As the tour makes its way to PGA National in Palm Beach, Florida. PGA National is a Par 70 course that plays just over 7,000 yards. There will be some rain on Wednesday which could soften the greens a bit. But, the wind in the forecast could make an already difficult course even more difficult. We’ll be looking for strokes gained: tee to green, Par 3 and Par 4 scoring, and good drive percentage as our predictors of success.
Last week Dustin Johnson dominated the field at the Genesis Open. He won without much of a challenge from anyone. Johnson was at or near the top of every significant strokes gained category, led in driving distance and led in greens in regulation. Thomas Pieters came from nowhere on Sunday to finish in 2nd place. He putted extremely well on the way to his best finish on the PGA Tour. There were many surprise cuts at the Genesis Open. That translated to only 10.4% of entries had all 6 golfers make the cut in the $3 3-Entry Max Hybrid tournament.
The Clear Studs ($9,000+)
The clear favorite is last year’s defending champion Adam Scott ($12,200). He boasts the best odds to win according to Vegas and is one of the top Par 4 scorers in the field. Scott has carded 5 sub-60 rounds in his 8 most recent rounds at PGA National.
Sergio Garcia ($10,900) and Rickie Fowler ($11,900) are also safe bets in cash lineups. They are tied with the 2nd best odds to win. Garcia and Fowler are also some of the Tour’s leaders in regards to strokes gained: tee to green. Fowler has made 5/5 cuts here with 3 Top 15 finishes. Garcia has a runner-up and an 8th place finish in the last three years here. It’s difficult to go wrong with any of the $10,000 and up tier.
That includes Justin Thomas ($11,800) who started off the year as the hottest golfer on the planet before cooling off a bit with a missed cut in Phoenix. He’s one of the best in the field at Par 3 and Par 4 scoring. As an added bonus, he finished 3rd at The Honda Classic last year.
Zach Johnson ($9,700) is a hard fade for me this week. This might be a bad call because Johnson does check some of the boxes that we’re looking for from a statistics standpoint. But he’s missed the cut here the last 2 years, I’ll pass.
Mid-Tier Players ($7,000-$9,000)
Daniel Berger ($8,900) is going to be heavily owned this week. He’s made 5 of his last 6 cuts which include 2 Top 10s. Berger also comes in as one of the leaders in the field in both greens in regulation percentage, and Par 3 scoring. He also lost in a playoff in 2015 here. It will be Thursday morning before I decide whether his ownership levels will outweigh his potential success this weekend.
Keegan Bradley ($7,600) comes into PGA National with an interesting blend of form and course history. He has played Par 4s well, and is above average in strokes gained: tee to green. His course history is what puts him over the top for me. Bradley has a 4th place finish on his resume here. In addition to that, he has 9 sub-60 rounds out of his last 16 at this tournament.
Ryan Palmer ($7,400) has a similar story as Bradley this week. He’s performed well from tee to green. Palmer was the runner-up here in 2015 and has 2 Top 30 finishes. Palmer has also historically outperformed the field by over a stroke.
Value Plays (Sub-$7,000)
Daniel Summerhays ($6,700) has excellent Par 3 scoring relative to the field. Summerhays is the beneficiary of a big salary discrepancy. He has the 76th highest salary but the 60th highest odds to win this weekend. I will be overweight on Summerhays this weekend.
At minimum salary, John Senden ($6,400) provides the necessary salary relief to pay up for the Scotts and Fowlers of the world. Senden isn’t someone that will be highly owned but his game is uniquely fit for PGA National. He is a well above average ball striker and is a sure bet to be at the top of the leaderboard for greens in regulation if he plays the weekend. He also finished in the Top 10 here last year.
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