The PGA Tour has said adios to California and have set off for the lush green of the Sunshine State and the 2018 Honda Classic. Last year, Rickie Fowler hoisted the trophy, besting Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland by four strokes. This year, he’s the favorite — but not mine.
Before getting into picks for the week, it’s important that we take a quick look back at last week’s Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. Bubba Watson won by two, collecting the 10th win of his PGA Tour career. Fantasy wise, it didn’t help many of us who weren’t expecting Watson to find his old form so fast.
This week, Watson is off the table — but there are plenty of great picks to fill out your fantasy lineups at PGA National. With that said, there are also plenty of no-good, awful, terrible picks sure to sabotage any otherwise solid fantasy roster.
One thing to note is the difficulty of PGA National. Since taking over hosting duties for the Honda Classic in 2007, the Champions Course at PGA National has ranked in or near the top-5 in overall difficulty among non-major venues. Because of this, the obvious word of advice is that the cream will rise to the crop.
Here’s a look at those who will be soaking up the sunshine and good vibes in Florida — and those who might still be California dreamin’:
Gary Woodland — Since his emotional victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open three weeks ago, Gary Woodland has been a popular fantasy choice for many. This week, the Kansas Jayhawk is on everyone’s short list — and for good reason. Despite the MC at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in his last start, Woodland rattled off finishes of T-4, T-7, T-12 and a win in his last four starts before that. This week, he returns to PGA National to try and best last year’s T-2 finish by one spot. Even if he doesn’t, he should still find himself in contention and pay dividends in the fantasy world.
Rory McIlroy — I know, I know — I’ve taken Rory like, 9 weeks in a row. But that’s only because I truly believe in him and his game. It’s going to come around and he’s going to have a career year in 2018. This week, McIlroy returns to PGA National — the site of his win in the 2012 Honda Classic over Tom Hoge and Tiger Woods. Rors bounced back a bit last week at Riviera after struggling at Pebble with a T-20 showing. Not great, but not terrible. This week, you’ll see marked improvement.
Brian Harman — Is this the third consecutive week we see a lefty hoise the trophy? Quite possibly — though it won’t be Phil or Bubba. And if definitely won’t be Ted Potter, Jr. It could, however, be Brian Harman. The Georgia Bulldog has taken the last three weeks off and returns to action at the Honda Classic, looking to kick of the Florida swing with a strong showing. Harman, who enjoyed a career-year in 2017 has picked up right where he left off, beginning the campaign 7-for-8 in cuts made with finishes of T-5, 8th, T-4, 3rd, T-4 and T-20 before missing the cut at the Farmer’s. After a nice, restful break, I think Harman keeps the momentum going with a strong showing at PGA National.
Graeme McDowell — After finally showing some signs of life last week at Riviera, it’s time to consider Graeme McDowell again. While I believe he’s best as a bench choice to begin, or a late-round roster fill out pick in DFS, McDowell combines recent good form and vibes with an excellent track record at PGA National and in the Honda Classic. In eight trips, he’s got four top-10’s and a T-14 here last year while he was otherwise struggling. Don’t sleep on the 2010 U.S. Open champ.
Adam Scott — Just two years removed from a victory in this event, Adam Scott has found his name on a lot of people’s fantasy favorites lists this week. Unfortunately, I can’t count myself among them. The simple reason? Because his garbage putting hasn’t really shown any signs of turning around. Perhaps no player suffered more in the wake of the anchored putting ban than Scott, and as he tries to climb back from the brink, fans of his dying to see him anchor their fantasy lineup must continue to wait.
Martin Kaymer — After Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open in 2014 on the heels not-so-special golf, I became convinced that he’s one of the few who can flip a switch and win at any time. That said, I’m passing on the German stud this week at PGA National. On one hand, his consistency as far as making cuts is nice — but that doesn’t guarantee anything better than a T-82. Until he posts some stronger results, I’m going to continue to err on the side of caution.
Louis Oosthuizen — One of the most consistent fantasy options in the game, Louis Oosthuizen’s has been another popular fantasy choice this week — though I’m not sure why. Shrek is making his 2018 debut this week at the Honda Classic, but hasn’t exactly been showing the stuff that’s made him a household name as of late. Oosthuizen has also been battling a freak injury for the last little bit, and with that in mind, I’d like to see some results before I get back on the bandwagon. You should, too.