2021 The Honda Classic: First Round Leader Picks

Sam Eaton brings us his predictions for First Round Leader at this week's Honda Classic.
Sam Eaton
Wed, March 17, 10:26 AM EDT
  • First Round Leader specialist Sam Eaton has four selections for this week's Honda Classic from The Champion Course.
  • All of Sam's tips are based on statistics and models built on the course requirements

The course is obviously weaker than last week, but there’s no let-up on the difficulty of event. This course will prove a real test for the players this week, not only will the weather play a significant role, but so will the close to 100 bunkers. 

Length off the tee won’t be essential at this course, but will certainly help. It’s also worth noting driving accuracy will be important, players who perform well here tend to be putting well, and they need to have a solid short game. 

Brendan Steele @ +5000

Brendan Steele is one player who comes into his own on tougher courses, and especially when the PGA Tour event is impacted by the wind. He’s been playing some pretty consistent golf, and hasn’t missed a cut since the Mayakoba. 

He doesn’t necessarily rank among the top players in any asset in the last three months, but is in the top 20 in terms of shots gained scrambling and par 4s which will be key on this course. 

He has four top 10 finishes after the first round since the Memorial Tournament. Steele’s hardly the most prolific in the market, but will be benefit from his 8:31 tee time. 

He finished T4 here last yet, and has three other top 20 finishes in the comp. 

Adam Scott @ +4000

I was tossing up going for Matthew Nesmith before I realised Adam Scott was 40/1 to be the first round leader in a fairly poor event.

He’s won this event previously, and has three other top 15 finishes. Adam Scott’s putter has been working for him of late, gaining 2.4 shots on the field in the last five competitions.

He will need to improve his game off the tee this week to compete, as he’s been awful in the last two events.

Russell Henley @ +4000

Russell Henley has always been a stats angel, in the last six months he’s among the best in the field in shots gained approach, par 4s, scrambling and opportunities gained.

Henley will always crop up in stats models, but it’s picking the right event to risk him, and I think this is the one. He’s got the early tee-time, he’s putting well, and is back at a competition he performs well in.

Sungje Im @ +2800

Sungjae Im hasn’t got the early tee-time, but I couldn’t resist him. He won this event last year and it’s easy to see why. The Korean is on his favourite surface, and won’t be fazed by the difficult course ahead of him.

Sungjae has been gaining an incredible 4.3 shots on the field in putting over the last five events, and 3.8 off the tee.

I’m not usually one for backing 14/1 shots in the outright market, but probably will this week with Sungjae.

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