One-and-Done: The Honda Classic
February 24, 2016
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Daniel Berger was a runner-up to Padraig Harrington in last year's Monday finish at PGA National. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Because quantifiable information and logic trumps, or should trump, gut feelings in fantasy sports, I don’t espouse going with one’s first instinct. Sure, instinct may be rooted in experience, which itself is rooted in quantifiable information, but nothing is as airtight as fact. This isn’t to say that there’s an art to it, but it’s merely a component.
Here is where I contradict myself. I should have gone with my first instinct at the Northern Trust Open. Hindsight is, indeed, every gamer’s bane. I forfeited 43.400 FedExCup points in switching from K.J. Choi (T5) to J.B. Holmes (T11) at Riviera. That’s currently the difference between leading the league and sitting where I do. The short explanation for why I changed my mind has to do with how I wrote my preview material last week. I switched things up, for no reason really, but it allowed Holmes to rise rapidly. It’s a lesson learned.
If you’re looking for a winner of The Honda Classic, check with your commish to see if you can plug in PGA National as your entry. The course always gets the best of the field, so even though Tom is burning Rory McIlroy this week, it’s arguably the smartest play since the cream should rise. I’d love to be that daring, and I really am tempted to copy, but unlike Tom, I’m protecting something at the moment.
Luke Donald ranks second in all-time earnings at the tournament despite the absence of a victory. Yet, he’s more valuable as the back end of a two-man team this week. Or, if you subscribe to the theory of swinging for the fences, he’d make sense for a gamer like Tom who has everything to gain at the moment. Not that McIlroy doesn’t fit that bill as well, but why not roll out Donald and save the Ulsterman?. Although Donald has a blistering track record, one-and-doners in contention are more likely to be cautious in favor of a talent in better form.
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This is where guys like Freddie Jacobson (Sean) and Patrick Reed (D.J.) come into play. Both golfers check both boxes in terms of form and history. And I love the decisions specific to both of my opponents as it relates to what they are building. Drat.
For the record, my first instinct is to exhaust Paul Casey. He’s excelled at PGA National, but he’s slumping right now. And since I’m faring well while holstering the biggest names, I’m going to deny my urge to play the likes of McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and Brooks Koepka in favor of Brendan Steele. I’ll just lose sleep over who I’m going to use at the Barracuda Championship where Steele has three top 10s and a T25.
Because of the uncertainty of The Honda Classic, two-man gamers should take the approach of complementing your lead with a safety. Consider guys in opposite draws since the wind is going to wreak havoc during the first two rounds. Your objective is not to necessarily win the week but survive it. In addition to Donald, consider any Aussie or Texan! Jonas Blixt and Jim Herman can also hold their own.
Rank Panelist Pick Comment 1 Sean
Freddie Jacobson He missed the cut at the Northern Trust Open, but he preceded that with top-fives in three of four starts. The South Florida resident has a good record in his hometown event, too. 2 Rob
Brendan Steele Contended throughout last year’s edition en route to a T11 and makes most cuts. Would love a top 25, but I’m prepared to dust myself off after the weekend. Frankly, my expectations are so low that I’m just happy to have remembered to submit a pick. 3 D.J.
Patrick Reed Guy has been on fire since the end of last year and is definitely not intimidated by bears or bear traps. 4 Mark
Daniel Berger He hasn't brought out his best this season yet, but surely a home game should promote a little confidence and some good mojo!? 5 Chris
Going straight up course history this week (shortlist also featured Luke Donald). Knox has cooled after a red-hot fall but there's nothing like PGA National to get him rolling again.
Rory McIlroy He's got a first and a second at PGA National, and, except for some poor putting last Sunday, his game is in good shape. I think he'll start rolling it better on Bermuda greens.
1. Each makes one pick for each PGA TOUR event. After selecting a player, he may not be picked again.
2. To count as a pick, the selected player must at least start a tournament.
3. Competitors earn points based on the number of FedExCup points his pick earns in each event.
4. Each panelist may select just one defending champion over the course of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Season.
Alter* Bolton Dunham Immelman* Martin Piehowski Northern Trust D. Johnson, 4th Holmes, T11 Matsuyama, T11 Walker, MC Garcia, MC Schwartzel, T45 Overall record 10-for-14 13-for-14 12-for-14 11-for-14 12-for-14 11-for-14 Earnings $1,284,485.09 $3,674,945.34 $2,471,697.80 $2,542,698.40 $3,671,498.99 $3,029,996.10 FedExCup points 591.500 1701.390 1141.890 1156.500 1712.130 1471.060 Wins 0 2 1 1 2 2 Top 5s 2 4 3 3 4 4 Top 10s 3 4 3 3 4 5 Top 25s 5 10 9 4 8 7 Missed cuts 4 0 2 3 2 3 Withdrawals 0 1 0 0 0 0 Disqualifications 0 0 0 0 0 0 * = Panelist has used his one defending champion for 2015-16. Tom selected Charley Hoffman at the OHL Classic while Mark went with Patrick Reed at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
THIS SEASON'S PICKS
Here's a look at who our panelists have selected thus far during the 2015-16 season:
Alter Bolton Dunham Immelman Martin Piehowski Points 591.5 1701.39 1141.89 1163 1705.63 1471.06 Daniel Berger THE HONDA Jason Bohn 154.16 16 245 Steven Bowditch 0 Alex Cejka 49 Brendon de Jonge 33 Jason Dufner 500 Harris English 0 0 Tony Finau 35 Sergio Garcia 46 0 Branden Grace 52.5 Emiliano Grillo 500 Brian Harman 0 J.B. Holmes 86 61.6 Charley Hoffman 0 Charles Howell III 54.5 51.13 Freddie Jacobson THE HONDA Dustin Johnson 135 Smylie Kaufman 33 Martin Kaymer 39 Kevin Kisner 500 500 Patton Kizzire 11 62 0 62 Russell Knox THE HONDA 31.5 Brooks Koepka 27 27 Matt Kuchar 51.13 51.13 19 Anirban Lahiri 49 Danny Lee 34 39.5 Jamie Lovemark 0 Shane Lowry 22.5 Hideki Matsuyama 500 61.6 Graeme McDowell 0 41.5 William McGirt 135 Rory McIlroy THE HONDA Phil Mickelson 0 65 0 Ryan Moore 25 Kevin Na 14 162.5 14 162.5 154.16 Ryan Palmer 51 43 Scott Piercy 46 Ian Poulter 39 Patrick Reed 12.5 12.5 300 12.5 THE HONDA Patrick Rodgers 57.66 Charl Schwartzel 23 Adam Scott 1 1 Webb Simpson 12.5 Brandt Snedeker 162.5 500 500 500 Scott Stallings 23 Brendan Steele THE HONDA
0 D. Summerhays 56 Justin Thomas 145 Jimmy Walker 60.5 60.5 60.5 0 60.5 Bubba Watson 56 65.4 Will Wilcox 0 0