By News Team
16th March 2021
Some might say this year’s Honda Classic is a bit of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ compared to the Players last week, and while the standard and depth of the field might be lower this week, this is one of the PGA Tour’s great events.
It is also played at one of the toughest and most challenging layouts of the entire season in PGA National with the closing stretch, known as the ‘bear trap’, throwing up drama year after year.
In short, it’s an event not to be missed and here is the preview of the 2021 edition.
Take a bite of Berger
With the field lower in quality this week, many would think this is the prime opportunity to hunt for some value. That might be true, but right at the head of the market, DANIEL BERGER sticks out like a sore thumb and the American looks to hold outstanding claims of winning a third title since June.
The 27-year-old, a runner-up here on debut in 2015 having lost a play-off to Padraig Harrington, is enjoying a really solid run of form that has only seen him finish outside the top 10 twice since the turn of the year. The highlight so far was obviously the win at Pebble Beach and that showed this is not only a player who is consistent but he is a winner too.
As mentioned, he’s shown his liking for PGA National with that runner-up finish six years ago, while he was also fourth last year where, in very tricky conditions, his worst score was a level par 70. That again portrayed his love for these technical courses, where plotting your way around is key, meaning Berger certainly won’t worry if the forecasters are correct and conditions do get tricky over the four days.
Finally, if Berger’s claims needed heightening anymore, then his staying-on top-10 finish at Sawgrass last week, when a number were struggling, showed the game is very much in the place he wants it. His closing round 67 was only bettered by four golfers and if he brings anything like that kind of form here then he’ll be a tough nut to crack at 11/1.
The chasing pack
Of the remainder, last year’s winner Sungjae Im is another with obvious claims at 14/1. He played very well for three of the four rounds at Sawgrass, but that 18 holes when he’s not at his best is costing him dear at the moment. That poor round is often so poor that it’s taking him out of contention and at a course as brutal as PGA National, that’s not something the South Korean can really afford.
There is no man in better form that Lee Westwood (22/1) after back-to-back runners-up finishes. However, he admitted he felt fatigued after the final round at the Players and you just feel three weeks under the pump might prove a step too far for the Englishman.