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Welcome To Florida: It's The 2018 Honda Classic Preview

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BREAKING: We will be in town for the Honda with Cousin Mike and Cousin Murray all weekend. We just booked our flights a few minutes ago. If you’ve got any tickets, or any help whatsoever, shoot us an email.

foreplay@barstoolsports.com

The Tour has touched down in Florida and the meat of the golf season is well within sight. West Coast Swing is fine, it’s fun. We get primetime finishes and great looks at places like Riviera in LA and Kapalua in Hawaii. But it’s over now. The Florida Swing is where things heat up. The Florida Swing is where real Augusta implications start to materialize. At this point we’re placing one foot down towards Magnolia Lane and over the next 6 weeks we’ll carve through Florida as we place the other down and head toward the promise land.

History

HONDA

The Honda began in 1972 and was sponsored by something called National Airlines in the early years. Honda took over as the title sponsor in 1982 and, after moving venues several times, the event settled on PGA National’s Champion Course in 2007.

Our defending champ is Rickie Fowler, who sizzled with a Saturday 65 and went on to win by 4 last year.

Nobody’s won this tourney more than twice. That two-time champ list includes Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Mark Calcavecchia and Padraig Harrington. Tiger’s never won here — which I always find notable because he’s won damn near everywhere and usually several times — despite making a chills-down-the-spine-omg-he’s-definitely-back charge for a final-round 62 in 2012.

Recent winners include Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Russell Henley, Michael Thompson and definitely not Ian Poulter, who shanked this 8-iron en route to a final round collapse in 2015.

Love it. Rory pretty infamously withdrew here citing a toothache, only to later admit he just didn’t want to play anymore.

The Honda Classic - Round Two

Great quarter zip tho.

The Track

7,158 yards. Par 70. Rating 75.2. Slope 148. Typically plays to a par 72, but they cut it down to 70 for these guys. Place plays TOUGH. In fact, in the 11 times the Honda’s been hosted here since 2007, just 3 winners have come in at double-digits under par (Villegas -13; Rory, -12; Rickie -12).

We’re working with narrow fairways, water everywhere, and ferocious Florida winds. In 7 of the 11 runnings here, the winner’s won either by one stroke or in a playoff. Place produces drama.

The Champion course also hosted the Ryder Cup in 1983, just two years after its completion (captained by the Golden Bear himself).

25th Ryder Cup Matches 1983

And the PGA Championship in 1987 (winner, Larry Nelson). It’s a tough course that hosts big events.

Notable Holes

6th, 479 yards, par 4

hole6

A converted par-5, the 6th shows PGA National’s teeth. Damn near 500 yards and with water taunting down the entire left side, there’s little room for error. You need to stripe a few and scurry out of there with a par.

If you post a 3? Dive in the pond and call it a day.

The Bear Trap

15th, 179 yards, par 3

Sup Smylie.

16th, 434 yards, par 4

The Honda Classic - Round Two

Tricky little hole. It’s typically less than driver off the tee, as you gotta fit one out there in between the bunkers, then a tough approach over water to a well-guarded green. It’s also almost always into the wind.

PGA National Golf Club has five courses, 90 holes, and they call this the toughest par 4 on the property.

17th, 190 yards, par 3

The Honda Classic - Final Round

The Trap concludes with another punishing par 3. Anything short and you’re snorkelin'; anything long and you’re in a back bunker or in the rough on a downslope facing a delicate up-and-down, staring at water from the other side. Good luck.

18th, 556 yards, par 5

The Honda Classic - Round Three

The eighteenth is a very reachable, snake-like par 5. The fairway sort of jets out to the right, comes back left, then the green is plopped back over on the right.

After stumbling through the Bear Trap in 2014, and needing an eagle on 18 to win, Rory did this.

He would ultimately miss the putt, tap-in for birdie, and lose in a playoff, but whatever. It’s a great finishing hole; a should-be birdie for these guys.

The Field

Several big names: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Patton Kizzire, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Kisner (are you alive Kiz?).

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Here are some betting odds to chew on.

Rickie Fowler 9/1
Justin Thomas 10/1
Rory McIlroy 10/1
Sergio Garcia 15/1
Tyrrell Hatton 25/1
Gary Woodland 25/1
Tommy Fleetwood 25/1
Alex Noren 30/1
Brian Harman 30/1
Daniel Berger 40/1
Patrick Reed 40/1
Russell Knox 40/1
Brandt Snedeker 40/1
Adam Scott 50/1
Kevin Kisner 50/1
Chesson Hadley 50/1
Jason Dufner 50/1
Webb Simpson 50/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 50/1
Ollie Schniederjans 50/1
Russell Henley 50/1

Fusion

Back to back weeks. Let’s hope the back holds up. It should because, you know, the fusion.

Weather

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Predictions

Winning Score

I guessed 9-under last year and Rickie won by four at 12-under. It’s going to be WINDY this weekend.

Winning score, -9.

Winner

Daniel Berger lost in a playoff here in 2015. I picked Rickie to win here last year, and he did, because I’m a genius, and I’m picking Daniel Berger this year. Plus he’s 40/1 — big pay day.

Winner, Daniel Berger.

Dark Horse

Ollie Schniederjans was on the first podcast we ever did. Real nice kid, incredible he agreed to be the guinea pig for us clowns.

I believe he’ll win eventually, and his hair will look fantastic in that south Florida wind.

Dark horse, Ollie Schniederjans.

The Steven Bowditch Memorial DFL Award

Smylie! (love you kid – remember, this is motivational)

Coverage

PGA TOUR - 2007 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Third Round

Thursday and Friday, Golf Channel, 2 PM to 6 PM EST
Saturday and Sunday, Golf Channel, 1 PM to 2:45 PM; CBS 3 PM to finish

Final Thoughts

Reminder, we’ll be on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive tomorrow at 10:40 AM EST.

Enjoy the show. Enjoy the Honda. Welcome to Florida.