So, it's kind of funny how the PGA TOUR hops across the country every year, and this time it's on February 29th for the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches. Meanwhile, the Honda Classic seems to be the overlooked kid in the Florida Swing, struggling to get attention and even losing its title sponsor. 

Now known as the Cognizant Classic, it landed in what many would say is the worst spot on the PGA TOUR schedule. Rory McIlroy is back at PGA National, a place he rocked in 2012, known for its tricky water-surrounded greens and a real challenge. 

Get ready for some wild moments as the tour kicks off a crazy three weeks in Florida leading up to the Players Championship on the familiar Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Course Breakdown

PGA National Resort, a South Florida gem, rocks five cool courses, with the Champion Course stealing the show, hosting the rad PGA Tour event (previously the Honda Classic). Designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, it's a 7,145-yard par-71 beauty, shaking up the game with tight tee spots and forced layups—waving bye to wedges, giving a shout out to mid-to-long iron players. 

Winds, firm turf, and Bermuda grass bring the heat, making it the TOUR's trickiest for approaches beyond 150 yards. Players navigating water hazards, tough bunkers, and speedy Bermuda greens face a real test. 

Denny McCarthy spilled the beans in a podcast, dishing on how the swirling winds and tricky bail-out spots make PGA National a wild ride. With a decade of above-par cut lines, expect a fierce battle with -14 or better as the winning score. The vibe? Unpredictably awesome!



The 2024 Cognizant Classic is drawing some big names in golf, thanks to changes in the schedule that now include a stop in Mexico. Normally, events like the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS overshadow PGA National, but this time, many Florida-based players are sticking around for three weeks straight. 

Rory McIlroy, despite some ups and downs at this tournament, is back again. He won in 2012, had a tough time in 2014, and famously walked off the course mid-round that year. Other familiar faces in the lineup include Daniel Berger, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, Sungjae Im, Tom Kim, Shane Lowry, J.T. Poston, Justin Rose, and Cameron Young. 

With past champs like Chris Kirk, Sepp Straka, Padraig Harrington, Camilo Villegas, and Matt Kuchar also in the mix, it's shaping up to be an exciting event.

Stats To Know

Top SG: Approach Targets

  • Matthieu Pavon - 1st on Tour
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout - 3rd on Tour
  • Tom Hoge - 4th on Tour
  • Andrew Novak - 7th on Tour
  • Scott Stallings - 11th on Tour

Top SG: Around the Green Targets

  • Andrew Novak - 6th on Tour
  • Troy Merritt - 8th on Tour
  • J.T. Poston - 9th on Tour
  • Austin Eckroat - 10th on Tour
  • Josh Teater - 12th on Tour

Bogey Avoidance Targets

  • Alex Noren - 6th on Tour
  • J.T. Poston - 7th on Tour
  • Greyson Sigg - 10th on Tour
  • Chris Kirk - 13th on Tour
  • Matthieu Pavon - 14th on Tour

Best Course History

  • Russell Henley - A Win, 2 Top 10s & 2 Top 20s (8 of 9 Cuts)
  • Sepp Straka - A Win & Another Top 5 (4 of 5 Cuts)
  • Chris Kirk - Defending Champ & 2 Top 12s (4 of last 6 Cuts)
  • Sungjae Im - A Win & 1 Top 10 (4 of 5 Cuts)
  • Shane Lowry - 1 Runner Up & Another Top 5 (6 of 6 Cuts)

My Best Bets (8-13 Overall, 0.40 Units)

  • Russell Henley Top 20 (+130)
  • Stephen Jaeger Top 20 (+190)
  • Shane Lowry Top 20 (+190)
  • Doug Ghim Top 30 (+140)

One & Done Play

  • Shane Lowry

Core Plays

Top Price

Russell Henley ($10,200)

Russell Henley, the 2014 champ, is making a comeback at PGA National after landing a solid T3 in 2021—making it his fifth straight improvement in the tournament. This guy's a Southeastern Bermuda course maestro, acing accuracy off the tee and middle-iron play. No shocker that he's got killer history here, with six top-25s in nine PGA National appearances, including a win in 2014. 

Henley's been rocking it in ball-striking, gaining over three strokes in his last four rounds on the Fazio design. Fresh off a solid show at the Genesis Invitational, Henley got the driving and iron skills crucial for success at PGA National. Even if his 25-1 outright number seems a bit cautious, count on Henley as a safe bet for your DFS lineups—he's the name I'm locking in first.

Eric Cole ($9,900)

So, Eric Cole's back in action after skipping last week, all pumped up with five top 25 finishes this year. He kinda started his Rookie of the Year run right here at PGA National, making a splash with a playoff loss in his first go. His rookie season was a rollercoaster - lots of missed cuts at the beginning, but then he bounced back with a crucial playoff in his 12th start, shooting him up the reshuffle list. 

That move got him more starts, bagged him the Rookie of the Year title, a top-50 world ranking, and a ticket to the Masters in six weeks. Not many saw that coming, but it's not shocking that he rocked it on a tough Florida course - his home turf where he hustled on mini-tours for ages. People are eyeing him for this week, especially with his recent good form and knack for scrambling, perfect for Palm Beach Gardens.

Sungjae Im ($9,700)

Looking at how players did before and how they're doing now can tell us who might break out or keep slumping. On the flip side, the youngest winner of 2020 did great at The Sentry but hasn't cracked the top 20 since. Despite being known as a top ball striker, he's been off his game lately, losing strokes in five straight tournaments. 

Remember that awesome start in 2024 with -44 under par? Well, things went downhill after that. Even though he won at PGA National in 2020, everyone expected more victories, but he only got one at the Shriners in 2021. Now, Sungjae Im, a seriously talented guy, is hoping to bring back some of that magic at PGA National.


Mid Price

Shane Lowry ($9,300)

Shane Lowry's no stranger to PGA National, nearly grabbing the win with a second and fifth place in his last two tries. He's a Euro player who thrives on tough courses like this Fazio design. Living in Jupiter, he's been killing it in Florida, ranking fifth in total strokes gained over the past three years. 

Last season, he missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but let's not forget, the guy nailed the top 25 in eight of his last 12 starts. Call it what you want, but Lowry's due for some good luck, especially after a rainstorm messed up his chances two years back. Expect him to shake things up in Palm Beach—dude's got history here, finishing runner-up and fifth in the past two years. Local fans should be hyped to see him back in the mix.

Sepp Straka ($8,600)

Sepp Straka's back at PGA National, ready to rock the Champion Course where he nailed it in 2022. Last year, he defended his title with a solid T5 finish, outplaying his previous year's ball-striking. The Bermuda grass and tricky greens are just what he needs after a tough time on California's POA greens. Straka's rolling in with confidence, showing consistent form at PGA. Forget those 125-1 odds; he's in a good spot. 

PGA National can be a headache for some, but not for Straka; he's got it down, especially with his killer accuracy off the tee. He's not just a one-time wonder – after a strong 2022, he's part of the Euro crew feeling cozy here. Keep an eye on him for a Thursday hot streak, even if his four-round game's not a sure bet. And hey, like many recent winners, he's a University of Georgia guy, proving that Bulldog connection can be a winner's charm.

Adam Svensson ($7,700)

Adam Svensson's been killing it in tournaments that love a good fairway, like the Sony (T30) and Genesis (T10) this year. He's a top-40 guy on Tour for SG: Approach and Tee-to-Green, and not far off in driving accuracy. Svensson's also great at dodging bogeys. 

I've been riding the Svensson train, and it's paying off – he snagged 10th place at the Genesis Invitational, gaining over nine strokes tee-to-green against a tough crowd at Riviera. Now he's back at the same spot where he nabbed ninth in 2022. The dude's accurate off the tee and nails it with middle irons, especially on Southeastern Bermuda. Time to go all-in on Svensson.

Value Price

Doug Ghim ($7,000)

So, down in Mexico last week, Doug Ghim was cruising with finishes of T13, T12, and a solid T8. But when it comes to Palm Beach Gardens, he's been having a bit of a rough time, hitting 72 or worse in five out of six rounds over three visits. Still, there's hope in the air - Ghim seems to be turning things around lately. 

He's rocking the sixth spot on Tour in SG: Total, thanks to his usually awesome Tee-to-Green skills. Plus, he's stepping up his putting game and is ranked 83rd. Now, I know he's had a shaky history in this event with three missed cuts, but considering his recent form, it might just be his time to shine.

Carson Young ($6,700)

Carson Young's been on fire lately, making four cuts in a row, with a solid T17 at the Amex and a sweet T8 in Mexico last week. What's cool is his killer rankings – 14th in SG: Approach, 26th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 27th in greens in regulation, and 33rd in driving accuracy. Surprisingly, his putting isn't a disaster, sitting at 119th, but it's not a deal-breaker. 

Last week in Mexico, he finished strong with three rounds of 68 or better, gaining 7.13 strokes and landing a T8. With experience at the current venue and a decent track record, Young's hot streak, along with his $6,700 price tag, makes him a solid bet to keep the good times rolling.

Andrew Novak ($5,900)

Andrew Novak has been making waves in recent PGA Tour events, securing back-to-back eighth-place finishes and showcasing impressive stats in key areas. Leading the field in Scrambling and ranking second in SG: Tee to Green, he has caught the attention of many, prompting a gamble on his promising form at a reasonable price. Despite concerns about potentially missing the boat on Novak's recent success, his seventh position in the SG: Approach ranking adds credibility to the decision. 

Notably, he finished T29 at the PGA National last year, further supporting the strategy to align recent form with a decent course history. With astute TOUR fans recognizing his rise to sixth on TOUR in SG: Tee-to-Green, Novak, priced at $5,900, emerges as a compelling and budget-friendly option for the upcoming event.


Player Pool

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