2019 The Honda Classic Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

Adios West Coast and hello Florida Swing (and hooray for EST tee times for early morning score checking purposes!). Ah yes, I can smell the Bermuda and crocodiles all the way up here in cold and snowy 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. I can already hear Paul Azinger’s nervous chuckle just thinking about the carnage.

My picks last week at the WGC-Mexico Championship were not too shabby as Lockzilla Justin Thomas and his Sunday course-record-tying 62 saw him notch a 9th place finish, while Semi-Flier Sergio Garcia posted a solid t-6th.  I also pegged Rickie Fowler as my Hosel-Rocket BUST of the week and predicted he’d finish t-32nd and was mighty close as he scuffled his way to a t-36th.

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

LOCKZILLA (Last week: JT 9th)

Brooks Koepka– I had DJ in this spot two weeks ago at Riviera (he finished t-9th) and go figure, he wins the next week.  Nevertheless, my hot streak continues in this spot with 4 straight finishing in the top 10 (Rickie- Winner, Phil- Winner, DJ t-9th, JT 9th).  This week I’m going with the local resident Brooks Koepka, who has been mighty quiet this season, only teeing it twice so far in 2019– in Hawaii at Kapalua and last week in Mexico (t-27th).  He’s 4 for 5 here at the Honda in cuts made, but a t-26th in 2016 is his best finish to date.  Does that concern me?  Maybe a tad, but I feel it’s similar to Justin Rose at Torrey Pines—players with that level of talent that continue to tee it up at a venue year after year without prior success, eventually find that success.  I think Brooks fits into that mold perfectly this week, and due to him being quiet thus far this season and with no real success here in the past, he’ll definitely be under the radar this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Sergio t-6th)

Russell Henley– I’ll be honest, I was going to go with Jason Kokrak here, but figured y’all may be getting sick of me picking him so much that I went a different route this week.  The past champ (2014) has never been much for consistency, but does love him some Honda making 5 of 6 career cuts here along with the aforementioned win.  Was t-44th at the Genesis Open two weeks ago and t-15th in Phoenix two weeks prior.   Definitely worth a flier this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Rickie t-36th)

Luke List– Lost in a playoff here last year and in good form at the moment coming off a t-15th two weeks ago at Riviera = lock and load this week, right?  Nah, not so fast.  I do love me some List in general, but he’s going to be a mighty popular play this week and for a player that has yet to win on the PGA Tour, I’m not buying in.  He’s yet to become a consistent week-to-week player and struggles mightily with his Driving Accuracy, which could bite him here (note that he has a t-10th, t-52nd and MC in his 4 other attempts here = all over the board).  Steer clear this week and thank me later.


Austin Cook– A first-timer here at PGA National should have him flying in well under the proverbial radar.  I’ve been an Austin Cook fan for a while now and was happy to see him break through into the winner’s circle fairly early in his career when he won the RSM Classic back in November of 2017.  With that first win under his belt, he’s posted 7 top 25s since, including a pair of top 6s last summer.  Basically my point is that he’s capable of some high finishes, and the Honda seems to produce a surprise or two towards the top of the leaderboard each year.  It’s bit of a roll of the dice in his first event here, but I’m aboard the Austin Cook bandwagon this week.


Joel Harrington

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