Billy Horschel worth a wager at Honda Classic

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February 26th, 2020

The much-anticipated Florida swing starts Thursday on the PGA Tour, when the Honda Classic tees off at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

It has had a number of strong fields in recent years, but the 2020 edition will unfortunately have a decline. Only three of the top 15 in this week’s World Golf Rankings will be present. Three past champions from the last 10 years are missing—2012 winner Rory McIlroy (No. 1 in the world), 2016 champion Adam Scott (sixth), and Justin Thomas (fourth), who won two years ago.

Tiger won't roar at the Honda Classic

The biggest name missing is Tiger Woods. Woods has never won the tournament and finished as high as a tie for second in 2012, but is skipping the Honda Classic for the second straight year. He has 10 combined wins at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass, the sites for the next two weeks on Tour, which probably explains why he isn’t in Palm Beach Gardens.

Since Woods talked of feeling “stiff” when he finished last among those who made the cut at Riviera two weeks ago, it wouldn’t surprise me if he skips either Bay Hill or Sawgrass, as well. Given all the surgeries he’s had, it’s evident Woods will pick and choose carefully in the coming years.

PGA National will test players early and often

PGA National is listed at 7,125 yards and has a par of 70. It is one of the Tour’s toughest layouts, with single-digit red-figure scores typically recorded by the winner.

The best-known sequence of holes is undoubtedly the "Bear Trap," named in honor of Jack Nicklaus, from holes 15 through 17. The first and last of the three are demanding par 3s, while the middle is a backbreaking par 4. As one would expect in South Florida, water is present nearly everywhere. Any player getting through these three at par or better is playing quality golf, especially if the wind is up.

Keep an eye on Billy Horschel

Who can grab top honors? One I feel has a shot, given his recent form, is Billy Horschel, who shows odds of +2500 and enters off top 10 finishes in the Phoenix Open and the WGC-Mexico Championship. Horschel has a pair of top 10s at the Honda Classic, and since he is a former University of Florida Gator and lives in the state, a win in the Sunshine State should be among his top wishes. He has five wins on Tour but none in Florida. I’ll give him a shot to win and will consider in any each-way scenario.

As for a longshot who may be a bit overlooked, why not take a look at Wyndham Clark at +6600? He was the 54-hole leader last year at the Honda Classic, so there is evidence he likes the course. That was his only appearance at PGA National, since he just joined the Tour in 2018, and Clark enters the week sporting two straight top 20 finishes.

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