Par 70, 7,140 yards
This looks like another tricky week here on the PGA Tour as the Florida swing gets underway. The PGA National Champion Course was opened on November 17, 1981 and was designed by Tom Fazio. It was the site of the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship and the Senior PGA Championship for 19 years, from 1982–2000. The course underwent a $4 million renovation by Jack Nicklaus in December 2002, and in 2007 became the home of The Honda Classic.
The Champion Course is a tough par 70 with two par 5’s, four tricky par 3’s and 12 par 4’s and will be a difficult test for the players this week. This course has Bermuda grass greens, which is a feature on most Florida courses. The fairways are quite wide and forgiving, however the greens here are tricky and guarded by plenty of bunkers. There are over a dozen water hazards to contend with and the wind tends to be a factor on this course so be on the lookout for good wind players that hit a lot of greens. There are over 100 bunkers on this course so good scrambling and sand saves will be essential.
Looking at the way this course sets up, it might be worth looking at par 3 performance as this course has four very tricky par 3’s with GIR, strokes gained putting and par 4 performance also key stats here. The “Bear Trap” is a key feature on this course with the par 3 15th, par 4 16th and par 3 17th being particularly difficult and could potentially offer a thrilling finish come Sunday night. The 18th is a straight forward par 5 and reachable with two good shots.
The weather could have a part to play again here with wind and rain forecast early and late this week and looks like it could be a threat throughout the tournament.
I’ve decided to stick with the Aussie here after a decent performance last week in Riviera. He was knocking around the top 10 for most of the week and I thought he might just squeak some place money but it wasn’t meant to be. However he did play well and finished T11 for the tournament on nine under par.
He has been in good form so far this year with five top 15’s in his last five starts. He played well at The CIMB Classic finishing T10 and followed that with a T14 at the WGC HSBC Champions. Scott then played in his native Australian Open finishing T14 for the tournament on six under which included a second round 65. Last week he shot four steady rounds of 70 or better to finish T11, which looks very encouraging coming to Florida this week.
He has only played here three times in the past missing the cut in 2011, but followed that with a T12 in 2014 and a win last year. He played superbly well here last year shooting 70,65,66,70 to post nine under par in total. The Aussie is a great wind player and ranks 21st in SG Off the tee, first in SGP, fourth in sand saves and 15th in par 5 scoring. After decent performances over the last few weeks Scott looks a good shout here.
Knox is another player in decent form coming to Florida this week with eight top 20’s in his last eight starts. He started the season with a T10 at the CIMB Classic and followed that with a T9 at the WGC HSBC Champions, solo third at the OHL Classic, T19 at the World Cup of Golf and a solo 16th at the Hero World Challenge. He started the New Year off with a T17 at the SBS Tournament of Champions in Kapalua followed by a T11 at the Sony Open where he didn’t shoot worse than a 69 throughout the week.
He has a good record on this course finishing T26 last year, T3 in 2015 and just missed out on a win in 2014 after losing a playoff to Russell Henley to finish second. The Scot is another solid wind player and ranks sixth in GIR, fifth in birdie average, fourth in par 3 scoring and 10th in par 4 scoring. Knox is in fine form and could be a big danger man here.
The Florida native has had a decent season so far with three top 15’s in his last six starts. He had a good week at the WGC HSBC Champions back in October and didn’t shoot worse than a 70 throughout the tournament to finish T2. He followed that with a T14 at the SBS Tournament of Champions in Kapalua finishing 12 under par for the week. Most recently, Berger had another solid performance at the Phoenix Open finishing T7 which included rounds of 71,66,66,68 to post 13 under par in total.
Berger has only played here twice before and was unlucky not to win in 2014 after shooting a final round 64. He made it into a playoff with veteran Padraig Harrington and came up short to finish second. He does tick some statistical boxes here ranking 26th in SGP, 17th in scrambling and fourth in par 3 scoring.
The young American has been playing some great golf this season with three top 10’s and two top 30’s in his last six tournaments. He had a great week at the RSM Classic finishing T6 and followed that with a T27 at the Sony and a T9 at the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines. He then shot three rounds of 70 or better to finish T24 at the Phoenix Open to post nine under for the tournament. Last week in Riviera, Schneiderjans kept his good from going shooting 68,69,69,68 to finish T8 on ten under par in total.
He could be another player that could suit this course averaging just over 300 yards off the tee ranking 30th in driving distance. He has played here twice before missing the cut last year and finished T9 in 2015. Schneiderjans looks great value here and could be one to watch.
Adam Scott 12/1 1pt EW
Russell Knox 30/1 0.5pts EW
Daniel Berger 35/1 0.5 pts EW
Ollie Schneiderjans 66/1 0.5pts EW
Total staked = 5pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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