Home comforts can help Rory McIlroy ping the lids
Adam Scott looking shadow of former self
Sky Sports Golf, 2pm Thursday
The Honda Classic field at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is bursting with quality and spectators are spoiled for choice with a host of high-class threeballs taking to the PGA National course.
FedEx Cup victor Justin Thomas joins Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Presidents Cup star Daniel Berger on the tee at 12.35pm, with Tiger Woods making an appearance ten minutes later alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker.
Defending champion and 9-1 tournament favourite Rickie Fowler has Patrick Reed and Kevin Kisner for company at 5.25pm, swiftly followed by Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Padraig Harrington. It is the latter match which appeals most from a betting perspective, with McIlroy looking the best price on the threeball card.
McIlroy could not get to grips with the bumpy Pebble Beach greens a fortnight ago, but he was much happier at Riviera last week, finishing 20th in the Genesis Open and leaving California full of positivity. He loves the Honda Classic, which is played close to his home, and became world number one after winning the tournament in 2012.
McIlroy was a Honda playoff loser in 2014 – it is a venue where he either seems to play really well or really badly – and this looks likely to be a going week given the confidence gained from a closing 68 at Riviera and a putting improvement. He was third in Abu Dhabi and second in Dubai prior to his Pebble Beach flop.
Scott has started the season in awful form, slumping to 58th in the world rankings and regularly missing tiddlers. The Australian has not played well since his second child was born in August and family pressures may be having a negative impact on his game. He was never the most focused of players at the best of times and could have too many off-course distractions to stay a member of the elite.
Harrington, world number 179 and with 2018 form figures of MC-MC-64, should be comfortably outclassed by McIlroy if the selection is anywhere close to his best.
The pick of the 72-hole match-bet options is Bud Cauley who, like McIlroy, lives locally and knows PGA National extremely well. Cauley is 5-6 against Scott Piercy in a draw-no-bet match.
Cauley's typically laserlike approach-shots will be a serious asset coming in to the heavily-guarded greens of PGA National. He has more tee-to-green control than Piercy, an erratic player better suited to less penal courses.
Emiliano Grillo is another controlled operator who is extremely fond of this layout. The Argentinian has not missed a cut for six months and looks great value at 11-1 in a top Rest of the World market headed by Scott.
R McIlroy to win threeball
3pts 10-11 Betfair, Hills, Paddy Power
B Cauley to beat S Piercy
2pts 5-6 Hills
E Grillo top Rest of World
1pt each-way 11-1 bet365
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