27th Feb - 1st Mar
The PGA Tour moves to Palm Beach, Florida this week, where the 2020 Honda Classic takes place between February 27 – March 1. Total prize money of $7 Million and 500 FedEx Cup points are up for grabs, but the sponsors will be disappointed by the lack of star names in the field. That includes the absences of Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Justin Thomas, and Dustin Johnson.
Honda has sponsored this event since 1982, but it only moved to its current host course at the PGA National in 2007. The event is played on the Champion Course at PGA National, which is a par 70 measuring just over 7,100 yards. The course is a tougher test than many on the PGA Tour, with only three of the 13 winners here posting a winning total in double-digits under par. The other 10 wining scores varied between –5 and –9.
Water features on 13 holes, whilst heavy bunkering adds another strong line of defence. The signature holes at the PGA National Champion Course are the 16th, 17th, and 18th, three holes which make up a stretch nicknamed the Bear Trap. Another thing to consider this week is the return to Bermuda Greens, something which many players in the field will be looking forward to after a stretch of tournaments with Poa Annua greens.
World number three Brooks Koepka is vying for favouritism this week, and 12/1 looks a generous price considering the next best player in the field is only ranked 12. But it’s hard to know Koepka’s mindset outside of the majors. and all roads will lead to Augusta for the first major of the season in April. The pros are he finished second here last year and he could be motivated to try and win to reclaim his number one player in the world spot. The negatives are he’s yet to convince he’s back to his best after injury, whilst his strike-rate outside of the majors does not match his proven ability.
The other player vying for favouritism this week is Tommy Fleetwood, and the Englishman arrives here in decent form after finishing 2, 11, and 18 in his last three tournaments. He proved his liking for the course when finishing fourth in the 2018 Honda Classic, a performance that was even more meritorious considering it was his tournament debut. But Fleetwood has yet to win on the PGA Tour and I’d have liked bigger odds than 12/1 about him breaking his duck.
The player that has consistently featured on the Honda Classic leaderboard in the last few years is Rickie Fowler, who was sixth in 2016, first in 2017, and second in 2019. He’s performed poorly on his last two starts but posted three consecutive top-10s before that. After a three-week rest, he’s expected to have targeted this event. He also has the motivation of knowing there are 12 Americans currently ahead of him in the world rankings, and he’ll need some big performances in the next few months if he’s to qualify automatically for the 2020 US Ryder Cup team. That’s why Rickie Fowler is the first of this week’s 2020 Honda Classic free tips.
25/1 would look a big price for Justin Rose if we knew the world number 13 was in good form, but he’s played poorly the last twice and missed the last four editions of the Honda Classic. He did post three top-5 finishes here between 2010 and 2013, but this event hasn’t been an important one on his schedule in recent seasons.
Daniel Berger probably should have won his first Honda Classic in 2015. He’s not threatened in the last four editions but comes here in the best form he’s been in for a while. He may just have matured enough to put the demons of 2015 behind him, and he could take advantage if the cream doesn’t rise to the top this week. That makes Berger the second of our Honda Classic 2020 free tips.
Billy Horschel is another player who has posted two top-10s on his last two outings and that means he could be peaking nicely for an event where he’s finished 8, 4, and 16 in the last four renewals. At a bigger price, Luke List gets the final nod after playing okay of late. He’s posted two top-10s in his last four visits to PGA National and looks overpriced.