Honda Classic: Harman can hit heights at Honda

Brian Harman has been in superb form
Brian Harman has been in superb form

The PGA Tour switches east to the Florida Swing this week and Dave Tindall picks out three bets for the Honda Classic at PGA National...

"He has some startling history at the Honda Classic having posted a ludicrous 61 in the second round in 2012, a course record which helped him finish tied 12th."

Main Bet: Back Brian Harman e.w. @ 45/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places

Main Bet: Back Brian Harman EW @ 45/1

Brian Harman enters this week's Honda Classic at PGA National as the World No. 21. Twelve months ago he arrived in Florida ranked 108th.

That sharp upward curve kicked in soon after when he followed a top 10 at Hilton Head with victory in the Wells Fargo Championship.

He took it to a new level by finishing runner-up in the US Open and then entered another phase by showing high-class consistency with a run of 5-8-4-3-4 in five PGA Tour events bridging the end of 2017 and the start of 2018.

Due to the wraparound season, they all count on this year's FedEx Cup and the American left-hander sits 13th on that list.

After adding another top 20 at the CareerBuilder, Harman missed the cut at Torrey Pines and has then sat out the last few weeks to prep for the Florida Swing.

He has some startling history at the Honda Classic having posted a ludicrous 61 in the second round in 2012, a course record which helped him finish tied 12th.

Harman went low again with a closing 64 in 2015 for T11 and he was also T11 at halfway last year before fading on the weekend.

"The course definitely fits my eye for whatever reason. Usually feel pretty comfortable here," he said last year. "It's very difficult. I enjoy places where a couple under, 1-under, even, is always a pretty good number. I like places like that."

Stats-wise this season, he's 9th for Driving Accuracy, 4th for Greens In Regulation, 11th for Scrambling and 8th for Strokes Gained: Putting so take out big hitting - something that isn't crucial on PGA National's Champions Course this week - and Harman is doing everything right.

Oh, it's a par 70 as well so his third place in Par 4 Scoring Average adds to the mix.

Also T13 and T17 in the last two editions of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Harman was T8 in the 2015 Players Championship so has a decent bank of Florida form under his belt.

A strong player in the wind (he led and then finished third in the 2018 opener in Hawaii in very gusty conditions), Harman seems to fit the bill in so many ways this week and the 45/1 looks real each-way value.

More on the Euros below but, as for the other Americans, Rickie Fowler was 18/1 when winning last year so the 15/2 for a defence looks grim.

Justin Thomas has curious course form of MC-3-MC but the middle one shows that he can tame this track and the US PGA champ has to rank as a big threat after showing some good signs when T9 at Riviera on Sunday.

Gary Woodland is very capable of scoring a quick follow-up to his Phoenix win, especially when you consider he was runner-up in last year's Honda Classic and T6 in 2011. He came close to selection at 28s.

Next Best: Back Rafa Cabrera Bello EW @ 50/1

Europeans have done particularly well at PGA National and a trawl through the last six years shows that at least two have made the frame in every renewal since 2012 when the top five featured Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose.

David Lynn was a surprise T4 in 2014, Russell Knox secured back-to-back each-way payouts in 2014 and 2015 and last year Tyrrell Hatton popped up to bank a top four on his course debut.

McIlroy and Sergio Garcia are the obvious names this time and I respect both at 10s and 16s respectively while Alex Noren has really taken the eye on the PGA Tour this season with finishes of 2-21-16. He's a little short perhaps at 28s.

Tommy Fleetwood is making America his base up until the Masters and he started off in encouraging fashion with T37 at Riviera where he finished second in Driving Accuracy.

Prior to that, the Englishman had started 2018 by making a brilliant defence of his Abu Dhabi crown and followed it with T6 in Dubai (ranked No.1 on the All-Around stats in both events).

I'm close to picking him at 28s but it's his course debut so that's a big ask expecting him to win straight away.

Instead, I think there's some good each-way juice in Rafa Cabera Bello at 50/1.

The Spaniard continues to impress and has kept himself at 20th in the world rankings with T26 at both Pebble Beach and Riviera in the last couple of weeks.

Now he gets to play PGA National for a second time and there was much encouragement to be taken on his debut last year. T37 doesn't look amazing but he opened 68-70-67 to lie in the top 20 after 54 holes.

We know RCB can go much higher due to some excellent displays on American soil in the last couple of years. In 2016 he was fourth in Houston (T17 at the Masters the following week) and fifth at the Wyndham Championship while last year he banked another pair of T4s at Sawgrass and St. Jude.

To make the top four at the Players Championship is particularly impressive and, of course, has extra relevance given that it came on Bermuda greens in Florida.

Also fourth last summer's Open Championship and fifth in the WGC-HSBC in late October, Cabrera-Bello has shown he can thrive in elite fields and, although he still finds winning hard, getting him at 50/1 with seven payout places on offer looks a great chance to make profit.

Knox at 45/1 could also be a strong bet but I'll side with RCB.

Outsider: Back Lucas Glover EW @ 150/1

We've done well with the long-shots in recent weeks with 200/1 Scott Stallings grabbing full each-way return at Pebble Beach and 100/1 Martin Laird missing out on a place by a single shot at Riviera.

So let's try another triple-figure punt with 150/1 chance Lucas Glover.

It's been a long time between drinks but all three of his PGA Tour wins have come over on his native East Coast and that includes the 2011 U.S. Open which he won with 4-under.

Glover's strength is his long game and he's currently 8th in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee this season and 33rd in Greens In Regulation.

It's well known that his putting holds him back but the importance of it is reduced in an event like this where single digits under par has won eight of the last 11 editions. A putting contest it is not.

In any case, there is some hope there.

The last time Glover wheeled the flatstick on Bermuda he finished 20th in Strokes Gained: Putting (in Phoenix) and he appears - surprisingly, given the perception that he can't putt for toffee - at 22nd on Future of Fantasy's list of the top 25 Performers on Bermudagrass Greens since 2014.

And so to course and current form....

Current form is spotty but that's to be expected given that his latest performances have come on the West Coast Swing. He did cash three times in four starts and showed promise (on Bermuda) with 68-74-67 over the final 54 holes in Phoenix for T43.

At PGA National, Glover took fourth place in 2013 and opened 68-69-68 last year before ending in a tie for 21st.

His form in Florida offers particular encouragement though as his five starts in the Sunshine State reading back from last year's Players Championship show 6-7-18-21-27.

Speaking of PGA National, he once said: "I love these kind of golf courses, it's a ball-hitter's course."

Put all the pieces together and hopefully Glover can kick-start his season and give us a big run at huge odds.

Also at three-figure odds, Anirban Lahiri went into the notebook after appearing on the Genesis Open coverage.

The Indian shot middle rounds of 69-67 at Riviera to lie just outside the top 10 with a round to play before settling for T26.

Add that to his T11 at last year's Honda Classic and he could certainly make a mark. A second place at Memorial in 2017 adds to the feeling that he likes these hard and fast conditions.

Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £430
Returned: £1060
P/L: +£630

(After Genesis Open)

P/L: +£1179.89

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