Rickie Fowler hits from the second tee during first round of the Tournament of Champions golf event, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at Kapalua Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii.
Rickie Fowler hits from the second tee during first round of the Tournament of Champions golf event, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at Kapalua Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii.|Matt York | Associated Press

Kern picks the Honda Classic, from Palm Beach Gardens, and gives the kiss of mush to Rickie Fowler

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Now it’s time once again for our weekly golf stuff.

The PGA Tour begins its annual Florida swing with the Honda Classic, from Palm Beach Gardens. And yes, the Masters is only six weeks away. Which means the Players Championship, back in its original March dates, is coming up real soon.

OK, Tommy Fleetwood is the favorite, at 10-1. Of course he’s never won a PGA event, and this is his first time playing on U.S. soil since September. Brooks Koepka is next, at 12-1, followed by Rickie Fowler at 14-1. Fowler won this in 2017, and he and Koepka tied for second last year.

Louis Oosthuizen is 20-1, Billy Herschel and Gary Woodland 22-1. Horschel has tied for ninth in his last two events, and had top 10s here in 2016 and ’17. Victor Holland, who won last week’s satellite event in Puerto Rico opposite the WGC Mexico, is 25-1. As is Justin Rose, who isn’t playing well but has three top fives in his last four starts here.

Sungjae Im is 28-1. Daniel Berger, Byeong Hun An and Shane Lowery, who also isn’t doing much and hasn’t done much here, are 33-1. Ian Poulter is 50-1. Erik van Rooyen, who finished third last week, is 50-1 as well. Emiliano Grillo, who played well in Puerto Rico last week, is 66-1 along with Ryan Palmer, who’s had two top fives here. Jhonattan Vegas, who played well last week too, is also 66-1. Jim Furyk, who’s still not bad at his age, is 70-1.

Matthew NeSmith, who tied for sixth last week in Puerto Rico and has four straight top 30 finishes, is 80-1. Lee Westwood, who won on the European Tour in January, is also 80-1.

Just so you know, I have Fowler in that yearlong pool that I’m in that I have to pick in December and can only use any guy once.

I like Fleetwood, and so do a few other folks, but I’m just so sure he should be the favorite. Then again, Koepka isn’t playing like Koepka, or anything real close, coming off last fall’s knee surgery. And he doesn’t usually do as well in regular tournaments as majors.

You might want to try Rose to just finish in the top five, at 6-1. Among the favorites I really don’t know which way to lean. Billy Horschel seems like he might be worth a little support among the next tier. I guess if you put a gun to my head I’d go with either Fleetwood or Fowler. Fowler isn’t playing great either, but the odds on both aren’t horrible. Just don’t go too nuts.

The way to go this week might be to also, after you’ve picked out your two or three bigger plays, is to throw a little something on some longer shots. Oops, almost forgot. Kevin Mitchell is the defending champ and would get you 80-1. Somebody like Ryan Palmer might work. Or how about Furyk to get a top 10 at 7-1? Or even a top five at 14?

OK, let’s make it official, since I’ve thrown a lot out there, as I’m capable of doing. Just trying to give you as much research/info as possible, without clouding your mind too much. We’ll try Fowler at 14-1, despite the fact that I have him in my pool (which is usually the kiss of mush) and Gary Woodland, who had a second here in 2017, at 22-1. Then we’ll go with Palmer at 66-1, and also look at him for a top 10 and top 5 at 12-1 and 6-1, respectively.

Remember, fairways and greens. And those occasional one putts never hurt.

Mike’s picks: Rickie Fowler (14-1), Gary Woodland (22-1), and Ryan Palmer (66-1)

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