Honda Classic Recap

2021 Honda Classic Tournament Recap: And The Winner Is…Who?!…Matt Jones!

This was an ugly, anti-climactic, and talentless tournament that was largely overshadowed by the opening rounds of March Madness. Much to the chagrin of every golf fan not holding a Matt Jones ticket, it was a wire-to-wire runaway victory for Jones, who carried the momentum of a first round course record 61 to a 5-stroke victory with a final score of -12.

The final leaderboard won’t show it, but this was Aaron Wise’s tournament to lose at the start of the weekend, and he did just that, giving away strokes left and right on the greens, as he’s known to do. Through the first 4 holes of R3, Wise built up a massive 6-stroke lead on the field thanks to exceptional ball striking and some clutch long putts. But as it so often does, PGA National showed its teeth, and eviscerated Wise’s Saturday scorecard for the rest of his round. Wise climbed his way back within 1 stroke of the lead at one point on Sunday, before reminding us once again why he’s the worst putter on Tour with 4-putts galore.

So ultimately while Wise was good for a 4-day sweat, there were no new banners to hang for the Honda Classic unfortunately. Still, it was about as profitable as a no-outright week can be for me, so there were plenty of positives to take away looking back at this week’s card.


  • Joaquin Niemann +2000: -2 (T25)
  • Russell Henley +3500: -6 (T3)
  • Cameron Davis +5500: E (T33)
  • Matt Wallace +7000: MC
  • Luke List +8000: MC
  • Aaron Wise +9000: -4 (T13)
  • James Hahn +11000: WD

Matchups (Season Total: 20-13-1)

  • Chris Kirk +110 (L) > Adam Scott
  • Brendan Steele -114 (W) > Rickie Fowler
  • Keegan Bradley -125 (W) > Ian Poulter

One & Done

  • Lee Westwood (MC)

The Good

I landed my first FRL of the 2021 season thanks to Matt Jones’ course record 61 on Thursday, which paid out +6600 and guaranteed a profitable week from the start. Unfortunately my FRL strategy this week was to hedge exposure to the players who just missed my final betting card, so the Matt Jones outright was a near miss for me in my pre-tournament process.

This week quickly became Aaron Wise or bust for me, and while he ultimately folded in epic proportions, it really did feel like this was his tournament to lose for much of the week. My DFS core player pool of Henley, Tringale, Steele, and Sloan proved for a good sweat throughout the week, and yielded one of my most profitable DFS weeks of 2021 thus far.

It was also nice to see my conviction play of the week, Brendan Steele -114 > Rickie Fowler, cruise to an easy cash, with Steele finishing -6 and Fowler finishing +7. I’m often asked why I only bet Full Tournament Matchups and not individual rounds, and I think this is a perfect example of why I always lean full tournament. Rickie led Steele by 3 strokes thru R1, but over 4 rounds players are more likely to regress to their means, and that’s exactly what we saw here.

The Bad

Lee Westwood evidently was not the obvious OAD choice I thought he was, and he proved to be every bit as fatigued as he let on to the media throughout the week, firing off a 78 on Friday en route to a MC. In the end, without a big purse and the lack of any chalk players with high finishes, an MC at the Honda Classic won’t kill you in OAD, so I don’t mind wasting Westwood here.

I was most wrong on Matt Wallace this week and that stopped any of my otherwise strong DFS lineups from making a serious run. Cameron Percy also put himself in DFS blacklist consideration after firing a 4-putt and 3-putt in the final 5 holes Friday to miss the cut by 2 strokes. And perhaps most devastating of all, we were denied the Hahnda Classic we were promised, as James Hahn WD’d after R1. At least there’s always next year to run it back.

Closing Thoughts

Matt Jones is a “random” winner to most casual golf fans, but it was possible to see this outburst coming looking at his strong recent play coming in, especially relative to how weak this field was. Jones is an inaccurate bomber off the tee with a great short game and average irons. Though that was not the player profile I was looking for this week at PGA National, it is the formula guys like Wyndham Clark and Keith Mitchell have used for consistent past success here, so in the years ahead, I think we’ll have to be more open to bombers at this track, with less apprehension about them finding the water.