Previews and pre-event analysis from Golf Betting System's PGA Tour and European Tour coverage
To read Steve Bamford's Honda Classic tips for 2014 click here. Follow Steve on twitter: @bamfordgolf
Tournament Facts & Scheduling
The Honda Classic at the very technical PGA National is always a landmark tournament in any season as it marks the start of the Florida swing and the start of spring on the PGA Tour. March contains plenty of action across the Sunshine State with the Honda, WGC Cadillac Championship, Valspar Championship, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, with the "secondary" Puerto Rico Open thrown in for good measure running in parallel with the WGC event. All of these tournaments are played on Bermuda grass based greens (Trump International in Puerto Rico features Paspalum) and Florida golf is renowned for the requirement to play windy conditions well. In terms of the Honda Classic the tournament is well known for it's international flavour as it traditionally falls between the two World Golf Championship tournaments. American winners at PGA National are sparse, but Michael Thompson won at a cracking 300/1 in 2013 and Mark Wilson was the initial winner back in 2007, the first year PGA National was the host course. This tough, windswept, Jack Nicklaus design seems to favour the international contingent with Els, Yang, Villegas, Sabbatini and McIlroy all recording victories here.
Champions Course, PGA National, Palm Beach. Designer: Tom and George Fazio 1981 with Nicklaus Re Design 2013 Course Type: Technical especially with wind forecast Par: 70 Length: 7,110 yards Water Hazards: 26 Fairways: Bermuda with Perennial Rye Rough: Bermuda with Perennial Rye 3" Greens: 6,400 sq.ft average featuring TifEagle Bermuda with Perennial Rye Stimpmeter: 11 -11.5ft Scoring Avg 2012: 71.19 Ranked 11 of 49 courses for difficulty on the 2012 PGA Tour 2013: 71.32 Ranked 5 of 43 for difficulty.
Previous Champions 2013: Michael Thompson; 2012: Rory McIlroy; 2011: Rory Sabbatini; 2010: Camilo Villegas; 2009: Y.E. Yang; 2008: Ernie Els; 2007: Mark Wilson; Played at Mirasol Country Club 2006: Luke Donald; 2005: Padraig Harrington; 2004: Todd Hamilton; 2003: Jason Leonard; 2002: Matt Kuchar 2001: Jesper Parnevik; 2000: Dudley Hart
Winners Prices 2013: Thompson -300/1 2012: McIlroy - 9/1 2011: Sabbatini - 80/1 2010: Villegas - 30/1
Pre-Tournament Key Summary
So we enter the Florida swing with the tough Champions Course at PGA National. Florida golf is famous for two main factors. Firstly the Bermuda grass greens and this week we see the top stars putting on the TifEagle variety, running at 11.0-11.5 on the stimp meter. On the PGA Tour Kapalua and the Blue Monster at Doral feature this strain and on the European Tour Emirates Golf Club and Earth Course share these Bermuda green surfaces. That link is quite strong as Honda champions Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els also have Dubai wins on their respective CVs as well as one Tiger Woods who was second here on course debut in 2012 and has multiple wins on the Blue Monster. Something to look out for.
Secondly wind is always a factor on Florida courses that sit on the Atlantic coast line and with PGA National located in Palm Beach Gardens, it's very open to the elements. The Nicklaus design which features the famous 'Bear Trap', is therefore unsurprisingly a technical test especially when the course traditionally features 3" thick Bermuda rough. Average scores always tend to be over par and PGA National always sits within the hardest non-Major courses every season. That's why the Honda Classic is always a true test and the winning scores are sub -15/265. That brings into play the grinding golfer who thrive on hitting fairways and greens.
Below we track the results of Golf Betting System PGA Tour tipster Steve Bamford who has been producing weekly tips since 2009. You can also follow him on Twitter @bamfordgolf