players' scorecard at the end of a round and ranks as the fourth-toughest three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour schedule.

Water is prevalent at PGA National and in play on 15 holes! There are also over 65 sand traps placed throughout the course. As if all that weren't enough, the Florida wind can always wreak havoc when it starts gusting. If you want to dig into some key stats for this tournament, golfers this week will face SEVEN Par-4s that measure between 400-450 yards, and the largest number of approach shots will fall in the 150-200 yard range. I'm looking for players that have the ability to succeed on hard courses, can avoid bogeys, and are solid ball strikers with strong proximity numbers in the 150-200 yard range. We can also throw in a dash of Bermuda putting splits, as it can prove to be a tricky surface for those without years of experience with Florida golf.

Check out RotoBaller's PGA Premium Course Breakdown by Josh Bennett for an in-depth breakdown of this week's golf course!


Recent Honda Classic Winners

  • 2021: Matt Jones (-12)
  • 2020: Sungjae Im (-6)
  • 2019: Keith Mitchell (-9)
  • 2018: Justin Thomas (-8)
  • 2017: Rickie Fowler (-12)


Event Notes

  • There are no players ranked inside the OWGR top-10 in the field this week.
  • The Bear Trap is one of the most famously difficult three-hole stretches in golf, but Holes 5, 6, & 7 at PGA National have proven to be just as tough, with a scoring average (+0.638 to par) that is the exact same as the Bear Trap since 2007.
  • 2021 champion Matt Jones was just the third player in Honda history to win by five strokes or more.


The Horse

Sungjae Im

Notable Course History: T8 (2021), Win ('20), T51 ('19)
DraftKings Price: TBD FanDuel Price: TBD

Since picking up his second-career PGA Tour victory at the Shriners in October, Sungjae Im has continued to grind in the workman-like fashion that has already developed into his calling card. The youngster made two additional Swing Season starts after the win at TPC Summerlin and has already teed it up five times in 2022.

Im is - and has been - so consistently good over his still-young career, that we've grown accustomed to his quiet excellence. It explains why he's been the subject of very little fanfare this year, despite finishes inside the top 11 in three of his five '22 starts. Heading into the Genesis, Im had gained an average of five strokes T2G over his last five tournaments. He leads this week's Honda Classic field in both SG: T2G & Total over the last 24 rounds.

In addition to the consistently-excellent form, the Korean now heads to a course in PGA National where he posted the first PGA Tour win of his career two years ago and notched a T8 in defense of his title last year. Im has not only excelled at the Honda specifically, but also throughout the Florida Swing as a whole. Over 11 career starts in the state of Florida, he has a win and four additional top-10s against just one missed cut.

His excellence on Florida layouts can be attributed to several factors, including his ability to consistently find fairways (fourth in Good Drives Gained over the last 50 rounds) and greens (fourth in GIRs), as well as his penchant for avoiding big numbers on layouts that often invite disaster (fifth in Bogeys Avoided) with heavy doses of water hazards and bunkers. Of course, much will be made of his preference for Bermuda greens in the lead up to the Honda and it's not just hyperbole, as Im's average strokes gained putting on Bermuda (+0.349) well exceeds his output on any other type of surface.


The Ponies

Tommy Fleetwood

Notable Course History: 3rd ('20), 4th ('18)
DraftKings Price: TBD FanDuel Price: TBD

The popular Englishman's game has suffered a drastic decline over the last couple of years. To illustrate that point, when Tommy Fleetwood last teed it up in the Honda Classic in 2020, he came out of the week ranked as the No. 10 player in the world. His current world ranking as he heads to Palm Beach Gardens this year for his third career Honda Classic start? 43rd.

There have been some encouraging signs that Fleetwood's game is headed back in the right direction, as a strong fall stretch last year was highlighted by a runner-up result at the Italian Open, as well as T7 finishes in both the Alfred Dunhill & ZOZO Championships. He's looked solid in limited international starts this year, with a T12 in Dubai and a T8 at the Saudi International coming in his most recent outings.

The Honda will mark his first U.S. start since October and it makes sense that he'd want to start his '22 campaign in the states in an event where he's found perhaps his most success in America. Fleetwood has just two career starts on his Honda resume, but he owns a 68.75 scoring average across them - the best mark among this week's entrants - and has logged a third and a fourth in his two trips to PGA National. If the popular Englishman is to regain his place among golf's elite, this event makes sense as a perfect starting point.

Keith Mitchell

Notable Course History: T53 ('21), MC ('20), Win ('19), MC ('18)
DraftKings Price: TBD FanDuel Price: TBD

A former Honda Classic champion, Keith Mitchell's ability to handle this layout is evident via his 2019 victory. In addition to the fit at PGA National, Mitchell comes in playing his best golf in years. He has just one result worse than a T12 over his four 2022 starts and he's gained an average of 4.4 strokes T2G over his last five. Among this week's Honda entrants, Mitchell grades out second in both SG: OTT & Ball Striking and third in SG: T2G & DK Points scored over his last 12 rounds of action. When we add Mitchell's historical preference for Bermuda greens to the sterling recent T2G form, he's a strong option on this week's DFS slate.


Did you know RotoBaller has a Premium DFS PGA subscription?

Like what you read today? You can show your support for Joe by using the discount code NICE when purchasing a PGA Premium Pass. You get 10% off and full access to all of our Premium PGA articles, DFS tools, and Lineup Optimizer! You also get access to weekly betting picks from Spencer Aguiar, one of the top betting minds in the industry. Spencer is absolutely crushing out of the gate in 2022!


Lucas Glover

Notable Course History: T19 ('21), MC ('20), T4 ('19), T17 ('18), T21 ('17)
DraftKings Price: TBD FanDuel Price: TBD

Lucas Glover is a player that I never fully trust, but his track record at PGA National is certainly noteworthy, as he's managed top-25 results in four of his last five Honda Classic starts, a resume that would be impressive on any course, and is even moreso on this notoriously difficult layout. Glover is the definition of volatile, but the veteran has been solid in 2022 by making the cut in four of five starts with a T5 at the Sony standing out as the highlight. He grades out third in this field in SG: Approach over the last 12 rounds and ranks second in Proximity from 175-200 yards...a key approach range at PGA National.

Jhonattan Vegas

Notable Course History: T30 ('21), T27 ('20), T16 ('19), T72 ('18), T4 ('17)
DraftKings Price: TBD FanDuel Price: TBD

Like the aforementioned Lucas Glover, Jhonattan Vegas isn't exactly known for his consistency. However, that's exactly what Vegas has been in the Honda Classic. Vegas has ticked off five consecutive made cuts at PGA National and has played on the weekend in eight of his nine career Honda starts. The Colombian has not been very active yet in 2022, but he's made the cut in two of those three starts while gaining strokes T2G, OTT, and on Approach in each of his last two. Vegas finished 14th in strokes gained Approach in a star-studded Genesis Invitational field and his ball striking indicates he could be ready to kick off the Florida Swing with yet another strong outing in the Honda.


Win Big With RotoBaller

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Our very own Joe Nicely recently took down a big DraftKings DFS tournament for the Travelers Championship. And as an encore, RotoBaller subscriber @tenndolly2 won $100K on FanDuel with the help of Joe and the rest of our Premium PGA team: Between all the incredible Premium PGA DFS content and tools we put out each week, and our Premium Slack Community where we chat with our subscribers before lineups lock, RotoBaller PGA subscribers are armed with the tools, analysis, and advice to win big.

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