Honda Classic In-Tournament Picks: Look for Lowry, Noren to Make Runs
Honda Classic In-Tournament Picks: Look for Lowry, Noren to Make Runs
- Current Leader: Daniel Berger
- Round 3 Start Time: 8:30 am ET
- Course: PGA National
- Purse: $8,000,000
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Honda Classic In-Tournament Picks
There's only one word that can aptly summize the Honda Classic, and that's carnage. We've officially reached the midway point of the first tournament in the Florida swing, and I almost forgot how much I missed watching balls balloon into a watery grave. Many of the pre-tournament betting favorites, Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood, and Joaquin Niemann are already on their way home. At least they missed the cut admirably. Two top-40 players in the world, Matthew Wolff and Patrick Reed, shot a combined 26-over par across four rounds of golf. Yikes. Even the elite players who did make the cut, Brooks Koepka, Billy Horschel, and Louis Oosthuizen, don't really sit within striking distance. This leaves us with only one big name remaining, Daniel Berger, the man at the top.
The Florida State alumn entered this week with a myriad of questions. He withdrew from the AT & T Pebble Pro-Am with a back injury, failing to defend his title, and then he promptly missed the cut in Phoenix in his next start. Yet upon arrival home in Palm Beach Gardens, Berger silenced any doubters with back-to-back rounds of 65 to sit three strokes clear of Chris Kirk and Kurt Kitayama. Only four other players, Mark Hubbard (-6), Adam Svensson (-6), Chase Seiffert (-5), and Sepp Straka (-5) are within five of the four-time PGA Tour winner. No shots to any of those players, but it's not exactly as if Berger has a murderer's row in his rear-view mirror. Chris Kirk is the only one of that chase pack that has ever won on the PGA Tour, and it came nearly seven years ago at the 2015 Charles Schwab Challenge. Understandably, Daniel Berger can be found as high as -115 on FanDuel Sportsbook via the OddsChecker golf grid.
Alas, for the second week in a row, we are in a position where a player is even money or worse to win a tournament with 36 holes to play. Last week at the Genesis Invitational, I decided to take a chance with one of the chasers, and while Adam Scott performed admirably over the weekend, he never really gave eventual champion Joaquin Niemann a scare. Against my better judgement, I'm going to side with the field once again and hope that someone, literally anyone, can track down Daniel Berger and give us a golf tournament over the weekend. Daniel Berger is completely unbettable at -115. I struggle to lay -115 in a matchup, so you're not going to find me lining up at the window to back Berger to close this one out.
While Berger has looked rock solid, I do feel a little bit better about taking a chance farther down the board this week than I did at the Genesis. Riviera is certainly a difficult test, but it's also a "death by 1,000 papercuts" type track. It's a lot harder to completely implode at Riviera than it is at PGA National, a course with 26 individual water hazard that produces some of the greatest variance on the entire PGA Tour schedule. The biggest thing that Daniel Berger has working against him is that rounds of 63s and 80s are both available on this course. Louis Oosthuizen shot 75-65 in back-to-back rounds and moved up 92 spots, so it's not inconceivable that this leaderboard gets flipped on its head once or twice before the trophy ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
For this reason, I'll take my chances with Shane Lowry, who can be found as high as 26/1 on FanDuel Sportsbook via the OddsChecker golf grid. Lowry was a player I was high on pre-tournament, and I've been impressed with how he's stayed out of trouble and plodded around this difficult golf course. Through two rounds, Lowry has yet to take a single penalty stroke. Trust me, that's a lot harder than it sounds at PGA National! A balanced ranking of 19th in strokes gained approach, 22nd in strokes gained off the tee, and 19th in strokes gained putting, has the former Open Championship winner sitting in a tie for eighth at three-under par, seven strokes back of Berger. I expect PGA National to continue to firm up over the weekend and play even more difficult than it did over Thursday and Friday. In my opinion, this should play right into Lowry's hands. The Irishman has shown a strong affinity for tougher tracks, winning the Bridgestone Invitational at 11-under par and the Open Championship at 15-under par by six strokes. He was one of only four players to break par at the devious Oakmont Country at the US Open, and even more recently, he finished only four strokes back of Phil Mickelson at the windswept Kiawah Island, site of the 2021 PGA Championship. Ultimately, I trust Lowry more than any other player with a fighting chance to shoot back-to-back rounds of 67 in hard conditions. That just might be good enough to give Berger a real scare.
My second selection is a little farther down the board, but possesses a similar ethos to Lowry, and that is Alex Noren. The 10-time European Tour winner sits at two-under par after back-to-back rounds of 69, and can be found as high as 55/1 on FanDuel Sportsbook via the OddsChecker golf grid. Similar to Lowry, Noren has climbed up the leaderboard on the back of a balanced attack that sees him rank 34th in strokes gained tee to green and 26th in strokes gained putting. The Swede is one of just 12 players to be gaining strokes in all four major categories. Noren is always a threat when he is gaining strokes ball-striking, as his putter always has the ability to catch fire. Just two starts ago, Noren sat five strokes back at the midway point of the Phoenix Open. By tournament's end, he nearly found himself in a playoff, gaining 4.3 strokes putting over the weekend. While still searching for that elusive first victory on American soil, Noren has proven to be a prolific winner in Europe. For what it's worth, those wins have usually come on harder golf courses too, as seven of his ten European Tour titles have come at 15-under or lower. Four top-25s in the Open Championship tells me he has the wherewithall to hang tough over a difficult weekend. The only chance we have of catching Berger is a blazing hot flat-stick, and as the number one putter on the PGA Tour over his last 50 rounds, Noren is certainly the best man for the job.
Honda Classic Predictions
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.