Fact is, tipping for the PGA Tour season to date has been like throwing darts at jelly or, as my old boss used to say, pushing water uphill with a brush. Johnson Wagner’s 150/1 triumph in Mexico last week was yet another crazy priced winner, although he’d ended the Fall Series last year in great form on Bermuda so the logic was there. Mark Wilson 100/1, Johnnie Vegas 200/1, Aaron Baddeley 100/1, Mark Wilson 80/1, DA Points 80/1…..the list goes on! Frustratingly I should have picked up on Points at 80s but he never made my final cut and Bubba at 66/1 was also on the short-list but never made the published tips...
So I’m amending my 10 point team selection strategy this week and not holding back on selecting the right ‘type’ players, whatever their price. However that doesn’t equate to a lack of quality. The positioning of the Honda Classic between the 2 WGC events means an uncharacteristically high quality field assembling in Palm Beach Gardens but there is a distinct lack of big US names who instead are having the week off. That in itself tells you a lot about the Nicklaus-designed PGA National course which is a brute of a Par 70 test. It’s uncharacteristically non-Florida or non-US in it’s set-up. Kuchar, Fowler and Kim are the only “top-line” Yanks playing this week and they have definitive chances to differing degrees. But the international field is something else with Westwood, Donald, GMac, McIlroy, Singh, Els, Poulter, Schwartzel, Karlsson, Scott, Fisher, Eduardo Molinari and Oosthuizen kicking their heels.
With Mayakoba-strength wind forecast and a WGC event next week, I have my doubts about the level of focus that some of the top guys will give this. I’m also concerned about the transition from fast bent in Arizona to slowish Bermuda carpet in Florida, so I’m going for a selection of high class undercard players at tasty Each Way prices. The depth of “WGC-ers” has meant a feast of quality Par 70 and Bermuda specialists at some quite absurd prices.
This is the kind of tournament that 188Bet’s £25 No Lose/No Risk promotion was made for, so don’t be shy and get involved. Even better than that 188Bet are market leading on a number of my Par 70 specialists.
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The Florida-based Englishman has to be my marquee tip this week at this incredible price. Davis rarely plays the West Coast swing well and, sure enough, his form line reads 77-MC-49-44-13. However I’m certain the Palm Beach native will love the feel of his own bed this week and he traditionally comes out of hibernation when the Tour hits his home state and his favourite Bermuda carpet. I classify Brian as a Par 70 specialist and his results show why. 2010 garnered 2nd place finishes at Hilton Head, Colonial and in Malaysia. 2009 saw 2nd at TPC Four Seasons backed up by 5th at TPC Sawgrass (the ultimate Florida Par 70 test) and 5th at the Nicklaus designed La Cantera. His liking for Nicklaus designs can also be seen in 2nd and 9th placed finishes at Montreaux GCC. I’d suggest a £25 no lose dabble on Davis who finished 7th here in 2008 after leading after 36 holes is a no-brainer, especially as the Englishman has improved immeasurably since 2008. I’d get over to 188Bet right now and get on before they notice I’ve tipped him! RESULT: M/C
In my mind Rory was going to bomb Mexico big style last week at a paltry 22/1. As I stated last week favourites never win there and sure enough Wagner came and conquered at 150/1 on course debut! However I’m a fan of Sabbatini who has a habit of delivering at quality prices and I back him wherever logic and form allow. Sabba’s 5th place finish was excellent form especially in tough windy conditions. That semi-contention experience will be of immeasurable value this week again, where windy conditions and slow Bermuda will prove a formidable foe. Throughout his career Rory has been a momentum player who has incredibly hot streaks of form which ultimately end in a victory on a Par 70 track. Don’t be surprised if he delivers a true contention performance this week at 80/1 which is only available at “Laddies.” RESULT: Winner
Mark Wilson and Y.E. Yang in recent history prove that PGA National can deliver first time winners and Brendon de Jonge of late merits his 104th World Ranking. Those wins were “shocking” at the time but both have gone onto bigger and better things and de Jonge has all the attributes to move on a step as well. The Virginia Tech educated Zimbabwean export thrives on tough tests and plays classical courses extremely well. 9th here last year started a run that included 3rd in Puerto Rico (in windy conditions) 4th at Quail Hollow, 12th at Memorial (Nicklaus design) and 3rd at The Old White Course. He then ended the season with 3rd on Bermuda at another Nicklaus design Annandale. A 6th at Montreaux GCC in 2007 adds fuel to the flames. Current Bermuda form of 22-25-20 shows the level de Jonge is at in 2011 and if I was going to highlight a non PGA Tour winner who could be the “shock” at the Honda Classic this week de Jonge is ideal at a market leading 100/1 with BetFred. RESULT: M/C
12/1 favourite last week becomes 55/1 value pick within a week. This golf punting malarkey can be right interesting! Gay last week, like Sabba, impressed me no-end with his 5th place finish and shows the great nick the Florida based Texan is in right now. He’s close to his 2009 peak and if you want a Bermuda Par 70 specialist look no further. 4th and 8th at the Honda Classic in 2000 and 2004 respectively Gay has proven that he is by far a much more superior player now both mentally and physically. I won’t reel out his Par 70 CV but click here and be amazed that with a current form line of 5 Mayakoba (Bermuda type green), MC Pebble, 18 Phoenix (Bermuda), 5 Bob Hope Lottery (Bermuda) and 13 Waialee (Bermuda) Totesport rate him as 55/1 shot. He’s hungry to add to his 3 PGA Tour successes (all unsurprisingly on Par 70s) and the Doral and Augusta invites that would be the result of victory. He experienced these tournaments for the first time in 2010. RESULT: T55
Florida-domiciled Aussie Appleby has surfaced from his 2 year golfing slump. Victory at The White Course in 2010 where he triumphed with a closing round 59 is the stuff of legend and there is no doubt that the 9-time PGA Tour winner is a class act. Won the Honda Classic in 1999 (at Mirasol), but it has to be said that his PGA National appearances haven’t been great to date. You just get the feeling though with Stuart that his current form is absolutely ripe for a step up to contention and 4 victories on Bermuda shows that he could click with PGA National at any minute. Led after 54 holes at Waialee in January on the tight Bermuda Par 70 and has backed that up with 15th at Pebble and 12th last time out at Riviera. RESULT: T10
With such a plethora of great players at over 100/1 it was always going to be difficult to highlight a player for this feature. However, after initially plumping for Brett Wetterich, I’ve finally gone for Webb Simpson. With a PGA National record of MC, MC you might think I’m even crazier than usual with this tip, but Simpson is maturing into a quality player and one that plays well on Bermuda. Simpson’s 3rd Season on the PGA Tour has delivered an 8th last time out in Phoenix, 13th at the Bob Hope Lottery and 46th at Waialee. 2009/ 2010 yielded finishes of 8th, 9th, 12th, 13th and 14th all on tight Par 70 courses the majority of which were on Bermuda. I tipped him at the Timberlake tournament last year at 80/1 and he almost delivered after leading at the 71st (finished 4th) and that experience allied to his superb Green in Regulation numbers should see a far more impressive showing at PGA National this week. RESULT: T24
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00GMT 1.3.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation