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Odds and Ends

Golf Pick 'Em: Honda matchup breakdowns

by Will Gray
Updated On: March 15, 2021, 8:40 pm ET

Golf Pick 'Em is back for another season of picks and prizes in the NBC Sports Predictor app.

The free-to-play game has returned in 2021 and continues this week with the Honda Classic. Each week participants will choose between a series of head-to-head matchups, plus select an overall tournament champion and winning score.

Participants can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $50,000 jackpot available for any participants who earn a perfect score (increasing up to $100,000 during some of the biggest events of the year). There will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score.

Last week we had jackpot winners for the second straight tournament, as 11 participants had a perfect score including choosing Justin Thomas to win The Players. They each won $4,593 from the $50,000 jackpot.

Here's a look at some of the keys to this week's set of ten matchups at PGA National, as the Tour wraps up a four-week stay in the Sunshine State:

Daniel Berger vs. Sungjae Im

Keys: Berger lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington at this event as an unheralded local product back in 2015, and he added a T-4 finish last year. He enters off a T-9 finish last week at TPC Sawgrass, his fourth top-10 finish in his last six starts that includes a win at Pebble Beach. Im fired a final-round 66 to finish T-17 at Sawgrass and now gets set to defend a title on the PGA Tour for the first time after outlasting Tommy Fleetwood last year.

Edge: Berger

Rickie Fowler vs. Phil Mickelson

Keys: Two decorated veterans in search of some momentum. Fowler won this event back in 2017 but dropped 11 spots to 81st in the world rankings after a missed cut at TPC Sawgrass and would need a monster finish to avoid missing the Masters for the first time since 2010. Mickelson's T-35 Players finish was his best PGA Tour result since July, and he'll look to build on that while making his first trip to PGA National since a T-37 finish in 2016.

Edge: Fowler

Ian Poulter vs. Lee Westwood

Keys: These two Englishmen have Ryder Cup aspirations, but one has seen his chances improve significantly over the last two weeks. Westwood finished solo second at both Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass, racking up more than $2.6 million in the process, and his T-4 Honda finish last year was his fourth top-10 at this event since 2010. Poulter missed the cut in Ponte Vedra but has played markedly better in Palm Beach Gardens, missing the cut just once and nearly winning in 2015 (T-3).

Edge: Westwood

Adam Scott vs. Russell Henley

Keys: These two players both know what it takes to win this event, as Scott captured the title five years ago while Henley emerged from a four-man playoff in 2014. The Aussie hasn't quite found his rhythm since returning from the pandemic hiatus and finished T-48 last week on another course where he had won previously, while Henley had a strong fall but has yet to crack the top 10 this year and missed the cut at Sawgrass after rounds of 75-73.

Edge: Scott

Luke Donald vs. Graeme McDowell

Keys: Donald won the Honda back in 2006 when it was held across the street at Mirasol, but he has a runner-up among four top-10s since the switch to PGA National. The former world No. 1 is now outside the top 500 and has missed six cuts in a row dating back to November. McDowell has had similar recent struggles, with a T-66 finish in Saudi Arabia the only instance he played the weekend in his last seven starts. His Honda record included four top-10s in a six-year stretch from 2011-16.

Edge: McDowell

Talor Gooch vs. Doug Ghim

Keys: These two young guns both enjoyed a recent brush with the leaderboard, as Gooch got to within a shot of the lead at one point Sunday at Sawgrass before finishing T-5 while Ghim played in the penultimate group Sunday alongside eventual champion Justin Thomas on the Stadium Course. Ghim stumbled to a final-round 78 and a T-29 finish, and now he heads to a course where he missed the cut last year in his tournament debut. Gooch has three top-25 finishes in his last six starts and has made the cut at PGA National each of the last two years, including a T-20 finish in 2019.

Edge: Gooch (Note: This matchup originally featured Sam Burns, who withdrew Monday.)

Joaquin Niemann vs. Shane Lowry

Keys: Niemann has now made 13 straight cuts dating back to August, a run that started with a T-3 finish at the BMW Championship and includes a pair of runner-up results in Hawaii earlier this year. He cracked the top 30 at both The Players and WGC-Workday but has yet to break 70 in six competitive rounds at PGA National. Last week Lowry finally showed some signs of the game that won him the 2019 Open, finishing eighth at TPC Sawgrass for his first top-10 finish since July. His history at this event includes made cuts in each of his three appearances highlighted by a T-21 result last year.

Edge: Niemann (Note: this matchup originally featured Gary Woodland, who withdrew Monday.)

Steve Stricker vs. Padraig Harrington

Keys: The Ryder Cup captains face off. Harrington won this event in a Monday playoff back in 2015 but has missed the cut each of the last three years and finished T-31 at Bay Hill in his most recent start. Stricker received an unexpected spot in the field at Sawgrass but missed the cut after a second-round 77 and will make his first appearance at this event since a T-5 finish in 2007.

Edge: Harrington

Keegan Bradley vs. Martin Kaymer

Keys: These two won the PGA Championship in successive years, with Kaymer lifting the Wanamaker in 2010 and Bradley in 2011. The German has made six of his last seven worldwide cuts dating back to October and returns to an event where he finished T-4 back in 2017. Bradley enters off a T-29 finish at The Players, his third top-30 finish in his last four starts, but he has struggled recently at PGA National with four missed cuts in his last five appearances.

Edge: Kaymer

Hudson Swafford vs. Keith Mitchell

Keys: Two Georgia products square off, as Mitchell returns to the site of his lone PGA Tour triumph. He held off Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka to win two years ago, but his recent form includes missed cuts in four of his last five starts. Swafford got back into the winner's circle earlier this season in Punta Cana but has now missed four straight cuts of his own and has finished just once inside the top 60 in seven prior Honda appearances - last year's T-21 result.

Edge: Mitchell (Note: this matchup originally featured Brian Harman, who withdrew Monday.)

Will Gray

Will Gray joined Golf Channel in 2007 and currently serves as a staff writer for GolfChannel.com. Gray has been covering fantasy golf since 2012 and is a regular contributor to the Golf Central blog and covers several PGA Tour events each year. He's also a regular contributor to several digital properties on GolfChannel.com, including Stat Man, On the Clock, Fantasy Central, Grill Room and the Monday Scramble podcast.