The best prop bets for the 2022 Honda Classic
This week is a real treat for golf fans, as we get to sit back and enjoy "The Bear Trap" at PGA National.
As the players in the Honda Classic walk off the 14th green this week, they’ll be met by an 8-foot statue of a bear and a gold engraving from course architect Jack Nicklaus that says, “It should be won or lost here.”
The Honda Classic 2022
Sun, February 27 2022, 9:00 PM
"The Bear Trap" consists of holes 15, 16, and 17, where water is in play on every hole, and incredibly 76% of the 543 golfers that played those holes in the Honda Classic between 2007 and 2019 found the wet stuff at least once. It has been dubbed one of the most difficult three-hole runs on the PGA Tour, and this week we will get to see some of the world’s best go and try to tame it.
Getting up and down at this difficult course is important, so scrambling is a key statistic, as is greens in regulation. It’s a stern test to kick off the Florida swing on the PGA Tour, and keeping it out of the water is key to succeed at the Honda Classic.
Ten of the last 21 winners of the Honda Classic have also won or finished runner-up in the Open Championship, which is an interesting pointer this week. Like the Open Championship, the Honda Classic is a truly difficult test that can be impacted by the wind, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the winners overlap.
Louis Oosthuizen won the Open Championship in 2010, was second in 2015, and third in 2021, so his credentials there are not in doubt, and he is the highest-ranked player in the field this week. This season, he ranks 14th for shots gained tee to green and 21st for scrambling, which will both be key assets here.
He took a long break after a draining 2021 — almost four months, bar one round in the RSM Classic — but returned two weeks ago at the Phoenix Open. It was a good outing, and Oosthuizen showed no signs of rust as he finished 14th.
In his last five starts in Florida, the South African has three finishes in the top eight, so this part of the world suits, and he has all the assets to put in a good week.
Westy is another man who has solid Open Championship credentials (five finishes inside the top four) and plays well in Florida (two runner-up finishes last year). He has played at PGA National eight times and has four top-10 finishes, so it clearly plays to the Englishman’s strengths.
Last year, he was quoted as saying the Honda Classic was one of his favorite tournaments of the year, and he relished the test of "The Bear Trap." That week he missed the cut, but it came off the back of two runner-up finishes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship, so we can forgive him that effort.
He’s yet to play on the PGA Tour in 2022, but he has shown us what he can do in the desert, finishing 20th in the Abu Dhabi Championship and 21st in the Saudi International.
Brian Harman might not have a top 10 at the PGA National to his name, but he does hold a course record, having shot an incredible 61 here on his debut in 2012. He has shown flashes that this course suits his game, but his problem is putting four consistent rounds together on the spin.
Harman has also proven already this year that he can compete with the best. He was third in the American Express and 14th last time out in the Phoenix Open — although, those two results were split by a disappointing 65th in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The good news is that his approach play in the last month has looked very strong, and the stats suggest that his tee-to-green performance at the Phoenix Open was one of the best of Harman’s career.
If he can keep that up and dial the putter in, he looks great value to put in another good show at PGA National.
Im is the favorite for this event outright, and it’s no surprise given his deadly combo of recent and course form. He won this title in 2020 and made a solid effort of defending his crown when finishing eighth 12 months ago.
This year, he has finished eighth in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, 11th in the American Express, and sixth in the Farmers Insurance Open. His 33rd-place finish last time out in the Genesis Invitational doesn’t look too impressive, but he had previously missed the cut on both of his appearances there, so a middle-of-the-pack finish is a solid result this time around.
In eight of his last 12 starts, he has ranked inside the top 10 for strokes gained tee to green, and some more excellent ball striking like that should see him put in a good show this week.
His last seven rounds here have all been level par or lower, and considering seven of the last nine Honda Classics have been won by single figures under par, that’s mightily impressive.