Honda Classic: Thompson can thrive at PGA National again

Former winner Michael Thompson
Former champ Michael Thompson can shine at PGA National again
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After a profit at the WGC-Mexico thanks to 60/1 Cameron Smith, Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for the Honda Classic...

"He's now banked more top 10s (Desert Classic, Pebble Beach and Riviera) in the last few weeks than he has in the last four years combined."

Back Michael Thompson each-way @ 50/1

Main Bet: Back Michael Thompson each-way @ 50/1

While there are plenty of obvious routes in at the top of the market, I prefer to look a little further down the betting this week given that we have eight each-way places on offer.

I'll start by putting up a former winner of this event, Michael Thompson.

The American caused a 300/1 shock when defying poor form to score a two-shot victory over Geoff Ogilvy in 2013.

He hasn't added to that one PGA Tour win but Thompson returns this year showing his best form since.

After coming through the Web.com finals again, he banked a top 20 at the Safeway Open at the back end of 2018 and, after shaking off some rust at the Sony Open, has since gone 9-13-10-7 in four starts in California.

It means he's now banked more top 10s (Desert Classic, Pebble Beach and Riviera) in the last few weeks than he has in the last four years combined.

What's interesting is that he's recorded these impressive results in spite of, rather than due to, his putter.

Looking at those SG: Putting stats, He lost strokes to the field in two of those four starts and was only just in the positive in two others.

Compare that with his long game. Thompson gained 9.242 strokes tee-to-green at Riviera and has gained an average of just over six shots in that quartet of impressive finishes.

If only Thompson could bring that impressive ball striking to a venue with his preferred Bermuda greens...

Well, with the PGA Tour switching to Florida he gets that very opportunity - and on a course where his confidence levels must be higher than usual due to that past win.

Thompson hasn't done much here since that victory but finished strongly last year for tied 24th.

A remodelled swing and new fitness regime are clearly making a huge difference and Thompson looks capable of getting in the mix.

Next Best: Back Lucas Glover each-way @ 50/1

I'll use fairly similar reasoning for a second 50/1 shot - Lucas Glover.

LUCAS GLOVER OCTOBER 2018.jpg

This has been a good event for major winners (three of the last four had one) and the 2009 US Open champ could add to that streak.

Like Thompson, Glover has excellent ball-striking numbers. He's ranked second for Greens In Regulation, 12th for SG: Tee-to-Green and 21st on Approach.

Those numbers have helped him to rack up six finishes of T17 or better in his seven starts.

The very latest was T7 at Pebble Beach while he was T12 at the Desert Classic. Before the Christmas break, Glover was also T7 in Vegas despite a triple-bogey at his 72nd hole.

The putter has stopped him winning more so it's worth noting that he gained over four strokes with the flatstick at Pebble last time. Yes, that was Poa annua but I'm just happy to see him putting well on any surface.

Finally, Glover has some usual form at this event with a top four in 2013 along with T17 and T21 the last two years.

His last start in the Sunshine State ended with a second place in the Web.com Tour Championship while in 2017 the 39-year-old Florida-based resident made the top seven at both Bay Hill and Sawgrass.

With no crazy wind conditions in the forecast, we should get a truer reflection of current form rather than be at the whim of getting caught on the wrong side of the draw so Glover looks a good bet to keep his strong form going on a course that suits.

Final Bet: Back Charl Schwartzel each-way @ 66/1

I looked at in-form Scott Piercy (66s) and Dylan Frittelli (T11 here last year) as options for my third pick.

Ernie Els and Rory Sabbatini have both won here at PGA National so I'll go with another South African in Charl Schwartzel.

CHARL SCHWARTZEL SEP 2018.jpg

A few things look to be in his favour.

Schwartzel is a major winner who also plays Florida courses very well.

His most recent PGA Tour win came at the 2016 Valspar Championship and his last visit to the Sunshine State saw him finish runner-up in the Players Championship.

He's had success on this course too with a run of 14-5-9 on his first three visits before he dropped it from his schedule after 2015.

I always prefer Schwartzel in hot and calm conditions rather than cool and windy so the forecast seems to be his favour too.

Back in December he opened 67-63 at his home South African Open and was making really encouraging noises about his game.

He eventually finished third there before going into a slump with four missed cuts (Alfred Dunhill Championship, Desert Classic, Farmers Insurance and Phoenix) before he withdrew from the Genesis Open after a 74.

It would have been hard to have any confidence in him at that point but then, in an admittedly modest field, he came back and took T6 in last week's Puerto Rico Open, ending his week with a 66.

Confidence is massive in this game and Schwartzel's is often more fragile than most.

With his game looking sharp again last week (second on the All-Around), I'll take a leap of faith that he can kick on again and flourish in Florida once more.

Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £450
Returned: £322
P/L: -£128

2017/2018:
P/L: +£362.84

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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