This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
PGA National - Champion Course (7,125 yards, par-70)
$1,224,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
The PGA Tour returns to the United States after Dustin Johnson completely ran away with the WGC title last week in Mexico, where only Rory McIlroy managed to finish within 10 strokes of the champion. This week's talent level will be nowhere near what it was at the Club de Golf Chapultepec, as the Honda Classic's appeal has fallen victim to scheduling changes that moved THE PLAYERS Championship to mid-March. Only three members of the Official World Golf Ranking's top 20 will make the trek to Palm Beach Gardens for the first event of the Florida Swing, so the focus will instead be on the PGA National's "Bear Trap," arguably the most demanding three-hole stretch you will find. The arduous area of the Champion Course's Back 9 includes a pair of grueling par-3s with water hazards galore. Last year's 36-hole cut reached six-over-par, so expect plenty big numbers again this week.
Recent Past Champions
2018 - Justin Thomas
2017 - Rickie Fowler
2016 - Adam Scott
2015 - Padraig Harrington
2014 - Russell Henley
2013 - Michael Thompson
2012 - Rory McIlroy
2011 - Rory Sabbatini
2010 - Camilo Villegas
Key Stats to Victory
Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
The Champion Course at PGA National scored as the second-toughest venue on Tour last season and regularly forces competitors to grind out pars, but its greatest defense is the wind. Luckily for those teeing it up this week, a tame breeze is expected throughout the tournament, and scoring conditions should also benefit from scattered showers softening the course. Despite an inferior field compared to past years, Camilo Villegas' tournament scoring record of 13-under-par at PGA National could be in danger, especially given Jack Nicklaus' recent overhaul of the course that featured an increase in green size. Nonetheless, SG: Approach and proximity will be key determinants of GIR percentage, a major predictor of success on a course that doesn't lend a plethora of birdie chances. Ball striking reigns supreme for the first leg of the Florida Swing and the field's longest hitters will be able to keep driver in the bag on occasion as they club down for additional accuracy.
FanDuel Value Picks
Brooks Koepka, $11,400 - Koepka has a lousy track record at PGA National for a player of his caliber, failing to finish top-25 in all four of his trips to the Honda Classic. However, this should help reduce his exposure. Koepka underwhelmed with a T27 in Mexico last week, but his ball striking wasn't the issue. He lost nearly six strokes with the flat stick and now ranks just 211th on Tour in SG: Putting. He was top-6 among the field in both SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Tee-to-Green at Chapultepec, however, hitting 72 percent of the greens in regulation. The West Palm Beach native will look to find his putting stroke on a return to familiar bermuda greens in Florida.
Sergio Garcia, $11,200 - The Spaniard gathered enemies when a disqualification at the Saudi International preceded a mediocre T37 at the Genesis Open, but he rebounded with a top-6 at the WGC-Mexico to collect his eighth top-10 in 10 worldwide starts since the Portugal Masters. Garcia gained just over seven strokes on his approach shots in Mexico City, and he also finished fifth in putts per GIR despite burning numerous edges. He's made the cut in all eight of his Honda appearances, highlighted by a solo runner-up in 2016.
Gary Woodland, $11,000 - The third-ranked player in the FedExCup standings has been on a heater all season, adding second-place finishes at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and CJ Cup to his 2018-19 resume. Woodland also posted a T2 at PGA National in 2017, his second top-10 at the Honda in six career attempts. He's seventh on Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in GIR percentage.
Adam Scott, $10,800 - Winless since back-to-back victories in 2016 at the Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship, Scott is due for a return to the center of the podium. He's already notched two top-10s in 2019, including a solo-second at the Farmers Insurance Open. Scott is up to 18th in SG: Putting and 16th in putting from 10-15 feet thanks to a revamped approach with the flat stick.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Billy Horschel, $9,900 - Horschel hasn't missed a single cut since the RBC Canadian in late July, and he has also amassed six top-15s since that point. He ranks top-40 on Tour in GIR percentage and par-3 scoring, foreshadowing a respectable showing in the strenuous Bear Trap. Horschel finished T8-T4 at the Honda in 2016 and 2017 before missing the cut by two shots last year.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, $9,800 - Aphibarnrat bounced back from missed cuts in three of his previous starts with a T3 at the WGC-Mexico, where he birdied his final three holes and carded just six bogeys all week. Jumping from 45th to No. 36 in the OWGR, he also tied for second among the field in GIR percentage and led the way in scrambling. Aphibarnrat comfortably made the cut during his PGA National debut in 2018 before faltering on the weekend.
Lucas Glover, $9,700 - Combine statistical reasoning and recent form with course history and Glover pops off the chart as a value play this week. He's finished worse than a T17 just once in seven starts this season, most recently adding a T7 at Pebble Beach. Glover leads the PGA Tour in rough proximity, ranks second in GIR percentage, 13th in SG: Tee-to-Green, sixth in scrambling and fourth in par-4 scoring. Three of his last six voyages to PGA National have resulted in top-25 performances.
C.T. Pan, $8,600 - Pan has yet to miss a cut in four starts to begin the 2019 calendar year, but he's finished no better than a T44 at Riviera CC during this stretch. That could change at the Honda Classic given his precision and consistency at PGA National. He ranked T14 in GIR percentage en route to a T17 result at the 2018 Honda, carding nothing worse than a one-over 71 throughout the event.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
With such slim pickings in the lower price ranges due to an abnormally weak field here, spending a ridiculous $13,000 in salary for Justin Thomas at the top just feels irresponsible despite the fact he's the defending champion and clear betting favorite. That being said, many other gamers may feel the exact same way and consequently result in a significant ownership drop for JT, which would bring intrigue in GPP formats.