Getting the Florida Swing started this week, a field of 144 golfers will take on the Champion Course at PGA National for The Honda Classic.
With top 65 and ties making it through the cut line, it will roughly be half the field that plays all four rounds. That's a big change from last week's WGC event in Mexico which was a no-cut event. For DFS purposes, we need to refocus our mindset to find cut-makers but also try to fit in as many golfers with winning upside.
With water on 15 holes, golfers can eject quickly at this course. If you are playing multiple lineups this week, it's a good time to diversify and not go "all-in" on anybody. Nobody is safe from the big numbers when there is water lurking on nearly every hole.
Now let's check out the weather, find some trending golfers, and then look at who might like the switch back to bermudagrass.
Thursday (R1): Mostly Cloudy with a high of 65 degrees. Winds at 6 to 10 MPH. Potential for gusts up to 20.
Friday (R2): Sunny with a high of 65 degrees. Winds at 6 to 9 MPH.
There is a Wednesday storm in the forecast but no precipitation planned for the event. Thursday morning may get softer greens because of that rain but will also likely deal with the windiest portion of the first two days.
I am going to focus on some recent results in this section to highlight what golfers may be trending in the right direction.
Matthew NeSmith -- The PGA TOUR rookie has finished top 35 in all five starts since the calendar flipped. That includes a trio of top 20s with last week's T6 in Puerto Rico being the highlight. It's noteworthy because it was the first top 10 of his TOUR career. Can he build on that momentum or does the putter cool off? He's gained strokes putting in 18 of his last 20 measured rounds, dating back to the Shriners in the fall.
Daniel Berger -- He showed flashes of form in the fall but the low rounds have started really arriving over the last month. He's bettered the field average by 1.9 or more shots in six of his last nine rounds. More importantly, the worse round he's recorded in 2020 was just 0.5 shots worse than the field average (R2 of the WM Phoenix Open). The result has been back-to-back top 10s. Now he's back home in Florida so that lines up nicely on paper.
The Florida Swing getting underway means that it's back to bermudagrass turf. Some golfers love the grainy greens and are very happy to get away from the bumpy poa. Let's see who they are.
Looking at sample-size-adjusted performance in rounds played on bermuda greens since 2018 (PGA, KFT, Euro Tour) the top performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on bermuda (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
A surprising name on the top list was Tom Lewis who has fared very well on bermudagrass but his sample is only 24 rounds over the period I'm looking at so he didn't qualify for the 30-round minimum to make the second list.
Bud Cauley: He's been plagued by slow starts at this event in the past. He's lost more than a stroke to the field in four of his five opening rounds. If we excluded those poor starts from his Honda resume, then he's gained strokes over the field in 7-of-9 rounds including five rounds where he's lapped the field average by at least 2.5 shots. Obviously, those opening rounds can't just be excluded, but it is interesting how much better his track record looks without those. More recently, he's flashed some form as he finished top 5 at The American Express and was T4 after round one of the Phoenix Open. Cauley finished T12 at this event last year and it wouldn't be surprising if he landed a similar result this week.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!