2016 Honda Classic Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

Adios West Coast and hello Florida Swing (and EST tee times for early morning score checking purposes!).  Ah yes, I can smell the Bermuda and crocodiles all the way up here in the suddenly balmy and muddy SoDak.  The PGA Tour’s Florida Swing used to be Bay Hill and Doral, and then everything else. Now, with a venerable host course and perfect timing in the schedule allowing for stacked fields each year, The Honda Classic has become one of the main attractions in the Florida swing.

“The Honda” is held at PGA National Resort & Spa on the Champion Course, a ball-striker’s delight of a track, sitting at 7,140 yards and a par 70.  It’s definitely one of those events where an even par round actually means something, especially if (and most likely when) the wind blows.  In fact, any player who shot even par or better for the week has finished top 20 or better in seven of the past nine years.  Major-like venue, you betcha.  Word is that Johnny Miller already had to already change undershirts three times this morning due to excessive sweating just thinking about the carnage.

My picks last week for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera were sort of meh, as Lockzilla Justin Rose finished a somewhat disappointing t-16th, Semi-Flier Bill Haas gave himself the weekend off and my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week Luke Donald finished t-45th.  My red hot streak on BUSTs did come to an end, but then again, Rory McIlroy finishing t-20th isn’t exactly a successful week either for the world #3, as my predictions that his short game would highly let him down came to fruition on Sunday in his round of +4 75 as he plummeted out of contention. #kikuyu

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Rose t-16th)

Paul Casey
Paul Casey
– The Ryder Cup forgoing 38-year-old Englishman has seemingly been a bit quiet of late, but closed nicely at Riviera last week with rounds of 69-71-68 to finish t-39th.  A slight round back into form coupled with a visit to a venue that has treated him well the past two years (t-3rd last year, t-12th in ’14) gives me reason to confidently roll with him this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Haas MC)

Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland
– Straight from the overlooked department, Gary has been playing some solid golf of late.  His worst finish is a t-33rd in his past five Tour starts and he hasn’t missed a cut on Tour since The Barclays in August.  He’s 3/3 in cuts made at the Honda, including a t-6th back in 2011.  Lock and load GW with some confidence this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Rory t-20th)

Branden Grace
Branden Grace
– Everyone’s flocking on this South African’s bandwagon this week, but I’m not buying in.  No doubt that the 27-year-old is uber-talented—he nearly won the U.S. Open last year at Chambers Bay and fared mighty well at the PGA Championship (solo 3rd)—but he’s not yet a mainstay type talent that you can rely upon each and every week.  Case in point, he’s visiting a venue where he has one prior appearance (2013), when he exploded on the weekend shooting 75-81 to finish t-71st.  Stay away this week, then getting ready to hop aboard in the coming weeks and months.


Brendon de Jonge
Brendon de Jonge
– Last week, one of my am-I-sure-that-I’m-not-insane-because-I-keep-picking-this-guy-repeatedly-but-he-never-wins picks nearly took home the trophy, as Jason Kokrak made a huge splash and nearly captured his first victory.  But, to one up Koks in that very long hyphenated am-I-sure-that-I’m-not-insane department is none other than Brendon de Jonge.  I’ve been picking Brendon for years now not because I’m insane (I think!), but because the guy makes insane amounts of birdies and one of these weeks, inevitably, it will all come together.  I’m not sure if this is the capture-the-trophy week that I’ve been waiting for, but I am damn sure that he’s due for a good week at a venue where he’s had some good success in the past.  Back in ’10 he finished t-9th, which shows as his only top 10 here, but don’t forget that just two years ago he opened with a ridiculously good 66-64 to lead at the halfway point, only to implode on the weekend and finish t-63rd.  Many will look at that t-63rd number as the final result, but the first two rounds is what the focus should be, which prove that the guy can go low here.  I’m definitely not overly thrilled with his form of late, but in 2014 his form at the time entering the week wasn’t great either (MC two of three prior events), and he opened 66-64.  Also, funny stories like the 4 stroke penalty that he received last week at Riviera have a funny way of making their way into the telecast’s commentary the following week when the player is playing well.  I’m telling ya, I have a feeling on Brendon this week.  Hop aboard and thank me later.


Joel Harrington


  1. Grace, +3 after 6….

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