3 Takeaways from the 2022 Honda Classic
Shortly ago, Sepp Straka claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the 2022 Honda Classic, just edging out Ireland’s Shane Lowry by a single stroke.
Dark ominous clouds moved over PGA National as the final two groups finished the Bear Trap (holes 15–17) and headed to the final hole. Lowry and Straka tied at the top, Daniel Berger just one shot back.
Even with rain coming down sideways, Straka persevered to hit an excellent approach into the par-5 18th, setting up an eagle putt from 48 feet that came up inches short of the cup.
A tap in birdie would be just good enough for Straka though, as Lowry in the final group could only make par on 18 after an errant tee shot.
With the win, Straka becomes the first golfer from Austria to claim victory on the PGA Tour.
2. No Lead is Safe at PGA National
Playing alongside Lowry in the final group, Daniel Berger needed to make eagle at 18 to get into a playoff with Straka. With this in mind, Berger took an aggressive approach to try and stuff something close to the pin, but just missed the green as his ball cut too far and went into the water.
Berger entered Sunday five shots clear of Straka and Lowry — a sizeable lead that leads to victory about 75% of the time on the PGA Tour.
Berger squandered his lead early on in the day, making double bogey at the par-5 3rd — one of the easier holes on the course, making the double bogey even more disastrous.
He then made bogey at the difficult 5th and 6th holes. Berger battled all day, but simply did not have his best stuff, particularly with the putter.
While leads of this size typically hold up in the final round, it’s unsurprising for those shots to evaporate quickly at a place like PGA National.
There’s water everywhere, the greens played firm and fast all week, and it’s just easy to get out of position and make big numbers.
This sentiment is probably fairly obvious for astute and knowledgeable PGA viewers, but it’s just something to keep in mind for the Honda Classic next year. Your DraftKings lineups or betting tickets may never truly be dead (or safe depending on how you look at it). There may also be ample opportunities for live betting golfers like Straka who might seem out of it, but could just get hot down the stretch and win.
2. The Randomness Factor
Depending on where you look, Sepp Straka came into the week with 140/1 odds to win the Honda Classic.
He’s a decent enough player with some solid pedigree coming out of the University of Georgia golf program (he also represented Austria at last year’s olympics), but as shown on the telecast Straka’s ball striking numbers this season were not particularly good — mostly attributed to a poor fall swing, in which he made just 3/8 cuts and had his best finish as a T33.
That said, Straka’s ball striking was excellent all week at PGA National — 2nd in the final round alone, just behind Shane Lowry.
We saw a similar theme with 3rd place finisher Kurt Kitayama this week, who had missed his previous 5 cuts on the PGA Tour prior to this week.
Meanwhile the betting favorite and previous winner of the event Sungjae Im ended up missing the cut. Golf is strange sometimes, and the Honda Classic is a good example of this weird — but also kind of awesome — variance in results.
All that said, the real takeaway is not to let a week like this get you down from a DFS or betting perspective. This may truly be the Twilight Zone of PGA events. S*it happens.
3. The Florida Swing is Going to be Great
Something the Florida events have in common is that nervous feeling like one bad swing can cause a lead to come crumbling down at any moment.
With all of firm and fast greens that get baked out as the week goes on, water lurking everywhere, and the unpredictable weather as we saw in the final round of Honda, Florida golf on the PGA Tour is truly chaotic and challenging.
This altogether makes for some of the most exciting, competitive events on the schedule. Good news is that we’re just getting started…
Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill next week. Happy GOLF.