The Rundown: 2023 Honda Classic at PGA National

Sepp Straka, Honda Classic, PGA National,Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sepp Straka, Honda Classic, PGA National,Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

The PGA Tour moves to the East Coast for the 2023 Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

A combination of the upcoming schedule and the difficulty of the course generally leads to this being a weaker field. This year, it is even more exaggerated considering we’re coming off back-to-back elevated events and the 2023 PLAYERS Championship is only weeks away.

The field for the 2023 Honda Classic is basically Sungjae Im and a glorified Korn Ferry roster. Billy Horschel, Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, and defending champ Sepp Straka are among the other notable names in the field.

Last year Sepp Straka came away with the win going four under on his last ten holes to shoot an impressive 66. Shane Lowry had a good showing as the runner-up. He played well shooting back-to-back 67s on the weekend but it wasn’t enough to come away with the win.

In 2021 Matt Jones won an anticlimactic tournament cruising to victory with a five-stroke lead. He tied the course record with an opening round 61 and the rest is history. He gained over 14 strokes tee to green which is ridiculous on such a difficult course.

The Honda Classic kicks off the Florida swing.

The tournament is played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA National Champion Course which is a 7,125-yard par 70 with Bermuda greens. It is one of the most difficult courses on Tour.

The winds can also wreak havoc on what’s already a tough task. There is water in play on 15 holes. There have been a ridiculous 4,730 balls in the water here since 2003. There are also 78 sand traps on the course.

Holes 5-7 make up one of the most difficult stretches on Tour. However, PGA National is home to the vaunted three-hole stretch known as the Bear Trap which consists of holes 15, 16, and 17. It often plays as the most difficult three-hole stretch on tour.

The Bear Trap starts with a 179-yard par three that generally plays into the wind with water on the right and sand traps to the left. Hole 16 is a dogleg right 434-yard par four. The entire right side is sketchy with sand neighbored by water.

The Bear Trap ends with the 175-yard par three. With a tee shot over water and very limited green to work with, this hole can make or break a round.

Approach shots matter at every course but even more so at PGA National considering all the trouble. A little over 25% of approach shots come from 175-200 yards and 23% come from 150-175 yards. GIR percentage is well below Tour average coming in at just under 60%.

With missed greens being so prominent, around the green matters but not as much as you’d think. Many wayward approach shots could find water or green side bunkers. Sand saves and scrambling will be a necessity.

Average Driving Distance is well below average here as well coming in at only 272 yards. That’s ten yards shorter than the Tour average. Driving accuracy is also below the Tour average at 60% of fairways hit. Avoiding trouble off the tee is the preferred strategy.

The field consists of 148 golfers with the Top 65 and ties making the cut after 36 holes to play the weekend.

The Honda Classic: Key Stats and Figures

  • Strokes Gained Approach
  • Par 4 Scoring
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Scrambling/Sand Saves

Historic Cut Line

  • 2022: +3
  • 2021: +2
  • 2020: +4
  • 2019: +3
  • 2018: +6

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Previous Winners

2022: Sepp Straka -10
2021: Matt Jones -12
2020: Sungjae Im -6
2019: Keith Mitchell -9
2018: Justin Thomas -8